Tuesday, March 4; Welcome

from Joan Watson

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.      –Ephesians 4:14-16

Lent is a time when we are invited on the journey toward inner clarity, toward peace that resembles wholeness of being and unity of life. This profound peace comes not because of a particular disposition or attitude, or because of an easy circumstance, but rather it comes by the very grace of God, who dwells in the central place of our hearts. Such clarity, such peace, often comes in response to temptation and distraction … temptation and distraction related to things that stop us in our tracks, that shake us up and cause us to think again about who God is, about who we are in relation to God, and about the way that leads to life, real life, and whether or not we are on it.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13 ), he responded with a kind of clarity that kept him faithful to his identity, calling and purpose. The temptations he experienced were not unique to him; they were universal temptations that challenge us all.  Such temptations often include engaging our God-given gifts for the purpose of meeting our own needs or furthering personal gain; or engaging God in our “worlds” for our purposes (as a kind of “cosmic bellhop” … helping us out … blessing us as we do things “for God”) rather than being engaged with God in this world for God’s purposes and with God’s power. Another temptation, maybe the most central of all, has to do with how many Gods we can serve; and whether expedience trumps faithfulness as we are tempted to choose any means to reach a desired end. It includes making idols of even good things, being unclear about who or what we worship, what is central in our lives. These temptations are often very practical, often considered successful ways of accomplishment in this world. The only problem is that they don’t lead to peace, neither personal peace nor peace in the world. Peace in the world comes only from peace-centered people engaged with others, people who are no longer “tossed to and fro” by every movement, every threat, every new distraction or appealing promise of salvation.

Lent is a time to seek such peace – and it always begins in our own hearts. 

This season we offer tools for listening to God more, for discerning what we hear, for clarifying truth amidst confusion, for finding our heart’s true home. Some tools will come through worship or classes on spiritual helps, some through readings of scripture or other books, some through opportunities to serve. Though the call is personal, we are in it together, for we are part of each other in a common humanity and in the church, as the body of Christ. So this Lent, seek peace – your own and in the world in which you live.