We begin the season of Lent, a time to focus on returning to God. Maybe you don’t feel you’ve strayed far. Maybe you don’t feel that distant. Or maybe your life is so very busy and finding time for faith seems to come further and further down the list. But here we are in a season that invites a more deliberate step towards God. Lent invites us into the most powerful story of our faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
We begin a worship series, Passion, that looks at the characters and movement in the passion story, the story of Jesus’ suffering and God’s work of redemptive love. We will see ourselves in these varied characters, in their faith and in their conflict with Jesus. We’ll find ourselves grappling with the same problems and shortcomings that both afflicted and defined them. This Sunday we’ll jump in by looking at the most vilified character in the Passion story, Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee, so he was in a sense, an outsider. He clearly wanted something different from what Jesus offered. Perhaps he believed he could push Jesus to be another kind of Messiah. We know from the story he went way too far.
Was Judas unforgivable? That question echoes in the recesses of our own faith, but all of us can look back at earlier times in life, some events or mishaps that feel pretty unforgivable to us. By the time it is too late, Judas realizes the gravity of what he has done. We’re told he repents. Lent reminds us that God always offers us a way forward. You may be carrying around guilt for having done the worst. You may be fairly certain this one thing is beyond the scope of redemption. Yet the gospel offers a gift of grace for terrible moments in our past, for the parts of us that feel stuck in behavior or problems that keep trying to control us. Sunday we worship a God who offers this astounding grace. We may see it more clearly and accept it more readily as we move closer to the cross.
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“We invite you to join us on a shared journey of life and faith, open to all, regardless of age, ability, economics, color, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, politics, theology or anything else that might separate us from each other. Whoever you are and wherever you may be on your spiritual journey, you’re invited to walk with Christ in community with all of God’s children, and embrace the endless possibilities of God’s unconditional love.”