Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.
Here is the next submission:
We create the lives we experience, endure, and enjoy. In any case, we perpetuate the creation – perhaps that’s how we were created in God, the Creator’s image. Even before the Ten Commandments, we learned Old Testament lessons reflecting our desire to know or to control forces external to our innate human weakness. Our thoughts, actions, emotions, and spirit often leave us wanting. As this imperfection not only affects the essence of creation, it also defines our humanity. In addition, the imperfection measures the ‘experiencing’ of our own lives and our openness to explore how our living affects the lives of others.
But where do we find ‘unconditional’ love? The best example I can find is in the set of miraculous events surrounding the birth, life, and death of a carpenter named Jesus. For thousands of years, people have believed he modeled a set of values that offer humanity a path through life’s dilemmas. His vision, his words, his actions, and miraculous effect on others still serve those who seek love, as well as answers to life’s profound questions and challenges.
Followers of Christ have believed and still do believe, that Jesus was “The Christ” – the living presence of a loving, forgiving God, in human form, and the Messiah for us all. In his presence as God on earth, he modeled the power, grace, and omnipresence of the Love of God for people and their creation.
As a human being, Jesus lived and interacted with people. He served as a teacher and miracle healer. His unique way of interacting with others not only modeled the essence of a loving God on earth, but also evolved into a lightening rod for the persecution and suffering of all people.
The events of his crucifixion, dying, burial and entombment, not only showed mankind his humanity, but also our potential to be like him. By praying for the forgiveness of those who played a role in his execution, he died to show us we too could be forgiven for our weakness, failures, and sin.
When he asked God, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” he modeled that he was a person like us, and if we practiced his ways and his teachings, conversely, we could be like him.
When he visibly reappeared to others, resurrected from his body and tomb, he helped us witness that people can live beyond the limits of death. His resurrection symbolizes that humankind’s sins can’t kill Love or its power to live beyond our bodies. Does his resurrection mean that we too have chances to not only create love, but also to witness the love that our living helps affect other people? Beyond the life of our body, perhaps, like Christ, our identity takes on another form (perhaps the Spirit of Love) – that lasts much longer than the time of our physical presence.
How might we curiously explore and improve our practice of living and loving? Can we avoid judgment and love unconditionally?
I believe, WE can, because Jesus Christ showed me we can. So, I need your help, to see that which I do not see, to hear how I affect you, to ask how I can improve the way we interact? Would you help me? Would you ask me to try to help you? How can we go about building the Trust we need to begin and accomplish such work? In whose ‘court’ is the ball now? Let it begin in our ‘NOW’.