Letter from the Clergy – March 18th

Lenten Sermon Video

Click below to hear The Rev. Frank Allen’s Sunday sermon preview for the
Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 21st, 2021.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes….” Romans 1:16a

Dear Friends,

This is the strangest season of Lent that I’ve ever experienced. It’s more strange than last year when we were just beginning to understand isolation. Much has been written about this, and suggestions given that this Lent is probably the time to take on something rather than give up something.

My “taking on” is more and more studying of the scriptures and Bible studies. Last evening, we were talking about the verse quoted above and asking if we are ashamed of the gospel and of proclaiming it in our actions and words. We all want to say we are not, but are we?

As I ponder this, I suspect that we are not ashamed of the gospel as much as we are ashamed of how much we are able to live into God’s love. We are still trapped in the law, focusing on proficiency and perfection. We still have a checklist of good things that we must do to somehow gain acceptance from God. We are ashamed that we are not living up to our (or someone else’s) set of rules. We choose to ignore Paul’s warning that the law leads to death (Romans 7:5) and keep seeking worthiness.

One way to move from the moral law to the mystical love of God is to look deeply into our soul, to let go of our private salvation project, and then seek the path to our true self where we don’t need to prove anything to God (or anyone else) anymore. God loves us as we are, and when we stop working so hard to be worthy of God’s love and just let the full power of God’s love envelop us, we fall in love with God. And when we fall in love with God, we are ashamed of nothing.

This Lent and Easter let us focus on the cross, the Christian symbol for complete salvation. When we say we are saved by the cross let us truly believe it is our core being, our soul. When those doubts creep in, when we don’t feel worthy or holy, let us recognize them as our sufferings, and turn to the cross which tells us that a pattern of death and resurrection is ours to bear also. We must die “again and again” is a fundamental way or rebirth (resurrection) makes no sense. Only these trials are strong enough to make us let go of our ego that wants to cling to the moral law and judgment.

It’s risky business, a bit scary in fact to let go of laws and lists and fall fully into God’s mercy. But that is when and where we experience the perfect love of God. That is when and where we fear nothing and are ashamed of nothing.

Please join me in striving to live into the message of the cross.

Love and blessings,

The Rev. Ed Shiley