From Mark 1:10-13 – And just as [Jesus] 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.
Like Jesus in today’s scripture, we symbolically venture into the wilderness for forty days during Lent. Lent leads to Easter and the Resurrection, and it is my prayer that this season will be life-affirming to each of you.
Steadfast God, thank you for walking beside us each day. Help us to know your true voice so that we won’t be distracted along the way. AMEN.
Sunday is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. Lectionary readings for this Sunday include: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Mark 1:9-15.
From Psalm 25:1, 4-5 – To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul…Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
When I read these verses, I thought of the hymn “Here I Am, Lord.” I pulled out these three verses for today because I think they make a wonderful prayer for each day but especially for Lent.
“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.” AMEN.
From Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
For me, part of the discipline of Lent is to take time to intentionally reassess my life and my faith, and then make course corrections, or changes, if treasures are being stored inappropriately.
Loving God, help us to know your will and give us the strength to act toward others and ourselves in ways which honor that knowledge. AMEN.
Continuing from our passage yesterday we read from Isaiah 58:8-10 – Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.” If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
Elton John sang a song in The Lion King called “Circle of Life,” but I like the circle of life offered by today’s passage: Offer someone light, and see your light rise. Offer someone healing, and you, too, will be healed.
God of light and healing, help us be light-givers to those of your children who come before us this day. AMEN.
Please take a moment to read the article “Six Weeks of Renewal” by my co-worker at the Church Health Center, Sister Ellen Buchignani. She reflects on Ash Wednesday, Lent and fasting. Her article is posted on http://www.HopeandHealing.org. Sister Ellen is both a Sister of Mercy and a surgeon.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. There are lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday which include: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. An alternate to the Joel passage is Isaiah 58:1-12.
From Isaiah 58:6-7 – Is this not the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Fasting is a common observance during Lent, although not one in which I have regularly participated. While we can pay honor to and reflect on God through fasting, this passage reminds us that we also serve God through our service to others each day.
Gracious God, help us share ourselves with others in ways which are pleasing to you. AMEN.
From Mark 9:8-9 – Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
What I like most about the Transfiguration story is what happens immediately after these verses. Following this deeply moving, spiritual experience, the first thing Jesus does at the bottom of the mountain is heal a little boy. Jesus didn’t bask in the glory he had just received…he went right back to work ministering to the needs of those around him.
Gracious God, help us be healing presences to those who come before us today. AMEN.