A Lenten Death
Morning Psalms: 8, 11 | Evening Psalms: 15, 16 Exodus 13 | Matthew 15:29—16:12 | Proverbs 5 | Philippians 1:12-end
To live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil 1:21).
Lent prompts us to face death – the death of Christ, the death of loved ones, even our own death. Paul, facing death in prison (v 14), longs to complete his work and rest in the Lord. But his longing isn’t from despair. Mindful of others (v 24), he strives onward to continue wherever Jesus calls him.
Christ’s triumph over death feeds our progress and joy in the faith (v 25). Paul challenges us to walk worthy of the gospel of Christ – to lead repentant lives. We follow the one who meets us where we are and who elevates us (Ps 30:1) to the way of the cross.
Jesus remakes suffering and death, so these opponents no longer frighten us (Phil 1:28). Consider the morning lessons; we must not be like Pharaoh with his hardened heart too stubborn to repent. His death is no gain. Shun too the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:11), who evade repentance thereby neutering the gospel of its transforming power. Instead, accept the call out of Egypt (Exod 13:9), follow him beyond the wilderness into the Promised Land where the cross stands. God grants us to suffer in this way, for here we find truth and life (Phil 1:29, John 14:6).
As we journey towards the cross, let us trust this holy God who, in his love and grace, is mindful of us (Ps 8:4) – in our suffering and in our death. Thus, even in Lent, it is fitting that we rejoice. Assured by the grace and love of Jesus, we can truly walk this path of repentance, where living is Christ and dying is gain.
Help us, O Lord, especially when we suffer from little faith (Matt 16:8), to put our trust in you while you may be found (Ps 32:7, Ps 11:1, Ps 16:1), that we may turn away from our sin, magnify you (Ps 30:1), and rejoice in your assurance that even in suffering and death, you call us to walk repentant lives worthy of the Gospel, standing firm in your Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.
The Rev. Mike Demmon (MDiv, 2008)
Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, ACNA
Chaplain (Major), United States Army
Fairfax County, VA
The original post can be found at the Trinity School for Ministry website.