February 16, 2013

Give Us the Grace To Discipline Ourselves

(Common Lectionary Teaching notes for Lent 2, Year C, 2013 by Rev. John Gishler)

 The Readings (Deut. 26.1-11; Ps. 91; Rom. 10.8b-13 and Luke 4.1-13) are chosen to help us in self-examination during Lent as we prepare our hearts, not us our minds, for Easter. What we are looking at is things we do or fail to do that tend to separate us from a deep love relationship with God.

1. Deuteronomy reminds us that we are in a Covenant relationship
The First Fruits offering is a test of love and loyalty to God. If we fail to keep our part of the Covenant the Covenant is broken. This means we are no longer under the spiritual and material protection of God. Our actions show what is really in our hearts
·         How we spend our leisure time is an indication of our priorities
·         How we spend our money is an indication of our values
·         How we treat other people shows what is going on in our hearts
·         The challenge is that our minds deceive us – we can always think up a way to justify our questionable actions
·         Even more scary is the fact that our minds have a built in self-defence mechanism that can lead to self-deception
·         Good News is that the Holy Spirit will guide us in self-examination and help us overcome our blindness!

2. Jesus models self-discipline when tempted by Satan
Fasting and prayer is the most effective way to move quickly into a deep personal relationship with Jesus. This works because it enables us to really focus on our need for a personal experience of the divine. Our heart is stretched and disciplined as we say no to all the normal distractions of life. One approach to self-examination is to ask not if, but in what small ways we are distracted by our emotional needs for material things, power and control and spiritual authority: