Today is the first Sunday in Lent. And throughout Christian history, this has been a season of preparation. It is a season that we prepare our hearts and minds and spirits to meet the good news of Easter Sunday.
We aren’t Christ. We aren’t the savior of this world. But people can see Christ’s love through you. People can see Christ’s grace through you. People can learn about forgiveness and mercy, welcome and love, God’s presence and peace and good news of grace through you.
So when someone asks you for a blessing, don’t look over your shoulder and say, “Who me? I could never do that.” Offer them what you have. Your time. Your ears. Your hands, Your words. Your faith. Go into those dark places with them. God will do the rest.
But all of us have nets that need to be dropped. Because all of us are called by Christ, all of us are called to be transformed.
When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, he didn’t go into that water because he needed to repent and be forgiven of his sins. He is God’s Son. Jesus went into that river so that we could follow, so that we could join in his life. So that we could join that dying to sin and evil and captivity, and be led into new life of true freedom and joy.
Jesus and his family made it to Egypt without any home there, without any family, without connections, without the right papers or process. But somehow, they were welcomed in by strangers. They had to rely on people of another land, who were not of their own clan or religion or nationality, and for some reason these people of Egypt made a way for them to survive. They welcomed them with hospitality.
This Sunday we get to hear who this message is for. And we find out that this message is for the Simeons and Annas of the world. It is for those who have waited and hoped for something better, something greater than what they know today. It is for those who have been forgotten, overlooked, and ignored. It is for those who have struggled, and hope that their struggle is not in vain. It is for those who still believe that God sees them and knows them and loves them.
Christmas is God coming to earth, taking on our very flesh, doing the most crazy thing possible to show us the fullness of God’s love. No other religion or tradition around the world has ever proclaimed a similar story. Because it’s too crazy, too amazing, too unimaginable that the God who created the universe, who made the stars and the planets, who breathed us out of dust, would come and live as one of us.
But here is Jesus saying, the one who created all of this for us, the one who sent his only Son into the world, the one who breathed us into life – doesn’t stay at a distance, doesn’t stay immune and safe from the messiness and troubles of this life.
It is important for us to give thanks and praise on Sunday mornings. But we can’t stop there. Our faith needs to be more than words, more than creeds, more than a ritual we undertake once a week. It needs to be active and life giving. It needs to be sharing and open. It needs to be risk-taking and fearless.