Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, February 22, 2015:

First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17

Psalm: Psalm 25:1-9 (Psalm 25:1-10 NRSV)

Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22

Gospel: Mark 1:9-15

We begin Lent back in the country of baptism. Once again, we hear the story of the baptism of Christ. Didn't we just cover this material a few weeks ago?Indeed we did, and it should remind us of the importance of this sacrament. It gives us a chance to notice what we might not have noticed before.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, too, is just a baby of sorts. God proclaims love for Jesus even before Jesus has done anything substantial. God is pleased with Jesus before his ministry even begins.

It's a rare concept in our modern, first world society, where children are enrolled in activities that will improve their worth to future judges.  We spend many of our days at work trying to prove that we are valuable.  We may return to families where we feel we need to show that we're valid members.  We are bombarded with ads designed to make us feel like we're lacking so that we'll buy something.  Whether we make the purchase or not, it's hard to feel good about ourselves at the end of the day.

Perhaps we should return to this Bible passage periodically. It's important to remind ourselves that God loves us. It's also important to remind ourselves of how much the world cares about God's love.

Look at the end of the Gospel lesson: John the Baptist has been arrested. We can't say we haven't been warned about what might happen to us when we do God's work in the world.

But we're not excused from doing it. The Gospel ends with Jesus continuing his mission, preaching the gospel of God.

Lent is at hand. Many people think of Lent as Spring Training Camp (or Boot Camp) for Christians-these images aren't mine, but I've seen so many people use them, I'm not sure who should get credit. Lent is a great time for us to get serious (again) about our faith journey. Lent is a great time to spend some contemplative time to consider the ways that we're living out our Christian faith and the ways that we could improve. Many people will give up something for Lent. Many people will add something, like more Bible reading, more prayer, more devotional reading, more charitable work.

We've just celebrated Ash Wednesday, the holy day that reminds us that we're not here for very long. We just do not have time for most of the self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors in which we engage. Now is the time to turn off our televisions and to focus on something more important. Now is the time to give up our self-loathing and to focus on our God, who is well-pleased with us.

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