Our God's Ludicrous Love
Our estate lawyer explained to us that in her experience, it was uncommon for folks to update their will for positive reasons. What she tended to see was folks updating their will when they wanted to cut someone out.Removing someone from a will is a sign and symbol that the relationship has been severed; whether because someone has died, a marriage has ended, or a family member has become estranged. She said in all of her years of estate planning, she has only had one person revise their will to write someone back into the will. This is both profoundly sad and not exactly surprising.
Family systems are challenging and hard. Even when a family is filled with love, relationships are complicated. Within every family, we each fall into a role, unconsciously adopting scripts and behaviors to help us play our role in the system. When we grow up and begin to build our own family, we may mature and evolve beyond those roles. Yet so often when we return home, we unconsciously fall back into those familiar roles, scripts, and behaviors.
This is how you can come away from a family gathering wondering why you spoke or behaved in a way that seems out of character with who you are now. You might think to yourself - why did I do that? I never act or talk that way with my friends!?
These scripts are carved deep into our neural pathways, and when a family gathers, we may unintentionally fall back into those old behaviors. It’s a bit like a dance. We know the steps so well we can dance with our eyes closed. It takes a lot of work to evolve; it requires that we routinely examine our thoughts and behaviors. Breaking down patterns, as we would when teaching someone how to dance.
In today’s parable of the prodigal son, we get an up close look at how a family system functions, or rather, dysfunctions:
“There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them.”*
A friend recently told me a similar story, of a father with two adult children. The father had a successful business, and while life wasn’t always easy, the kids had a comfortable and loving upbringing. The oldest son started adulthood with bumps and starts, while the younger daughter embraced adulthood as an opportunity to make the world a better place. The son went to his father and said, ‘Dad, give me my share of the inheritance now.’ Except unlike our gospel story, the father said, “Are you kidding me? Absolutely not!”
Let’s be clear - this kind of request is the equivalent of an adult child saying to the parent, that lovingly raised and provided for them - I wish you were dead.** In the parable, there are no details about what the father and son’s relationship had been up until this point, nor do we hear what the older brother makes of this request. What we know is that it was a self-centered request, that in Jesus' culture, would have brought shame to his father’s house.** And as Molly pointed out in a conversation we had about this story - we can question the wisdom of the father’s decision to acquiesce to his son’s request. Was that really responsible parenting?
I had an aunt who had a troubled early adulthood, and for years my grandmother would always meet her requests -- even when they came at great personal sacrifice. Other family members would watch from the sidelines in disgust and frustration - wondering how this possibly helped my aunt to grow up and take responsibility for her actions and behaviors.Instead it seemed to enable or perpetuate her arrested development. Might it have been more loving to have simply said no?
Like many parents, the father in this parable faced an impossible decision. He likely did the best he could, with the coping skills he had, in that moment.
The younger son left home; pockets lined with his inheritance. Off in a distant land, he blew through all of his father’s money. Then came a famine, and he found himself in need of work to survive. The young man went from being the son of a landowner to a hired hand feeding pigs, making him unclean in Jesus’ culture and bringing further shame to his father’s house.** Yet in a swirl of hunger and shame, he soon ‘came to himself’, realizing that if he went and worked as a hired hand for his father, he would at least have a full stomach.* He decides to face his father, to acknowledge his harmful actions, and request to work as his father’s hired hand.
As the young man approached his family home, the father saw his son in the distance and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, put his arms around him and kissed him. His son was alive and he had come home! Nothing else mattered.
The father was so overjoyed; he absentmindedly accepted his son’s apology and was busy reclaiming the young man as his son, dressing him with a fine robe and signet ring. The father instructed a slave to kill the fatted calf, “…for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to celebrate.”*
This homecoming was beyond anything one might have anticipated. It was a fountain of love overflowing with grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Except, there was a third member in this family. An older son who has dutifully followed the cultural norms of honoring his father, obeying all the rules. When he returned from the field and learned about the feast being thrown for his brother, he grew angry and refused to join the celebration.
Once again, the father goes to his son, meeting him where he is at that moment, and pleads with him to understand. Instead the older son spat a self-righteousness speech at his father:
Listen! For all these years I have been working tirelessly for you, doing everything you have ever asked and more, yet you’ve never given me even a young goat to celebrate with my friends. But when this ‘son of yours’ comes back after squandering your property you throw him a banquet?*
Then the father said to him, “Son you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was lost and has come to life, he was lost and has been found.”
There is a lot we can relate to in this story. For instance, how often do we make our own distress?
Yet one of the liberating truths of this story is that every family is at least a little bit eccentric, atypical, and/or dysfunctional. The myth of the so-called ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ family is a tall tale that can leave us coming up short when we measure our family against that false reality. Every family has its stuff, and the more we stand up to the cultural norm of not talking about it, the healthier our culture and each of us will be. A gift we can give one another is non judgemental presence as we try to live out our lives as best we are able.
One of the truths that can be the most meaningful about this parable is that our God really is alarmingly like the parent in today’s story. There is a repeated narrative throughout the Hebrew scriptures: God lovingly gives what the people need; the people turn away; God forgives and the cycle begins all over again.***
And yet - that’s what makes our God atypical. In what other universe would a God give endless second chances? It’s absolutely ludicrous. And yet, that is our God - a loving, liberating, and life-giving God.
The whole reason Jesus is telling this parable to the tax collectors and sinners, as the Pharisees grumbled and listened, was to remind them of our God’s ludicrous love. Jesus did not choose to hang out with the religious establishment. His behavior was the equivalent of going to a party and instead of hanging out with the finely dressed people in the ballroom, heading back to the kitchen and eating simple food and sharing stories with those working the party. The finely dressed people in the ballroom are like the older brother, frustrated with his father; or the Pharisees' indignation that Jesus is not choosing to spend his time in the right way with the right people. And the consequence for that will be social rejection, and ultimately death.
Yet Jesus’ message is clear - God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth so that those who were lost to the religious establishment might know the ludicrous love of our liberating and life-giving God. God runs to us in the form of Jesus. Just as the father ran to his younger son, and sought out his older son - always meeting the beloved where they are. It doesn’t matter how many times our life goes sideways - God is there running towards us, giving us endless second chances to live our best lives.
When we have been living righteously, or faithfully, it can be easy to forget this. We can easily become judgmental of those who don’t follow the prescribed norms of a life of faith, like the older brother and Pharisees in today’s story. This story is an invitation to remember our God’s ludicrous love.
This week, I would invite you to reflect on this story and imagine the different times in your own life when you have resonated with each of these different characters in today's parable.
* Scripture quote or adaptation from Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
** See commentary by Niveen Sarras at WorkingPreacher.org for further information on this idea: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fourth-sunday-in-lent-3/commentary-on-luke-151-3-11b-32-5
*** See commentary by Beth Tanner at WorkingPreacher.org for further information on this idea: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fourth-sunday-in-lent-3/commentary-on-psalm-32-12
A Sermon for 3 Lent
As I have attempted to settle in to my attempts at a more disciplined or structured devotion time for self-reflection, and identify opportunities for positive change, it has occurred to me that 40 days is a significant length of time.
It is usually at this point in our 40 days of Lent that this occurs to me. Trying to incorporate spiritual discipline and time for reflection in a more concentrated and intentional way, than at other times of the year, while the world, our world, continues on as usual, with the accompanying distractions, demands on our time, and requirements. And the distractions seem particularly loud this year, the excitement of what is hopefully, a waning pandemic, mixed with the grave concerns of global events.
And as God would have it, our lectionary readings provide us encouragement, at this halfway point.
Beginning with Moses, as God captures Moses’ attention in dramatic fashion with a flaming bush, that is not consumed by the fire. Once God has Moses attention; God provides an assignment to Moses, “So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelite s, out of Egypt.”
From Moses’ perspective that does not seem a small, easy, or insignificant assignment, as evidenced in his response toGod, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God’s response, “I will be with you”, as God is with us, always.
And we receive a pep talk of sorts from Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. The Church in Corinth is young and evolving, even exhibiting some growing pains. There have been some disagreements, debates and factions within. In today's portion, of this first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Paul makes comparisons and draws parallels between the Israelite s journey out of Egypt and the young church in Corinth.
It would appear that “people are people” pretty consistently overtime.
Remember, the Israelite s received guidance, the waters parted for them, they received manna from heaven, and water brought forth from a rock, in order to sustain them.
They experienced God’s presence through Moses, as the church members in Corinth experienced God’s presence through Christ.
And this is Paul’s cautionary tale:
Be aware of the example provided through our ancestors - idolatry, immorality, complaining, grumbling.
Paul acknowledges these elements of the human condition are shared by us all. … and the “pep talk” piece of this, is whenPaul offers the reassurance that God is faithful, with the test or with the temptation, God will provide the way of escape.
We are in between;
At this point, at this 3rd week in our observance of a holy Lent, we are reminded by Paul and Moses, that God is very present with us.
God accompanies us, sustains us, as we encounter the reality of life and how that can, at times, feel so contrary or challenging to our spiritual pursuits.
And then in today’s Gospel, we are encouraged, no, urged, to take stock, to take an inventory - and then, as a result of this inventory, change where we need to.
The stage is set for us here in the tales of the Galileans killed by Pilate and those individuals that lost their lives when the tower of Siloam fell on them.
Throughout our history as humans on Earth we have asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Were the Galileans worse sinners than other Galileans?” Were the 18killed by the falling tower worse offenders?”
Jesus clearly answers, “No” … and then He adds that sense of urgency, “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”This is not to be interpreted as a threat of punishment, rather, an encouragement to be aware of grace and to develop a new way of seeing.
The Gospel today, at this halfway point, reiterates our words from Ash Wednesday, - we are “invited to the observance of aHoly Lent by self examination and repentance.”
This word repentance; - to repent has been defined as, “to feel so contrite over ones sins as to change or decide to change one’s ways or to change one’s mind to a new way of seeing things.”
And I am quite struck by the parable of the fig tree, as it drives the point home:
Lent is not passive - It is action oriented - the gardener will be busy preparing the fig tree for the following year - digging, fertilizing, tending, in order to maintain life.
This parable raises questions for us, at this halfway point:
Today’s readings, taken as a whole, bring home wonderful encouragement to us, at this point in our Lenten journey:
God is with us
God is faithful
God provides the way out of testing and temptation
God urges us to action
I would like to leave you with a Lenten prayer by the Most Reverend Arthur Lichtenberger, who was presiding Bishop from 1958 until 1964.
Lord may I
Fast from judging others
Feast on Christ dwelling in them
Fast from fear of illness
Feast on the healing power of God
Fast from words that pollute
Feast on speech that purifies
Fast from discontent
Feast on Gratitude
Fast from anger
Feast on patience
Fast from pessimism
Feast on optimism
Fast from negatives
Feast on alternatives
Fast from bitterness
Feast on forgiveness
Fast from self-concern
Feast on Compassion
Fast from suspicion
Feast on Truth
Fast from gossip
Feast on purposeful silence
Fast from problems that overwhelm
Feast on prayer that sustains
Fast from worry
Feast on faith
So I want to take a look at the underlying roots and historical development of the Eucharist and at the basic meanings of the elements of the liturgy as we practice it today.
All four of the canonical gospels tell us that Jesus shared a last supper with his closest circle of disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. (Matthew, Mark, and Luke indicate that it was a Passover meal, while John locates it before the Passover.) The chronologically earliest testimony we actually have to what we now consider Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist comes in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, written about twenty years after Jesus’ death. In the letter, he gives us the words we repeat each time we celebrate the Eucharist:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (I Cor. 11:23-26)
The meal Jesus shared with his friends – whether a Passover meal or not – followed established patterns rooted deep in Jewish tradition. They are the same patterns we repeat today. The Jewish sabbath meal took place after the liturgy of the word in the synagogue (in which the family would have listened to scripture, shared in prayer, and likely heard a sermon). After ritual ablutions, assembling at the table, participants in the sabbath meal thanked God for bread, broke it and shared it along with the common dishes making up the meal.1
After the meal the diners shared a cup of wine that was first blessed by the father, who called the group to stand in thanking God: “Lift up your hearts. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” after which an extended recitation of remembrance and gratitude would follow.2
The fact that several of the resurrection appearances took place in the context of a meal reinforced the breaking and sharing of bread becoming a crucial way for the disciples to remember Jesus and his presence with them. Within the New Testament period the meal moved from the Jewish Sabbath to “the Lord’s Day”, the first day of the week, and the ritual of sharing the bread and wine became separated from the meal as numbers grew and accommodating crowds with a full meal became impractical.3
Numerous other elements of today’s eucharistic liturgy developed during the period of the early church: the presider began with the salutation “God be with you”; readings, a psalm, hymns, and a sermon often followed; the deacon led prayers “of the faithful”; and the service of the word concluded with “the kiss of peace”. As the liturgy of the table began, a table covered in a white cloth was brought forward and offerings presented from the people in attendance. The celebrant (and any other priests present) laid their hands on the bread and wine, and then offered a Great Thanksgiving to God with arms raised, entreating the descent of the Spirit. At the close of the eucharistic prayer the bread and wine were distributed to members of the congregation present, and after the service, deacons left to take the bread and wine to community members who had not been present.4
In the following centuries a variety of developments took place as aspects of the liturgy were formalized. Sacramentaries, or collections of eucharistic prayers and prefaces specific to particular occasions and seasons appeared; processions were added; excess consecrated bread and wine were kept in reserve for communion for the sick.5
In the 9th century and after, major shifts began to take place. The mass began to become less participatory for the people. It continued to be spoken and sung in Latin, which was less and less understood by the faithful. Screens or veils separating the congregation from the altar were erected in some churches, and portions of the Great Thanksgiving were said inaudibly by the celebrant while the choir sang elaborate settings of the Sanctus. The Eucharist moved from something celebrated by the people to something done for the people.6
These developments contributed to a sense of fear and awe associated with the Mass. The use of wafers replaced real bread to ensure that stray crumbs of sanctified bread could not be dropped and overlooked. The priest began placing the consecrated wafer in the communicant’s mouth for the same protective reason. The receiving of wine was discontinued. During this period the practices of kneeling and genuflection during the key parts of the service came into practice. Altars were moved against the wall and seeing the elevation of the bread and wine became more important than receiving it. By the end of the 15th century churches began having to enact legislation requiring members to receive communion once a year.7
And then came the Protestant Reformation, which we spoke about a couple of months ago. Luther, Zwingli and their colleagues sought to “purify” the service of the Eucharist, returning it to what they believed to be a more authentic form by removing what they considered to have been add-ons and restoring such elements as the Prayers of the People, as well as the receiving of both bread and wine. The service was to be spoken in the language of the people.8
As you might expect, if you recall what we said earlier about the Reformation in England, there were controversies. It has been said that virtually no one other than its compiler, Thomas Cranmer, was satisfied with the 1549 first edition of the English Book of Common Prayer. Too conservative for some, too liberal for others: what else is new?
The faithful were to receive the elements kneeling, with the bread placed in their hands, and they received from the common cup, as well. The fierce controversy over what Christ’s presence in the elements of communion meant – more about that later - was reflected in a rubric, in that first book. The posture of kneeling to receive was a gesture of thanksgiving, it instructed, and not intended to imply “adoration of the sacramental bread or wine” or “any real or essential presence there being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood”.9
Our first American Episcopal Book of Common Prayer was published in 1786 and closely reflected the Anglican Prayer Book of that time; it was revised in 1892 and 1928, the version of the Prayer Book that many of us grew up with, although none of the revisions to the practice of the Eucharist in those books was substantial. The period of lively liturgical reform in the Episcopal Church began in the 1970s: again, probably many of us can remember the almost hysterical outrage stirred up by the trial “Zebra Book” (because of its striped cover) that appeared in 1973.
For a liturgy whose language and practices changed only incrementally in four hundred years, we have come a long way since the 1970s. The last General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2018 passed a resolution encouraging experimentation with diverse liturgical language to be “more inclusive and expansive” and better reflect “the continual movement of the Holy Spirit among us and the growing insights of our Church.” (Resolution 2018-AO63) As you know, here at James and Andrew we rotate through the four eucharistic prayers from the 1979 Prayer Book along with six additional prayers from American, British, Canadian, and New Zealand Anglican sources.
So that’s the historical background. It seems important to observe that in our modern post-Reformation world, Christians observe a considerable variety of practices in the service of the Communion. While we Episcopalians celebrate Eucharist weekly (so long as we have a priest available to preside and consecrate the elements), some denominations share communion less frequently. Some churches use grape juice or water, rather than wine, and some administer the wine in individual cups, rather than sharing a common cup as we do (at least in the pre-pandemic world.)
Who can receive the sacrament is also a point of divergence and disagreement, including in our Episcopal Church. Many denominations require that worshippers be baptized (or complete instruction or another initiation such as Confirmation) before receiving communion. It is still the official policy of The Episcopal Church that only baptized persons receive the bread and wine at the Eucharist. As you know, however, in this parish we declare each week that “This is God’s table, and all are welcome, no exceptions.” We are not alone in our practice of “open communion,” but we do so only because our Bishop permits it. Some Dioceses and congregations in the Episcopal Church are resolute in allowing the sacrament only for those who have committed themselves to Christ through Baptism. Proposals relating to the practice of open communion have come before the Church in recent General Conventions, and Convention has repeatedly opted NOT to take on discussion of policy change.
The service of the Eucharist follows a set form rooted, as I have said, in both Jewish tradition and the apostolic church. I don’t know whether you’ve had the wonderful experience of attending eucharist in another country or culture. Many years ago I went to a Lutheran service while visiting with a friend in Helsinki, Finland. I couldn’t understand a word, and I knew exactly what they were saying and singing. Despite the complete language barrier, I felt totally at home. It gave me a new awareness of what it means to be part of the universal Body of Christ.
The word “eucharist” itself, from the Greek eucharistia, means “thanksgiving”: in the gathering for Eucharist, God’s people both express our gratitude to God and are blessed, strengthened, and renewed by encountering God in the hearing of God’s Word, in receiving the bread and wine, and through experiencing being part of the gathered community.
Let me say it again: in the Eucharist we are blessed, strengthened, and renewed by encountering God in at least three ways
Let’s talk a little bit about what is probably the trickiest and most mysterious part of it all. What is essentially going on in our remembering and re-enacting Jesus’ Last Supper, and in our consuming the elements of bread and wine?
Very early in the Church’s history Christian leaders began to refer to the bread of the Eucharist as “the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ”10, and for much of its history before the Reformation, the Church taught that when the Eucharist is properly celebrated, the elements of bread and wine literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ at the time of the fraction (or breaking of the bread), even though in physical appearance they appear to remain unchanged. This change in substance is referred to as “transubstantiation”, and remains the official teaching of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
At the other end of the spectrum, some Reformed churches see the Eucharist as a purely symbolic memorial re-enactment, a way of remembering, as Jesus commanded, his self-sacrifice, just as a family might ritually remember a departed member by using her favorite tablecloth each Thanksgiving.
Somewhere in the middle, other churches believe that Christ is “spiritually present” in the elements of the sacrament even though the substance of the bread and wine remain physically unchanged. “Consubstantiation”, a doctrine which Martin Luther espoused, holds that the bread and wine, at consecration, BOTH take on the “real presence” of Christ while also retaining their original form as bread and wine.
Episcopalians and other Anglicans hold most closely to this Lutheran theology (though we do not use the term “consubstantiation”), asserting that Christ is “really and truly present”11 in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Anglicans have quite steadfastly declined to attempt explanation of what this means or how it occurs: we remain happy to celebrate the mystery.
In the Eucharist God gives us God’s self. In a way that our words cannot articulate or our brains fully grasp, the God who took on flesh in the life of Jesus is again offered to us, becoming part of us, nurturing our spirit as the physical grain and fruit of the bread and wine nurture our bodies.
Richard Norris, 20th century Episcopal theologian, talks about it this way:
“Jesus took the ceremonial actions which were customarily performed [at the sabbath meal] and explained them as signifying his forthcoming death. His body was to be broken, like the bread, and his blood was to be poured out, like the wine. What was about to happen would not just be another unhappy dying. It would be a death through which God would create a New Covenant with his people…..
People who take bread and wine and give thanks over them for the New Covenant which God has made with humanity in Christ, perform an action through which they enter into Jesus’ dying and the new life which came through it…
The bread and wine, given to God in thanksgiving, is God’s way of speaking Christ to us…. In being joined to Christ, they enter into Christ’s life.”12
The Eucharist IS, at its heart, mystery. It is gift and blessing to us. It signifies our unity with God and one another despite our doubts and confusions and differences. It expresses our hope that through the receiving of Christ in the sacrament we may ever more fully enter into the life of the resurrected Christ and be God’s love in the world. Amen.
To Take Notice
By Rev. Heather J. Blais
On the first Sunday of Lent, we hear the strange, and somewhat curious, story of what happens to Jesus in the wilderness. The story appears in all three of the synoptic gospels - Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In each one:
In Mark’s gospel, there is no context for what it looks like to be tempted; instead we are told Jesus was not alone. Rather, he was ‘with the wild beasts’ and the ‘angels waited on him.’
Meanwhile, Matthew and Luke paint a picture of a famished Jesus, a result of forty days of fasting. Satan then finds creative ways to test Jesus' dependence on God, suggesting self-centered alternatives. Each time, attempting to fan Jesus' ego: "If you are the Son of God…”
When you imagine this story, it may be helpful to picture Satan, some sort of being tempting Jesus; or it may be helpful to picture the temptation coming from our ego within - go with whatever helps you imagine the story more fully. Either way, Satan or the devil, are names that represent the power of evil in our world and the sinful desires that can separate us from God.
In one test, Jesus is tempted to end his hunger by turning a stone into bread. He responds to the temptation by declining to use his power and newly realized position to serve himself. Instead, he draws on scripture, remembering that as followers of God, we do not live by bread alone, but rather we live by putting our faith and trust in God.
In another test, Jesus is tempted to use his position of authority, power, and influence over all the kingdoms of the world. Again, he responds to the temptation by using scripture to reject any possibility of worshiping or serving the evil powers of this world. Instead, he chooses to lean into his faith, to serve and worship the Creator and Caregiver of the universe.
Lastly, Jesus is tempted, through mind games, misusing scripture, to step off the pinnacle of the temple, where God’s angels would surely protect him from harm. Yet Jesus resists the bait, drawing on scripture to remember that if we are really living a life of faith, we don’t need to test God, instead we trust in God.
Then in Matthew, the angels waited on him; while in Luke, in a very curious turn of phrase, it says, “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.” In other words, this would not be the last time Jesus was faced with temptation.
It is worth remembering that:
We experience temptation when we have a desire to do something that would be considered wrong or unwise. At the root of temptation is a choice, a decision.
Did you know that we make over 35,000 decisions every day? And these are just the decisions we are at least remotely conscious of: What do I want for breakfast? What do I wear today? Should I like my friend’s post on social media? What do I need to pick up at the store? We utilize a combination of tactics when making these decisions, and Frank Graff summarized six of them in a Science Now article. We use:
Decision fatigue is real, and it affects the choices we make, and the temptations we experience. Add in our ego and our self-centered culture and it is easy to lose our way. The gift of our Lenten journey is that we are invited to do the critical work of self-examination and reflection.
We might begin the work of self examination like a body scan in meditation, scanning through our daily lives, noticing our beliefs and values, our actions and behaviors.
Close your eyes, go for a walk, journal, or talk it out with a friend- do whatever will help you to take notice:
The Lenten charge is to engage in self-examination and reflection, to take notice. Yes, of course we will discover there are places in our lives that:
These are choices made in love and prayer; in conversation with God, our family, friends, and community. We are in this together, and can support one another in this important work. And we can look to Jesus, who modeled making difficult decisions in the face of great temptations, by trusting God, again and again.
I’ll leave you with one last thought.While reflecting on Lent, my colleague Rev. Ted Thorton wrote, "The point of self-examination is committing oneself to do the looking even when you don't know what you're looking for, and even though you may not in the end find anything or reach closure about anything."
I’ll say it again:
The point of self-examination is committing oneself to do the looking…
Together, this Lent, let us commit to ourselves and one another, to do the looking. Amen.
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