Reading I: Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm: 91: 1-2, 10-15
Reading II: Romans 10: 8-13
Gospel: Luke 4: 1-13
It’s the beginning of Lent. We have weeks to go from here and the path of Lent can- and should – lead us to difficult places. We will find ourselves at the foot of the cross. Be with me Lord when I am in trouble, indeed.
We are all walking toward the cross – it is our call as Christians, and Lent centers our attention on this journey. We walk toward and amid suffering that challenges our capacity for love and can drive us back in toward ourselves out of fear. We can easily forget that we are not walking alone, each of us with our own unique set of blinders to keep us from seeing those next to us. Blinders tempt us, as they did Jesus, to rely on sustenance, power and security over the love and faith that is nourished in community. It’s appealing and easy to fall into our own individual pace and see only the needs that arise within us and those closest to us. We fall into the false sense of security that more of anything – money, power, prestige – will bring the security and ease we look for, relieving us from finding ourselves at the foot of the cross. We grasp onto the false belief that we may somehow avoid temptation and suffering altogether.
In each moment that Jesus is tempted with sustenance, power and security, he leans into the gifts of his faith and community. Jesus calls upon the words of his tradition and the prayers of his people to withstand the temptations. We need to remember that we, too, have tradition, Scripture, and a multitude of gifts from our faith to lean on when we are in trouble. We can risk opening up, to lean into our loved ones, our God, and the gifts we’ve been given along the way. We do not arrive at the cross alone.
We will see all along Jesus’ way to Jerusalem that he continues to reach out and heal those he encounters in both body and soul. He invites his disciples into his journey and into the boldness of his love for all people. He restores the abandoned and forgotten to their community as he proclaims a new kingdom, a new community fully alive in God.
Lent can be the time to tend to how our faith draws us into community and gives us the space to deepen our faith in God and one another, especially in times of trouble. It can be a time to reflect not only on how we rely on our community but how we bring our fullest selves to them. How can we more fully offer who we are so as to be the source of love and support when others find themselves in trouble? Does our fullest self turn to those around us or does it open toward our temptations?
We are offered in today’s Psalms a prayer from our tradition – ‘Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble.’ As we recall the words repeated countless times over centuries, we also recall the many troubles that have been seen. We are not the first to be troubled and suffer and will certainly not be the last. God’s enduring grace shines through our communities, our being with one another, and our sharing in both suffering and joy. We may be in times of trouble but we are assuredly not alone.
Director of Enrollment Management