from Bishop Rindy
Mardi Gras… Carnival… Shrove “Fat” Tuesday… all come so easily. They appeal to our base nature, self-indulgence, no-holds-barred, ego feeding. Wild. Unrestrained. Partying. People seeking to fill our emptiness appear on our TV screens as networks report this “news.” Gordon Gekko, the infamous Wall Street film character, summed up this mentality which comes so easily – “greed is good.” This is not news, novel or new. It comes as easily to our human nature as falling off a wagon.
Yet all of these are brought to a screeching halt when ashes are embossed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. The ashes retrace the tracks of the cross first emblazoned on our brows with the waters of Baptism.
If only it were that simple! Whether our operating metaphor is that of Luther’s donkey:
“Thus the human will is placed between the two like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills, as the psalm says: “I am become as a beast [before thee] and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f.]. If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it.”
(Luther’s works vol. 33, pg. 65);
or the Cherokee wolf parable:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”,
our two natures will continue to battle it out until the day of Jesus Christ. The presence of the struggle is itself a sign of hope. God has not given up on us.
Yet as followers of Jesus Christ, we are once again reminded it’s time to take up our cross and follow. This will take different shapes in our different lives. At the same time, there will be a holy similarity in our journeys marked by a loving God and neighbor.
Marked with the cross of Christ, fed with Jesus’ body and blood, may we sense God’s presence beside, within, and before us on our cross-bearing Lenten journey.
Download Bulletin Insert: Feb 2012 Word from Bishop