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Last summer I shared that on a hike upstate I came upon a small painted stone inscribed in black ink with the word “Believe”. It clearly had been left on a post as a blessing to the next person who came upon it, which in this case was me and eventually all of us of St. Luke’s.
Like grace, the point was to pass it on. But it fell into the deep recesses of my briefcase, eventually forgotten.
Then this January as we approached Lent, I was looking for a wristband for all of us to wear through the 40 days of Lent. I showed several possibilities in a catalogue to a random few for their opinion and each time they chose the wristband that says, ―Believe‖.
Only last week did I realize the connection, as if a seed had been planted and forgotten. But somehow it made its way back to us, just in time for Lent – ―believe‖!
In the Gospel of Mark, some people come to the leader of the synagogue to report his daughter has died and not to bother Jesus. Jesus overhears them and says to the leader of the synagogue, ―Do not fear, only believe.‖ (Mark 5:36)
Point taken still for the times in which we live – our belief in God’s mercy and presence can outweigh our fears.
Another time Jesus is called to heal a boy. The father says, ―If you are able, help us.‖ Jesus replied, ―If you are able! —All things can be done for the one who believes.‖ The father cries out, ―I believe; help my unbelief!‖ (Mark 9:24) The child is healed through prayer.
One of the most honest cries in scripture and a prayer even today‖. I believe. Help my unbelief!‖ And God will do just that.
Of course, it’s in the encounter between the risen Lord and (―doubting‖) Thomas that his situation is like our own. Thomas physically touches the wounds of Jesus and then believes Christ is raised from the dead. Jesus replies, ―Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.‖ (John 20:29)
That is us —who cannot touch the body of Christ, but we have come to believe through baptism, Holy Communion, the Word and those who bring us closer to Christ. We have touched the body of Christ because we have been touched by the living community of Christ.
May these days of Lent lead us daily to believe.
Lent is the time to get out of the head/mind (where most of us spend too much time) and more into the heart. It’s time to let go of the baggage we carry, the sins and pains that weigh us down and keep us from Christ.
In Lent we ask God to take away our burdens, our sins, our struggles and to forgive us for all that we’ve done and left undone. God keeps all God’s promises despite our unbelief. Christ’s mercy and love are real.
Let the seed ―believe‖ be planted again. God will give the growth even when you don’t see it, or think it tucked away seemingly forgotten.
It is growing in you!
On our Lenten journey together,
Pastor Bill Damrow