2017 Lent Devotional

in Faith

The sacrifice of Jesus

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John 10:14-15, 18, 27-30

 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father. 

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

 

We come to Holy Week on the Lenten calendar, a time to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus. Hopefully, over the course of these past weeks, we’ve created space and time in our lives for the weight and the impact of this upcoming week to truly sink in.  

There are many different theories about how we are to understand Jesus’ death, and what it means for our lives. But I think these verses from John capture the full impact and implication. Jesus the Christ, one with God, breaks into the world to forever change our reality. He gives his life up willingly, with love, as a sacrifice for his sheep. His death makes life possible. His resurrection leaves us with the promise that his work on earth is not done, and a call to work toward bringing God’s kingdom to earth.   

The journey of Holy Week invites us into Christ’s final days on earth. We harken back to the darkness, the pain, the life given in love. But on the other side of the resurrection, we can’t help but know that death isn’t the final word. Not for Christ, and not for us.  

 

God of such unwavering love, 

how do I "celebrate" 

the passion and death of Jesus? 

I often want to look the other way 

and not watch, 

not stay with Jesus in his suffering. 

Give me the strength 

to see his love with honesty and compassion 

and to feel deeply 

your own forgiveness and mercy for me. 

Help me to understand 

how to "celebrate" this week. 

I want be able to bring 

my weaknesses and imperfections with me 

as I journey with Jesus this week, 

so aware of his love

Posted by Alexis James Waggoner with
in Lent

Setting the stage for the sermon on the mount

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Lent Devotional

 

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What Christ came to teach us: The sermon on the mount 

Matt 4:17
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand
 
“The new world order is based on the experience of God who is experienced personally. Jesus seems to be saying that God is not a philosophical system, a theory to be proven, or an energy to be discussed or controlled. … Jesus believes that God is a Person to be imitated, enjoyed, and loved.” 
- Richard Rohr  

 

These are the first words of Jesus’ ministry, as related in the gospel of Matthew. We talk a lot about bringing the kingdom to earth, joining God in the work of the kingdom, and so forth. But how can we best understand the kingdom of God? The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start, but it’s helpful to understand a few things first.    

In the quote above from his book on the Sermon on the Mount, Richard Rohr explains that God’s kingdom - the “new world order” - calls us to experience, and then imitate God. But how do we know what to imitate? Rohr goes on to draw a distinction between the kingdom of God, and the kingdoms of the world.    

“… There are three kinds of cultures today, each with its own bottom line: political cultures based on the manipulation of power, economic cultures based on the manipulation of money, and religious cultures based on the manipulation of some theory about God. … Jesus new alternative is not just another religious culture however.”   

The new alternative as we find it in the Sermon on the Mount, is a subversive reality where the outcast is in the position of primacy; where motives for rivalry and greed have been destroyed; where ideas about family, possessions, status, and institutional religion are opposed or subverted.   

Our journey through the Sermon on the Mount will reveal the extent to which we’ve been given a new lens to view the world.   

(To help us on this journey, I’ll be pulling heavily from Rohr’s book, Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount. If you’re interested in going deeper into the sermon, this is a short, accessible book and I recommend giving it a read!)  

Posted by Alexis James Waggoner with

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