Ready or not, we are upon the threshold of Lent. This is a season that is typically marked by themes of light and shadow, confession and repentance, frailty and humility. It is a season that reminds us of our finiteness as human beings. On Ash Wednesday, we remember that our journeys are from earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. This is a season that invites and encourages us to dwell, for a time, with these themes that are not always comfortable but that can be deeply meaningful. The trouble with being on the threshold of Lent this year is that it feels like we’ve been living one big, perpetual Lent since the beginning of COVID-19! This pandemic has forced many, if not all of us, to dwell on our finiteness month after month after month. In light of that reality, how do we meet this new season of Lent? How can and will we enter in?
Our scripture passage this week is the traditional passage for the first Sunday in Lent. We will spend time with Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism and his subsequent temptation in the wilderness. My hope is that we will find ways to acknowledge the challenges of this season, embrace ourselves and each other as beloved of God and find courage and strength to lean into the all too real wilderness places of our lives in order, by the grace of God, to begin moving through them.
You’ll find included in this Flock Note a link to the first session of our Lenten Series called “Spiritual Practices for the Wilderness.” This week we’ll introduce a practice called The Examen. You are invited to view the video and practice the practice! You are also very welcome to join the Monday evening group at 6:30 where we’ll have a chance to debrief our experiences of the practice and share questions, insights and learnings.
I hope you’ll join us for online worship at 9:00 as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together. Please know that all are welcome to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions that are listed below. If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link. Drop-ins are welcome! Looking forward to being together on Sunday!
Mark 1:9-15 (NRSV)
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Questions to consider:
- What about Lent invites or calls to you this year? What about Lent troubles or repels you?
- How are you experiencing God’s affirmation/blessing in this time? How would you describe your struggles or your wilderness?
- What do you hope for in this season of Lent? Where and how do you hope to be at the end of this Lenten season?
What about Lent invites or calls to you this year? What about Lent troubles or repels you?
I think that Jesus is the greatest master of wisdom (Arabic: Kwajagan) on this earth. I think Jesus summons us to head the words he speaks and the world to which Jesus refers–the kingdom of God.
I do not agree with ‘blood sacrifice theology’ or the theology from the Dallas Theological Seminary (fundamentalist). But I find during Lent an acute awareness of the presence of God in every breath I take and every moment through which I pass.
I weep at every Good Friday and rejoice at every Easter. I am not sure that Jesus had a literal resurrection, but I do know that he lives in many forms for us today.