Preparing to Receive – Reflection for 24 FEB 2019
Last week, I invited you to begin preparing for Lent. This Sunday and next Sunday, I hope to clarify a bit what it means to prepare for and experience Lent. At the heart of the forty days of Lent is the remembrance of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness before the start of His earthly ministry. At the culmination of this time of fasting, prayer, and temptation, Jesus returns to Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we look at our journey through Lent, may this season of prayer and fasting bring us to Holy Week ready to receive the Holy Spirit and to be sent into the world.
Our reading from Isaiah reminds us of the people of Nazareth where Jesus reads this passage at the start of his public ministry. These people were not prepared to see Jesus as the Anointed One nor were they prepared to hear about the Kingdom according to God’s vision. They were unprepared to receive good news into their own poverty or see any good in the poor around them. They were unprepared to acknowledge their own brokenness and captivity in order to receive healing and freedom. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what will prepare us to receive Jesus and His Kingdom.
As we look forward to Holy Week, we look forward to some of the most powerful services of the entire church year. We can look forward to our celebration of the institution of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. As Jesus humbles himself to wash the feet of the disciples, we will hear about Peter who is unprepared to receive Jesus in this way. We will hear Jesus offer himself in his body and blood to his disciples and to us. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what will prepare us to receive the service of Jesus washing our feet, to receive the sacrifice of Jesus in his Body and Blood, and to receive, like Cleopas and his friend, the risen Christ revealed in the breaking of bread.
We can look forward to walking the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We will encounter Jesus who spent the night in prayer so intense that he was sweating blood. We will encounter Simon of Cyrene who received the cross of Jesus after Jesus fell. We will encounter Veronica who received the image of Jesus on the handkerchief she used to wipe the face of Jesus. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what we might receive on the way to Calvary.