By Pastor Wes Poole
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it – NRSV
Discipline! Now there is a word with the power to strike fear in the heart of the most devoted Christian! Discipline conjures up notions of childhood punishments, visits to the principal’s office, or even the rigors of military training. Of course, these days we’ve had to learn to deal with the disciplines of mask wearing and hand washing. We do not always equate discipline with our faith because of the negative baggage attached to the word. It is human nature not to like being told what to do! Yet during Lent, it is discipline which should be occupying our thoughts and prayers as we ponder the nature of our individual faith and devotional life. Indeed, the terms disciple and discipline are inextricably connected to the other. If we look past all of the unpleasant or irritating aspects of the word, we realize that to exercise discipline is to conform ourselves to something far greater…namely the Word and Will of God. When we are able to do this, we become better people, both as modern day disciples of God and more devoted ministers to our communities and sisters and brothers. During this season of Lent, when we prepare ourselves for the joy of the Resurrection, many of us try to employ some new practice in our lives to help us to focus on the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus. These are known as, of course, Lenten disciplines. Some people give up something that they enjoy. Some people try to add something to their daily routines that helps to fix their hearts and minds on Jesus. Some make a renewed financial commitment to their home church or another worthy ministry.
This year, with the restrictions of COVID still in place, we are offering a different opportunity for growth, a new Lenten discipline if you will. Please join us in a virtual Bible study to be offered each Wednesday evening during Lent. We’ll begin next week, on Ash Wednesday, and as we aren’t meeting in person for the Imposition of Ashes, our first study will be on the significance of ashes in the entire witness of scripture. The study will last about an hour, and will begin at 6PM. Feel free to join and participate, or just listen. I look forward to seeing you!
Whatever Lenten discipline you may choose, remember that the point is not to punish yourself, but to grow into a better disciple; a better follower of the one who sacrificed everything for our salvation. Despite the hardships of sacrifice, despite the discomfort of having to give an honest appraisal of ourselves and the ways in which sin continues to chip away at our humanity, Lent is still a time, ultimately, of great hope. In baptism, we have been reborn as new people; people who live now in the joy that we will surely know the “life of the world to come”. That is our baptismal birthright. May the honesty of Lent keep our eyes trained upon this great gift…eternal life in Jesus Christ!
May the power of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit strengthen our resolve and bring to our hearts the coming joy of the Empty Tomb!
Let us pray…
Prepare our hearts, Dear Lord, for the Lenten time of introspection; the opportunity to examine our lives and how we live them in you. Inform all of our decisions, personal disciplines, and interactions with others, by the example of Jesus Christ, for it is in his Name and for his sake that we pray. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe.
Pastor Wes †