Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Lent 2021 (Page 2 of 10)

March 23, 2021 – Wherever you go

Today’s Bible reading

Read Luke 9:57-62

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” — Luke 9-57-58

More thoughts for meditation

Who was that someone who said that to Jesus? Can you imagine how you might have said it? What if it was you? What if it was you who said that sentence? Pause for a moment to wonder how you would say it. How would you feel when you said it?

“Lord, I will follow wherever you go.”

Are you reaching out for a connection? Like a child saying “Mama?” for no other reason but to know she’s there? Are you afraid? Or just checking? Or something else?

Are you bold? Brash? Bravado barely covering over your other feelings? Are you joyful and oblivious? Living in the now, not worried about tomorrow, death be damned? Jesus DID just say that the Son of Man would have to die. 

“Lord, I will follow wherever you go.”

Are you sure of it? Or are you testing it out? Will I follow wherever he goes? Do I even know what that means?

Jesus answers. He is the mother who IS always there, but he is not the mother who guarantees a warm cozy resting place. This mother is not like the animal mother who makes a hiding place for her kits and chicks. Jesus offers a purpose and a direction that makes a path towards a deeper and more permanent rest than anything we have yet known. 

And he keeps on moving. Will you move with him?

Suggestions for action

At our At-Home Sunday Meeting we kept moving with our altar ritual. We are transforming objects that might have been symbols of death into symbols of life and hope. Instead of discarding these little scraps of desolation we are uplifting them and honoring them. We are putting them in plain sight to remember how much of us we can put in the light (all of us — our whole person). 

This week the object is “something that can hold something” Details at circleofhope.net/lent. Try it out and share it if you’re so inclined. If you use #deaththroughlife it might encourage others as well.

March 22, 2021 – Steadfastly

Today’s Bible reading

Read Luke 9:43-56

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem — Luke 9:51

More thoughts for meditation

There are 24 chapters in the Gospel of Luke and here in chapter 9, less than half way through his narrative, Luke records Jesus turning toward Jerusalem and “being lifted up.” Jesus turns into the shadow of death and walks steadfastly into it, and through it for the rest of Luke’s story. We are more than half way through Lent now, are you experiencing any steadfastness? 

Let Jesus inspire you again with his incredible faithfulness. He knew where he was headed long before it came to pass, and yet he persisted. Another translation of Luke 9:51 is “Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem.”

This echoes Isaiah 50:7, a prophecy about “the suffering servant”,

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,

    I will not be disgraced.

Therefore have I set my face like flint,

    and I know I will not be put to shame.”

The Sovereign Lord helps you as well. You are not alone in this long obedience. If all you have done in Lent is run into roadblocks, frustration, resistance and avoidance, do not be ashamed! It is not too late yet even to begin. How will you make it to Good Friday, when Jesus dies (11 days away) and through to Easter Sunday? What is your plan for how you will make it through with Jesus?

Suggestions for action

Write down your intention —  for the first time or again. Next week is Holy Week, a time during which we turn up the intensity of our devotion. Make a plan for how you can participate in our communal final push. Details at circleofhope.net/lent. Plan for steadfastness. Plan for flint facedness. Plan for the Sovereign Lord to help.

March 21, 2021 – Once for all

Today’s Bible Reading

Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit.—1 Peter 3:18

More thoughts for meditation

The reason that we have a gift of eternal life, and we no longer need to labor or work for it (in vain, I might add, since the wages of sin are death), is because of the final act of Jesus on the cross. Everything that needed to happen to heal the world, happened on that hill on that Friday. The Crucifixion of Christ is the most important event in history. There are many ways to describe what happened on that day, but generally, these ideas work together, offering us a kaleidoscopic vision of the Cross and Christ’s work on it. But they all start with this problem: something is wrong with the world. Looking around, it’s not hard to observe this. This pandemic has made it even clearer. And something must be done about that.

God grieves at the death in the world, and grieves at how humanity participates in that death and offends God. Something must be done about that. There must be a reparation. There must be restitution. There must be an act to defeat death and to restore things.

One atonement theory says that through his death, Jesus defeated death. That death tried to swallow him, but it spit him back up. Christ is the victor over death. Another one says that our sin, whose wages are paid in death, distanced us from God and dishonored God. In order that we might be restored to God, God needed a sacrifice as infinite as God is and vulnerable as a human is, so God needed a “god-man,” or the person of Jesus Christ.

Suggestions for action

If you are interested in exploring these atonement theories, visit our Way of Jesus website and pray through them. What I hope will encourage you today, and what I hope you will receive, is that the work is complete. No matter how we explain what happened on that Friday, it accomplished everything that needed to happen for us to have a restored relationship with God and the gift of eternal life. Indeed, the last enemy destroyed was death, the wages of sin. Rest today in that reassurance. Observe it this evening during our communion meal at the at-home Sunday meeting.

 

March 20, 2021 – Forgive us our debts

Today’s Bible Reading

Read Matthew 18:21-35

Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?—Matthew 18:33

More thoughts for meditation

The gift of God is eternal life freely given. The work of Jesus on the cross completes our justification. We no longer need to labor in vain, and succumb to the wages of that labor, death. We are fully and freely saved. Moreover, we are forgiven our debts too. God no longer holds our wrongdoing against us because we’ve been freed from debt.

God is not keeping a record of our wrong because of grace, we don’t have a license to sin, but rather an invitation to do the same for others. Jesus’ stern warning n Matthew 18 is that if we don’t demonstrate the same grace with one another, as if we haven’t experienced it with Christ, we are making a mockery of the gift.

One reason we may have the same response as the King’s servant did to the servant that owed him money is because we often see our offenses as less egregious than the ones committed against us. In a sense, we may think we are more deserving of God’s grace, or we may fool ourselves into thinking that we did something to earn it. Jesus is trying to humble us here to see the gift of eternal life as freely given and not earned.

Suggestions for action

The Bible is full of examples that warn against hypocrisy, such as the one demonstrated in the passage above. It is essential for our free gift of eternal life to not make us feel morally superior or righteous over others. This hardens our hearts and doesn’t allow the grace that we’ve received from God as a gift to overflow. If we aren’t careful, we’ll be back to the old way of doing things, laboring for approval, and entitling ourselves to it.

In Circle of Hope, we practically express the above teaching by literally forgiving one another’s debts. Our Debt Annihilation Team leads us to do this. Today, pray for the team (or make a contribution to their cause).

It’s Gordon Cosby Day at our sister blog Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body. He brought contemplation and action together in a way that sparked a movement and influenced many.

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