A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, March 20, 2009

Painting Over the Smudges - A Lenten Thought

The meeting was just about ready to end when a conscientious church member jumps in with, “I have a new business item to discuss if that’s alright.” Heads nodded so he continued to speak.

“I want to know if it’s OK if I paint over a noticeable smudge that I made with the ladder when I was working by the cross the other day. Does anyone know where the leftover paint is so I can come in some day and paint over it?”

Following the meeting, this man led us to the sanctuary and said, “Well there it is.” It took a while for anyone to notice when someone finally said, “Oh, I see it. Look just to the right of the cross and you can see about a six feet smudge line next to it.” “That’s it,” he said with a twinge of embarrassment in his voice. “That’s because of me.”

So I asked him, “Can you see this mark from where you are sitting during worship?” “Oh yeah, and it really bothers me. I need to fix it.”

Three days later, I’m conducting a funeral service in our Sanctuary and during one of our hymns, I happen to look up at the large cross and for the life of me, I can’t find the smudge mark. A smile came to my face as I thought about this concerned church member and how he had painted over the smudge mark in such a short amount of time. “That really did bother him,” I thought to myself.

In this season of Lent in which we are preparing ourselves for Holy Week and Easter, we are invited to examine our lives to see if there are any smudge marks, subtle and not so subtle, needing a fresh coat of God’s grace applied. Thanks to what Christ has done for us by dying on our behalf, we can become clean again and set aside those things which are distracting us from seeing the meaning of the cross of Christ more clearly.

Maybe this gives new meaning to the punch line of that old joke, “Repaint and thin no more.”

“If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – I John 1:9

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