Though we sometimes doubt and often resist God’s desire to protect and save us, our God persists. In holy baptism, God’s people have been called and gathered into a God-initiated relationship that will endure. Lent provides the church with a time and a tradition in which to seek God’s face again. Lent provides another occasion to behold the God of our salvation in the face of the Blessed One who “comes in the name of the Lord.”
Prayer of the Day
God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross you promise everlasting life to the world. Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy, that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2When evildoers close in against me to devour my flesh, they, my foes and my enemies, will stumble and fall. 3Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war rise up against me, my trust will not be shaken. 4One thing I ask of the Lord; one thing I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek God in the temple.5For in the day of trouble God will give me shelter, hide me in the hidden places of the sanctuary, and raise me high upon a rock. 6Even now my head is lifted up above my enemies who surround me. Therefore I will offer sacrifice in the sanctuary, sacrifices of rejoicing; I will sing and make music to the Lord. 7Hear my voice, O Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. 8My heart speaks your message— “Seek my face.” Your face, O Lord, I will seek.9Hide not your face from me, turn not away from your servant in anger. Cast me not away—you have been my helper; forsake me not, O God of my salvation. 10Though my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in. 11Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me on a level path, because of my oppressors. 12Subject me not to the will of my foes, for they rise up against me, false witnesses breathing violence. 13This I believe—that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! 14Wait for the Lordand be strong. Take heart and wait for the Lord!
Philippians 3:17 — 4:1
17Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to [Jesus,] “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
Theme for the Season of Lent
Through God’s steadfast love, we are made new
After the shining light of Epiphany, burning its blinding brightest in the Transfiguration, we are thrust upon the forty-day journey of Lent. This season of quiet reflection and reverence encourages us to rely upon God’s steadfast love, even in our darkest days.
In our darkness, God is light. In our weakness, God is strong. In our wavering, God is steadfast. Through this Lenten journey, we encounter God as we stumble and fall. God gently raises us up, a new creation in God’s image. Transformed and renewed, we are called to be God’s hands and feet: to bring God’s light to the darkness, to use God’s strength to carry the weak, and to rely on God’s steadfast love to guide our journey.
There are moments, especially during Lent, when we consider our brokenness and distance from God. Those are the moments when God draws near to us and makes us anew, created to proclaim God’s kingdom through love and service.