Has anything changed yet because of Lent? Have you decided on a spiritual discipline that is personal to you? Is it either giving up something or taking up something for Forty Days?
In last week’s sermon I suggested taking up forty days of reading and study in one book of the Bible. I have chosen Leviticus to better understand the reasons for so much attention paid to prohibitions and ritual regulations amongst the Israelites. You may have another book in mind or another practice you are called to in Lent.
Regardless, of what we give up or “fast from” or “take up” we are also listening to Jesus who tells the demanding Peter to “quit being like Satan in your attitude!” “Get behind me Satan.”
Peter is in such contrast to 99 year old Abraham in our Genesis text. Abraham listens to the word of God and trusts the promise to come true to in spite of almost being dead! But Peter does not trust what Jesus says about where His ministry is heading: to conflict and death; in order to fulfill the promise and purposes of God.
Peter is not literally Satan but he surely is acting as an “adversary” to Jesus the teacher, healer, Messiah! Peter is a slow learner as we shall see further ahead during Lent. Even so, he still learns while walking the way that leads to life Eternal. Not an easy path but a fulfilling, exciting, meaningful path. Peter finally quits being “Satan”
Lent is an opportunity to “change,” to grow and learn like Peter did. God isn’t finished with us yet! “Get thee behind us, Satan!”
See you Sunday in worship!! And onto the next week of discipleship!
As I write this I am looking out the kitchen window into a beautiful, cold wilderness that won’t go away! The ice and snow are affecting us and millions of our fellow citizens throughout the USA.
And it seems like we’ve been “out of church” for not just a week but what seems like forty days! I suppose Jesus in the wilderness felt the absence of worship in the synagogues. But he was experiencing God in ways not unlike Moses and the prophets, the children of Israel in their wilderness, Israelites in their captivity to foreign powers like Assyria and Babylon.
So, now is our temporary winter and COVID absence from worship and fellowship. Prayer continues in our homes and work places, scripture study is ongoing, and our friends and family in Christ are not far removed from us!
When we do gather again in our sanctuaries or “on the ether waves” we will rejoice and be glad. And we will repent, look inward and outward, as we enter those Forty Days in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. We are marked by the sign of the Cross wherever we are whether shut in or moving about. Marked as we are by the Life and Death of Christ, we know our wilderness is only temporary, transient, and to be left behind as we enter our Promised Land and life in the midst of the Kingdom of God!
Fear not the cold nor the heat but rejoice in the warmth of God’s care for us! Rejoice that you have brothers and sisters in Christ. May the time in whatever wilderness you are going through, be also a time of the love of Jesus for you!
Let us look forward to our worship time together whenever that day appears! Prepare your hearts for the Forty Days of Lent whether at home, at work, in the community, in our sanctuaries, and wherever you carry forth in your mission and witness!
2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and Mark 9:2-9
This Sunday’s worship highlights the Transfiguration of Jesus as presented in Mark 9. Paul celebrates the light and the glory of God in Christ. The 2 Kings passage is about two “senior and junior” prophets one who is taken up in a chariot of fire.
Bright light, shining glory, fire. Words that describe the presence and power of God. We are given so many ways to understand and experience God in scripture. All our human senses are involved. Body, mind, and emotions are called to behold the Lord!
And not just in imitation of the Bible descriptions but in our current living situations. Bible images speak to our emotions while our mind helps us interpret and experience God centuries removed from those vivid images. Then our bodies serve to bear witness to God’s care for all.
So, to see Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration is to be reminded today to look up, listen, and to look “inward” to realize that God is worthy of glory, beauty, and wonder!
We may not see “chariots of fire” today but we can understand and experience that in ways appropriate to the times we live in. Such meaning can even find its way into the movies. You might want to watch the movie CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) as a way of entering in to a contemporary experience of faith in the gifts of athletic skill and struggling discipleship in the modern world. Our faith is a living faith not bound by space and time limited to centuries ago.
Read these passages in preparation for worship and revel in the glory of God!
Isaiah 40:21-31, I Corinthians 9:16-23 and Mark 1:29-39
God offers a whole lot in the full package of relational salvation. Isaiah says God is a “renewer of strength.” Paul says the Gospel is a “blessing.” And Mark says “Jesus cast out evil spirits.”
For us, and most of church history, the faithful experience a divine strength beyond our own. They experience a long list of blessings from the Good News. However, getting an evil spirit cast out is not at the top of the list!
On the other hand, we would eagerly accept the “exorcism” of meanness, violence, captivity to bad habits, anything that “harmfully possesses us!” Please release me!! The Good News is meant to be a freedom both from bad things and a freedom for good things. Please release me, let me go! Please direct me toward the good, the better, the best!
Most of us are in need of help beyond what we can do for ourselves. The Source is God in Christ and the visible help comes by the Spirit working through the many hands and feet of the Church. Especially the Church known Sunday and every weekday!
Let’s explore this help we receive from God in its many forms and features this Sunday in worship in Word and at Table as scripture is proclaimed and Bread and Cup are shared.