Lenten Devotional for Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Please read Luke 2:41–52.


And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. LUKE 2:52


Today is Ash Wednesday, beginning a 46-day journey to
Easter, but the destination is meaningless to those who do not make the
trip.

Perhaps more than any other Gospel writer, Luke understood the importance of preparation for significant events. For example, Luke uses the phrase, “as he was praying” to
preface accounts of critical events in Jesus’ life: baptism, choosing
the twelve, asking “Who do you say that I am?”, transfiguration,
crucifixion, and others. But preparation involved much more.



Luke also weaves the story of Jesus into the larger
fabric of the traditions of Israel. His birth, his circumcision, his
dedication when 6 weeks old, his trip to Jerusalem for Passover at
age12, his public life at age 30: these sketches provide the portrait
of the true Israelite, one whose life was resourced by a tradition of
faith mediated through home and community. It is no surprise, then,
that when he began his ministry in Nazareth, “he went to
the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom” (4:16).

Blessed is that person so nourished by the faith of those who have gone on ahead and of those who surround us now. No one is exempt from the phone call, the letter, the report
that pulls the ground from beneath us. Those times demand more than can
be frantically improvised without the memory, the tradition, the
community which make faith more than a private mood. It is a wise
homemaker who, when fruits and vegetables are ripe, will prepare for
the season of frost and freeze. When the earth becomes barren and cold,
the family fares as though it were spring.


Today we begin a 46–day journey to Easter, but the
destination is meaningless to those who do not make the trip. We thank
thee, O God, for those whose faith sustains us until ours grows up.
Amen.

Dr. Craddock's reflections were originally published in the 2005 Fellowship of Prayer Lenten devotional, and are being republished here courtesy of Chalice Press.


Discussion
Question: Dr. Craddock points out that every trip requires preparation
and this trip toward Easter is no different. Preparation in this sense
relates to how we have prepared through living our lives as Christians
and meeting the challenges along the way. So how have you prepared for
this journey toward Easter?

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Tags: AshWednesday, FredCraddock, Lent, devotional

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Comment by Nancy Thompson on February 17, 2010 at 4:57pm
A few years back, I had a friend say that she was giving up "complaining" for Lent. I tried it. I never thought I was a complainer, until I tried to give it up. My worst habit was telling other people how busy I am all the time. I think I'll try giving up complaining again this lenten season, since I wasn't that successful the first time around. So today I am preparing for this journey towards Easter by trying to listen more and to complain less. Nancy T.
Comment by Susan Shank Mix on February 17, 2010 at 9:52am
We mentioned in my women's group last night that sometimes the body takes a while to catch up to the spirit. The body needs to release its tension and stress and often chooses its own time to do so. (Can you tell I've been sick too?) And so we are being prepared, prepared for something new to enter not only a clear spirit but also a clear body. Releasing the negative past is the first big step to opening a positive future. ~ blessings
Comment by Rebecca Woods on February 17, 2010 at 9:17am
One way I tried to prepare this year was by avoiding scheduling meetings and appointments during Lent. I'm trying to leave extra space and time - because I have a tendency to fill my schedule. Consequently, I had front-loaded the 10 days leading up to Lent with a very long to-do list -- all the things I needed to get done before Ash Wednesday arrived.

And then I got sick. It started Friday night -- a headache, and by Saturday morning I was working my way through a box of Kleenex, eyes puffy and sinuses congested. Usually when I get a cold, it doesn't stick around long (I think sometimes I will it away) but this one was a doozy. On Sunday, I was feeling worse -- I barely left the couch. Monday was just as bad, and even Tuesday, when I had hoped to do something to prepare for Lent, I could barely think straight because of the cold medicine, lack of sleep, and congestion.

Somewhere along the line, probably Monday, I resigned myself to it -- stopped thinking about all the work I wasn't getting done, emails I wasn't answering, etc. Yesterday, on the recommendation of several Facebook friends, I made some chicken soup. Today, I'm feeling better.

For me, part of preparing for the trip was getting a bad cold. I don't think the cold was "God's will" - it was caused by germs, and me not taking care of myself. But after I got over being frustrated that it interfered with my plans, I began to see that God could use this time, if I would allow it. So, here I am...still tired, but thankful.
Comment by Steven B. Doan on February 17, 2010 at 9:01am
Thanks for offering these reflections from our finest homiletician--I look forward to reading each one!

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