Lent is a season to look at where and why we struggle as followers of the way of Jesus, how to stay faithful as disciples. Psalm 22 (the whole psalm, not just these verses) is about staying faithful, not because faithfulness is easy for us, but because faithfulness is who God is. And knowing we never have to do this alone.
On Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) we will begin our Lenten exploration of what we know as the parable of the Prodigal Son. Each week, one of the local Cannon Falls pastors will invite us to reflect on how our lives might intersect with the life of one of the characters in the story. We begin this Wednesday with my reflection on the whole parable as a story of an entire family being lost.
Life can change in an instant. And it does, for good or ill. God is in the change, in the movement between the before and the after.
But we can also be the change, and be the Gifts needed to make the difference between before and after. We can be “the gifts of God for the people of God,” for all of God’s people.
When Jesus said, “Follow me,” the first disciples seemed to drop everything without a thought and take off after him, leaving everything else behind. How we read that story reveals what we believe about Jesus and the disciples. And about ourselves. Rather than feel like, “I could never do that,” I think we actually can. And now is the right time to do just what they did.
O God of endings & beginnings, grant to our nation this day your bountiful blessing. We claim no special favor as a country, for that is neither our right nor your way. But in this moment so ripe with change and possibility, we have need of your power and purpose.
As our new President and Vice President are inaugurated this day, we pray upon them your deep wisdom and daily guidance. Grant them the courage to confront the daunting demands of this moment. Lend them your fierce passion for what is right and true and just. Commission them to be healers among us, unafraid to touch our collective wounds and stitch us back together. Grant joy enough to make the most difficult days bearable. Summon from them their best gifts in humble service to a greater good. And protect them, O God, from every danger.
O God of Love and Justice, call upon each of us as well. Make us partners with our leaders and with you in creating Beloved Community. Move us to lock arms in common purpose. Spark within us a renewed hope & a deepened commitment to service. Soften our skepticism and bridge our divides. Compel us to seek earnestly together that “more perfect union” our founders dreamed of, for all your precious children.
Through your ancient prophets you called nations and peoples to faithfulness and mercy, justice and peace. Demand no less of us now, Enduring Presence, but send us forward to seek the future you would have us build. Hear our confessions of the sin our nation carries; free us from the selfishness and greed and hate and violence that consumes us. Refuse our useless cries that “we are better than this” and strengthen our resolve to actually be better now.
You are our Help in ages past, our Hope for years to come. We trust in your abiding presence, and invite your transformation and renewal for our nation and each one who calls it home. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Written by Reverend Shari Prestemon on the eve of the January 20, 2021 Inauguration of Joseph Biden & Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States.
Jesus is introduced at his baptism in Mark, not at his birth. That is where he becomes the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God. The early church took Jesus’ baptism very seriously; it shaped their understanding of their discipleship. What might it mean for our walk in faith?