“. . . overwhelmed by sins . . .”

“Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.  You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.  When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.” (Psalm 65:1-3)

As I contemplated the coming of Lent I couldn’t help but view the mountain of plastic bottles collected by scouts at our church as a visual reminder of our sin.  As most of you know, we’re located in the area near Charleston, WV where our water was contaminated by a chemical spill.  We estimate that by the end of February the scouts of our church collected around three million plastic bottles that resulted from the contamination.  (The pile of bottles in the photo is a very tiny amount of the total collected.) As I continued to think about Lent and our sin I decided to use some of the bottles to construct a focal image for our worship during the season leading up to Easter. 


The water bottles help remind me that all of this was not simply the fault of someone or something else.  Even though I realize that the chemicals were leaked into the river by the negligence of a company and the negligence of government to supervise the storage of dangerous chemicals near the river,  it seems I can’t simply blame it all on a company and a government.  As with most sin I get a sense that somehow we’re all in this together.  Our brokenness is very complicated by our inter-connectedness and our wants and needs.  After all, we want and need the electricity that the coal provides, and so we need the chemical that spilled to wash the coal to give us our electricity.  There are times when it’s necessary to hold others accountable.  However, it’s also easier to look for targets to blame for difficulties than to also consider our own participation in the brokenness, so we best be careful that our only move in the presence of overwhelming sin (brokenness) is not simply to blame.

As the psalmist says in the passage above we can become overwhelmed by our brokenness, but God can and will forgive and heal.  My sense is that Lent is the time not to look elsewhere and blame for whatever the brokenness (sin) might be that smothers us, but rather, to look inward and wonder.  If we simply blame then we cannot acknowledge our sin, ask for God’s forgiveness, be healed, and finally led down a path of transformation – new beginnings.  Lent is the time for confronting the brokenness of our world, the brokenness that each of us is somehow part of.  Lent is the time to first look inward.  In that process we will find the promise of God’s amazing grace in Christ.  I pray that God will help me during Lent to look inward.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”

~ by revgenelson on March 12, 2014.

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