With Lent just days away, we have a decision to make. Will we give up chocolate or yarn-buying, or take a sabbatical from social media? We might take on a practice instead, reading a particular book or writing our own Lenten reflections, or cleaning out closets to make donations of clothes we no longer wear, or take on an exercise challenge. Any of these might show we intend to be more disciplined about our care of body, mind, and spirit.
Reading the second letter to the church in Corinth, however, we find a different kind of commitment to God by Paul and Timothy, a daunting list explaining how “as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way.” Their disciplines were the survival of afflictions, abuse, imprisonments, and hunger. They claimed fruits of the Spirit as powers for good. They survived, too, the opinions of others, overturning the claims made against them.
Paul and Timothy offer their example as a case for discipleship. They beg us “on behalf of Christ” to reunite with God. This is not a message to new believers. It is a plea to those who have let their relationship lapse.
In choosing a Lenten practice, we might consider how we keep God at a distance, whether through our actions or our inactions. We may have chosen things that make life easier with other people. We may be grieving the life we expected that did not come to be. We may have placed the life of faith low on our list of priorities. Reconnecting with God begins with confessing that we are apart and deciding to make God our primary focus, for we are God's.
Holy One, you do not promise a smooth path or a happy ending, but you do promise to be in relationship with us no matter what. May we promise the same to you. Amen.
The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.
Read Genesis 9:8-17. When have you, after a season of loss, experienced new life? What was the sign of that new life?
Read Psalm 25:1-10. How are you experiencing God’s steadfast love and faithfulness in your life? How do you offer thanks?
Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you sacrificed something for the sake of someone else?
Read Mark 1:9-15. Recall a “wilderness” experience in your own life. What helped you to move through that experience? What were the spiritual gifts of that experience?
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