Please enjoy these Reflections for Lent this weekend!
Friday in the Third Week of Lent
Mark 12:28-34?English Standard Version (ESV)
The Great Commandment
28?And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, ?Which commandment is the most important of all?? 29?Jesus answered, ?The most important is, ?Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30?And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.? 31?The second is this: ?You shall love your neighbor as yourself.? There is no other commandment greater than these.? 32?And the scribe said to him, ?You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.33?And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.? 34?And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ?You are not far from the kingdom of God.? And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Yesterday I mentioned my hope that this Lenten journey has opened you more deeply to the reality of God's love, which is the focus of today's passage.
Here we have a well-versed scribe who likely spent years and years studying and copying the Hebrew scriptures asking Jesus what He considers the most important command of all. It's clear this scribe was impressed with Jesus and the way He answered?their questions.
But Jesus doesn't give him just one answer; His answer was twofold: Love God with all that you are and love people for all they are.
By giving two answers to the single question, Jesus is indicating?that love can't be pulled apart and compartmentalized. There is an orientation toward God and others that flows and moves?a lot like a dance between lovers.
If all we do is sit around and think dreamy thoughts of God, but don't ever move in love toward others and serve them in the way we would like to be served, we don't have love for God as much as we have a self-absorbed love for ourselves that makes us feel good but avoids?exposing our hands to get dirty.
Conversely, if all we do actively get out there and serve others, but don't ever move in love toward God with all that we are and receive love from Him, we don't have love for others as much as we have a self-absorbed love for ourselves that?makes us feel good but avoids exposing our hearts to get clean.
Have you ever seen someone in love dancing with themselves? Not pretty.
Are you oriented more inwardly toward God to give and receive love? How might God be nudging you to allow the flow of this love to move through you to others? What changes in your life can you make today to bring that about? What fears do you have to overcome?
Are you oriented more outward toward others to give and receive love? How might God be nudging you to draw first from His love for you in order to allow that love to animate how you serve others? What rhythms of life might you consider adding to get time with God more often in love? What fears do you have to overcome?
Luke 1:26-38?English Standard Version (ESV)
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26?In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27?to a virgin betrothed[a]to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28?And he came to her and said, ?Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!?[b]29?But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30?And the angel said to her, ?Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31?And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32?He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,33?and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.?
34?And Mary said to the angel, ?How will this be, since I am a virgin??[c]
35?And the angel answered her, ?The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy?the Son of God. 36?And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37?For nothing will be impossible with God.? 38?And Mary said, ?Behold, I am the servant[e] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.? And the angel departed from her.
We have been stepping?through this Lenten season with our eyes fixed upon the cross we know is coming at the end of our travels. We've been taking note of the mindsets and patterns in our lives that God has asked us to set aside in favor of allowing new mindsets and patterns that allow the Kingdom of God to emerge as we have journeyed together.
Today seems like a departure from Lent.
Today is about nine months before Christmas. Nine months later, the world encounters Jesus for the first time as God enfleshed. This is the moment God enters the world at large with an offer of salvation to all, and our personal world in particular, with an offer of Lordship for?each of us reading this Lenten reflection.
And God is always giving birth to new realities, to new ways of His manifesting Himself in the world and us.
Even today, with Christmas a pregnancy away, God is conceiving Himself in you in a new way.
Read through the passage above a few times and imagine God is speaking to you personally.
In light of where you have been walking with Him through this Lenten season, what do you sense God is wanting to create in you starting today?
Do you sense this creation may take some time to grow and be nurtured internally before entering the world in a lived out way? What would help this emerging new life to be nurtured in order to grow?
How have?the renunciations you have been making, the pattern of abstaining you may have been observing these last three weeks, created space for something new of God to emerge?
Is your response more like Mary's in this passage or more like Zacharias's that we read about earlier in this chapter? Why?
Image by Shemaka Soon via Wikimedia Commons
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Read Today's Scripture: John Chapter 9?
While walking along the road, Jesus heals a man born blind.
We enter into the second half of Lent with accumulating joy and eagerness. Today we celebrate the grace we have received manifesting itself as emerging new life within us.
Read through the 9th chapter of John with a curious heart. Are there any words or phrases that grab your attention?
As you read through a second time, what rises?in you emotionally? Which verses?evoke these emotions?
Finally, as you read through a final time, consider if any of the words or phrases that grabbed your attention during the first reading seem to intersect with something in your life today? Do any of the emotions surfaced in the second reading find sympathy with feelings you've had recently??Is there an invitation or gift from God in?these places of intersection?