Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly
“Lenten Labyrinth: Sacrifice & Service”
New Church of Montgomery, in Glendale, OH
In early Genesis, the serpent tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Since she desired wisdom, to become like God, she ate the fruit and shared it with her husband, Adam. Now, seeing their nakedness, they covered themselves in fig leaves.
Psalm 32 contrasts the happiness of the forgiven with the distress of the sinner. Also how asking forgiveness, when given, the burden is lifted, how the Lord protects the faithful. Who trust in God, almighty.
In Romans, many have died through their sins, yet through the gift of graces in Jesus Christ, many are saved and live.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness.
He fasted 30 days and 40 nights, resulting in great hunger.
The devil commanded proofs of his being the Son of God, but the Lord said, do not put the Lord your God to the test.
So, Satan left, and angels came to serve our Lord.
In Emanuel Swedenborg’ True Christian Religion, we are taught that the neighbor is to be loved as the highest kingdom, as the church and as the communion of saints. Love of the kingdom is love of the neighbor. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. A And all will be given unto you.
With Ash Wednesday this past week, we have entered into the church season of Lent.
Traditionally, Lent has been a season of 30 days and 40 nights of penitence and fasting.
That means reviewing one’s sins and transgression against others and ourselves and asking of the Lord’s forgiveness.
Years ago, and sometimes even now, eating fish on Fridays has been a staple. Giving up a favorite treat, like chocolate, has been common.
Forgoing a tendency to be critical, is a good Lenten practice, as is giving alms to the poor.
In more recent time, another Lenten practice has cropped up.
This is a practice of kindness and service. Paying attention to the needs of others, and perhaps going beyond our customary habits, and rejoicing in being able to be generous.
This Lenten season, as the snow falls lessen, and the small tree buds of spring start to emerge, let us be more aware than ever of God’s many blessings given to us and be grateful.
The Lord i with us, bringing us from darkness into the light. Let us raise our praise and a spirit of gladness. Amen.
As we shared, after a time of quiet- reflection, we found our connections through stories of book lists about kindness for children, our wishes for others to have more free time, sleep and energy, and books like “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives,” that discuss the need for rest from the world through honoring reflection and mindfulness.