Lenten Scripture Reflection | Wednesday: Psalms 11-12; Jeremiah 52.24-34; 1 John 2.1-27

From: Jeff Banks

Will this Lent be any different?

I ask myself that question each year, full of enthusiasm and conviction that this time I’ll be able to resist temptation and fast consistently. This time I won’t keep a stash of M&Ms in the cupboard just in case. I won’t watch any episodes of The Crown. Or maybe if I have a long day, I’ll just watch one after dinner. Two at most. Three only if I had to stand packed like a sardine on the Red Line for 30 minutes as they cleared a broken train at Charles/MGH. 

If you’re anything like me, then facing temptation is like trying to walk through Trader Joe’s without tasting the free wine and cheese samples. It’s just a sample, right? I can totally say no to that, or at least stop after trying one. And yet many times I seem to get in my car with enough wine and cheese to host a party every day that week. 

I’m learning that I can’t say no to temptation on my own.

Reading Psalm 11 and 1 John 2, I’m struck that the Bible has a different strategy for resisting the lures of the world. David opens by writing, “In the Lord I take refuge.” John tells us that, if we’ve got our ears open to God’s message from the beginning, then we “will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

Taking refuge. Abiding. That’s different from trying to muster up the strength to just say no. If you’re taking refuge somewhere, then you’re being protected by something, or someone, stronger than you are. If you’re abiding or dwelling in someone’s house, then that person is going to take care of you. Especially if that person is God.

I’m not exactly sure what it means to abide in God, but I think it has to do with obeying him (1 John 2:4), listening to him (1 John 2:5), doing what he did (1 John 2:6), and loving those whom he loves (1 John 2:10). In other words, being in relationship with him and his people, the church. When I’ve made any progress at all in resisting temptation, it’s because others are walking with me as I stumble and get up again, encouraging me to keep going. Relationships make the difference.

This Lent, I’m not going to just say no to temptation, but also abide in the Triune God and take refuge with his people. Join me?

New to Boston and CotC, I’m a soccer-loving, curry-cooking, music-playing campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I blog very occasionally at jeffwbanks.com.

Lenten Scripture Reflection | Tuesday: Psalms 9-10; Jeremiah 52.1-23; 1 John 1

From: Sally Jackson

This year, increased responsibilities at home, in work, and in my family have created a seemingly endless to-do list, one that is routine, and generally absent of awe. I have been steadily plodding along, thinking mainly of how to keep up with the tasks before me, and largely neglecting self-reflection or intentional invitation to God to meet me.

Recently, spiritual dryness hasn’t been helped by how a lengthier commute and several bike accidents have disrupted my exercise routine. I’ve felt less awake, less capable in my own skin, less in touch with the body I’ve been given by God. Coming into Lent, I’ve shared with friends how during this season, I want to break into my routine and to invite God in, and to do it, in part, by literally stretching and walking and finding my way back to the bodily remembrance of my creatureliness. I want to remember that my body isn’t just a vehicle for me to accomplish my to-do list, but a very real way I can find my place before God and encounter him.

I’m encouraged my today’s passage in 1 John, how the apostle and the earliest saints’ testimony is of their physical encounter with the living Christ: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life” (1:1-2). John’s own trust in the resurrection was delivered through the senses — the sight in his eyes and the touch of his own hands. His body was a vehicle to faith and joy, and the gift of knowing God more fully came through his body.

Of course, I depend on his firsthand testimony for my own faith, but it is the bodily encounter with Jesus that I am keeping close this season. Of course, my own encounters with him will look different from John’s. But with the tug of each stretch and lunge, I can confront my embodied self a bit more. With each short breath and heightened heart rate, I can remember my limits as a human and my dependence on God. And with every step away from my desk, I can create space to actually listen a bit more intently.

Whether it’s through yoga or running or biking, or perhaps something a bit more traditional to Lent, I pray you each create space to let the Lord in a little bit more this season.

I live in West Roxbury, work in the Fenway, and absolutely love pie. I also have never been able to read 1 John 1:7 without thinking of DC Talk’s “In the Light”. You’re welcome.

Lenten Scripture Reflection | Monday: Psalms 7-8; Jeremiah 51.34-64; James 5

From: Brittany Yeager

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5.7-8) 

A couple years ago, Jon and I had the opportunity to tour an apple orchard with it’s owner and farmer. This orchard had been in his family for over a century. The rows of trees and their varieties were well-known to him and carried with them memories readily recalled of plentiful seasons and seasons of want. The process of planting, pruning, defending, harvesting, and dormancy were second-nature to him. He was a farmer, well-acquainted with the active process of waiting for the precious fruit of the earth.

I find it somewhat difficult to insert myself fully in the farmer’s wait, as I am unfamiliar with the process of planting and harvest. However, the human experience of waiting is a familiar one. This takes various forms—we wait for public transit; we wait in traffic; we wait in the line at the grocery store; we wait for a job; we wait for test results; we wait for friends to feel like family; we wait for a spouse; we wait for children; we wait for clarity; we wait for faith to take root in the midst of deep doubt—the list could go on and on, couldn’t it?

While these experiences of waiting are valid and trying, we must also remember that we, as the people of God, are a waiting people. In the midst of the ordinary and mundane places of wait, we also await the coming of the Lord—the day when all our waiting will be over and our patience will be a precious, blooming fruit rooted in the city of God.

In both instances, James’ exhortation is rather simple: wait with patience. And so we wait. We see these moments of waiting (and they are plenty!) as opportunities of grace. Thanks be to God, we have a Sower who is patient with us as learn to be patient with him. In the ordinary, mundane, trying places of waiting, may we find that God is indeed working in us the precious fruit of patience. Establish your hearts; the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Bonus: Take a listen to The Sower's Song by Andrew Peterson. Such beautiful imagery of the seeds the Lord is sowing and reaping in us.

I am daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. I love good music, yummy food, and laughter with friends. I live in Arlington with Jon and Ellie.