Freedom to Clean

Let this same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,  Who, though he was in the form of God,  did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,  but emptied himself. 

-Paul, in Philippians 2:5-7

Christ chose not to cling to his prerogative to be God in his very nature, but out of his love for God, he was completely consumed to do God’s will; to be the means of redeeming the created order.  Right now, Elizabeth and I are in the process of emptying our stuff preparing for our transition to a new life together. We are emptying closets, drawers, and filing cabinets of things that we individually accumulated over the years. It’s a lot of stuff! As we do so, I am reminded of spiritual and mental clutter. Perhaps the physical emptying makes our spiritual emptying easier!  Christ’s choice to empty himself resulted from his great love for God, a love that God also shed on him (John 17). Because of such transcending love, Jesus desires always to “will one thing” (Kierkegaard): the glory of God and God’s kingdom.   In this willing for the one thing we discover a freedom from that which keeps us bound. A freedom that enables us to be who God truly made us to be. We are bound by things both physical and spiritual in our lives. And in order to discover freedom in Christ we must “declutter” the things that bind us.   Christ shows us the way to freedom from bondage to self by prayerfulness. Jesus used prayer for centering to face the challenges of his day. He would often retreat to quite places to pray to the one he loved. An alternative centering prayer word taught by a spiritual master is to “let go.” In her book Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill often used the word abandon. Abandon yourself to God!  As we begin our yearly Lenten journey individually and as a community, we are invited to pick up the Lenten discipline—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament. These disciplines invite us to strengthen our relationship with God by setting aside those things that distract us from truly listening to God’s voice. It is a season of “letting go” a time to intentionally abandon ourselves to God. To follow in Christ’s footsteps. Footsteps that ultimately lead us to the cross. That which is the sign of God’s great love for us.  In all, we want to seek the mind of Christ, who showed us the way to empty ourselves and to will the one thing: God and God’s kingdom.  

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Eckman