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  • Writer's picturePastor Janet Blair

How will we be changed?

Our readings on Ash Wednesday really spoke God’s invitation to us to experience change – or, following the theme from our recent celebration of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, we might even say God invites us to be transformed.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,” the psalmist prays. Renew me, restore me with your joy, rescue me! Because we long to be changed and need to be changed, don’t we? Ours is a suffering world; we are familiar with how it feels to be “a troubled spirit,” in the words of the psalmist. We long to be sustained by God’s “bountiful Spirit,” to be changed, transformed, healed, renewed.

In the Ash Wednesday gospel from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which Christians have always understood as a guide for living, Jesus nudges us in the direction of quiet prayer and spiritual practices. He tells us we will find “treasures in heaven” – treasures that won’t decay or rust or ever be stolen by thieves. As we embark on our Lenten spiritual path, those treasures of heaven will feed our souls and nourish our hearts.

Nourish our hearts. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” says Jesus. Note that Jesus does NOT say that where your heart is, that’s where your treasure will be. He says the reverse – where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be. Our hearts follow after our treasure.

Interesting – and true! If our treasure is money, our hearts will follow the money. If our treasure is power, we will seek after and love power. If our treasure is family and friends, that’s where our hearts will be. And if Jesus is our treasure, our hearts will live with and rest in Jesus. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Here’s a message for us as we’re blasted out of the season of Epiphany, when those curious wise men went looking for the child Jesus, into Lent (from a commentary by Shelli Williams):

“We often profess that Jesus came to change the world. But that really didn’t happen. Does that mean that this whole Holy Birth was a failure, just some sort of pretty, romantic story in the midst of our sometimes chaotic life? Maybe Jesus didn’t intend to change the world at all; maybe Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-Us, came into this world to change us. Maybe, then, there IS a new normal. It has to do with what we do AFTER. It has to do with how we choose to go back to our lives. Do we just pick up where we left off? Or do we, like those wise men, choose to go home by another way?”

Maybe a “new normal” approach can inspire our start to Lent. Maybe “going home by another way” could mean moving toward growth, new hope, and healing. Maybe our Emmanuel, our God-with-Us, DID come into this world to change us. It always seemed that Lent called for guilty, somber feelings. But as we are being led forward, this is a positive thing, a good thing, even a joyful thing – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” says the psalmist. We are moving forward, through Lent to Easter, through grief to healing, through brokenness to strength, through sadness to joy, through all that we experience to closer relationship with Jesus.

So where is Jesus leading your heart and my heart through these forty days of Lent? Where will we discover our treasure?

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