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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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 During a season that is often associated with the desert wilderness, perhaps the last thing we’d expect to find are the stones we are tempted to turn into bread covered with snow. But, here we are, one full week into the journey of discovery. By now the Ashes have been washed away and our practices are becoming more of a routine…or we are at the point where the temptation to return to former habits is stronger than the hope we have in our hearts.

Perhaps just one week into it we have already given up what we have taken on, or we have taken on again what we committed to giving up. On the 8th day of Lent we may feel as if these 40 days of wandering are going to last 40 years. In fact, rather than seeing past our brokenness we might become too familiar with it again.

And that may leave you, as it has me before, feeling lonely and isolated. And in the wilderness, that is one feeling we don’t want to be left alone with.

Today’s daily lectionary reading is from Mark 1.29-40 [click here to read the text]. Having just called his disciples, Jesus now finds himself on the streets and in the homes of those he shares life with. I began to notice how the healings take place in Mark’s first chapter. Rather than Jesus going up to people and asking, “Do you want to be healed?” the people come to him:

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” (Mark 1.31)

A few lines later we read…

“A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” (Mark 1.40,41)

Often the church collectively focuses so much on extending itself as a helping hand, that we sometimes forget to reach out and ask for help when we find ourselves in need. While this is more of a struggle for some of us than others, if there is anything the stories of our scripture teach us, it is that God is always mindful of us, and wants to bring healing to God’s people.

Sometimes, this simply means we need to ask other people for help.

Today I was reminded of this as I was walking the neighborhood surrounding First Presbyterian Church. As the snow fell softly, I heard in the distance the bells chiming. While I do not remember the hymn it played, I do remember the thought that came to mind: the church is a respite for us during the season of wilderness discovery. On Sunday mornings we come to gather corporately to pray and to sing, to listen and to offer our lives back to God in worship. The bells of the church reminded me that God is good, that we belong entirely to God, and that our lives are rooted in God’s love.

The bells do not merely say, “Be good, come to church.” They do not merely say, “Keep the commandments,” but rather, they say, “come with us, the way to Love is not hard, God’s has made it easy. You are not alone in this season, this city, or in this life.”

Week one into the wilderness and we are covered in snow, but in our hearts we know, we aren’t alone.

See you Sunday at 301 Pekin Street!

[Adam Quine, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln]


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