As we enter the month of February, we are not only entering into the season of the world’s largest and most expensive spectacle (i.e. the Super Bowl), but also into a season of inner reflection and discernment.

Note: In preparing this article/Pastor’s page, I asked my phone what specific date the Super Bowl would be played wanting to be sure it was actually in February. Not only did she affirm the February date, but she reminded me that it has been quite a while since the last “wardrobe malfunction.” Feel free to file this under “Random TMI from the Pastor.”

As we enter the season of Lent, we have the opportunity to retreat and to rediscover and reprioritize our faith. Many times, Jesus would withdraw from the crowds to be in prayerful conversation with God. One of the earliest times was immediately after experiencing profound temptation.

And what better time to withdraw and reflect than after the Super Bowl’s extravaganza of super-star combat, elaborate productions, the occasional wardrobe malfunction, over a hundred million dollars in betting and billions more in other related spending; to say nothing of the embellished show of consumerism offered in four-and-a-half-million-dollar thirty-second increments. If this isn’t temptation, I don’t know what is.

And of course I’ll watch it. I wouldn’t miss it. I tell myself I love the game and the competition. And the truth is, I’m drawn into the other stuff too. Just like everyone else. I suppose I comfort myself in the idea that at least I know its nature.

And so it really is a great time to withdraw and to reflect and to renew and to refresh. It really is a great time to rediscover where God can already be found in our lives and in our world.

I believe that this discovery process must be undertaken in part through prayerful exploration of our sacred texts, and in the weeks before Easter it is right and appropriate to explore Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem.

To this end, we will be joining in a new sermon series beginning February 14th based primarily on the book The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. This series will run through the end of March concluding with Easter Sunday. We will focus on the earliest Gospel’s telling of these final days looking at verses between the eleventh and sixteenth chapter of Mark.

I am hopeful that we may re-discover God’s presence in our midst through faithful and prayerful study, through experiencing the stories anew, and through the opportunities to respond to Christ’s invitation to build God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”

May we be transformed by the God of Abraham and Jacob, the God of Esther and Ruth, the God of Paul and Timothy, the God of John Wesley and Martin Luther, the God of Rosa Parks and Dr. King, the God of Bono and Katy Perry and Pope Francis. May we be transformed by the God who lives in our hearts today and forever.

Pastor Bob