Lent started this week on Wednesday. I’ve heard from two friends who are just done. They are not participating in lent 2022 because the last two years of covid have been Lenten enough. One is a young mom, who works full time and whose husband is a pastor. Another is a pastor who writes liturgies and is exhausted from managing church in the midst of all that the global pandemic has thrown our way. I totally get this! We are starting year three of all of this and mask mandates have changed or are changing and people are just tired of it all!
How about you? Maybe you too are having trouble with or just aren’t interested in Lent this year … I totally get that! I can’t believe that the calendar flipped and it’s March! I’m still finding Christmas things that need to be put away! And now it’s time for spring and Easter decorations to come out! Maybe you are feeling like you are stuck back in time, or maybe your feel like you’re in the wilderness, or alone, or just exhausted from all the added stress and traumas of the week and the years gone by.
The gospel lesson this week is from Luke 4
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[d]”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[e]”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
READ that a couple of times … What do you notice? What do you want to know more about?
I noticed that the devil knows how to quote scripture…
I noticed that Jesus doesn’t get rattled by this, He just quotes it right back!
I also noticed that Jesus was led into the wilderness, not by the devil, but by THE HOLY SPIRIT! This gives me great hope! We too are being led by the Spirit! We aren’t really lost. The Holy Spirit is with us right where we are! In all the mess, in all the stress, and in all the uncertainty of life.
What I also noticed is that Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit! Jesus had just been told by God that He was the BELOVED!
LUKE 3: 21-22 NIV
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Recall your own baptism…what do you know about it? What do you remember? What does it mean to you now?
How do you want/need to be baptized right now? Talk to Jesus about this.
Are you feeling more like the “wonder of the water and the blessing “ or more stuck in the wilderness of temptations, or somewhere in between? Talk to Jesus about where you are.
In the MESSAGE LUKE 3: 21-22
After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
Spend some time sitting with this statement: “ YOU are my child, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.” Allow the Holy Spirit to surround you with God’s Love and Honor.
What if this was all you did for Lent this year? What if you took time each day to remember that you are the BELOVED, you are God’s child, marked by God’s love!
What could your life be like by Easter?
I quote Father Ed Hays a lot regarding Lent because he taught me that Lent was about falling more in love with Jesus for 40 days rather than about sackcloth and ashes and giving stuff up! We’ve all had a lot of ASHES in the past two years! And I know that I sure need to know more of the love of Jesus!
I’ve shared a practice before that involves a blanket or a throw blanket or a scarf. You wrap yourself in the blanket/throw and imagine Jesus/God wrapping you in LOVE. You might try setting your timer for 3 minutes to start. Just sit there wrapped in the blanket of God’s love.
We really aren’t good at sitting still. And we aren’t very good at letting God really love us! So this will take practice!
You might try a few days at 3 minutes, and then add on … What if we all took 30 minutes a day to just SIT LOVE OF GOD! what if we helped our kids do this too?
For some of us we might need to hold on to something, not just be wrapped in a blanket…something like a rock or a cup or a heart of some kind. You might draw what God’s love looks like or feels like, you might write a poem, or journal about God’s love … But most important is JUST SIT AND BE LOVED BY GOD!
You might do this practice on your own, or you might help an entire group try this practice together. To just sit with a blanket wrapped around them for 5 whole minutes … wrapped in God’s love … then have people who’d like to do so, share what the experience was like for them. Maybe your group or community could add this LOVE PRACTICE each week, adding on 5 minutes each time you gather. The goal is just to sit in the LOVE OF JESUS!
I can imagine doing this in my car as I wait for someone. Or doing it before bed or with my coffee in the morning.
How would it feel to add SITTING IN GOD’S LOVE rather than giving up something for Lent this year?
PRAY WITH ME or add to this prayer and make it your own!
LORD JESUS I long to be filled with your Spirit again! I need you to truly surround me with your Love. I need to be held closely as your child. Help to remember that I am chosen and marked by your love, and that you are pleased with me just as I am! Thank you Jesus! AMEN
If you would like more ideas for LENT check out my freerangefriday post from last year on CHOOSING A LENTEN PRACTICE