Hidden Paradise: Lent Day 7

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 5)

Lenten Recipe

Recipe : Mushroom Ragu

Lent Day 7: Hidden Paradise
Unique to the Armenian church is the practices of naming each Sunday of Lent with a descriptive and special name. This Sunday is called the Sunday of Expulsion. We are reminded of how sin enters into our life and prevents us from experiencing the best of life – Paradise – in God’s fullness.
When you enter an Armenian church during Lent, you immediately notice the huge curtain draped across the altar area. The curtain is there to remind us of sin, because sin, just like the curtain, prevents us from seeing the beauty of God.
Sin is a normal part of life. It literally means, “missing the mark.” In archery, you aim your arrow at the bull’s eye. When it misses the mark, the arrow is sinning. Likewise, we are called to enjoy Paradise – the bull’s eye. We fall short from reaching that mark because of our imperfections.  Sins are the obstacles that prevent us from experiencing, the fullness God – a life full of love, peace and happiness.
Sin is avoidable but is very much a part of life. Do not make the mistake of believing that because sin is in your life that paradise is lost or cannot be attained. Sin is merely a reminder that we are human, that we are not God. Only God is without sin because by definition God is love and love cannot be sin. Love cannot be that barrier between us and paradise. Love is pure. Therefore, if sin is an obstacle, it can be overcome.
Expulsion Sunday is a reminder that we were created in and for paradise.  God gives us paradise and he wants us to be in complete union with His awesome love. In that paradise, much like the myth of Adam & Eve, we choose to go against His will. In other words we seek the fruit of knowledge of good and evil to become like God.
God gives us one set of instructions and we, of our own free will, opt for and choose another. God tells us love one another, and we say not everyone. God tells us care for one another and we say only for those who give us something in return. God says love your neighbors as you love yourself and we build bombs, stock pile weapons and destroy towns, villages and countries. God says value the family and we say I will bring the work home, to take time away from the family. God says, value life but we say the dollar buys us more. God says enjoy your life and we define that enjoyment by all kinds of abuses to our body and our life style. God says, take care of this world and we say who cares, and go about cutting down the rain forests and polluting the environment. God says worship me and we say I have better things to do. God says know me and we say there’s no profit in it.
The sin of humankind is that we exert our will over the will of God, and so we distance ourselves from God and paradise. Sin causes the divide, the separation from God. Sin is the curtain that prevents us from looking beyond and seeing the beauty on the other side.  
During the Lenten season we have this opportunity to look within, to reflect and make improvements on our life. Taking inventory is important and today we take inventory of the sins in our life. If you break them down you will find that each and every one of them are related to us exerting our will, in a way that is out of sync with God’s will. Remember the lesson of prayer and remember to listen to the voice calling within. Listen for the Will that is speaking to you. You will find it no further than the love that He has placed in your heart. That is the love which can conquer all of the difficulties, including the greatest sins that are before you.
Let us now pray the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali:
Spirit of God, true God, who descended into the Gordan, and into the upper chamber and who enlightened me by baptism in the Holy font. I have sinned against heaven and before You. Cleanse me with your divine fire as you purified the Holy apostles with fiery tongues.
Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner. Amen. (I confess with Faith 5/24)
Music: Lifebeats, Jethro Tull 1973
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