Today’s Readings for Lent

My church gave out these little books of Lent Readings, so I thought I would pass them along. I also thought that since it is easier for me to process with a keyboard in front of me, oh the years of conditioning, that maybe if I wrote my thoughts, I’d feel Lent-y.

Joel 2:12-18 “Rend Your Heart”
What does it mean to rend your heart? Anyway you look at the word “rend” it is not pretty. It literally means to pull apart violently; to destroy by tearing in two. So much for the neat variety of Christianity. “Rend your heart and not your garments…” says Joel. What good does it do to tear apart perfectly good clothes, when it is our hearts that betray us. Is Joel saying that the traditional methods of mourning no longer apply because they are superficial and really the problem is much deeper, much more internal? Our hearts are the object of our reflection–they are to be rent on account of their great tresspass? The lines right before this passage say, “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” After Joel encourages the people to repent and gather in consecrated assembly and to rend their hearts, he writes “Then the Lord will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people.” It kind of reminds me of Psalm 51 in which David writes: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 “Christ’s Ambassadors”
I have never liked the language of Paul. I wish he just would have said what he wanted to say. I want him to make it plain. He never does. Perhaps, the reason I can never understand him is that he is always setting forth this complicated systematic theology. However, this passage seems plain to me. Because Jesus loves us, we are to love others. God, Paul says, makes his appeal through us. It is through this simple act that people see God. We are Christ’s ambassadors. “Now is the day of salvation” for us and for those we love. I happen to think that much of our salvation is wrapped up in how well we share ourselves with others. I think the point of the Kingdom on earth is simple; God’s love saves us only when our love saves others: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t pray forgive us our debts whether or not we forgive our debtors, but as we forgive (see Matthew 6:14-15, you’ll already be there in a minute anyway). I think the same goes with love. Get love, give love, get love. We are the reconcilers using love and grace to share salvation.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 “Giving and Fasting”
Hide. Sort of makes fundraising weird, huh?

Kind of odd to listen to Smackwater Jack sung by Carole King while reading the bible?!

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