Benediction Online

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sin - the Flaw in the Universe
Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 51:1-13, Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33

We don’t usually talk much about sin, but if we are going to, Lent is a good season for it, and today is the day. For several weeks, the Sunday morning discussion group has been talking about the nature of sin and whether it is possible to be human and not sin. As we approach Holy Week and the central mysteries of our faith, the lessons today challenge us to spend some time thinking about sin 0and its place, if any, in our lives.

Creation is the direct result of God’s self-giving love within the Trinity. As the three persons of God pour themselves out in love for one another the result is an astonishing creativity which has resulted in the creation of the universe as we know it, and may, for all we know, have resulted in multiple universes. All of creation is a demonstration and revelation of God’s love. It’s easy to think that when we look at the goats munching away in this beautiful green valley. It’s less easy to think that when we view the devastation of an earthquake or see the remains of an animal who has been killed to be eaten by a predator.

There is no doubt that mortal life for both animal and human has times of delight and times of great suffering. It is difficult to see any reason or Great Plan in the unequal distribution of joy and sorrow. The solution of the ancients was to imagine a beautiful garden from which humanity - and with us the rest of creation - was excluded after the first humans made the mistake of listening to the lies of the serpent. Which of course begs the question, where did the serpent come from?

It seems that God must have wanted to create a world with creatures free to relate to God, or not, as they choose. So Creation has a flaw. If it was perfect there would be no opportunity for anything but compliance with God – we would be automatically swept up in Trinitarian love and all would be sweetness and light. The flaw gives us the opportunity to relate to God, to participate in the life of the Trinity in the way we were intended to, but we don’t have to.

The flaw in creation is what Christianity calls sin.

At the core of sin is the desire to be independent of God. The desire to stand on our own two feet without acknowledging that in everything we do we are dependent upon the whole web of creation, and ultimately on the Creator. Sin is so entwined in the fabric of our lives and society that we cannot get free of it by our own efforts. As this morning’s collect says,

‘Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise…’

Desire is a God given gift. Without desire we would be stunted and non-human. The distortion comes in when our desire takes us away from right relationship with God - when we become self-centered and forget our dependence upon God. That is sin.

Today’s psalm certainly doesn’t sit well with most of us - ‘Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth, a sinner from my mother's womb.’ We are certainly are not wicked like Batman’s arch-enemy, the Joker, like Aslan’s enemy, the White Witch of Narnia, or even like the Wicked Witch of the West. I think the psalmist is grappling with the sense that at the very core of being human is the tendency to turn away rather than toward God.

Turning toward God is the meaning of conversion. When we turn towards God instead of away from God we are refusing sin. Every time we turn towards God we are choosing dependence on God rather than independence.

Sin is so insidious and so pervasive that over the centuries people have imaged a malevolent serpentine being who is Satan, the Devil, the ultimate Wickedness. He has been called the ruler of this world in contrast to the ruler of the heavenly world. I don’t know if there is actually a Devil or an army of devils of various ranks. It is easier for most of us today to think of evil or sin as an impersonal force, but in Jesus’ time it made more sense to think of a personal force, the Devil, locked in combat with God.

In this morning’s Gospel reading Jesus said ‘Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out’. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection the world was judged and seen in its true light, and the power of the Devil or the all–persuasive power of sin was broken. That allows us to identify sin in a way that hadn’t been possible before. It isn’t hidden away... it’s out in the open. And with every succeeding generation we understand more about sin and how it works – we see more clearly the way injustice permeates our society – we deal with one major problem only to find another that needs attention.

Sin is not just an individual thing. Sin is part of the very foundation of how society works. Our calling is not just to turn away from our own private sin and turn towards God but to turn away from our corporate sin and find new ways of living together in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ.

That is the true calling of the Church. We are called to find new ways of living together and to work for a just and peaceful society for all beings. In the process we will develop new understandings of sin. We will go through ugly times and good times, we will have to repent and turn back to God again and again and again. It isn’t easy.

Our calling is to assist one another in learning what it means to live the resurrection life. What it means to live every day knowing that God truly loves us and longs to be in close joyful relationship with us. Jesus is our model not so much in what he did but in how he related to his Abba and to his friends. His life was one of total loving obedience to God the Creator, his human relationships were filled with loving self-giving compassion.

God’s love for us is extravagant and freely given. It is available to everyone. Sin gets in the way, sin is the flaw in the universe which means that we have freedom, just as God has freedom, but which also means that we have to consciously and frequently turn towards God instead of away from God. Turning towards God and towards love is difficult spiritual work but it is the path of freedom and new life. That is our hope and our joy – that we will be united with the God who created us and no longer separated by the consequences of sin.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

For God So Loved the World
March 22, 2009 – the Rev. Donna Ross

John 3:16 is one of the most well-known verses of the Bible:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

We’ve heard this verse again and again throughout our lives, and we also see it posted everywhere. Driving on country roads in Ohio, where our children and grandchildren live, we’ve seen it painted on signs in the front yards of modest homes, and on billboards along the highway.

The phrase is short enough to fit into some very small spaces – did you know that if you buy a soft drink at an In-n-Out-Burger, you’ll find “John 3:16” printed on the inside of the bottom rim?

It can also be written large enough to display to crowds – in the 1970s and 1980s the “Rainbow Man,” wearing a rainbow-colored afro-style wig, was known for holding up signs reading “John 3:16” at games of all sorts – Rainbow Man stood holding his sign near football goal posts, next to Olympic medal stands, and in the crowds at golf tournaments.

(Getting the message out in the sports arena continues today: One football player, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of the Florida Gaters, had it printed on his eye black during this years’ BSC championship game.)

Why is this verse such a favorite? And what is the message the verse sends? Here’s what the online dictionary, Wikipedia, says about the verse: “John 3:16 has been called the "Gospel in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity…. John 3:16 summarizes Jesus' lesson to Nicodemus: that belief in Jesus is the only path to eternal life.”

Is that how you would summarize these words of Jesus – that belief in Jesus is the only path to eternal life? Is that what Jesus says?

What Jesus meant

Let’s listen to the gospel again. Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, the prominent rabbi who came to him at night, wanting to learn more about the God that Jesus was announcing, about the new life that he was offering. And Jesus taught Nicodemus about the Spirit, by which he could be born again. Nicodemus, you will remember, had a hard time understanding how the Spirit worked.

To give an example of how God’s grace works, Jesus said,

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world....

Somehow, when God’s abundant love and grace becomes visible in Jesus, people will turn towards him – hungry people, thirsty people, lonely people, desperate people searching for the life that only God can give.

When Nicodemus heard these words, he could not have imagined Jesus ultimately nailed to a Roman cross, lifted high on Golgotha. It was only much later that Jesus’ followers would see the cross as part of the “lifting up” that Jesus was describing. And this “lifting up” that Jesus spoke of was so much more than his dying on a cross – it was also his rising to new life, and his sending of the Holy Spirit to those who trusted him.

Lifting up – salvation and the coming of the Spirit

Over the centuries some theologians have interpreted this passage very narrowly, to mean that only those who believe in Jesus will receive eternal life on heaven. Some have interpreted this passage to mean that those who don’t believe in Jesus – even those who don’t know Jesus’ name – will be lost to hell for eternity.

But others understand the passage more broadly, believing that Jesus is saying that when he is lifted up, he will open a channel for God’s Spirit to flow to everyone on earth – to anyone searching for it, anyone open to receive it.

For me, the sign of God’s Spirit working on earth will not be crowds in sports stadiums, nor multitudes of people in Christian churches, all professing faith in Jesus Christ. Rather, the sign of God’s Spirit working on earth will be love – the love that Jesus showed, the love that Jesus taught, and the love that God demonstrated in Jesus’ resurrection to new life.

How the good news becomes judgment

There have been many theories, many theologies, about why Jesus died. The most widely-known theory seems to be that God needed to punish human sins, but God sacrificed Jesus instead. Thus God’s demand for judgment was honored, and Jesus paid the price.

I believe this theory substantially narrows our understanding of God’s mercy, of the wideness of God’s grace.

Why did Jesus have to die? Mark MacDonald asks (in his book, “Mysteries of Faith” – which is part of the Episcopal Church’s Teaching Series), “Did Jesus have to die to save us? No. It is not God who condemned Jesus to the cross, but humans. Jesus’ teaching of God’s coming kingdom provoked evil into showing what it is – rejection of God and aversion to true life. Violence was unmasked as the projection of human fear and anger onto God. And how does God respond to this violence – with counter-violence? No, God embraces and heals it by swallowing it up in loving. Jesus is not tortured to death by God as just retribution for human offenses against divine justice, or as penalty to satisfy the divine honor... Rather, in Jesus God enters into human suffering and ends our separation from God.”

Why do humans limit God’s mercy?

Mark MacDonald continues, But “our experience of human justice, anger and punishment has distorted our thinking about God by focusing our minds ... on the idea that God should need to punish us. Ironically, this focus obscures our loving rescue by God in Christ that Christ’s death has accomplished.

“Jesus’ loving and trusting relationship with the Father will be vindicated after his death by a loving and life-giving Spirit, which will inhabit and cleanse and heal the disciples’ own hearts and minds, bearing witness to the truth of the Father’s love for Christ and leading the disciples into that love for themselves.”

Here’s a description of the early church after Pentecost, after the Spirit came upon them: And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added day by day to the number of those who were being saved. [Acts 2:44-27]

Look at the inclusiveness of that first Christian community! Look at how that little church expanded, day after day, drawing in more and more people, from wider and more diverse social, economic and religious backgrounds. The joy, the love, and the compassion the first Christians experienced through their life in the Spirit not only bound them to one another, it also spilled over the boundaries of their own communities and extended to everyone in need. The loving care, the open arms, the economic sharing practiced by the early Christians, together with their generosity toward the poor, was one of the most evangelistic characteristics of their life. Their experience and demonstration of God’s love draw new people into their community, day by day.

The serpent cast in bronze

In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus uses an example from the Hebrew Scriptures, which we heard in our first lesson this morning. In the lesson from Numbers the people of Israel are grumbling again, and they believe God responds to this by sending poisonous snakes. Then the people cry out for help, and admit their grumbling; and Moses constructs a serpent out of bronze – and when the people look at the bronze serpent, they are saved.

What today’s lesson doesn’t tell us is that that bronze serpent eventually became an object of worship – it was even set up in the Temple, where the people made offerings to it. (We learn about this worship practice in the second Book of Kings [2 Kings 18], when King Hezekiah finds the bronze serpent, still standing centuries after the people of Israel reach the promised land.)

Rather than worshiping the expansive God who saved them from Egypt and brought them home, some of God’s people are merely worshiping the serpent, a small sign of grace along the way. Hezekiah orders that the serpent be broken apart, so it can no longer be an object of worship. He calls upon the people to broaden their understanding of God and the salvation God is offering them.

Why we don’t hear the fullness of the good news

But the serpent – the idol, a slogan – appears again and again in human history. We humans have such a hard time believing in the incredible love of God – the love Jesus came to demonstrate, the love that his death and resurrection demonstrate – that we continually cling to partial truths because we cannot grasp the full truth. Because the love of God is so wide, so strong, so unlike human love, it is hard for us to understand – and when we don’t understand the whole picture, we set up a part of it to stand for the whole. And so the bronze serpent becomes the thing that saves the people, rather than the love of the God who guided them through the desert to the promised land.

And so the verse – John 3:16 – only partially understood, can become a slogan that doesn’t point to the full reality of the love of God, that narrows our picture of God’s grace. Rather than describing the wideness of God’s grace, which God wants to extend to all, it excludes people who don’t seem to belong.

Michaela Bruzzese, a Sojourners’ editor, writes of John 3:16, “At times this passage becomes a slogan, an even an idol like the bronze serpent. At its best, the passage is the impetus for the formation of a radically inclusive community to which all are welcome – the lost, the forgotten, the abandoned – bringing healing and new life as God ‘who so loved the world’ did through Jesus. At its worst, however, John 3:16 is used as a weapon to separate the ‘saved’ from the ‘unsaved,’ a vehicle of religious superiority and a means of intimidation for those who do not share (or want to share) the belief in Jesus as Savior.”

A vision of God’s abundant mercy

As I re-read these words of Bruzzese’s, describing the early church: “A radically inclusive community to which all are welcome – the lost, the forgotten, the abandoned – bringing healing and new life as God ‘who so loved the world’ did through Jesus” – I see our dream of what God wants for the church of Jesus Christ, and of what God wants for us here at St. Benedict’s.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind;
and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful, we should take God at his Word;
and our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.
[Hymnal 470, v. 3]

Day by day, and week by week, and year by year, let us practice Jesus’ love with one another; let us share God’s grace with everyone who comes in these doors; and let us, like Jesus, extend our arms beyond these doors to everyone, anyone, who is thirsty for God’s love, for God’s presence in their lives.

Let us break the bronze serpent into pieces and tell the world what Jesus wants everyone to hear:
that God so loves the world.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Standing Up Against Exploitation

I wonder if God would give us the same Ten Commandments today?
It seems to me that there are at least two major issues in contemporary society that aren’t clearly mentioned in the commandments. Perhaps they didn’t exist in the simple nomadic life of the Hebrews but I think it is more likely that they were so much part of the fabric of life they were not even considered sinful.

For example, there is no commandment against slavery. If these commandments were being written today we would consider slavery as unthinkable as murder. Did God leave it out intentionally? Does it mean that God didn’t notice slavery then but does now? Or that God has changed God’s mind?

If we consider Scripture to be the revelation of God to the people of the time recorded to their best ability, it perhaps isn’t surprising that there seem to be some blind spots in the basic moral code of 4,000 years ago. But Scripture is not just written in stone; scripture is written in our hearts and lives and interpreted by the Holy Spirit who is constantly making all things new. So we find ourselves informed by Scripture on things that were not even possible to consider when it was first written.

Slavery is a form of exploitation. The prophets of the 8th century BCE were very clear about the sin of exploitation. Amos proclaimed that true religious devotion was ending exploitation, not keeping fasts and offering sacrifices. But the Ten Commandments don’t mention exploitation, just as they don’t mention hate. I am sure that hate is not a uniquely modern sin, but hatred of other tribes was taken for granted. Today our understanding of God has changed to a God who embraces all beings including members of other tribes.

Hatred and exploitation are foundational in contemporary society. Our capitalist market system is based on exploitation – on the few becoming wealthy at the expense of other people, other creatures and the planet. Over the past few years we have seen the gap between rich and poor grow larger and larger. In a global recession it is the poor who suffer most. Our political systems are stoked and sustained by hatred, by preferring Us over Them and attacking Them. Here in Los Osos we are especially aware of how Us and Them quickly develops into hatred even when we can’t keep track of who exactly we are meant to be hating at any given time.

In today’s Gospel reading we see Jesus in an uncharacteristic rampage through the temple market. Was this a spontaneous temper tantrum? Was it a pre-planned act of civil disobedience? If we see Jesus as the model of divine-human to which we aspire, what does this example of destruction mean to us?

I have to say immediately that I don’t think it provides justification for temper or for violence. Jesus was acting against those who were exploiting the needs of people to serve their God through ritual sacrifice. He was objecting to the use of the temple of God as a way for merchants to get rich. We can be pretty sure that doves cost more in the temple precinct than if you were able to bring them from home, but if you had to walk several days journey you weren’t going to try taking live birds with you. The merchants and the moneychangers were making a handsome profit.

So the example Jesus gives us is one of standing up to exploitation. An example of Jesus, who tells us to turn the other cheek when we are being persecuted, saying ‘No’. It is important for us to be prepared to say ‘No’. Our baptismal covenant calls us to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being’. Sometimes there seems to be an inconsistency in that pledge. Respecting the dignity of every human being and striving for justice sometimes seem to fly in the face of striving for peace.

The overarching witness of Scripture and tradition is that our God expects us to stand up and be counted when we see others being hurt, exploited or victimized. The Bible has been used over the centuries to justify abuse, hatred and exploitation. The Church has also been implicated in actively supporting oppressive regimes, standing for empire and oppression, aiding in violence and war. But this is a distortion of the Gospel which calls us to stand against the values of secular society, to stand against the oppressor. Throughout Biblical history God has stood with the victim, including Jesus the ultimate victim.

That is our place. Not just binding up the wounds but standing up to the status quo and saying ‘No’. No to domestic violence, no to homelessness, no to discrimination against gay people, no to exploiting immigrant workers, no to using natural resources without regard to their effect on the planet, not to waging war.

That may result in conflict. As followers of Christ we are called to engage in conflict in a different way. The New Testament lesson reminds us that God’s great work on the cross appeared to be a great loss. What appears to be weakness in the normal way of things is actually great strength. We are called to stand up against exploitation but without indulging in hate, without forgetting that the people whose actions we oppose are also the beloved children of God. We are called to stand up against exploitation and hate without ourselves

If we are really serious about accepting God’s invitation to be restored and to take our place as the daughters and sons of God, we can expect conflict in our lives because we will be living values which are different from those around us. But even when we are in the midst of external conflict, the peace of God is always available in our hearts. It is that peace which has enabled Christians to bear martyrdom, has supported those like Bonheoffer and King who have been imprisoned, and has helped innumerable ordinary Christians to continue to stand up for justice.

This week marks the fifth year of the start of the Iraq war. The beginning of the sixth year that we have been supporting ongoing violence in the Middle East. This is not a good use of our national resources, it is not a good use of the world’s natural resources. We don’t hear statistics about the effect of war on the environment but explosions, destruction and burning must put tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Even as there is hope of winding down American operations in Iraq, there are plans to increase our activities in Afghanistan, a country notoriously difficult to govern, a country which has defeated foreign armies again and again. There has been little public opposition to these wars. There has been no clear voice proclaiming an alternative but small groups of citizens around the country have continued to call for a different way.

I invite you to gather at Mission Plaza on Thursday at 5:30 with others calling for an end to this ongoing militarism.

It won’t make any difference. At least that’s the way it seems. The church doesn’t make any difference in the big issues of the world. At least that’s the way it seems. But Paul reminds us that God has chosen the weak and the insignificant to confound the powerful and prominent. I doubt that Jesus’ actions had much effect on the temple market – it was probably back in business within a few hours.

But what is important is that as the sons and daughters of God we obey God’s call to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. As we show our love by our obedience God magnifies our actions in ways we cannot know. We demonstrate our love for God by speaking up against exploitation and refusing to get caught into the dynamics of hatred. Even hatred of those who are exploiting and hurting others.

God’s astonishing and extravagant love embraces all beings however distorted we have become. There is never a place for hating those whom God has made and whom God loves. When we join together in the Confession this morning let us be especially mindful of those times when through fear or social pressure, we have allowed ourselves to indulge in hatred.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sermon for: Lent I B_RCL _ March 1, 2009 
St. Benedict’s, Los Osos 
(The Rev) Brian McHugh +

It is Lent again. A colleague of mine recently wrote , "During Lent this year the Hebrew scriptures take us week by week through covenants in our holy history. This Sunday the church offers us consideration of the rainbow-sign of the covenant with Noah. It is worth taking time with patristic and medieval typologies of the Ark itself: the Church is the Ark. Lent is the Ark. Wisdom is the Ark. Even our heart is the Ark – a place of safety and yet a place of transformation. Enclosed and tossed upon turbulent seas of sin and chaos and culture, these 40 days of Lent give us a time of growing, transformation, renewing our lives from the core of our hearts. Thus, we emerge from Lent and Holy Week to face again the uncreated Light of the Resurrection, the shadow of which we observed at the Transfiguration. But we have to prepare rigorously to meet this new Light. And so we make our way into the desert, or seal ourselves up into the ark to practice a 40 day "Night of Purification" in this Season of the Soul."

Like everything else that we do as part of our religion, Lent has only one central purpose: To bring us close to God. The Epistle today from the First Letter of Peter, in The Message version, puts it in the context of the meaning of Christ’s life: He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. We must take care that none of the “things” we do, or don’t do, give up or take up, should in any way distract us from coming close to God.

The Sufi poet Rumi, in his always sharp clear way, voices the urgency of the call of the Lenten season to stay focused and come close to the Mystery of God and of Life:

Why cling to one life
 till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
, squandering a hundred lived
 every instant.
God has decreed life for you; 
and God will give 
another and another and another.

Why do we have the story of Jesus baptism today? Because Baptism is the entranceway or gangplank into the Ark that is the Church. Like Noah’s Ark, the Church is meant to be a way of Holy Living that keeps us afloat and safe from the waters of chaos; not necessarily protected from the “assaults” of “many temptations” and from the “weaknesses of each of us” mentioned in the Collect, but fortified against them by our relationship to God in Jesus Christ.

I mentioned earlier that Lent will be a time of being taken week by week through covenants in our holy history. What was the Biblical storyteller’s purpose in telling the mythological event of the Great Flood? There are stories of a great destructive flood in the mythologies of many cultures and peoples. But the Biblical story has a purpose unlike the others. For Jews and Christians, the story is a reflection on the meaning of the Rainbow, which they interpret as a sign of God’s power and Goodness, preserving them in the face of potentially destructive floods and other disasters. Any Jew or Christian who knows the essential nature of God as Love, Mercy and Justice would be disturbed by a picture of God as purposely destructive of almost all the Earth’s people. But the real meaning of the story is made beautifully clear by the explanation of the rabbis that is found in the Zohar:

How did the Blessed Holy One respond when Noah came out of the ark and saw the whole world destroyed and began to cry over the holocaust? Noah said, "Master of the world, You are called Compassionate! You should have shown compassion for Your creatures!" The Blessed Holy One answered him, "Foolish shepherd! Now you say this, but not when I spoke to you tenderly, saying 'Make yourself an ark of gopher wood ... I am about to bring the Flood ... to destroy all flesh' ... I lingered with you, spoke to you at length so that you would ask for mercy for the world! But as soon as you heard that you would be safe in the ark, the evil of the world did not touch your heart. You built the ark and saved yourself. Now that the world has been destroyed do you open your mouth to utter questions and pleas?"

This ancient Flood story isn’t about a destroying God; it’s about a God Who has made an eternal covenant with his Creation. It is about the giving and the preservation of Life. This is how we understand the nature of that Mystery which we sense to be at the heart of Life. It is also a story which makes clear that each of us is responsible for the welfare of the human community. Noah rejected that responsibility and death ensued. But both Abraham and Moses argued and bargained with God, and saved the men and women of their generation.

Lent is a time of growing, transformation, renewing our lives from the core of our hearts. There is a story from the sayings of the Desert Fathers of an old Abbot talking about the conversion of the heart with a young monk”:

Once there was a woman of ill repute in a city. She had many lovers. The governor approached her and said: "If you promise me you will behave properly, I will take you for my wife." She promised, he married her and took her to his own home. The lovers who still wanted her, said; "That official has taken her, If we risk going into the palace, he'll catch us and punish us. But we'll get out of that. Let's go round the back and whistle to her. She'll hear it and come down, and then we'll be all right.” But the woman, when she heard them whistling, blocked her ears, bolted the doors and hid herself in the innermost part of the house.

The old abbot explained the story. The woman of ill repute is our soul. Her lovers are our passions. The governor is Christ. The innermost part of the house is our heavenly dwelling place. The whistlers are the devils. But the soul can always find refuge with its Lord.

St. Francis de Sales neatly summed up the meaning of this story: Let the enemy rage at the gate, let him knock, let him push, let him cry, let him howl, let him do worse; we know for certain that he cannot enter save by the door of our consent. In other words, Evil can only overtake us if we permit it. We need to stay strong and focused on God. This is the point of Jesus’ testing by Satan for 40 days in the Wilderness.

Lent is a version of Christ’s Forty Days. And it is symbolic. For us, the Wilderness is a part of daily living, coming close to God, drinking in Devine Grace and Power and Love, of understanding and living into Jesus’ words after John’s arrest: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

Our prayer and our path for the Lenten season, centered firmly in our knowledge of the God of the Rainbow, the God of Jesus, the God of the Covenant, is beautifully expressed in the Psalm appointed for today:

My head is high, God, held high;
I'm looking to you, God;
No hangdog skulking for me.
I've thrown in my lot with you; …..
Show me how you work, God; 

School me in your ways. 

Take me by the hand; 

Lead me down the path of truth. 

You are my Savior, aren't you? 

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God; 

Mark me with your sign of love. 

Plan only the best for me, God! 

We board the arks of Church, Lent, Wisdom, our longing hearts, open to transformation, heading always to the Light of the Resurrection.