Pastor's Corner
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32)   

Grace, Peace, and Lent​​
In the midst of our Lenten journey, some of us may experience discouragement as we consider our human nature vis-à-vis Christ.  Yes, Easter will soon be here, but for now we are in the metaphorical desert, reflecting on our sin, repenting and praying to be changed.
     One of the areas many of us reflect on is our own pride.  Pride robs us of grace.  It undermines our call to forgive. 
     In pride, we insist on our own way.  We have attained the wisdom, have the experience, always give our best efforts… and we just know we are right.  And often, we want to make sure others see it that way.
     Lent is a season to reflect on moving away from pride towards a closer walk with Jesus Christ.  It is a time to consider those we have hurt by through our insistence on being right and seek to follow Christ into a journey of grace, compassion and forgiveness.
     Forgiveness, for Christians, is a different kind of animal.  To the worldly and prideful masses, it simply means saying (often condescendingly), “I forgive you,” as in, “We both know you’re wrong, but as I am above all things wrong, I deem you forgiven.”
     Then, poof, that’s it… no more work to do.
     Not so fast.  Christian forgiveness, based upon Christ’s teaching in the New Testament, is nothing like that.  As L. Gregory Jones explained it:
     “Christian forgiveness is not simply a word of acquittal, nor is it something that merely refers backward.  Rather, Christian forgiveness-- and, more specifically, forgiven-ness-- is a way of life, a fidelity to a relationship of friendship that must be learned and relearned on our journey toward holiness in God’s …Kingdom.”
     He hits the nail on the head, doesn’t he?  True forgiveness requires that we commit to sacrificial love for those who have hurt us, who have criticized us (even if wrongfully), to whatever degree… and however long it takes.
     During Lent, we can reflect on the fact that Jesus, once again, has taught us by his example.  He forgave everyone who hurt, betrayed and even killed him.  His forgiveness was a living forgiveness, a way of life that even extended to the moment of his death on the cross.
     Our church is a place where this type of loving forgiveness can be lived out on a regular basis.  It can be a place where pride is replaced with compassion, kindness and understanding… the kind spoken of in the Bible verse above.
     It’s never easy.  We are human, and we will always feel that tug to insist we are right.  But we are Christians first; God’s children.  And we are called to move from the human condition into a life with Christ.
     Lent is a good time to restart this process.  It is a time to reflect on our tendency to critique and point fingers, before we understand motivations.  It is a time to commit to follow Christ in being compassionate, understanding, loving and forgiving.
     It’s been said that Lent was invented so Christians could take another shot at their New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe so, but I think Lent has a bigger purpose: One of putting us back into the arms of Jesus Christ.
    Look around you.  All around this church are people moving closer and closer to Christ.  Go through past Beacons and see how our leaders have begun including heartfelt references to Christ and Scripture in their monthly reports.
     These are examples of folks who have partaken into courageous Lenten journeys.  They have worked to give themselves over to Christ, and through him, to do his work here at Franklin Presbyterian and beyond its doors.
     And in our pews are many others who continue to enrich the faith of themselves and others through Christ.  That is the heartbeat of the church: the body of Christ.
     So, then, we continue to walk together down the road of Lent, towards the glory of Easter; recognizing, confessing and repenting of our sin, and opening our hearts, minds and souls to the kind, compassionate, loving and forgiving Christ Jesus: our very Lord and Savior.
                                                                                                                                                                    Yours in Christ,
                                                                                                                                                                                      Pastor John