Lent as a season is often understood as a time to give something up … food, sweets or watching telli as they would say in England. But since every Sunday is a little Easter, every week has a Good Friday. And so perhaps the whole idea of having a crucifixion on the way to Easter is a problem for many of us. God’s presence in our daily life with all its challenges and routines sometimes is elusive and hard to sense, and that might be frustrating and discouraging, but can be an opportunity to look at what shaped our lives over the past year and perhaps to refocus our vision.
“For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another.” 1 John 3:11
Spent time with Jesus
Pastors often encourage people to spent time with Jesus. But where is Jesus right now?
Recently I met a sister at the grocery store and we spent a few minutes together. One thing she said stuck with me; :people stay in their own corner, there is so much fear.” For close to a year we have not ‘gone to church’, but ‘streamed church’ services, experiencing ‘together – apart’, had “church at home.” It still seems counter-intuitive to many not to gather as people and some experience a deep discomfort, a disconnect from the people they love, an inner longing to be back ‘together again’. After all, what we call church (ekklesia) is at its heart, a gathering of God’s people who belong together. It is in this coming together that we meet Jesus. In spite of everything, our disagreements, our different likes and dislikes, our many differences, we are a connected people, a community – the people of God, the Body of Christ, a holy nation, royal priesthood, the flock, household of God – a together-ed people. Where is Jesus right now? If someone asked you these questions, would you know how to answer them?
Ephesians 1:20 says, “[God the Father] raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” Jesus is at the right hand of God in heaven. In fact, there are no less than 21 references in the Bible to the Lord Jesus now being at the right hand of God. But there is also a sense in which he is in the heart of each believer. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Whoever is united the Lord is one with him in spirit.” We are temples of the Holy Spirit. He indwells us in a special way as believers. So where is Jesus right now? In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a similar question: “… do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?”
Galatians 1:15-16 “But when it pleased God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called by His grace, to reveal His Son in me.” We might think this verse should read, “It pleased God…to reveal His Son to me.” But in Greek, the preposition is unmistakably in, so the verse reads “to reveal His Son in me.” God’s plan is to reveal His Son in us, from within, rather than to us, from without. From within us, God wants to reveal himself to the watching world. So where is Jesus Christ right now? And the answer changes everything, right here, right now, because he is no longer abstract. If God is with us and in us, then what can stand in opposition? There is a direct link here between the Holy Spirit’s relationship within the Trinity, and our relationship with Jesus and God the Father. May we embrace the idea of Jesus as friend, sitting beside us through the work of the Holy Spirit among us and in us. It is through the Holy Spirit that renewal is brought to our lives, but not just for our sake. And it is the Holy Spirit that guides the process of bringing renewal to the world, but not just for our sake.
As you continue through the week, perhaps at shopping ask Christ to reveal himself in you not for your sake but as an encouragement to others.
Prayer; I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.