First Sunday in Lent – 17 February, 2013
Good morning and welcome to worship on this First Sunday in Lent. One of the most important questions for people of faith today is how to live an authentic Christian life, a life that is faithful to Jesus Christ. In the Christian faith, authentic living has to do with experiencing God’s Spirit and living in God’s grace. I hope that we will take time over these 40 days of Lent (plus six Sundays) to give some time to really asking God to guide us into some deeper thinking and life practices that will respond to such questions as:- How can we live authentic lives that honour God with the transformational love Jesus showed? How can we adopt lifestyles that are good for the whole earth? These are practical questions that individual Christians and Christian Communities can address as we take time out in this period of reflection and preparation. Over these next six weeks we will be reminded of the needs that some of our partner churches around the world encounter on a daily basis. Today the focus will be our Uniting Church partnership with the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua (see insert).
This first week in Lent is about choices. In fact the whole season of Lent is about choices. Today the emphasis though is about “putting down roots” or “continuing to journey”. This is not just a practical question but a theological one – to push our doctrinal roots into a land and claim who is in and who is out, or to let ourselves wander through the land, knowing that the only one who ultimately owns anything is the God who created all and calls us to journey and travel as foreigners in a new land, trusting the one who guides us and calls us through. Deuteronomy 26:1-11 has been often read as a story of “possession”, however an alternative reading of the text reminds us that all land we travel across is God’s. God dwells in the land and the people of Israel who enter it are reminded of this: the land is God’s and God dwells here (Deut 26:1).
Jesus is on a journey too as he enters the “wilderness” for 40 days (Luke 4:1-13) where we see him confronted with choices about who he is going to trust as he begins his ministry of bringing in the reign of God and starts his journey towards the cross. It is in a place of wilderness and testing where we can choose whom to serve. It is our choice this Lenten time. I hope we choose wisely.
Through Lent Event, you are invited to participate in a journey of body, mind and spirit. If you embrace this experience holistically, Lent Event can bring about personal transformation. The material sacrifice of the body goes hand in hand with the education of the mind through study and the renewal of the spirit through prayer. Through taking part in Lent Event, we are invited to participate as ambassadors of Christ in the reconciling of the creation to God. We are encouraged to intentionally reflect on the place of Christ within our lives, as part of the continual reordering of priorities and values in the likeness of Christ that is the journey of discipleship.
May you choose wisely…..this week….Rev. Brad Foote
PS. Please ask me if there are ways that you can make some good choices of Action, Reflection and connection this Lenten season.