Lent-2011, April 8th

Since the loss of my laptop, it’s been harder to write a blog everyday for Lent! It’s been useful to learn from the experience, especially of missing a day, or two, or three, and then picking the blog up again. Here’s a heartening thing that happened at St. Paul this week.

On Wednesday night, April 6th, we had our usual Lent bible study. Our topic was Christ and the Cross, as a way of speaking about Lutheran theology of the Cross. It turned very quickly into a deep debate about the question of human goodness, with and without Christ. The sticking point for us that evening, when dealing with the difference between what Luther calls a theologian of the cross and a theologian of glory isn’t so much how we see Christ as we see our humanity.

But here’s what’s marvelous, at least from my perspective as pastor, the discussion was profoundly meaningful. It wasn’t a superficial engagement of scripture; it was a thorough wrestling with the things of faith. We worked on free will, or captive will, we discussed the bound conscience; we tried to define the secular humanism of our time. A great breakthrough came about three quarters of the way through the evening, when one of the group asked about how we can be both redeemed and still sin. One person said, with great good humor: “yup, we’re maggots.'” Amidst the laughter, someone else in response said: “Sinner and Saint!” And we felt the relief of knowing that both are true–we live in a paradox, and in spiritual struggle.

Each week as we’ve met, we’ve done what I would call “burrowing,” that is covering the same ground, only digging deeper each time. I’m completely appreciative of the people who have turned up, wanting to “eat the scroll,” to use Ezekiel’s imagery.
It’s a wonderful experience of communal truth-seeking, and fills me with hope.

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