March 9, 2018

By Rev. Melissa MacKinnon, Santa Clarita UMC, North District

Romans 8:11

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

We were having a dialogue in church during one of my sermons. We were discussing the idea of what prevents people in the church from embracing a faith that includes growth. Everything grows, everything changes and so we were pondering the idea that even our faith and understanding of God grows and changes. Suddenly, an answer came from one of the front pews, “We are afraid of growth because everything that grows dies.” A hush came over the room and quiet consent grew as a few heads nodded in agreement. True, we are afraid of growth because it does mean that some things die. We can have a tendency to hold on to some ideas or someone because we fear the loss of them. So, I turned to the person and asked, “What do we, as followers of Christ, believe about death?” The answer came from farther back in the pews, “God put to death death.” The Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit that dwells in us. This Spirit of God who ministers, works with, and leads our spirit gives us life to live in this life, and life beyond this life. So we have no reason to fear death.

With the Spirit of God working with our spirit we are not only changed in feeling, no longer fearing death, we are also compelled to live differently — to live free from avoiding or mitigating our fear of death. We live a life that is rooted in abundant life — meaning living a life full of life and wanting to share that life with others.

Lent is a time of personal reflection and preparation for Easter. Lent brings about self-examination and a time to search our souls and hearts for those attachments that we are not willing to let go because we feel they might die. Yet, those attachments might be the very thing preventing us from welcoming the growth or transformation God longs to bring to our lives and to the world.

How can God’s Spirit dwelling with your spirit empower you to let go of things that prevent you from growing? How will you grow toward God this Lent?

Prayer: God of transformed living, give us the courage to let go of ways of thinking and ways of living that prevent us from fully being transformed by you into the future you are crafting. Amen.