The Gift of Lent

February 26, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

(Gospel Text provided below)

Today is the last Sunday before Lent… so live it up!

It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw on one of our family road-trips. By this time, we were in our teens, and headed to Idaho for a 6-day raft trip. One gift shop along the way had a t-shirt that read “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah.” If you’ll allow me Episcopal license, today that shirt might read: “Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for on Wednesday we begin Lent.”

eclectic-artwork

This presumes that Lent is a time of austerity and self-denial. Yet, as a teenager, I learned that Lent can also be a time to take things on. To make a commitment to do something you’ve been putting off, or to improve your well-being, or perhaps, to serve others in a more tangible way. This approach to Lent has been helpful for me, and was especially so during my first few months in Atlanta.

I came to Atlanta from Houston seven years ago to embark on a vocational transformation. I arrived in January with snow on the ground – did I mention I came from Houston? I’d left behind all that was familiar – my family, my friends, and a budding romance. So, while I was living into this new purpose for my life, it came with some losses, some sacrifices.

img_5078

I didn’t have a job, and wasn’t planning to get one before the start of seminary in August. I moved in January to get settled-in, and start getting to know the diocese I’d call home. As an introvert, though, it would’ve been easy to stay in the warmth of my house, with my dog and cat as constant companions. And as easy as that would’ve been, I knew it wouldn’t move me toward my purpose – to get to know the diocese that had welcomed me.

Fortunately, I received a gift just a few weeks after my move – the gift of Lent. That Lent became a season of taking things on.  Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 3rd Sunday in Lent
Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

When we hear this story about Jesus turning over the tables and driving the livestock out of the temple grounds, we often use this as an example of Jesus’ HUMAN nature, as opposed to his DIVINE nature. There’s something comforting when we see this other side of Jesus; a Jesus who gets mad and starts throwing things. THIS is a Jesus we can relate to!

But I contend something very different is happening in today’s story.

First off, today’s reading comes from John’s gospel, which handles this event differently than the other gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, the cleansing of the temple, as it is often called, happens near the end of Jesus’ ministry. He’s entered Jerusalem for the Passover and goes to the temple. But, in these gospels, the charge that accompanies the table-flipping is that the temple has become a den of thieves. And, it is this act in the temple that becomes the catalyst for his arrest and execution.

But that isn’t how John tells it.

jesusmoneychangers1

In John’s gospel, the table-turning is at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus has just left Cana and the infamous wedding where water has been changed into wine.  Like the other gospels, he’s in Jerusalem for the Passover, but his actions in the temple grounds came not with an accusation of robbery, but instead carry an indictment that the Temple’s purpose has been usurped. They have turned a house of prayer into a marketplace. The temple had become a place of other things, and has lost its primary purpose – a place to meet God; to be connected with God.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: