Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent: Day 1

I've decided that my Lenten discipline this year will be to write a devotional blog every day. My church (Saint Mark UMC) is encouraging folks to read through the Gospel of Luke. So I'll offer daily reflections on that day's passage. Some will be more pastoral, some more academic. Most, I hope, will be somewhere in the middle. If you should like, I invite you to join me on the journey.

I don't have much energy to offer for today's passage, and somehow I think that's appropriate. I've had the emotional crap kicked out of me today, and I come to Lent and to this passage weary in soul and looking for hope. I feel like Zechariah. Zech (as his friends call him) is a priest attending to the rites of the Lord. When the angel appears to him, he says that Zech's prayers have been heard. We are not explicitly told what those prayers are, but we can guess: for a child for him and his wife. Of course in the scope of Luke's narrative we know Zech's prayer for a child parallels Israel's prayers for the messiah, a hope that Zech no doubt shared. And yet, when the promise of God comes to proclaim the fulfillment of his hope, Zech refuses to believe. He is too old. It is too impossible. How can it be so?

We all have hopes for ourselves. And I'm not talking about career ambitions or that lottery ticket you just bought. I mean hopes for the types of people we want to be. We have hopes to change, hopes to grow, hopes to make amends, hopes to forgive, hopes to love more, and hopes to rage less. And we have a God who promises not only to forgive us but to change us, to give us her Holy Spirit that we might learn to love self, other, and God. And yet, when we hear those promises, we dismiss them. It makes sense for God to promise those things to others, but certainly not to me! I'm too broken. I'm too set in my ways. I'm too old or too young. I'm too indulgent of my passions. I'm too far gone.

But notice what the angel does to Zechariah: he shuts him the hell up! No more objections! God is going to do God's work and that's that!

My prayer for myself and for all of us this Lenten season is that we can learn to shut up and let God work in us. Let us bring our brokenness, our filth, and our regrets and lay them on the altar that God may pour out her Spirit upon us that we might be changed. May we exchange the bread--which from a whole loaf becomes broken--for ourselves, that being broken we might become whole.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Very nice. Thank you. I'm trying to learn to shut up and let it be, too. May we walk this path together!