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During the sermon on Ash Wednesday, I updated/retold a story that I had used the year before. A few people have asked about the story, so I thought I would tell it again in the newsletter for those who were not present on Ash Wednesday.

My mother and stepfather had a bath chair in their shower. When my mother moved in with me in 2011, I brought the chair along and put it in our shower. Although my mother never used the shower while she lived with me (she was bed ridden), it remained in the shower just in case. When she died in 2012 I took the chair out of the shower and put it outside behind the shed. I had no immediate need for the chair but I tend to keep things "just in case." In November of 2013, I spent a week in the hospital because of an infection in my leg. When I was released from the hospital I was weak from the experience and I had a flair of arthritis in my back. As a result, I was not able to stand for long periods of time. Some of you might remember me preaching while sitting in a chair because of the arthritis. So, I brought the old shower chair back into the house so that I could sit while showering and it also was convenient to be sitting in the shower while treating my leg infection.

During the chair's extended unused time in the shower as well as spending a year and half outside it had become quite dirty. I did my best to clean it with a good scrubbing. Unfortunately, the scrubbing did not do much to make it look clean. The white surface of the stool looked gray and the engraved crevices had black dirt embedded in them that seemed like they might survive a nuclear disaster. When I no longer needed the chair, I left it in the shower just in case I might need it again in the future. Also, I found having the chair in the shower was helpful while cleaning since it gave me something to lean on when cleaning the lower part of the walls and the shower floor. Every time I cleaned the shower I would give the chair a good scrubbing as well. Over the course of a year, I noticed that the chair began to come clean. Eventually the gray seat transformed into its original white and the deep etched dirt stains faded away.

I likened this cleansing process to our dealing with sin in our lives. How we don't necessarily dispatch sin in our lives in a single action. That like the chair, there is an ongoing process of repenting, healing and absolution that can sometimes take years to arrive at a good result.

This past summer while cleaning the shower I scrubbed my chair as usual. For some reason I decided to turn the chair over. I was shocked at the incredible universe of dirt, mold and mildew that I had discovered lurking under my otherwise clean looking chair. Alas, no matter how well we think we have dealt with the sin in our lives it is often lurking undercover in some part of our soul. It reminds us of our need to continually reflect upon our actions and thoughts as we ask God to guide us in living the way God would have us live. It reminds us of our continual need to seek God's love, mercy and forgiveness. It reminds us that we must always adopt an attitude of repentance as we approach God each week in worship. It reminds us that like the dirt on that shower chair, we may need to be cleansed over and over again before we can truly see an impact that leads us to righteousness in God. As we journey through these forty days of Lent, let us come before God with a true heart, confess our sins, and hear the promise of forgiveness as God scrubs us clean of our sins.

Grace and Peace,