Pressure Cooker for the Soul

Sunday’s Scripture – February 21, 2021

Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15

 

Reflection

The Liturgical Calendar is a way to order time. Whether it be the Gregorian calendar, the school year, sports seasons, etc, time is ordered one way or another. The Church Calendar offers an alternative way to order time according to the life of Jesus. By it, we are invited into that life and are able to participate more fully.

With Ash Wednesday this past week, we moved from Epiphany to Lent. At Epiphany, we observed Jesus’s baptism, celebrated His divinity, and acknowledged that the Gospel is for the whole world. But after Jesus is baptized, “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1:12-13) Just as this was preparation for His ministry, life, death, and resurrection, Lent is a season of preparation for us too.

Symbolic of Jesus’s wilderness temptation, Lent is forty days long (not including Sundays because every Sunday is a mini Easter). In the desert, Jesus fasted and prayed and resisted temptation. During Lent, we fast and pray and resist temptation too. The experience is a kind of pressure cooker for the soul. By taking on more intense spiritual practices, such as fasting, we open ourselves up to temptation. (Anyone who has fasted knows that hanger– when hunger causes anger– is a real thing.)

But, in so doing, we put our trust in God’s ability and care to deliver us. In so doing, we have opportunities to practice dealing with temptation as Jesus did. With the Psalmist, we pray: “O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you to be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.” (Psalm 25:103)

Our enemies may not be flesh and blood, but the powers and principalities of darkness and our own sinful flesh are just as real.

Lent is a journey that takes us all the way to the cross. We unite ourselves with Christ in His suffering, and thereby share more fully in His glory and life. The Apostle Paul called this a privilege. For a faith that is not worth dying for is not worth living for.

Questions

  • Do you typically participate in Lent? How?
  • What will you deny yourself this Lent, or what spiritual practice will you take on, as a way to practice resisting temptation and relying on God for deliverance?
  • How will you stay focused this Lent and avoid the temptation to skip it for Easter?

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