Pastor's Corner

6 Mar
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Mid-Week Challenge

If you watched the morning news today you saw the city of New Orleans hard at work pulling over 93,000 pounds of beads from five blocks of storm drains! So begins the annual ritual following Mardi Gras when the population of New Orleans swells to three times its normal size.  The festivities bring in an estimated $165 million to the city, and serious trash, which is why several dozen construction machines stand ready to clean up before the party even gets started.  Some 45 million pounds of plastics make their way to New Orleans every year so the city is always looking for ways to make their cleanup job easier.  A molecular biologist, Naohiro Kato figured out how to fashion biodegradable beads and doubloons out of algae.

But the most useful solution this year is the friendly-sounding buffer to keep beads from slipping into storm drains.  They're called "gutter buddies," and they consist of orange sleeves filled with pebbles that let water filter through to drains while blocking debris such as Carnival beads. The city purchased 200 of them at a cost of around $30,000, and workers installed nearly all of them along the St. Charles Avenue parade route.

All that work to clean up a night of hedonistic indulgence celebrating what?  Most of the people involved have no idea, they just enjoy a good party, and who doesn't right? Those who do follow the tradition know that "Fat Tuesday" is the lead up to Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period of reflection preparing Christians for Easter.  During this period, practitioners give up or abstain from predetermined activities as to focus on the suffering of Christ. That reminder, along with the various exercises in self-denial associated with Lent, can give the forty days a somewhat gloomy tone. But John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera say that would be missing the point. In their article Happy Lent. Seriously, they claim that digging deeper into Lent means being confronted with our mortality by being reminded of it, but also in order to better understand why we need not fear it. We go to great lengths to prolong death out of fear but thanks to the work of Christ we need not fear death. The writers go on to say: “We instinctively resist and recoil from everything that reminds us of our mortality—pain, deprivation, weakness, criticism, failure. This paralyzing fear . . . leads to various forms of escapism and addiction, induces us to grasp the false security nets proffered by Satan, and keeps us from pursuing the will of God with freedom, peace, and confidence.” This truth is why Lent, including its reminder of our mortality, is the farthest thing from gloomy. Yes, like the “founder and perfecter of our faith,” we will taste death. But by God’s grace, death’s power over us, in this life as well as the next, is destroyed. And that’s great news. 

If you actively participate in Lent or not we are reminded every day of our desire to escape the results of sin. Whether its discovering new ways to clean up after Mardi Gras or focusing on better ways of cleaning up our personal lives, Christ has defeated the sting of death.  Living with the consequences of the original Fall only reminds us of how thankful we should be for what our Savior overcame for us. 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  1 Corinthians 15:56-57 

Serving the Savior

Bro. Jonathan

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