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Finding Faith: Christ gives us new life

For Christians all around the world the third Sunday of Lent begins tomorrow.

Lent is the forty-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday with the culmination of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave. Most Christians use these forty days of Lent for spending more time with God in prayer, fasting, and or reflection. It is a time for practicing what is known as the Spiritual Disciplines of the Church for deepening one’s belief in God.

Some will use this time for repentance and self-denial as they reflect on Christ’s journey and horrific crucifixion on the cross for the sins of humanity.

Before Ash Wednesday, my Sunday school friends and I would talk about what sweets, candies, or treats we would give up during Lent. We would fast from these delectable treasures until Easter Sunday.

Our tradition included eating the very best foods and lots of it before the Lenten fast. You might know this day as Fasnacht day or Shrove Tuesday.

This Pennsylvania Dutch tradition has stayed with me through the years, but I don’t follow it in the same ways that I did while growing up.

Today, I look at this season of Lent as an opportunity for not fasting from something, but rather as a time for “putting on” more of Christ. I’m reminded for how Paul talks about what we are to “put on” in Colossians 3:12-17.

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The virtues mentioned above that Paul encourages us to develop are perfectly bound together by love.

As we clothe ourselves with these virtues, the last garment we are to “put on” is love, which holds all the others in place. What I appreciate and I hope you do too, is that Christ’s resurrection guarantees our new life now and for our eternal life with him later.

By ‘putting on” more of Christ, I’m trusting that God in Christ is clothing my spirit, my character, and my attitude with more of these virtues so that when Christ is resurrected from the grave I can truly sing in my heart “Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Alison W. Grove, pastor of Covenant and Faith United Methodist Churches, Lock Haven.

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