All week long I've had earbugs--not the kind of bugs Mrs. Piggle Wiggle might have said crawl in the ears of naughty children who do not properly wash their ears--but the kind of earbugs that play songs over and over in your mind. One of the earbugs that's been echoing in my mind is that beautiful Wesley hymn "Love Divine All Loves Excelling." I'm stuck in the last stanza of that hymn. It goes like this:
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Every year we hear the same story on the last Sunday before Lent. Every year we hear about Jesus taking Peter and James and John up the mountain where, before their very eyes, he is changed--Charles Wesley might say "changed from glory into glory." Every year we hear Peter say, "We can build three booths." And every year we hear that idea interrupted by God saying, "This is my son, my beloved. Listen to him."
"Listen to him." What a way to close a scene! It makes me wonder, "What comes next?"
They climb down the mountain and they encounter the other disciples trying to heal a young boy of his seizures. The disciples are frustrated because all their efforts have been for naught. Jesus, after sizing up the situation, says to his disciples, "Some things can be healed only through prayer."
"Listen to him."
"Some things you can do only through prayer."
What if these two sayings of Jesus were our guideposts through Lent? What if we as a community and as individuals focused, really focused on listening to Jesus as we made our way through Lent? Several years ago, I was going through a really hard patch of life. A time that challenged even my sense of myself as priest. I was at a loss for what to do, for how to navigate through the dark cloud in which I found myself. A friend, a seminary professor and Baptist minister listened to my woes. Then he said, "Live the Gospel as best you can." I did. That made all the difference in the world. "This is my son, my beloved. Listen to him."
But I don't want us to forget those words Jesus said when he was confronted by the disciples' frustration and the person in need. Remember he said, "Some things can be healed only through prayer." A second part of Live at Five's journey through Lent will be a focus on prayer--corporate prayer and personal prayer. On the first Sunday of Lent we will together pray the Litany of Penitence found in our Book of Common Prayer. On the first, second and fourth Sundays of Lent (March 9, March 16 and March 30) we will offer an opportunity to pray the rosary at 4:30 p.m.
My prayer for all of us is that we be "lost in wonder, love and praise" as we focus on God who working in us and through us can do far more than we ourselves can do.
May we keep a holy Lent.