The season of Lent is both rich and scary. The season is rich because we are invited to dig deep into our faith practices and determine whether we are on the right path to becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. We are encouraged to look at our whole lives and then to lay them alongside the life of Christ and see how we measure up. That is where the scary part comes in.
Being honest with ourselves is a difficult exercise; that’s part of why we need forty days to do it. It takes diligence and discipline and a whole lot of grace to see ourselves as we truly are. In fact, it might be argued that we are incapable of doing this Lenten thing on our own. It is simply beyond our capabilities and certainly beyond our inclinations. The only hope we have is to be gathered up in Jesus.
In Luke 13:34, the gospel text for the Second Sunday in Lent, Jesus tells us how He wants to gather us up, like a mother hen gathers her brood. He wants us to claim Him, to run to Him, to be loved and cared for by Him. But this is not to avoid the Lenten examination. It is to be able to endure it. We can stand the scrutiny of the questions about the state of our souls because we have one who will love us no matter what we find. We can be honest with our failings and our successes because there is one who cheers us on no matter how we have run the race so far.
The season of Lent is essential for those who really want to be disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Because a part of what we learn in this time of self examination is that we are what might be most in need of transformation. We might find that what needs to grow in faith and discipleship is the church and that the transformation of the world begins with building bridges and gathering up rather than with criticizing and condemning.
There is something significant and moving about your faithfulness and willingness to journey toward discipleship. Lent calls us not to condemnation, but to encouragement and to move into the loving arms of Christ. So let us create space for worshipers to spend time in prayer and confession. This could come during the music or with the call to repentance as we respond to the loving grace of Jesus. Let us create space for one another to gather and grow in spiritual formation groups, whether it is in your Sunday School classes or the Lenten Study on Grace! We welcome you into this wonderful time of year knowing that the Holy Spirit is our companion, accepting us in the midst of our faults and flaws, and through grace, is lifting us up to a new day in the favor of our loving God!
— Pastor Kevin
Excerpts from "Gathered Up in Jesus"; author unknown
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