Bishop Adams' Lenten Message
“Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Matthew 4:1 for the First Sunday of Lent
Make no mistake. Jesus is being tempted to the depth of his being. He is being tempted to forget who he is, to whom he belongs, and to live out his mission in a manner better suited to himself than to God. These are our bottom line temptations as well, the struggle of every human being.
The Gospel of Matthew would seem to indicate that the bottom line temptation is to forget who we are: “If you are the Son of God…” was a question of identity for Jesus. For us it is to forget that Jesus has called us friends, sacramentalized in baptism where we discover we are sealed in God’s embrace, marked as Christ’s own forever.
The discipline of Lent is to become clear about our center, our identity in Christ. We have an opportunity through a life of prayer, worship and service to rediscover who we are as God’s own and to live out of that truth. When we fail, and we will, we are reminded that we are forgiven and remain God’s beloved as we are introduced to our center once again.
So we travel this Lent secure in the knowledge of the end of the story – Jesus is risen! We seek to live as a people rooted in thanksgiving that leads to a profoundly grateful heart for Christ’s self-offering that draws all people to himself. It is on that cross that we find that we are set free to be who God calls us to be and remember who we truly are – Christ’s own people.
Presiding Bishop's Lenten Message
The reality is that the season of Lent, which Christians have practiced for so many centuries, is about the same kind of yearning for greater light in the world, whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere.
The word “Lent” means “lengthen” and it’s about the days getting longer. The early Church began to practice a season of preparation for those who would be baptized at Easter, and before too long other members of the Christian community joined those candidates for baptism as an act of solidarity.
It was a season during which Christians and future Christians learned about the disciplines of the faith – prayer and study and fasting and giving alms, sharing what they have.
But the reality is that, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, the lengthening days were often times of famine and hunger, when people had used up their winter food stores and the spring had not yet produced more food to feed people. Acting in solidarity with those who go hungry is a piece of what it means to be a Christian. To be a follower of Jesus is to seek the healing of the whole world.
And Lent is a time when we practice those disciplines as acts of solidarity with the broken and hungry and ill and despised parts of the world.
I would invite you this Lent to think about your Lenten practice as an exercise in solidarity with all that is – with other human beings and with all of creation. That is most fundamentally what Jesus is about. He is about healing and restoring that broken world.
So as you enter Lent, consider how you will live in solidarity with those who are hungry, or broken, or ill in one way or another.
May you have a blessed Lent this year, and may it yield greater light in the world.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church