When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
When I first read the passage above, I couldn't help but have the strong visual of the cross at Point of Grace after an Ash Wednesday service. The picture attached to this post is of the cross from this past Wednesday's service.
For those that read this blog but have never participated in an Ash Wednesday service at Point of Grace, let me explain that the service is actually an interactive experience where the worship center is transformed into stations where worshipers can experience faith and praise and grace and forgiveness and sacraments at their own pace and in ways that really help each of us connect relationally with Christ.
At one of the stations, we are asked to repent of our sins by praying about them and writing them on slips of paper that we nail to the cross. The act of nailing these sins to the cross is the act of handing them over to Christ so that they are ours no longer. So when I look at the picture, I am seeing the sins - the "legal indebtedness" -- of the individuals in our church taken away and nailed to the cross.
At this same station, participants then received the sign of the cross on their forehead in ashes. To me, that so fits the verse "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." It is impossible to miss the sign of the cross on our foreheads -- they triumphantly declare our grace and forgiveness that we have received.
So then, to me, the next set of verses gives me an image of how to live throughout this season of Lent and beyond - "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." To live in a reality that is found in Christ - to stay connected through prayer, worship, study -- really seeking His guidance in my life so that I can live in the reality that comes through Him. This world and the people of this world do not dictate what that reality might or should look like. Christ does.
I am thankful to be reminded of that.