Lent Five: The Road Narrows
Jesus Stirs Up Trouble With Religious Leaders
We are on the road! We’ve covered tons of ground but now we begin the steep climb towards the ultimate destination: a triumphant entry into Jerusalem; the upper room for a Seder together; the Garden at Gethsemane; Golgotha.
Sunday we took a brief look at the way Jesus’ acts of mercy were impeded by the religious leaders of the time. When they called Jesus out for not following the law to the letter, Jesus called them out for leading insincere lives of hypocrisy. He told them they look clean on the outside, but they were filthy and impure inside. “Woe to you!” he cried to the scribes, the pharisees and the lawyers.
I say “brief” because we covered only two small passages that have to do with upsetting the religious leaders and challenging the status quo. In reality there are hundreds of passages where Jesus does something a bit outside of the law and causes the religious leaders to question him. Not that it was difficult to do something “outside of the law.” Even forgetting to wash your hands before dinner was a violation. And this is what Jesus did in both of the passages we looked at Sunday, but he did it intentionally to challenge those who were keeping track of his movements.
In calling attention to the ways that the “Honorable and Righteous” leaders of the time were clean on the outside and dirty on the inside, Jesus calls us to attention too. Are there areas in our life that are rife with sin? Places where we look clean but are really dirty? We sure don’t like it when people point those places out to us, do we? Pew-sitters across the globe get all tingly and happy when they hear an uplifting sermon about the miracles, healings, and the “Love your neighbor” admonishments Jesus makes repeatedly; but there is an awful lot of squirming in the pews when we begin to talk about sin.
Jesus preached, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” But as a character in the TV series “Justified” pointed out, “The truth is always painful to those living in sin.”
Welp, there’s truth in that for sure. We squirm and fight against the idea of sin being present in our life rather than acknowledging its presence and choosing to look at it as an obstacle that can be overcome. With effort, we can push that obstacle of sin out of our way and move on in the light.
And what we know about obstacles on our trails and roads here in Grand County is that they rarely keep us from trudging onward, heading towards that next mountain peak or whatever promised vista is our intended destination. Indeed, as we hike the trails around here, we are more likely to join efforts to clear every obstacle along the way rather than just turn around or feel dejected or hindered by the fallen trees or rocks that have tumbled down the mountain and onto the path during the long winters. And we extend considerable energy to remove those obstacles not only for our own journey, but for the benefit of those who will travel that same trail later.
What a cool world it would be if we expended the same amount of care and energy to remove the obstacle of sin from each other’s lives. I mean, we’re always going to have sin in our lives; there will always be sin in this world; but how better would our life be if we encouraged and worked alongside one another to continue on this glorious journey, unfettered and uninhibited by even the most insurmountable obstacles?
As we continue towards Jerusalem in the coming weeks, let’s not think of the cross as one of those obstacles, but rather the gateway to overcoming any obstacle that will ever come our way.
Your Travel Companion,
doodle prayer 2017
Using Psalm 32 to “Doodle Pray.”
The prayer stations are available during regular church office hours (10 — 4 M-Th) for anyone who would like to spend some time in contemplation and meditation. The centers are self-guided, with instructions at each station for how to proceed. Please take a moment to enrich your own prayer life by spending some time at your leisure to study and pray.
From the Pastor’s Desk
Travel Guide for Our Lenten Journey
We are near the end of our journey! Sunday we barely touched on the controversial acts of mercy that Jesus performed that enraged the religious leaders of the time.
You will benefit the most from this journey if you participate in the activities beyond Sunday worship. There are plenty of opportunities; just check out our trip itinerary:
Tuesday Noon (lunch provided)
or Tuesday Evening (5:30 — 6:30)
Our Tuesday Lenten study will include deeper readings of the scriptures from the previous Sunday. You will also get to engage in “Prayer Centers” from week to week that will guide you to a deeper prayer experience. If you are unable to attend on Tuesdays, the Prayer Centers will be open when the office is open during the week, and study guides will be available to help you through the centers.
Each week we will be coloring in a beautiful banner designed by local artist and CEH Member Laura Veenstra. Each week at the Service Station, the prayer centers, and during our Lenten Study time, we will be coloring in a section of the banner that coordinates with the week’s theme. The banner will hang during our worship services to be a visual reminder of where we are headed in our journey.
There is a cross that was fashioned from the CEH Christmas Tree (thank you Stephen Eddy!) that will journey from the foyer to the Chancel throughout Lent. As we progress on our journey through Jesus’ life, we will be bringing the cross closer and closer to the front of our sanctuary as a reminder where we are headed. There will be activities throughout the worship service, focusing on the cross, that give you an opportunity to deepen your commitment to Christ.
Each week you will receive a “Grow, Pray, Study” Guide to deepen your understanding of the life of Christ. Like a GPS Navigation system, your GPS will guide you through this journey.
The kaleidoscopes during Advent were so successful, we looked for an appropriate symbol to hold onto for this Lenten Journey. The children will be receiving their own “Compass clip” that they can put on their backpack or carry in their pocket. This compass will be representative of needing God’s guidance and direction in our lives. These are available for adults if you would like a physical reminder to let God be your guide through life.
“Meeting Jesus” Lenten Devotional
The 2017 “Presbyterians Today” Lenten Devotional contains 47 short, 1st Person Readings from people who encountered Jesus. This is an excellent way to challenge yourself to daily contemplation on the Word and on the life of Christ.
Holy Week Services
We will have our regular Monday and Tuesday studies, with an additional service on Maundy Thursday, and an ecumenical service at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Granby for Good Friday.
We will cover the darkest hours of our faith with prayer, from Friday night after the Good Friday service through sunrise on Easter morning. You can sign up for a one (or more) hour slot during which you can pray and be in meditation. Pastor Paula will make a Prayer Vigil Guide for your time of prayer. Don’t worry! The guide really helps you through the hour of prayer and meditation.
Resurrection Day (Easter!)
Sunrise Service, followed by a breakfast will begin our day with worship and fellowship. After breakfast, we are sponsoring an Easter Egg hunt for our entire community, in hopes that they might stick around for the rest of our festivities. Our Service Station will be really amazing for this holiest of days, so plan to come at 9:10 if you would like to participate in being the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world as we make “Gift of the Heart Kits” for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Our 10 AM service will be an incredible celebration of the empty tomb, beginning in the Fellowship Hall and moving to the sanctuary to roll the stone away!
All of these resources can also be emailed or mailed if you cannot pick one up from the church.
With Encouragement for the Journey,