March 11, 2018

The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.   John 3:17-19

 

God became a human being, the man Jesus, so that the world might be saved—through him. Those who do not believe, those who cling to the ways of this world, have chosen; they have chosen to condemn themselves. But that’s not the end of the story. The Good News is that God continues to reconcile the world to God’s self. God is not finished. Yes, at the resurrection and ascension God broke the power of death once and for all, and yet we humans still cling to the darkness. For whatever reason, our sins too often get the best of us. The story would end here were it not for Jesus’ work on the cross. But as God crushed the power of death represented in the cross, the light broke out into the world and all of humanity was given the opportunity to bask in the Glory of God’s light.

Sure, it’s a struggle. But is there a more appropriate time than Lent to trudge through our own desert searching for freedom from the darkness to which we so tightly cling? Is there a better time than Lent to take inventory of the things that pull us away from the light; the way of Christ? Is there a more fitting time than right now to make a decision to repent, change the direction of our lives while groping, the best we can, for the light so freely offered? Even if we do nothing else this Lent, why not begin on this day, two weeks before Holy Week, the work of repentance and amendment of life? Why not let go of the darkness that this world offers and grab ahold of Christ’s light? Why not?

 


Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we , worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

The Rev. Joseph K. Smith
Saint Mary’s, Wayne

Advertisements

February 27, 2018

Tuesday after the Second Sunday in Lent

He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:37-38

 

The evening begins with Jesus and his disciples celebrating the Passover. A mood of distress is set at the beginning of the meal with the announcement that one of the twelve will betray Jesus. The anguish is heightened for Jesus because this is their Last Supper, something he knows the disciples are incapable of grasping. After supper, they come to the Garden of Gethsemane for a time of prayer. At some point, Jesus brings Peter, James and John to a place separate from the rest, and says to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake.” Jesus goes a little further, throws himself on the ground and he asks his Father to remove the cup of suffering he is about to drink. He then submits to the Father’s will.

We can only imagine Jesus’ torment as he returns to Peter, James and John. Then to find them sleeping adds disappointment and hurt to his suffering. The level of distress, agitation, aloneness, anguish and fear that must be raging in Jesus are beyond our imagination, but yet, he is gentle in his rebuke of the disciples for falling asleep. And his reminder to them, and to us, is that regardless of our best intentions, we are weak in carrying out our resolve. Only by mindfulness and prayer can we receive the strength to maneuver the trials and conflicts of life.

Lent is a time when we are reminded of our weaknesses. It is a time when we renew our resolve and practice the discipline of keeping awake and being constantly in prayer. It is an essential part of our journey to the cross which allows us to live a life of resurrection.

 


Loving God, help us to be watchful and to see the loving sacrifice of your Son in all that we encounter so that we make his sacrifice worthwhile through our actions. Amen.

 

The Rev. E. Edward Shiley
Saint David’s Church, Radnor