Lent is a season of introspection and preparation - preparation for a new way of being, a new life, a revised view of how the World can Be, preparation for God's Kingdom here among us. For many, it is a time of examining their lives, their faith and their actions and choices to see how they all fit together. Are they living what they Believe? Are they moving their life and presumably the lives of those around them Toward something new? That is hard work. It's really easy to sort of swim around in ideas about right and wrong ways of being but it is really hard to live out good choices in every life circumstance. And God's got grace close at hand, and that is a huge Gift.
The readings this week reminded us of how important this time of preparation can be. The writers lay out some very basic premises of faith and commitment - rules and guidelines and understandings that we can use as a compass. Given the KC community's consideration of veils that cover our seeing during this season, we can look at these guidelines and patterns and ask ourselves, "What veils keep us from seeing the Way Toward these ideals?"
Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses is instructing the Israelites about how they are to live in the Promised Land. It's sort of a rule book and it will be important later in our readings to understand that the Jewish people knew these instructions well. The message in this passage is that the Israelites should return to God who delivered them to this land flowing with milk and honey the very first fruits of their labor and harvest in that land. The message here is the basis for many people's understanding of tithing today - You have not received these things by your doing - God has bestowed these gifts upon you and in exchange, you return to God offerings of the very best products of that life. For the Israelites agricultural society, that meant the best and earliest of their harvest. Now we garden...and it is hard to imagine giving away that first tomato when it starts to turn pink on the vine. But really, it never was "our" tomato. And so we hope to be aware of that and give it away.
The psalmist is praising Yahweh's power and protection - a recent theme in the selected Psalms. The psalmist is also providing us with a better understanding of who God is and what God does. But this specific Psalm is also an historical backdrop for the Luke passage that follows in this week's reading.
In Luke, Jesus has been "anointed" during his baptism by John and has been driven into the wilderness where he is tempted for 40 days and nights by Satan. What a wild and crazy stretch of life, eh? (For the record, 40 days is biblical code for "a really long time.") Satan taunts Jesus, offering him relief, authority and power over harm and with each taunt, Jesus responds with words from Deuteronomy that clearly guide his understanding of who God is and what God does. Satan even quotes Psalm 91, citing God's protection. Jesus understands that Satan is seeking to test God, but as a good Jewish teacher, Jesus knows that there is a difference between testing a relationship and Trusting a relationship.
Finally, Paul's letter to the church in Rome reminds us that Jesus' ministry was not just for the Jews. And it was not just against the Roman Empire. It was teaching for all, and our following Jesus should not separate us but rather unite us. Every now and then, we need that reminder. How about you?
God, I am trying to be grateful for what I have
It is easy for me to yearn after
However, I am trying to be grateful for what I have
© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.