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Thoughts on Lent from ARDF

“Christ first served us through God’s overwhelming Grace”

Give the Gift of Grace this Lent

 

Dear ARDF Family,

In this season of Lent, we are reflecting on what makes this season life changing. It is sweet to remember how Christ first served us through the overwhelming Grace of God. At ARDF, it is our privilege to journey with you as we strengthen communities in the developing world through empowering the local church to serve those in need.

Although we just finished celebrating Christ’s birth, now, almost too soon, we are pondering his death. At Christmas we read: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Christ’s death is still difficult for me to fathom when I look at a crucifix. It seems unjust in every way. But God’s large plan enables us to see how much God loves us.  It’s unbelievable but it’s real. Two people who lived in Jesus’ time did connect the scriptural dots as to why Jesus died – Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. These two men buried Jesus and placed him into a sealed tomb. Why?

The Old Testament says:  “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

Jewish leaders of the day knew sin is punishable and required forgiveness. Sacrifices for breaking the law were part of their worship in the Temple – much like our prayers of confession. But neither the Jewish leaders nor Jesus’s disciples understood the necessity of Christ’s death. They did not have the large picture of what God’s Messiah came to earth to accomplish.

I believe when Nicodemus remembered the Isaiah passage about the Messiah, he recognized the reality of Jesus’s saving death. That’s why he and Joseph of Arimathea took care of Jesus’ dead body while the disciples scattered.

That Sunday when Jesus was not in the tomb, Nicodemus knew something large had occurred. The scriptural dots connected again between the Isaiah scriptures and the conversation Nicodemus had had about spiritual rebirth with Jesus himself.  (John 3:1-21).

Although it is hard to grasp, the Grace of God always included the planned sacrificial death of Jesus. Jesus’s resurrection was a real second supernatural birth, forgiving our sins when we recognize this. God’s gift to us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ made God (himself) tangible to us.

Previous Archbishop of Southeast Asia Bolly Lopak said – “There is no person or church too poor not to give something.  And when we give we make God tangible.”

ARDF allows us to make God tangible to others.  ARDF practices gospel-based relief and development through the worldwide Anglican Communion. It’s our local church in action with another local church overseas. We worship the same God and know that through Christ there is new life here and forever.

Easter is about God’s grace, giving and truth. May this year’s Easter have a unique and grateful impact on you,  your family, your work and your ministry to others.

With every blessing,

Canon William E. Deiss
Executive Director
The Anglican Relief and Development Fund

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