Lenten Reflections

Polarization.  Division.  Separation.

These are all images of estrangement.  Ties that used to bind us into faiths, nations, communities, are now being cut, and more and more we are reducing our contact with others—associating only with those who think like us, act like us, look like us.  We now learn our news from narrow-casts, not broad-casts, and often we choose to not be challenged, to not listen, to remain the same.

What brings about this division from others?

Enmity:  positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.  We don’t just fear—we act upon it.  We don’t just despise—we physically and verbally hurl abuse.   Enmity is at the heart of division: we are divided from God, and divided from our neighbor, and divided from our true selves.

Easter is coming.

The celebration of the negation of death is certainly more than green grass, bunnies, babies and eggs.  It is the annual reminder that Jesus, who was publically humiliated, tortured and murdered, has come back to life.  And here’s the clincher:  Jesus returns without anger.  Despite everything that was done to Jesus, he never avenges himself, never even calls his oppressors enemies.

Jesus’ example is clear:  love your enemies.

But if we, through division, have the ability to be an enemy to God, ourselves and our neighbors, how do we recognize and heal that division?  How do we become like Christ?  Join us during this 40-day period of Lent for some questions, challenges and images as we prepare for Jesus’ wrath-less return.

Is your world view framed by Death or Life?


Take wrong turns.
Talk to strangers.
Open unmarked doors.
And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing.
Do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out.

—Randall Munroe, xkcd: volume 0

 

What do you fear?
Make a short list today on your phone or on a scrap of paper.
Consider carefully what is keeping you from the life God offers.
Pray, using the list, for God’s help; then delete or burn the note.
Remember that Christ came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

Stunned by the morning
The night of defeat is long and still and unbearable.
We know the nights.
And our sisters and brothers
who are cold,
and hungry,
and brutalized know them better than do we.
And you also know the night in Ashdod and in a trillion other times.
How is it with you in the night we do no know.
Perhaps it is like it is with us.
We, with the Philistines, are stunned by the morning,
stunned to find our pet projects toppled,
stunned to find our favorite gods failed,
stunned to find our managed hopes defeated.
Then you in the morning.
You only.
You in splendor.
You in glory.
You in power.
This day we dazzle at your glory in the midst of our long night.
Move in your glory this day in the midst of our many nights.
Bring us to your day.
To your new day.
Your third day.  Amen.

—Walter Brueggemann, March 2, 2000, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth