Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Pentecost 2 – June 7, 2015
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1, NRSV)
It’s called ablution. That’s the churchy word for it. It is a religious word for “washing.” Prior to every celebration of Holy Communion, worship leaders typically go out to the sacristy and wash their hands in preparation for administering the bread and wine of the Eucharist. In highly liturgical churches there is a formal ceremonial process of ablution that is often observed using a lavabo (a wash basin). Well, I’ve been “abluting” a lot the past two weeks, as we paint some rooms in our home. As you can see in my picture here, I missed a spot. I found that yesterday. I hadn’t painted anything tan for a couple of days, so this spot has been on my hand for two days, probably. I saw it in the mirror yesterday as I shaved.
So you know me, this got me thinking. Ablution is about cleansing, right? It is a visible and practical sign that symbolizes a spiritual discipline. It has a bit of a sacramental spirit to it – the whole “visible Word” imagery. It calls to mind confession and forgiveness. So, here’s what I think. In confession we try to cleanse our souls … we acknowledge our brokenness … we admit our sins … we rue our fallen nature … and we hear a word of cleansing – the word of absolution and forgiveness. But is it a total and complete cleansing? Can it be? Is that possible? Or is there always a bit of paint stuck to our soul in a place to which we don’t pay attention, or a place we don’t want to admit? Are we ever completely clean? Probably not.
And so, we flee to our Savior day by day … sometimes hour by hour. Our God is always as ready to forgive as we are ready to repent. Ponder that reality a bit this week. Think about the kind of response it grows within you. Does it lead you to think that because God is endlessly gracious and forgiving, you can simply be careless about sinning? Or does the joy of being so intimately connected to this great loving God, lead you to strive even harder to resist the sin at work in your life? Reflect on St. Paul’s words above, and consider the wisdom within them.
O Lord our God, you know us better than we know ourselves. As we come before you now, believers and doubters alike, we all share a deep need, for we are all lost without your grace. Search us, O God, and know our hearts, test us and know our troubled thoughts. Give us true repentance. Forgive us all our wrongs. Transform us by your Spirit to live for you each day, to learn to serve each other and, through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord, to come at last to heaven. Amen.