What a funny way to begin the season of Lent. We have been invited to take part in a holy time, a holy season, and our readings are about Noah, covenants, and the baptism of Jesus.
What a wonderful way to begin the season of Lent! When we are called to a time of self examination and repentance, we are reminded of God’s covenant to us. Just at the time we are taking steps into our wilderness – we’ve gone a few days without something, or have taken up something new. We are missing our old ways. We are on this journey, wanting to continue, but we still see home, our old patterns; we might turn back to our old patterns. But we promised God and ourselves, posted what we would do social media sites, told our friends …
And here it is: God’s covenant to us, from the days of Noah and the ark. “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood…God said, “This is a sign of the covenant that I make….” My, how much God loves us! God makes a covenant with human beings formed from God’s hands, from God’s very own dirt and breath, spirit. God loves us that much.
We respond to hearing God’s covenant by reciting a psalm; we say “show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me …remember not” by sins. We are part of God’s covenant. We respond with prayer and asking for guidance and mercy.
This is Lent! God’s covenant is before us as we enter into the desert. We ask for guidance; we hope that what God says is true. We wonder; are you there, God? Can I really give up these things? Can I live in the desert?
Peter (this is not Peter the rock Peter, but a later disciple) takes us back to Noah and reminds us of a family saved by water. We, too, are saved by baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are saved by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
How appropriate, then, to hear about Jesus’ baptism, God’s declaration of Jesus as his beloved Son. Jesus is immediately driven into the wilderness, into a time of temptation and hardship. And the angels waited on him, they were with him.
God is with us, too, always. And we are given the task that Jesus sets before us: “The time is fulfilled [Jesus died and is risen], and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
So we repent and believe. And during Lent we practice the good news in a little bit different way. We spend some intentional time listening to God, or maybe listening for God in our lives. Quiet can be uncomfortable, but it is not nearly as uncomfortable as the desert time that Jesus endured. And if the angels were with Jesus, will they not be with us? Of course they are. So we take some time and listen.
The Rev. Sara Buteaux writes that during Lent we try to slow down and to stop doing so much so that we can “think about who we are and who God wants us to be. And I’ll admit that some of that thinking is a lot like having a time out.” But mostly [Lent thinking time] is about getting still for long enough to really listen for God. That’s prayer!
The reporter Dan Rather once asked Mother Teresa, a holy woman of God, about prayer:
“What do you say to God when you pray,” he inquired.
“Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa. “I just listen.”
“What does God say to you?” he responded, rather derisively.
“Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa. “He just listens.”
So, during Lent, supported by a covenant from God, accompanied by Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit, go bravely into that place that feels like a time out. Get still, and listen.
What a funny way to begin the season of Lent.
What a wonderful way to begin the season of Lent.