Pastor’s Reflection

The early Lent this year fits well with the Gospel of Mark which is our theme Gospel for the church year. Often Lent does not begin until March, but this year it comes quickly to us in the new year. Not only may that seem a bit brusque to us, but it does not have the courtesy of avoiding Valentine’s Day, too! It’s here and upon us, ready or not.
Our first Sunday in Lent reading from Mark’s Gospel is only nine verses into the book, and Jesus is being baptized by John the Baptist and goes into the wilderness for 40 days. Mark doesn’t tell us about the childhood of Jesus at all. As
is the style of his “to the point” book, right away in Mark Jesus is preparing himself for his mission.
This “to the point” style conveys a sense of mission and of urgency. Much is at stake. Mark’s audience was no doubt under duress. They needed encouragement to carry on. They were tempted to leave the cause; he urges them to hear
the healing and saving word of Jesus and to be active in spreading the word.
There is a sense of uneasiness and anxiety in our time, too. Even though the stock market is breaking limits and  unemployment figures are low, there is a sense of a shifting culture, not all are doing well, and institutions relied upon the past aren’t working like they used to. There is still a need to find real peace and to help the world know it, too.
In the season of Lent we know that Jesus is in our world with us. He suffered more than any of us ever have. He came to be with us in our world, tough as it is for us and as it was for him. In the middle of his duress, he could focus
on his mission and the promise of the Father to be centered on what was important and the main thing.
It’s a challenge to us, but Jesus calls us and inspires us to keep our focus on him, his promises, and the ways of God of love and mercy in our time, too. Lent is a time to collect our focus, and then keep our focus. Let us focus on Jesus who
taught us how to love in the most difficult of circumstances, preserve a sense of peace in the middle of chaos, and to rely on the promise that God has given us.
– Pr. Keith