17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.
20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.
“Old things have gone away! New things have arrived!”
Eleven months into a pandemic, I’m not sure those words ring as true as I would want them to or hope they would. New things – or even the return of old, familiar things – still seem kind of far away.
And yet, we have hope. Because Christ is who he is – our God who died and rose again – we have the assurance that any day, and in fact, every day, can be an opportunity to start over.
As we begin Lent, we repent in dust and ashes. The ashes are meant to represent our mortality and our sinfulness, both of which are redeemed by the grace and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This scripture, which we frequently read in worship on Ash Wednesday, reminds us that reconciliation – the opportunity for new relationship with God and one another through Jesus – is always just waiting for us to claim it. Though we’ve set aside this day and this season as a moment to reach for it together – as a Church confessing, repenting, and seeking to draw closer to God – in truth any one of us can start over again at any time.
Today, remember that old things have gone away, and new things have arrived – because when we are in Christ, we are already part of his new creation! Thanks be to God.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Who do you know that needs to be reminded of this good news today: that a whole new life can start right now? We need not be trapped in old ways of being, in old hurts and sins. Through Jesus, God has opened for us the way to a new life. With whom can you share this word of encouragement?
Prayer: Gracious Savior, we thank you that you have given your Church this season of reflection and repentance to prepare for the new life that comes at Easter. But remind us today that new life can begin anytime, anywhere, at any moment when we are willing to embrace your great love for us – a love that was undeterred by anything, even a cross. Amen.