Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
I love cleaning. Always be have. Even as a child, I never had to be asked twice to pick up my room (okay, maybe a couple times I had to be asked twice). But I love cleaning. Carol discovered this early in our marriage, and I am convinced it is one of the reasons she keeps me around. When we were newlyweds I kicked off my day off (it was Friday then) by completely cleaning our apartment. Through the years I have mostly kept that up (again, so she will keep me around), but much has changed. My days off are now moving targets. Our home now includes three kids who have not yet discovered the wonder and joy of a clean room. And the 1.5 bedroom apartment is now a 3 story house.
I should probably note, while the specific cleaning process doesn’t bother me that is hardly the part I enjoy so much. Even more than cleaning of a room, I love a clean room. I love when everything is in its place. I love saying, ‘bon voyage,’ to things that need to go. I love the order, the tidiness, and the arrangement of a freshly cared for room. It brings me peace.
Perhaps that is why I also love the season of Lent. Because Lent is a season in the church year where we get to tidy up our spiritual lives a bit. It begins with an invitation to turn around, and it moves to the cross. Throughout the season we are invited to disciplines of self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, sacrificial giving, and works of love. We’re invited to tidy up our lives and our hearts. To let go of the clutter, to the say, ‘bon voyage,’ to the things that try to separate us from God, and to put love and giving and prayer back in their place. And that reflection, repentance and renewal have the power to bring us peace.
Lent also reminds us that like rooms which become dirty again the moment we finally have them clean (or maybe that is only me and my three kids), so too this practice of repentance, confession and forgiveness is hardly a one-time shot. It’s something that we are invited to daily, and sometimes multiple times in one day. Yet no matter how often we need it, we find available to us at every moment.
There is a stanza that I have been singing to myself this Lent. It’s from the Natalie Grant song “Clean,” and it says: “There’s nothing too dirty | That You can’t make worthy | You wash me in mercy | I am clean.”
We are clean. We are worthy. We are washed in mercy.
Actually, there is something better than a clean room. It is a clean heart. A clean spirit washed in the mercy, grace, and forgiveness of our God who himself is a master cleaner. In this season of preparation for the celebration of Easter, I pray that each of us may experience the joy and peace of being washed of our sin by the blood of the lamb, and that having been made clean we may be able to fully celebrate the resurrection life that is our in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.