MARCH 3 – WAITING PAIRED WITH PRACTICE
DEVOTIONAL: I didn’t grow up celebrating Lent in the traditional sense of giving up or taking on something for 40 days in preparation for Jesus’ resurrection. It has only been since high school through friendships with Catholics and exposure to the liturgical calendar that I have explored what waiting paired with practice might mean.
My practices have varied. I have given up candy when it was free, I have given up Facebook, and I have taken on more intentional reading of the Bible and practicing of prayer. Sometimes my choices of Lenten focus have been selfish, sometimes I’ve cheated and sometimes Lent has been an excuse to do something that I should be doing anyway. Usually, it’s a combination of all three. I’m not very good at Lent.
But it doesn’t matter. Because there is something essentially important about living into this time, believing that God will be present and working in whatever is to come. What I choose as a discipline for the 40-day period that culminates in the joy of Easter morning is really less important than the place and belief I am trusting to God.
Abram and Sarai enter into an everlasting covenant with God that changes them. They become different people, Abraham and Sarah. Likewise giving up unhealthy foods or technology and active engagement in spiritual practices changes us. We live into Lent with the same faith that Abraham and Sarah eventually claim (following a 99-year-old’s laughter at the idea of finally becoming a father). And God dwells in our midst.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 (NRSV)
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’