“Repent therefore, and turn to God…” — Acts 3:19
Lent can be a time of taking inventory of our lives. Themes of repentance became prominent as the church developed the liturgical year and Lent as a preparation for renewing dedication to the faith. To repent means literally to “Turn Around”–to find new direction. This concept of change and the change-making actions of Jesus will guide our spiritual journey this season and we will wrestle with our fear of change, the inevitability of change, the difficulty in changing and the life-giving new lease on life and call to service that change can bring.
“So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink…Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him.” — Luke 14:22-36
It takes courage to change, to break out of whatever narrow paths we might find ourselves in. Just like Peter, if we are going to change, we have to take the first uncertain steps out of the boat onto the water and into the unknown. Luckily, we too have Jesus’ redeeming help and support, his hand reaching out to us, if we start to sink or lose our way.
“Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart…” — Mark 2:23-3:6
In the scripture story from Mark, the Pharisees were in a rut in how they understood the law. Jesus’ actions called into question their interpretation of scripture, changing the understanding of what it meant to keep the Sabbath holy. Lent reminds us that sometimes we need to be ready to revisit and change unexamined assumptions in our lives or even those beliefs and understandings
of scripture that we might hold dear. What beliefs need to be changed to get us off the slow and narrow road?
“…anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am…” John 12: 25-26
Everything changes and yet, the presence of Jesus Christ is never-ending when we follow in his way. In today’s scripture, Jesus asks us to let go of life “just as it is” in order to have the things that are eternal. This seems like a conundrum and yet, to be truly present with others as Christ is present, no matter the chaos of change, is to have what is real, constant and eternal.
“At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.” — Luke 14:7-24
Jesus tells a parable that highlights the need for discernment among many choices of where we put our attention, demonstrating the wisdom that is needed to choose that which brings us into communion with God. How do you discern the changes that are needed in your spiritual life in order to bring you into a closer communion with God? Will we answer the invitation to abundant life?
“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.” — John 12:1-1
Jesus was hosted at a dinner at Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ house–three people whose lives had been changed immeasurably by Jesus’ presence. In gratitude and devotion, Mary gives Jesus the gift of precious perfume and intimate service. When our lives change because of our encounter with Jesus, we are compelled to follow his, and Mary’s, lead–offering ourselves in generous ways. How has internal change offered you a vision of your own capacity as a change-agent for good solutions in the world?
Into God’s Future
“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” — Mark 1:14-15
Jesus changes our perception of this world into one that is filled with the future hope and promise of God. In doing so, Jesus calls each of us to always be working toward changing the world to make this hope and promise a reality. Just as Jesus moves into the most dangerous political context with the parade of palms, we must continue our journeys of change, trusting the Good News of the reign of God even and especially when the going gets rough.