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CHURCH CORNER: Salvation requires conversion of the heart

“Come on, we need a break, when is this rain going to end?” “I am tired of this, I need the sun.”

I often hear despairing cries like these uttered from even those who were born and raised in the Evergreen State where the rain is daily liquid sunshine and the sun a guest whose lifespan lasts but a moment.

As I was driving around last month I was moved with pity at the sight of those barren trees along the roads like telephone poles, without leaves and with ice at their feet. Some ecologists may share my concern and question the most enjoyable season for vegetation. With the sumner heat the vegetation barely survives beside the dandelions that seem to enjoy the season and grow the more we mow the lawn. Then leaves fall down in fall from trees. With the winter cold, trees are completely stripped, and then comes spring with its beautiful tulips and lilies, flowers blossom, trees recover leaves, the grass is green once again, the earth is clothed and vegetation resurrects. Life is back and renewed. Exhorting his listeners to place their trust in God and then completely serve him, Jesus admires the same landscape as we do (Mt 6: 28-30).

Spring seems to be the most enjoyable season for some people. Many get anxious when spring is late in coming. Isn’t it something that every year our Lenten season falls in this enjoyable season of spring? Is it a coincidence or is it providence?

Spring was an old English word for what today is called Lent. The name is taken from the Anglo Saxon “lencten,” meaning “spring,” and refers to a period of spiritual renewal some Christians go through as preparation for the Easter celebration. Since we are half way through Lent, we might consider stopping and checking how our renewal is coming along. Another Easter is coming up and it may be an occasion for children to have fun hunting for eggs and families getting together. However, there is more to Easter than these social gatherings. The joy of commemorating our salvation in the death and resurrection of Christ, the spiritual gift pursued by sincere repentance, the true conversion of heart, all these should take precedence in our lives. It’s all about letting go of the old man with his old ways and embracing the new way taught by Christ. That was the journey of Jesus’ disciples and the apostles of the early church.

As we read about Jesus’ life in Scripture it’s helpful to keep in our mind that the gospel books are an aftermath of the resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was a life-changing experience for his disciples and apostles who, enlightened by the resurrection, finally “got it.” They saw Jesus’ words with the light of the new event and understood them. The apostles who where on and off while around their teacher finally let go of their hesitations and fears. The book of the Acts of the Apostles displays their work as result of Jesus’ resurrection.

What kind of chaos would have occurred if Jesus had not been raised from the dead? St. Paul has the answer: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15: 14).

However, Jesus’ resurrection was a onetime event so the “it is accomplished” he breathed on the cross (referring to his mission) was meaningful. Saved by the precious blood of the Lamb of God and supreme sacrifice, we should grasp this gift, collaborate in our own redemption and participate in it through a daily metanoia and renewal. Unlike a snake who sheds old skin for new skin, our salvation requires transfiguration of our lives, a true conversion of heart, a transformation of nature like a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly. Such personal transformation together with that of other individuals will cause a significant transformation of our society. Then this year Easter may be spiritually different from the other.

The Rev. Ambroise Ntumba

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