2017 Lent Devotional

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!)  

in Lent

What is Lent?

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Lent Devotional - Day 3

 

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"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

If you have any familiarity or exposure to Lent, it might conjure up ideas of fasting or self-deprivation. That’s because during Lent, we are harkening back to Jesus’ fasting and prayer in the wilderness for 40 days, when he was tempted by Satan before beginning his ministry. But, like Mother Teresa reminds us, Lent is also about love. 

It is a reminder for Christians not to get too bogged down in the hurried pace of our culture, and the overwhelming demands on our time. It’s a call to live mindfully in God’s presence, to engage in spiritual practices that center our life on the truths of our faith. 

 

Lent is a season of solemn contemplation as we anticipate the death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday, and the subsequent joyous resurrection on Easter Sunday. Observing Lent allows us time and space to get our hearts, minds, and very beings in the proper posture for experiencing these events that are crucial to the Christian faith.  

Mother Teresa describes Lent as the time for “greater love.” Creating space in our life for God to work goes hand-in-hand with this experience of greater love. If we allow ourselves the time and space to grow spiritually we will undoubtedly feel a deeper connection to the source of all Love. Our work is to then, as Mother Teresa reminds us, pour that love out for others.   

Increasing our capacity to join God’s renewal in the world starts with a conscious and intentional deepening of our relationship with God - a journey Lent encourages us to embark upon.  

 

Loving God, 

You have created humanity from the dust of the earth, and have given us the ability to choose between good and evil. You have called your prophets and champions from among the lowly. You have formed your people through wanderings in the desert and through exile in foreign lands.  

In your creative thirst to be known to us, you have entered into our struggles, coming among us in the human person of Jesus, the Christ. He was conceived amid scandal, born in want, raised in obscurity. With us he endures hunger and thirst, temptation, rejection, doubt, grief, suffering and death.  

Make your presence known to us in this season of contemplation, anticipation, and deepening love.   

Amen. 

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