Faithfully yours - It’s time for an inward look


Neil Strohschein
Neepawa Banner & Press

Two significant events happened in the first half of 1945. One made the headlines. It’s highly unlikely that the other one got any coverage at all, for reasons that will soon become obvious. In May of that year, the front pages of major newspapers around the world carried the news that, after over five years of fighting in Europe and north Africa, the war against Germany had ended. What followed was the biggest party England had ever seen, as people took to the streets in the first of what would become an annual commemoration of VE (Victory in Europe) Day.

With all the anticipation leading up to VE Day, the second event went virtually unnoticed. It has not been repeated until this year—2018—and when it happens again, you, I, and most of our children won’t be here to celebrate it. So, what is this significant event?

The season is one we celebrate every year—Easter, preceded by the 40 days of Lent. The dates are what makes this year different. This is the first year since 1945 that Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) falls on February 14 (Valentine’s Day) and Easter Sunday falls on April 1 (April Fool’s Day). I am quite certain that many people will see the humor in that coincidence and that someone will come up with a carefully worded (and hopefully funny) reaction.

But while some may see humor in the dates of Ash Wednesday and Easter, there is little humor to be seen in the seasons themselves, especially in the 40 days of Lent.

During Lent, we take an honest look at our world and the conditions in which its people live. Let’s be honest—as the years go by, we have less and less to be proud of. From its first days on earth until now, the human race has not done a good job of caring for the earth and its people. War, violence and lack of respect for others have become the norm in our society; with each generation being more violent and abusive than the one that preceded it.

Then, having looked around us, we look within. During Lent, we ask ourselves a question that we should ask many times each day: “To what extent are the attitudes I despise in others present in me?” The answer to this question will reveal the extent to which we are responsible for the violence, prejudice, abuse and other ills we see around us.

Not one of us can be blamed for every ill in society, but where our attitudes have offended others and caused problems, we are to blame and for that, we must take responsibility.

But as we do, we realize how deeply engrained some of these attitudes are and how difficult (at times impossible) it is to remove them from our minds. Facing this fact can often create feelings of anxiety and despair. Can we ever change? Can we ever become people who will love, accept and forgive others as God has loved accepted and forgiven us?

Despite what some would have us think, God’s word tells us that in our own strength, we can do nothing to change ourselves. We may rid ourselves of some negative attitudes, only to replace them with self-exalting pride, which will make things 10 times worse for ourselves and others.

We need a redeemer. We need someone who can help us make the changes we need to make in us and in our world. God has given us what we need. His name is Jesus.