The ‘dead’ of winter always feels an odd time to speak of new beginnings. Now Spring, with all of her rosy promises is clearly better suited for a fresh start, for growth and renewal. In this part of the globe, however, Lent, a season focused on change, begins in February. Travel to southern climes is restricted this year and, unless you live on the west coast, it will be some time before that first brave crocus will push its way through the snowy veil.
Reflecting on the last year, fraught with all of the challenges Covid 19 has brought to our lives, many of us have come to appreciate simple things…a virtual visit with a loved one, the charm of no commute on a blustery day, the smell of bread baking, a cool glass of water. This years’ daily devotional, “Of Water, Born” was inspired by the exchange between Jesus and the teacher Nicodemus in John’s Gospel Chapter 3:1f “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” (v. 5) It is a passage that calls us to start over, to welcome a new birth. And, although Nicodemus has his doubts, it is clear that Jesus thinks that it is possible!
Historically, Lent originated as a time of spiritual training for catechumens preparing for Baptism into the Body of Christ, the Church, at Easter. Their vow (and ours, still) includes renouncing the evil powers and spiritual forces of wickedness and “all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God.” That is step one. Step two is turning again to Jesus, learning to trust in God’s grace and practicing how to be obedient to God’s will. Thus, through Baptism, by water and the Spirit, they were ‘born again’. One might argue that step two demands more perseverance than step one!
As we seek to become more mindful of the presence and guidance of God in and for our lives, we will be faced with choices. Not just about giving up something or taking up something, but the more significant resolution to fully embrace the new life offered in the Risen Christ. This may well involve facing the reality of our personal failings and brokenness in order to be open to God’s gifts of healing, forgiveness and growth.
May this devotional series (beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021) be a source of spiritual nurture and ‘food for thought’ through the next 40 Days (plus the five Sundays) of the season as we take faithful, if sometimes faltering, steps on the journey with our Lord.
“Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen. (B.A.S. p. 160)Blessings, Susan+