Ash Wednesday 2021

The worst event in the history of the world

We begin this Lent with the worst event in the history of the world: Adam’s fall into sin. It’s the worst, because it brought death into the world.

The Lord had given Adam fair warning, that if Adam did the one and only thing the Lord forbid he do—eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—he would die.

But death didn’t only mean physical death for Adam. Where the Word of God tells us that the Lord created Adam in His image, after Adam fell into sin and Eve began to bear children we are told that the next generation of humans were born in Adam’s image. The meaning? That they were born sinners. That they began their lives already beginning to die. That they began their lives already spiritually dead.

The apple, indeed, does not fall far from the tree.

And every generation that came from them, came from them. As a man and a woman cannot do anything but pass on their physical DNA to their children, so they cannot do anything but pass on their spiritual DNA, their sinful nature, which came by Adam’s Original Sin.

Original Sin is the gift that keeps on giving, yet no one wants it. Thanks, Adam. How could you do such a thing?

Adam could do such a thing this way: his fall into sin showed how difficult love is. God is love, and He made Adam from His love. In love, He gave Adam the most challenging gift one can give: freedom. You parents know what I’m talking about.

The first time you let your child play at another child’s house, you experienced the pangs of fear which freedom brings. After that, it was your child heading off to school. Then it was sleepovers, then the first job, and traveling out of town without you, and going off to college or the service, and getting married, and moving to another town or another state.

Because you love your children, you don’t build fences around them. You give them freedom to move about, to stretch their wings and find their own joys and test out their talents.

But this freedom comes with a huge price tag.

Your children are free to reject you. Your children are free to associate with people who are not good for them. Your children are free to do things which might harm them. Your children are free to learn ideas and religions which hurt them both now and for eternity.

Your children might not love you back, but does that fear keep you from giving them freedom? Because God is love—total, unhindered love—He takes the leap without looking back and creates Adam with total, unhindered freedom. Even knowing that Adam will reject Him.

The Lord had put Adam in Paradise, and Adam could enjoy everything the Lord had created, except for the fruit from one tree, and that one tree was way across the state. And the first thing Adam said to Eve was “Road trip!”

It was Adam’s fault, solely Adam’s fault, that death came into the world. While it seems unfair to us that we should be born with no choice in the matter, that we inherit Adam’s sin and death, and there’s not a thing we can do about it, we have only our first father to blame.

We often question God, that if He knew that Adam would sin and bring death to every generation of mankind, why would He create Adam this way—why would He allow it—why wouldn’t He do things differently?

Hey, we know harm will come to our kids. We know they will get sick. That they will one day die. Knowing these things, why do we have them? If God is to be shamed for creating humans, when He knew what would happen, then we are to be shamed for bearing children, knowing what will happen.

To understand these things, we must be grounded in love. It’s our love that creates kids. Our love is a reflection of the Lord’s creative love.

To love means to reach out. To love means to think first of the object of one’s love, and only after that to think of oneself. To love means to provide freedom to those whom we love, but providing freedom means giving up control, and giving others the right to their own opinion. It means that we must walk around in a spirit of humility, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control.

And that’s not the way we want to be. The worst event in the history of the world has made us the center of our world. Do you want proof?

  • Why do parents harm their children?
  • Why does one country invade another country?
  • Why do the rich ignore the poor as they amass more riches?
  • Why do the poor hurt each other in the search for food and clothes and shelter?
  • Why does a spouse abandon a spouse?
  • Why does a husband or wife do the things that cause the spouse to want out?
  • Why do we kill each other?

Do I need to go on? Of course, I don’t. There’s nothing new here.

You are trapped—trapped in a body of death which you inherited from the worst event in the history of the world, the fall of Adam into sin. That’s why one day soon the pastor will say over your casket or urn, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”

The worst event in the history of the world requires the same love from the Lord by which He created you. Now, He has to love you enough to save you—to win back your freedom to live.

Over the next five Wednesdays, my premise will be that Christmas, and Good Friday, and Easter, and the Lord’s ascension, and the Last Day, are the greatest events in the history of the world.

Since you are familiar with the Lord Jesus’ birth and death, His resurrection and ascension, and that He promises to return to this earth to bring about your own resurrection into the Paradise of the recreated earth, think now on the greatest event in the history of your own life.

The greatest event in your life was the Holy Spirit calling you by the Good News that Jesus was born, Jesus died, Jesus rose, Jesus ascended, and Jesus is going to return. The greatest event was the Holy Spirit creating faith in you—bringing your dead spirit back to life—washing you in the baptismal waters of renewal and regeneration.

This is love, dear friends. Not that you love God, or that you love each other, but that He loves you. That He never stopped loving this fallen world. That the Father sent His one and only Son as the sacrifice for your sins—to die your death so that you might live in His love.

And so you do.

And so you do!

This is your Lenten reflection: the greatest events in the history of the world all center around the Father’s gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus’ gifts to you: forgiveness, life, and salvation in His name. Amen.

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