Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened up for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for the one who made the promises is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:19-25
This week in my Sunday morning class I started teaching a Lenten series based on the book Entering the Passion of Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine. The study is designed to provide a more accurate (1st-Century Israel) cultural context for the Jesus story, while challenging us to both consider and engage the risks inherent in fully grasping the implications of The Passion.
The premise, essentially, is that if we fail to learn the history correctly we will misunderstand the message of the Gospels. And – as we understand – then we must be willing to risk in our response to the life and teachings of Jesus.
So, part of this journey through Lent is going to involve learning, and the other part is living out a practical response to what is going on in our head and our heart.
So how do we move through these 40 days?
This is where Sunday morning’s message – during worship – came in. Given that Lent is a period of reflection, and given that faith is often difficult for us in the face of real life and the daily struggles that we all face, then how – in practical terms – do we move through these forty days?
The scriptures offer a practical and helpful list, summarizing the “how to” (Hebrews 10): “Let us,” the writer suggests, make the following decisions between now and Easter.
- Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for the one who made the promises is faithful…
- Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds..
- Let us not give up meeting together…
- Let us encourage one another.
Rebekah’s sermon title – Having Faith When We Don’t Want To – implied the question, “how is it possible to have faith when life is difficult?” (you can click to listen to her engaging meditation – starting around the 16:00 mark on the video)
Simply showing up:
I shared a very elementary principle just a few weeks ago – the potent spiritual discipline of simply showing up. But Rebekah took the truth of it further and deeper, and I see this passage from Hebrews as a practical and powerful outline for navigating our journey toward Easter over these next few weeks.
“How does one keep the faith… when we may not feel like it?” Rebekah said. “I’ll admit that it can be hard… when we aren’t sure we believe enough to keep the faith. So, what can we do?”
She went on to use the Hebrews passage as a guide. Draw near to God. Hold unswervingly to hope. Spur one another on. Show up for worship. Encourage one another.
The simple truth is that we have all the resources we need to grow spiritually. And so the important thing to do during Lent is to consistently practice our faith journey in the context of the faith community and via mutual encouragement.
This is not rocket science, nor is it magic. Spiritual growth is faithfulness and tenacity and consistent engagement.
Lent. It’s our opportunity thrive – DEREK