A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
First Sunday in Lent
Today's reading: Matthew 18:15-35
As this first Sunday in Lent makes its way into our hearts, we are reminded of how much we need each other in our journey of faith. We are not alone. We are the community of Jesus. Life in the community is profoundly important to each and every one of us. When the community is healthy, we find in it a safe place to discover who we are in the life of God. When the community is broken, we find in it strife and tension and disconnection, the very place we are not safe. How we need each other in a healthy and vital way.
On this day when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we are reminded that in the community of Jesus the power of God is at work. We are all human, aren’t we? And we bring imperfections, shortcomings, and brokenness to the community. This raises a question about how we are coming to live together in community.
In Luke 23:34 we have a remarkable prayer from Jesus, as he hangs dying on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." All through His ministry He had spoken about forgiveness and now, at a most painful and excruciating moment, He practices it. In Matthew 18, He teaches us how to go about being in community, and then in Luke 23 He models it. First, He calls us to live with such a respect for the community that we own our lives. If we don’t own them, then the community must deal with our dishonesty. When we don’t own our lives, we hurt the community. Then Jesus calls us to the most radical lifestyle imaginable, a life of forgiveness!
At the heart of what Jesus is teaching and modeling is a love that has captivated our hearts and defined for us what it means to need each other. The mind and spirit of the community of Jesus must be forgiveness or it is not a community of Jesus. In His community every opportunity is given for us to own our lives and to be a part of the health of a forgiven people. We are a people who support each other, pray for each other, and forgive each other. When it comes to our life together in Christ, Jesus says, "Truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:19-20).
Perhaps the defining acts in a community of Jesus are forgiveness and prayer. We are God’s alternative community in the world. We do things patterned after Jesus. We don’t take our cues from culture; we take our cues from God. In Lent we are reminded of just how much we each need God and the community of faith He has given us. We are reminded of the sacramental community into which Jesus has placed us, and of how important that sacred community is. We don’t walk alone. We are together. Because of the love of God expressed in Jesus, and because of the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are not alone. We are together.
We serve a risen Savior and we live as a resurrection people.
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