Yesterday was the first Sunday in Lent. I preached the first sermon in a new series for the season from the familiar story of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness according to Luke 5:1-13. Plenty Good Room is this year’s theme — taken from the Negro spiritual of the same name. There is plenty good room for every single one of us in God’s kingdom. More about that next week.
This morning I began my annual discipline of praying for each person in my congregation, asking that each person participate with me by helping to guide my prayers and to pray also for me on that day. I write notes back to each either on e-mail or by mail,whichever is preferred. It’s a practice that I learned from my mentor in ministry years ago. It wouldn’t be Lent for me without doing this.
I read my daily devotional after I prayed these prayers. My choice this year is a book titled, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston. This week’s theme is about simplifying the use of money, and today’s challenge is to make a meal from whatever is already in my house. To use up what has been forgotten. To make do with what I already have. This one is certainly doable — we have left-over homemade pizza from last night for lunch and potato soup from Saturday. I doubt the rest of the week will be that easy.
I prepared the syllabus for the Lenten study that I will lead beginning tomorrow night. Based on Walter Brueggemann’s book, Prayers for a Privileged People, we will read our favorites aloud, discover other published pray-ers who speak to us, and write some prayers of our own. Wednesday evening a group of us will gather to discern what God is calling us to do about gun violence in our nation. Pastor’s Class begins Thursday afternoon after school lets out. Baptisms will be on Palm Sunday. I plan to blog weekly.
What do I give up for Lent? Leisure time!
I”m not complaining. It seems the least I can do for a God who has loved me through every wilderness moment of my life. A God who challenges me and comforts me all at the same time. A God in whose image I’ve been created. A God who sent his son Jesus for me to follow and who will die for me. A God who grants me the privilege of ordained ministry. A God who brings together a community of faith like Disciples Christian Church where I serve and whose people I love. It is to that God and on their behalf that I say these words:
Let the pulse of our hearts throb now,
according to the cadence of your rule;
command and we will obey,
overrule and we will yield,
lead and we will walk
where we never thought to go.
Unto you …
not unto each other,
not unto our pet projects,
not unto our favorite charity or passion.
Unto you … our hearts are open;
we are yours; be our God — yet again.
May God’s blessings be yours until we meet again in this place. May God be with you in your journey this Lent.