The First Sunday of Lent
The Gospel. St. Matt. iv. 1.
THEN was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fail down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Jesus came, and comes now, to convert us, through love, to change our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh – to love us so much that we shed tears of repentance. And change our ways.
-Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Bola Sete – Ash Wednesday
The great Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete helps usher in Lent 2014! Today is Ash Wendesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent, which for many is the most contemplative time of the spiritual calendar. Christians are marked on their forehead with ashes as a reminder that from dust we emerged and to dust we will return. Suitably, this song is quite bouncy and cheery. This may seem a strange way to kick off Lent. After all, if observed at all, Lent is usually equated with fasting, giving things up, contemplating the suffering of others… a long dirge of a march to Holy Week and the story of Jesus’ initial moment of triumph, only to be betrayed, humiliated, beaten and executed. Easter finally ushers in the lasting triumph of resurrection. Growing up, going to catholic school, we always brought home little cardboard containers which were covered with pictures of starving children and information about how much it would cost to feed one person, one family, one village, etc. It was very effective in cultivating awareness within me of what reality was and is for millions of people. And I would dutifully put any money I happened to come across into the container and return it to school as Holy Week began. The monks of SSJE have used Lent as an opportunity for a prolonged discipline of prayer and reflection. They see it as a season to truly cultivate depth in our prayer life, and indeed, learn how to pray and stay in close communion with our spiritual life. I am really looking forward to this season. This is an opportunity to smash the idea that such spiritual practices are dreary or a grind and embrace the season as a time to do the work of spiritual planting – I am certain if done, a harvest will emerge.
Lent 2014 pt. 1: The Great Re-set Button
“Do-Overs,” “Fresh starts,” and “new years resolutions” are popular ideas in the USA. Who doesn’t want a fresh start or a chance to hit the re-set button? I know I do and in many ways, the church calendar does that for me. Especially Lent. Lent is a season of fasting and repentance that starts with the Ash Wednesday invocation of ashes and the accompanying statement “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.” We are dust and we need God; real bad. The 40 day journey allows us to take a step back from the trajectory of our life and asses where we need to adjust and how we can once again journey with Christ to the Cross, through the tomb and rise again on that glorious Easter morn with Him and His church. In short, Lent (and every church season) allows us to hit the re-set button of our lives.
I especially need that in my life this year; I need to repent and place my entire focus on Christ. This became very evident to me last week when I was struggling through a personal situation and I read the Book of Common Prayer collect for the week:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The calling of God is to live in such a way that the only thing we fear is losing Christ and I was afraid of several things far removed from that. Time for a re-set: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
Two ways that I engage the season of Lent are 1) fasting and 2) creative expression. I limit what my body, soul, and spirit ingest for 40 days and I take the that time to pray or serve those in need as well as making space to visually create what God is teaching me about myself and my relation to Him. What both those practices do is SLOW ME DOWN. Only when we slow down can we hear the still small voice of God whispering that we are His Beloved and in us He is well pleased. Hearing that voice will take us to the cross, but the cross always leads to resurrection! Don’t let Lent pass you by. Hit the re-set button and come to a greater realization “that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
In the comment section, talk about how you are engaging Lent 2014.
Lent IV - Laetare (Rose) Sunday: March 10, 2013 at 3:00pm