February 23rd Meditation
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. -Mark 1:12-13
The season of Lent is often seen as a season of repentance, self-denial, and self-reflection. It is a time to reflect on our lives of faith and life in general for the purpose of drawing closer to God and becoming better persons. The focus is often on overcoming life's temptations.
But what are these temptations? The temptation to eat fatty, sweet food? The temptation to overindulge in alcohol? The temptation to use bad language? The temptations of the flesh? These tend to get the most attention and become the focus of what we "give up" for these 40 days.
While it may be helpful and even healthy to focus on one or more of these traditional temptations, this year we may need to consider a different and more devious temptation: the temptation to despair.
The past 12 months have been a long year for many. The disruptions caused by the pandemic have added to the usual stresses of modern life. Our regular struggles of overburdened schedules and keeping our head above water has been compounded by added job stress, home schooling, isolation, and changes in how we do most everything. That is not to even mention the stress of the disease itself.
And then there is the political climate and the deep divisions of our society.
And racial tensions.
And each of our own personal struggles that too often go unnamed.
The temptation to despair is real and being asked to look deep within and reflect on how we can be better people may seem like just one more burden to bear here in this moment.
This year, perhaps we need to focus more on where Lent leads, which is Easter. This year, perhaps we set our sights on God's promise of new life, and the empty tomb, and the joy of God's love. This year, perhaps what we really give up is focusing too much on what we have already given up and take on an attitude of hope for tomorrow.
I know it is not that easy and the temptation to despair is a tough one to overcome. However, as spring slowly unfolds around us and as we journey together through this season, may the promise of Easter fill you with hope and may the love of God give you the strength you need to face all of life's temptations.
Worship This Week
Facebook Live, Sunday 10am
Lent 2021: The Story of Jesus in Mark
In-person worship in the sanctuary will resume Sunday, March 7, at 10 am. Wear a mask, follow safe distancing and please stay home if you are not well or have been exposed to someone with the corona virus.
Keep In Prayer:
Sherry Williams, Mary Wallen, Alvin Shelley, Dee Kuhlman
Our shut-ins: Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne