Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Sunday in Lent

Psalm 63Psalm 103Deuteronomy 8:1-101 Corinthians 1:17-31Mark 2:18-22

The word Lent means length, appropriate because in Lent the days are getting longer. Wikipedia says, “The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer, through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Lent is a season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of Easter.”

Grief and death are all around us. Lois and I enjoy life, but our friends become ill and die. Death is prominently in the news, taking a score of little school children in Newton, CT, and some 60,000 people of all ages in Syria.

Gun-related deaths in the US are 10 per year per 100,000 people, versus 195 for heart disease, 185 for cancer, and 160 for the war-related deaths in Syria. Some non-human species are threatened with extinction. Lions, elephants and pandas are among the most threatened mammals. Frogs are dying at catastrophic rates; so are corals.

How does this relate to Lent? What are we to think and do? The Lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent helps. Psalm 63 reminds us that we need God. Psalm 103 reminds us that God remembers we are dust. Mark’s gospel passage hints at Jesus’ death. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians emphasizes God’s concern for our life in Christ Jesus, not our life in the secular world.

We are not given to know God’s will. We are exhorted to praise God, to thank God, to work for the poor, and to tithe. I believe that God also wants us to be good stewards of our island home. I pray that we may find ways to stop making war on each other, and that we may stop making war on creations of God who can’t fight back. Preserving earth’s natural resources is a key part of faithful Christian life.

Dudley Rochester

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