Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God,
that we, which for our evil deeds are worthily punished,
by the comfort of Thy grace may be mercifully relieved;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So reads the collect this fourth Sunday of Lent. This is one of the oldest collects, and truly a picture of our age old plight.. sinful folk deserving of punishment. It calls to mind the Psalm which states "O Lord, if you should keep account of our sins, who could stand?" This cold comfort which only seems to amplify the fact of our lost-ness.
And so the Gospel came. In its most simple form "Christ died for our sins". I love the simplicity of that statement. In the midst of our brokenness and the whirl and muck of chaos we have created for ourselves in our fallen state, the fresh breeze of Truth sweeps in. Christ died! It is finished! He arose! Grace abounds!
"What is both Good and New about the Good News is the wild claim that Jesus did not simply tell us that God loves us even in our wickedness and folly and wants us to love each other the same way and to love Him too, but that if we let Him, God will actually bring about this unprecedented transformation of our hearts Himself.
What is both Good and New about the Good News is that mad insistence that Jesus lives on among us not just as another haunting memory but as the outlandish, holy, and invisible power of God working not just through the sacraments but in countless hidden ways to make even slobs like us loving and whole beyond anything we could conceivably pull off by ourselves."*
"God has not only made His personal visit,
not only given us the pattern of true and happy living,
not only died to reconcile us to Himself,
not only is risen again both to shatter the fear of death and to prove His own claims,
but there is no barrier now between Him and us.
God in Christ is our contemporary.
If that is not Good News, it would be difficult to know what is!"+
+J. B. Phillips