Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 12:1-8.
Devotional Scripture ~ Ephesians 1:16-19.
This Sunday begins the first Sunday of Lent, one of the six liturgical seasons in the Christian Year. The liturgical color for this season is purple, which is both a color of royalty as well as a color of penance. I also appreciate using burlap as a supplemental color – or texture – in this season. It reminds me of the sackcloth described in Scripture, which is the traditional garb of someone working through the steps of repentance – acknowledging sin, confessing sin, and through the gift of forgiveness, reconciling the relationship(s) harmed by sin.
The season of Lent is 40 days; it does not include Sundays. It begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes at midnight on Holy Saturday. During this season, the faithful are encouraged – as Jesus did in the wilderness – to fast, to pray, and to almsgive.
Curiously, the word Lent means spring – perhaps the noun or the verb. If the noun, then it is an advent for something new. A new season. A new time. A new expectation. If the verb, then it is an action. It is a launchpad. It is a catalyst. It is a season of accompanied spiritual duress, if you will, because as pressure is appropriately applied to a spring, the spring prepares to do and to offer its best results.
Our accompanist during this season? Jesus Christ. Our Savior forever? Jesus Christ.
In our devotional passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays on behalf of his readers – which includes us – that God would give us spiritual wisdom and insight that we would grow in the knowledge and love of God. The phrase spiritual wisdom is comprised of the Greek words pneuma meaning spirit and Sophia meaning wisdom. There is strong belief in the theological community that in Genesis 1, where it reads in the Creation Story that “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light” that a wind from God was this same pneuma – this same spirit (vv. 2-3). There is also strong belief in the theological community that wisdom – that Sophia – which we read of most in the texts of Proverbs – was present with God from the time of creation. So these two gifts of God – that have been present since the time of Creation – Paul prays that they would be given to the Church – to us! – during this time of new and continued creation in the post-resurrection but certainly not the post-faithful world.
By receiving God’s spiritual wisdom, Paul says we will know the hope of salvation, that we will understand our inheritance and legacy as children of God, and we will be connected to the great power that accompanies being a believer.
I said on more than one occasion last year, that 2020’s Lent was the Lent-iest Lent that ever Lent-ed. Some folks take on the spiritual discipline of ‘giving something up’ during this season, and then investing the time, energy, focus, and resources once allocated to pursue what was given up into their relationship with Christ. Goodness, friends, what didn’t we give up last Lent with the COVID-19 Pandemic raging across our country and world…
It rages still…
Jesus was our accompanist. Jesus is our accompanist, still. Jesus is our Savior, forever.
The extended Lent of 2020 rang home for me what is truly essential – that which is gifted to us through God’s spiritual wisdom – the hope of salvation, understanding our inheritance and legacy as children of God, and connecting to the great power that accompanies being a believer. This is the essential spring that God has been appropriately applying pressure to in my life, in my heart, and in my spirit…and if y’all have been around me recently – and heard of my dreams about exterior access bathrooms – you know that I am ready to go! I am ready to go because God has been ready to go – for this South Shore Community and for this church in greater relationship with our surrounding community.
With God, accompanied by Jesus Christ, and shaped by the wisdom of God’s Spirit, friends – nothing is impossible.
Reflection: In what areas do you need to grow in spiritual wisdom? Studying the Bible with more intention? Giving generously? Serving others? And then, write out a prayer for the people of our church. Ask God to grant us wisdom as we continue gaining missional momentum.
Prayer: “Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease; ‘tis music in the sinner’s ears, ‘tis life, and health, and peace. He speaks, and listening to his voice, new life the dead receive; the mournful, broken hearts rejoice, the humble poor believe.”* Amen.
* “O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 57.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal