We’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount for the last few months during the season after Epiphany, but before Jesus could deliver that sermon he withdrew at the beginning of his ministry for a time of reflection and discernment about the shape and content of his ministry.
During that time Jesus was tempted with alternate visions for the "reign of God come near" – visions that placed power, wealth and desire before God’s own priority for the poor and the grieving, the meek and the hungry.
As we begin our forty day journey through Lent together, we are provided with this opportunity to examine the vision that guides our life. What are we ultimately most motivated to pursue, and why? This isn’t a time for turning in the expected answer, but for telling the truth about what priorities order our life. There’s no shame in confessing that our walk doesn’t match up with our talk, but until we can be honest with ourselves we can’t even take the first step back toward the God who is waiting for us with open arms.
"Return to the LORD your God, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." (Joel 2:13)