Practice, for the Kingdom of God Is at Hand

By Rebecca Hall
2015 Lenten Meditation, Week 1

At the end of the Gospel reading assigned for Sunday (Mark 1:9-15), Jesus says “The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News” (v.15).  If you have been at St. David’s for any amount of time, you will hear our former rector’s voice ringing in your ear that “repent” means to turn around or re-orient yourself toward God, not feel guilty for some transgression.  The way we live our lives (our habits) create paths, grooves, and ruts.  When we live with intentionality, our habits may be life-giving to ourselves and those around us.  Sometimes we miss the mark, and we develop habits (gods) that are not life-giving.  Lent is a season in the church year for self-examination, to ask ourselves, “How am I living, and is it bringing Life?”  The purpose of asking this is not to condemn ourselves for not being perfect or spiritual or mature.  The purpose is because we, having 20/20 hindsight, know the ending of the story: Jesus is raised.  We are raised.  We are a resurrection people.  The purpose of Lent is to help us create intentionality in our everyday lives that will help us live fully into that Resurrection People-ness that Jesus gave us.

How do we do this “turning around” thing?  I suggest that we do this by practice.  Lent is a time to practice something.  Maybe you’ve given something up. That is a practice.  Maybe you’ve taken something on.  That is a practice.  I’ve been reading the short essays in Bread and Wine for our One Church, One Book.  I notice that most of the essays have something to do with a practice.  It may be writing poetry, or practicing moderation, or practicing seeing oneself through another’s viewpoint.  Maybe you haven’t thought about a Lenten practice yet.  Don’t worry, it’s not too late to “turn around” and choose something.  Look at one area in your life that is not as life-giving as you’d like.  What can you do to “turn around”?  Maybe you feel a bit disconnected from God and self and you choose to journal.  Maybe you feel disconnected from your family and choose to be home for dinner instead of working late.  Maybe you overindulge in coffee and decide to give that up.  Maybe you’re worn out from parenting small children and keeping a household in order, and you decide to spend one evening a week alone at a coffee shop reading Us Weekly.   Each of us will “turn around” in our own way, there is no right or wrong.  God will work in us and with us.  Our part is to choose and then see what happens.  As Jesus says, “the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the Good News”.

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