The Pastor's Pen
Lenten busyness does not get the press that Advent does in large part because the world does not participate; we’re not competing with Santa and sleigh bells and a shortage of parking at the mall. Yet both Advent and Lent do make demands on the time and attention of both the sheep and the shepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock. Our Midweek Lectionary bible class goes on hiatus to give me time for an extra sermon and service during the week. You spend extra time preparing soup and bread and goodies for our supper before service; and then there’s the additional couple of hours spent in fellowship and worship. Busyness makes its presence felt which prompts this reflection on Mark chapter six.
“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves” (Mk 6.30-32). The twelve had just returned from their first evangelistic tour, while they were away Mark reports the Baptist’s ultimate sacrifice at the hands of a weak-kneed tyrant and now, on their return, the crowds continue to press in on Jesus and His disciples. This is not the first time things had been too busy to even eat, see Mk 3.20, and Jesus invites them to come away for a little R & R.
And so, in this week three of Lent, I too invite you to take time for a little Rest and Reflection. The blessings of this penitential season can easily get lost in either of two opposite directions. The first comes from failing to participate. A pastor friend posted a tongue-in-cheek reminder about giving things up for Lent; his suggestion – give up not attending church including our midweek services. Call the office if you don’t drive after dark, we can arrange a ride. The second blessing robber can be our extra midweek activity itself. We can easily get wrapped up in the exteriors of food and fellowship and thereby enjoy no rest or benefit of reflection. Both rest and reflection take time.
Take time to read. Read especially the passion accounts from your favorite gospel or all four, also the psalms. Just read slowly and thoughtfully and let the Holy Spirit have opportunity. Lent is a season of preparation for the events of Holy Week; good preparation will yield a more blessed Easter.
Take time to reflect on the cost of salvation; MY salvation. Let the words of Paul become your words, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tm 1.15). Admitting this in both my heart and my head, my walk to the cross becomes richer.
Finally, take time to pray, prayers of confession, prayers of gratitude. At the cross I see salvation won for me, which clothes me in baptism, I am right…righteous before God. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Jm 5.16). Pray for my congregation. Pray for my pastor. Pray for my family. Pray for those who need the gift of grace for they are legion and the Father desires that they too know His Son. Amen.