The traditional idea of Lent is a forty day season to reflect on and repent of our wayward selves. We’ve sinned. We’ve fallen short. We’ve abandoned the right path . . . so we need to confess these things in order to return from them. In other words, we need to get “back to the start.” But there’s a deeper reason than just confessing our sins, this Lenten season, for getting back to the start. It’s at the start where we were made perfect. It’s at the start where we were fully integrated with what scholars call our soul-child. In our most precious and childlike state, we were pure essence made in the image and likeness of God. But as time unraveled, so did our egos and so did our sin. I know we can’t reverse time nor am I suggesting we should; but, spiritually-speaking, we can return to that place in our soul where we feel child-like, where we know of God’s abiding presence. Perhaps this Lenten season, what we need to do is return from our sin so we can return to the spiritual life that tells us we are made in God’s image. Thankfully, both, repentance and acceptance, can be done by going “back to the start.”
March 6 | Psalm 51 | Back to the Start: An Ash Wednesday Homily
Our wonderful, joyful, painful, sinful, frustrating lives last only a moment, but our ashes cling to the fingers of the One in whom our lives are held complete, the One who loves us most. So, this Lent, live. Not with regret or sin or fear but with the deep conviction that, eventually, we all go back to the start.
March 10 | Romans 10:8b-13 | Everyone Can Go Back to the Start
Everyone has a beginning. Everyone started on the right path. Life took us off-center and for whoever reasons sin has kept us off track. But we can return. We can go back to the start. Paul tells us in Romans that no matter how far we’ve strayed, returning is closer than we think. Scripture says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. In short, confession points us back to the start.
March 17 | Philiippians 3:17-4:1 | When We Don’t Go Back to the Start
Not everyone wants to change. As Alfred tells us in The Dark Knight, “some people just want to watch the world burn.” Paul tells the church in Philippi “those people live as enemies of the cross of Christ, and their end is destruction; their god is the belly; their glory is in their shame.” This Lenten season, we need to reflect deeply on whether or not we’re willing to return from our wayward selves. If we don’t, we’ll continue to live in shame.
March 24 | Psalm 63:1-8 | What Happens When We Go Back to the Start
Returning to the start means we’ve embraced the journey of earnestly seeking a life of spirituality. What happens in our soul is quite amazing when this journey is made. Even in the face of tragedy and pain, our soul learns what it means to “sing in the shadow of God’s wing” because we know “God’s right hand upholds us.” In short, getting back to the start transforms us, and our soul mirrors King David’s in Psalm 63.
March 31 | 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 | Our Minds Change When We Go Back to the Start
When we’re lost out on the wayward road of sin, we develop quite a taste for an “us vs. them” mentality. We divide people, compare people, and judge ourselves by these standards constantly. This life is exhausting and sinful. But when we return to the start, our thinking changes. How we perceive others shifts. Instead of constantly seeing them as a threat, we see them as Christ does, “a new creation.” Our mind gets reprogramed and everything that was old becomes new.
April 7 | John 12:1-8 | Our Actions Change When We Go Back to the Start
Sometimes scripture paints a picture that words can’t quite articulate. In John 12, Jesus eats at Martha and Mary’s house and a lot unfolds at this meal. Lazarus is there, eating. Martha is there, serving. Judas is there, critiquing. Mary is there, anointing. Jesus is there, teaching. What unfolds is the perfect dichotomy for us to see what happens when some people choose to go back to the start and others don’t. For those who do, their actions change. For those who don’t, their sins remain.