Thursday, March 28, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Fourth Sunday in Lent BCP 219)

As human beings, we have been making bread for tens of thousands of years. Even before the agricultural revolution, hunter gatherers were gathering grains and roots and mashing them up and cooking them for bread. Bread quite literally is the stuff of life for humans, as throughout most of our history, we have relied most heavily on bread, in all its varieties, to sustain us.

It was natural and easy therefore for Jesus to use the metaphor for bread in describing himself as that which gives life to the world. In Hebrew the word for bread and the word for food are the same word! Even today, bread is still the staple food for most people in the world today. (Only here in America is our relationship with bread overly complicated.) Jesus knows that as frequently as we need food, we need God in our lives.

Whether you are feasting or fasting, eating food or abstaining from eating, we are called to think about God as much as we think about food. (This is how the idea of saying grace or prayers before eating started.) On your journey this week, give thanks to God for all that sustains you. For the bread, for the drinks, for the food, and for Jesus in your heart.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Third Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Third Sunday in Lent BCP 218)

Giving up our lives is a hard thing to do. Christianity asks us to give up our lives in service to Christ and in letting go of our egos through Christ. The world lures us in all sorts of ways to hold on desperately to our lives, as if we had the power to save ourselves. We don't. We know it when we are being honest with ourselves. But lets face it, its really easy not to be honest with ourselves.

One of the best ways we can practice giving up ourselves is by the spiritual practices we do on our own and in community. Spiritual practices of prayer, giving, fasting, walking, reading scripture, studying together, and praising God together, are all ways we learn how to give ourselves up to Christ. Naturally, we have to practice them, which means returning to them over and over again, even when we don't feel like they are working right away. Practicing our faith is like practicing anything else, it takes time, effort, and repetition. It doesn't happen overnight.

By walking together during the season of Lent, by walking the journey of Christ together, through whatever spiritual practices we have taken on, we open ourselves up to God. Through such practice, we daily give ourselves up to Christ and become the body of Christ.