March 5 was the first Sunday in the season of Lent, a 40 day season in the Christian year leading up to Easter. Lent is a time when we contemplate our sin and our relationship with God. Therefore on this first Sunday in Lent we considered Paul’s words found in Romans 5:12-19. Here Paul points out Adam’s sin that introduces condemnation/death and Jesus’ righteousness introduces justification/life. The creation stories tell us that creation was good and that evil was found only in the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God walked with humanity, side by side, there was no pain, no turmoil, no natural disasters, no death, and all was good. It was only after humanity chooses to eat the fruit that evil is introduced to the created order. This causes a separation between humanity and God, no longer will they walk in the garden together. This good creation of God is now filled with evil and therefore pain, turmoil, natural disaster and death, all is not good! God then begins work to rebuild this relationship that has been broken. The Old Testament is filled with God at work trying to bring humanity and all creation back into right relationship with God and one another. The introduction of evil/sin causes us to ignore God and treat each other badly. *Sid and Barney head out for a quick round of golf. Since they are short on time, they decide to play only nine holes. Sid offers Barney, “Let’s say we make the time worth the while, at least for one of us, and spot five dollars on the lowest score for the day.” Barney agrees and they enjoy a great game. After the eighth hole, Barney is ahead by one stroke, but cuts his ball into the rough on the ninth. “Help me find my ball; you look over there,” he says to Sid. After five minutes, neither has had any luck, and since a lost ball carries a four-point penalty, Barney pulls a ball from his pocket and tosses it to the ground. “I’ve found my ball!” he announces triumphantly. Sid looks at him forlornly, “After all the years we’ve been friends, you’d cheat me on golf for a measly five bucks?!?” “What do you mean cheat? I found my ball sitting right here!” “And a liar, too!!!” Sid says with amazement. “I’ll have you know I’ve been standing on your ball for the last five minutes!” Sin and evil causes us to treat one another in ways God never intended. Knowing that sin and evil are part of our nature what do we do? Nothing, there was nothing we could do! God was the only one who could make things right and God did with Jesus. Jesus showed us how to be in relationship with God. Jesus showed us how to love one another, share compassion for one another and ultimately how to sacrifice for one another. Jesus in his righteousness allowed us to be justified with God. Jesus filled the void between God and humanity with his life. **During the night our dogs started barking furiously. Our dogs don’t usually bark unless there is a prowler or something is wrong. The next morning we looked around but nothing was missing. Instead, something had been returned. Outside the front door were two car speakers that had been stolen six weeks earlier. A note attached to them read, “I’m sorry that I took your speakers, but now I have repented of my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me. I hope you will forgive me too. I no longer take other people’s belongings. God has changed me. I am a new creature since I asked Jesus into my heart.” It was signed simply, “Saved.” Jesus has come to enable us to make right what has fallen. Will we follow the example of Christ? Paul’s words remind us that with Adam’s sin equals death, with Jesus’ righteousness equals life! Will we choose life over death, will we choose love and grace for others over lust and greed for ourselves? During this season of lent may we experience Jesus’ righteousness and resist Adam’s sin!

*Dishonest Gold Buddies Jim Petty

** Let Him Steal No More Micheal Kelley