renounce... A Lenten Devotion for March 6, 2017

About Lenten devotions going forward: the week ahead sets the rhythm of the bulk of our Lenten reflections.

  • Mondays are for biblical reflection
  • Tuesdays are for service...see instructions tomorrow
  • Wednesdays are for historical perspective
  • Thursdays are personal activities of self-improvement
  • Fridays are prayer practices
  • Saturdays are for outings
  • Sundays are for Sabbath-keeping

Today's Biblical Reflection

Our baptismal vows include renouncing the “spiritual forces of wickedness”. Casting aside those things that cripple our ability to see, hear, trust, love and follow God is a critical part of our end of the baptismal covenant. The vow goes on to include rejecting the evil powers of the world and repenting of our sin. This is where the notion of wickedness goes from being an external thing to a personal problem. Even if we were created wonderfully by God, there is an obvious problem within us. Baptism gives us an opportunity to take hold of that problem and cast it out.

Matthew 19

"Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions."

Perhaps wickedness is less about the unclean spirits that Jesus sometimes confronts in dramatic fashion and more about the daily choices that corrode our souls. Certainly, the love of money has had corrosive effect on many aspects of American society. Radically, the baptismal vow includes a denouncing of these corrosive forces and renouncing their presence and influence on our lives. Let us hope that the young man in this encounter with Jesus came to his senses.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What very routine thing in your life needs denouncing and renouncing?
  2. In what ways do you identify with the young man in this story?
  3. In what ways is Jesus’ advice loving?

Credits:

Created with images by Garrett Gill - "When Heavy Wings Grow Lighter" • Cubosh - "macro dollar"

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