This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent; the 40 days of preparation when we journey with Jesus through his ministry, rejoice at his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, remember his Last Supper, his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayal, arrest, passion and death.
Our Gospel lesson appointed for the first Sunday in Lent tells of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Immediately following his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus withdrew to the wilderness of the desert for a time of prayer and fasting prior to undertaking his public ministry. While he was there in the desert, Jesus faced all of the temptations with which humanity struggles. Yet, he withstood them all remaining steadfast in his commitment to serve God’s will, or mission for him in this world.
Some early Christian monastics followed Jesus’ example by retreating to the desert as a way to grow closer to God and to focus their lives around God alone. Contemporary monastics don’t always go to the desert to satisfy this call. We have come to know and love our neighbors, the Monks at the monastery of Community of Divine Love who so generously share their lives and mission with our parish community.
Another contemporary monastic order, The Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE), express their monastic mission to help people pray their lives in Cambridge, MA. They have prepared a Lenten series to help us explore what it means to be marked as Christ’s own through baptism. This Lent, COS will be following their Lenten Study “5 Marks of Love: Living Life Marked as Christ’s Own – A discipleship offering inspired by the Anglican Marks of Mission”
The 5 Marks of love are:
- Tell – Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God
- Teach – teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- Tend – Respond to human need by loving service
- Transform - transform unjust structures, challenge violence of every kind, and pursue peace and reconciliation
- Treasure – Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
As the Brothers of SSJE tell us, these “marks” are the fruit of God’s life within us, which is nurtured by prayer and worship. When we center our lives in God and allow Christ to live in us and through us, we participate in the Mission of God. It is God’s intention to reconcile all things in Christ and make them new. The Church does these things – telling, teaching, tending, transforming and treasuring – in an almost unconscious way; they are manifestations of the Divine Life operating in us. They are not simply tasks to be carried out; they are signs that our life is rooted and grounded in the Being of God.
The Brothers also remind us that it is presumptuous to assume that we’ll always see clearly what God wants us to be and do in the world. We come in humility, asking constantly for God’s guidance and for further enlightenment. We adopt a posture of listening, opening our hearts to God and to others, seeking always what is most aligned with God’s purpose. We won’t always “get it right”, but we believe God sees the good intentions of our hearts.
This Lenten season, may we all reflect on how we might live more fully. Let us balance action with contemplation, so that our words and deeds may flow from the deepest places in our hearts, where God dwells. We are called to offer ourselves, body and soul, to God’s Mission, and to live for God’s glory.
Please join for this powerful offering on Sunday Mornings during Lent at 9:00 am in Cleaver Hall to discuss and reflect on how the 5 Marks of Love might inform and prepare our hearts for Easter.