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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 1, 2014

Parson to Person: Your Lenten journey

By Rev. Mark Youngquist Swedesburg Lutheran Church | Mar 07, 2014

Ash Wednesday has once again ushered in the season of Lent. It is a time that we consider our sin more closely. In our church we hear the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” as the ashes are placed on us. 
“Remember that you are dust.”  Not a pleasant thought, is it?  We really don't like to be reminded of our mortality. Lent provides an opportunity for us to seriously reflect on our life’s journey. 
The story is told about Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire. In that battle Alexander’s soldiers overran the palace of Darius the king.  Looking for things to steal, one soldier came upon a leather bag containing the crown jewels of Persia. The stones were worth millions of dollars. However, the soldier dumped the jewels on a garbage heap, saving only the leather bag.  He ran around the camp telling the other men about the marvelous bag that he had found to carry his food. 
The great tragedy of life can be summed up like this: We threw away jewels and kept only the brown leather bag in which they came. 
So it is with our faith. We may forget all about what is to be central, essential and irreplaceable in the Christian faith – and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. 
Why is the cross central?  First, it reminds us of our sin, that you and I need a Savior. 
The cross should also be central in our lives because of what it says about sacrifice. I heard a story awhile back that shows just how self-indulgent we have become as a society. 
A state trooper found a man by the roadside next to a demolished car, crying, “My BMW! I’ve lost my BMW!” The trooper said, “Never mind the car. You’ve lost your left arm.” The man looked down, and cried, “My Rolex watch! I’ve lost my Rolex watch!”  Where a person’s treasure is, there is their heart also. 
Fortunately, we have a divine example to guide our lives. Jesus Christ emptied Himself on our behalf. He took upon Himself the sins of all humanity. He sacrificed His own life for ours. Lent reminds us of this, and moves us to sacrifice ourselves for others, following Jesus’ example. 
Have you thrown away the jewels and kept only the leather bag? The center of our faith is the cross – not a shiny, gold cross, but an old rugged cross. A cross on which we see the Son of God dying for our sins.  A cross on which we see the meaning of sacrifice, the kind of sacrifice we are called upon to make daily. A cross on which we see the love that brought us our salvation.
May your Lenten journey be an opportunity to once again consider these things, and to see what is most important in life.

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