1st Sunday of Lent, March 10, 2019: This is the first of six Sundays in Lent. The Friday before each Sunday, I will post my reflections and suggestions for spiritual practices for the week. I invite you to spend some time each week in the Sunday lectionary readings, which are rich and rewarding instruction from God for your fasting, confession, and prayer.
Readings: Deut. 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2,9-16; Luke 4:1-13
This summer we are taking a “roots” trip to Europe to see the birthplace of my husband’s paternal grandparents. Although we know some of the details of the family immigrating to the USA, there have been many remaining questions: What did they leave behind, what hardships did they endure, and what were their dreams for a new life? After a lot of research, we were excited to find details of their story including their birthplace, which was listed on their ship manifest. As we return to where the family journey began, we can celebrate the blessings we have received because of the faith and courage of our ancestors.
The story in our Old Testament reading is the author’s own story of God’s blessings: “The Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression.” With a family history of both blessing and hardship, his call is to remember, to give generously, and to worship:
And (God) brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. Deut. 26
Practice. Remember and Give Generously. What is your family story of blessing or hardship? The remembering, the telling of the story, and the giving in response are all for the purpose of worship in Celebration of the Goodness of God. This week tell your story and respond with an act of generosity. “Celebrate all the good things that God, your God, has given you and your family; you and the Levite (priest) and the foreigner who lives with you.” Deut 26 (MSG)
Let what you give reflect that everything you have is the fruit of what God has already given you in abundant goodness. Be generous. Be creative.
Reflect. Worship.Spend some time reading the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Luke 4. In response to the Devil, Jesus responds: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Sit with this reading and reflect on any temptations that turn your heart away from honoring and serving God.
In another response, Jesus quotes from Psalm 91: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Spend some time in your imagination seeing yourself guarded by angels.
Practice. Pray this breath prayer throughout your week: (Breathing in) “I put my trust in God” and (Breathing out) “My refuge and my strength.