03-12-21 FAITH love your neighbor.jpgweb.jpg

May you observe a Lenten journey that brings you closer to the Divine, closer to one another and let Christ's light shine out of your darkness, Jim Barth said.

It was exactly a year ago this week that I wrote about living love to your neighbor as the pandemic began.

It is hard to believe that a year has already passed.

It has been a challenging year, and we still have a long journey ahead of us. As we reflect on this last year, we have experienced the beauty and ugliness of humanity. We have seen selflessness and selfishness. We have experienced the conflict between good and evil. The past year has indeed tested our humanity.

I think that it is time to stop and reflect on our responses over this last year. It is far too easy to continue living the way we have always lived without taking the time for self-reflection and growth. Self-reflection and growth are some of the reasons why I appreciate the season of Lent, a traditional Christian season.

Lent is 40 days used for contemplation and self-exploration around an individual's relationship with God. It invites us to slow down in our daily living and reflect. Are you the person that God is calling you to be? Are you living in a way that lets the Divine light out? After all, we are reminded that humanity loves the darkness. What darkness in you needs to be brought before the light? Wrestling with these questions and having honest reflection is essential. It is how we learn and grow more into the image of Christ.

The Lenten journey ends with the cross and the grave. As I reflect on this story, I have asked myself, who would I be, one that would yell crucify him or one that would walk with Jesus to the hill? Who would you be?

In these final days of Jesus' life, we experience just how much humanity loves the darkness, selfishness and evil. And it appears as though the darkness has won. Jesus did, after all, die on the cross and got buried in a tomb. The disciples were afraid that they would meet the same end. It looked like all was lost. Then something unique happened. The women were brave enough to go to the tomb only to find that Jesus was no longer there. An angel asked them, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?"

At this moment, we see that no matter how much it looks like the darkness, selfishness and evil will win; it never will. When Jesus walks out of the tomb, we experience something beautiful. That light, selflessness and goodwill always have the final say. May you observe a Lenten journey that brings you closer to the Divine, closer to one another and let Christ's light shine out of your darkness.

Jim Barth is pastor at First United Methodist Church. 

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