From the Desktop of the Pastor – Week of the 1st Sunday in Lent

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I was sitting in my son’s taekwondo class (as I normally do most Saturday mornings), and I was actually paying attention this time (my phone was running out of battery due to a charging mishap the night before). The instructor (I think they’re called “master” but I don’t like referring to him like that) was doing his best to rally up around 20 kids ages 5-8ish, and it was clear that he was getting frustrated because kids ages 5-8ish will be kids ages 5-8ish.

To his benefit, the instructor is a naturally funny guy. He likes to make these wise cracks and has a very dry sense of humour (maybe that is why I like him so much). So the kids like to play and joke around with him. But since the atmosphere of every class is pretty laid back, the kids sometimes take advantage of that and go a little overboard.

But yesterday I heard the instructor say something that stuck with me. He told the kids as they were having problems with a certain stance, “You can do this, just concentrate and have confidence. Don’t be distracted.”

At first, I was thinking pfft, as if. No way these kids would listen to a guy they only see for like 45 minutes a week. There is too much out there to distract them and tell them otherwise.

Then I realised that maybe that instructor wasn’t talking to the kids as much as he was talking to the parents (who are generally on their phones or in their cars or doing some quick shopping elsewhere), that maybe he was saying that we in general as a society need to be more present in our relationships, more active in our community, and less distracted by the world’s promises of entertainment through the internet.

Or, he could have just been trying really hard to reel those kids in. I tend to look too deep into these things.

Here are the readings for next week:
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

The temptation story is the story we get every time Lent begins., and appropriately so. I mean, Lent is a season in which we are intentionally and especially penitent and try to remove distraction from our lives. The 40 days of Lent are supposedly to mimic Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, after all (also the many other instances of 40 in the bible). But I feel that this story is a lot about what Lent is about, and that is seeing and recognising the distractions and perhaps lies that take up our time and space in our lives.

Let’s face it, we really are a distracted people. We believe the lies that tell us who we are and what we ought to be and how far we have fallen short of that. We lose sight of the promises and gifts of God, and we begin to think that we had better lean on our own wisdom and strength to make it through the day. The cycle perpetuates itself and before we know it, we are someone and something completely different from who and what we initially were.

Then comes Lent, the time right before Easter to remind us of who and whose we are. The time when we can try to let go of distractions of the world so we can be more active in our communities. The time when we reject the lies the world tells us about us, and embrace the love and promises of God, reminding us that we are beloved, and empowering us to be more present in our relationships.

The world (or I guess in this case I could say the satan or the adversary) will tell us things about ourselves and our inadequacies. But in God we can trust that they are, in fact, lies, and that God has elevated us to something different, a higher identity, recreating us as saints to live with God and each other forever.

As sad and somber Lent typically can be, I look forward to being reminded of who God has created me to be, the value and worth that I’ve been given through my identity as a child of God, and the gracious love I receive simply because God wills it.

Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!

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