5 MARCH 2017Image Not Found.
Lent is 40 days of preparation and meditation to better prepare ourselves for the journey to the cross and the celebration of life on Easter Sunday. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness prior to beginning his earthly ministry, so we too spend these 40 of Lent preparing ourselves for the ministry to which we have been called.
During our Ash Wednesday service, I encouraged those in attendance to “give up something for Lent.” Traditionally, people have given up something for Lent that they wish they no longer did. If they gave up something during the 40 plus days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, they would stand a good chance that such habit would no longer be a part of their life. Thus, they would be better able to serve God.
But this Ash Wednesday, I suggested that we give up something for Lent that we do often each day but have no intention of stopping from doing in the future. Perhaps it is drinking a soft drink or eating something sweet. But whatever it is that we “give up for Lent,” it needs to be something that we do often during a normal day. Then, every time that we want to drink that something or eat that something or do that something we pause for a short prayer. That prayer could be as simple as, “God thank you for today and help me to live more faithfully.” Monday through Saturday of each week, we would follow this pattern. During those days, we would become more aware of God’s presence in our daily lives and the opportunities that God provides for us each day to serve God. But, since Sundays are not days in Lent because Sundays are Easter celebrations, you may drink or eat whatever you gave up for Lent on Sundays. This rhythm would help us to look forward to each Sunday and better appreciate the freedom and joy that God’s abundant life offers to us.
I hope that each of us will take advantage of this Lenten Journey to better prepare ourselves for what God wants to do in us and through us. I hope to see you on Sunday. May your Lenten Journey bless your life.
“Shackled by a heavy burden, neath a load of guilt and shame, then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same. He touched me, O he touched me, and O the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and now I know, he touched me and made me whole.”
William Gaither wrote these words and the music that we sing with these words in 1963. For me, these words express our human condition. We have messed up and we feel that burden as we reflect upon our words and/or actions.
Prior to Sunday, please read Matthew 4:1-11. This is an account of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness during his 40-day period of fasting prior to beginning his earthly ministry. As you read this Scripture, I hope that you will contemplate what each temptation represents and hear how Jesus addressed those temptations.
For me, my relationship with God through Jesus Christ is a relationship with a God who truly understands me and what I face. I believe that Jesus was tempted like I am tempted. This is because Jesus Christ really lived on this earth, really lived among other people and really lived in a fully human body. Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted but he did not sin. What is important to me is that Jesus Christ understands the power of temptation and the tendencies of our humanity. God not only hears us when we pray, God understands the challenges and temptations of our lives.
Jesus Christ’s temptations were real for Jesus Christ just as our temptations are real for us. It is my hope that this Sunday, as we prepare to receive Holy Communion, we will understand that Jesus Christ really does understand the heavy burden that we carry. That Jesus Christ did pay the price for our sin. And, because of Jesus Christ’s coming into our world we can sing, “Shackled by a heavy burden, neath a load of guilt and shame, then the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same. He touched me, O he touched me, and O the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and now I know, he touched me and made me whole.”
I hope to see you on Sunday. Please invite someone to come with you.