Halfway through Lent
By Gary Piper of Fort Gratiot, MI, USA
Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” —Matthew 11:4–6 NRSV
I believe Jesus’ 40-day trek in the wilderness following his baptism was an opportunity for Jesus to find out who he was and who he was not—on whom he could lean and not lean. Jesus went into the wilderness not only to find God but to find himself and to experience firsthand who he was. He faced making choices without God.
Christians counted 40 calendar days before Resurrection morning and called it Lent. In my study of Lent, I have discovered that it has different meanings and practices. For me, Lent is an intimate time. I understand it as similar to Jesus’ 40-day trek in the wilderness, a time of personal discovery, a time of “selling all that I have”, “picking up my cross”, and following Jesus. That does not mean we isolate ourselves.
Continually forming and deepening our connections with those around us is as important as our connection with Jesus. I believe our foundation in Jesus is the cornerstone of all other connections.
Jesus is who he is to me not just because the Bible tells me so, but because I have been spiritually blind and now I see. I have stumbled through life, and now I do my best to walk uprightly because Jesus has helped me through many physical difficulties. Once I could not hear the Spirit talking to me, and now I am getting better at it. And most important to me, Jesus has raised this poor man to child-of-God status and kingdom-of-God resident.
While this testimony is mine and our circumstances are different, your story may be similar!
Prayer for Peace
Holy Spirit, help us discover who we are on our Lenten journey. Help us cast off that which divides us from you and your peace.
Spiritual Practice: An Offering of Ashes
God promises to heal our wounds and losses. Hold (or imagine holding) a pinch of ashes in your hands as you become aware of circumstances in your life, family, congregation, and the world that are broken, lost, or falling apart. Be honest with God about the fear, sadness, or burden you feel. Offer the ashes to God in prayer. Ask God to create beauty, peace, and healing in the places and people who now experience the ashes of despair and grief.
Today, God, I will continue my journey aware of your peaceful presence.