“… I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him …” from Philippians 3
It may be that we’re in recovery from the “great recession,” but it sometimes seems like it’s just hit. We’re still adapting to what seems like a different world. The relevant adage is “count your blessings.” I don’t know that we need to keep score, but there may be wisdom in noticing, whatever may be happening in my life, how amazing it really is that I get to spend an afternoon with this person. Or, what a blessing it is, that as I sit here taking in the Ocean with my eyes, it’s so warm, and it’s Winter!
So to the question for Lent: do we think about faith this way? It seems to me that you do. Whether it’s a generous gift towards a new organ or showing up week after week to fold lengthy bulletins, you show how much you are committed to and value faith in Christ. Paul, writing from prison in the text above (which we’ll be hearing one Sunday this Lent) writes about “the surpassing value of knowing Christ.” God has made a connection with us so vital, so rich in blessing, that all of life is new. We are constantly finding new reasons to give thanks, and finding that what seemed important before is thrown into perspective.
The season of Lent (“Spring”) originated as a time for candidates to prepare for baptism at Easter – the bath where we die to sin and arise to eternal life. Lent is about dying to sin: saying “what was need no longer be.” I think of stories about early converts from paganism losing social acceptance and familiar gods, “suffering the loss of all things … in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”
And what gain! I pray that Lent be a time when we discover in new ways what we gain in knowing Christ. In the Sundays to come, notice how often the assigned readings In the Sundays to come, notice how often the assigned readings invite us to consider gain and loss in the life of faith:
-Jesus refuses what the devil offers, to do the will of God for us;
-God calls to the waters and wisdom of salvation, freely given
– A prodigal son loses everything, but not the embrace of his father
-A woman squanders expensive perfume on Jesus before his death.
Also, in daily devotions and in midweek prayer, we consider the “Seven Wonders of the Word.”