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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Real power, real hope

Our souls are in daily danger of dying at least mine is

Contrasting images linger this Lent. In one, weeping moviegoers console each other outside a theater where they've seen Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In the other, a bishop marks a forehead with ashes, a sign of participation in the mystery of the cross of Christ.

And where is power, the power of God for salvation? In both places, I'm sure.

The movie strikes a deep nerve, moving some to denounce it as "obscene," while others are moved to faith or to deeper faith in the incomparable love of God that Christ expresses amid savage torture. I take nothing from those moved to wonder at the grace of God through Gibson's celluloid images. May all so moved continue to be richly blessed.

But the quieter scene, the mark of ashes, invites me to know the cross not as a scene upon which I wonder but as the central reality of my life and pain, my joy and sorrow, my hope and confusion.

I need this power of God for salvation. We all do. For our souls are in daily danger of being lost — at least mine is.


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September issue

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