This is devotional is for the Second Sunday in Lent. It is the third in the UCCDM Lenten Series 2014. This reflection is provided by Rev. Kelli Parrish Lucas, UCCDM Secretary.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’* So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” Genesis 12:1-4
“ — We have completed a building and program audit. [Several different audits are mentioned in this packet. Your score is less important than your willingness to survey and assess places where improvement is needed.]
–We have identified __ things to change this year.
–We have identified __ things to change in 2 years.
–We have Identified __ things to change in 5 years.” ~from the A2A checklist in “Anybody, Every Body, Christ’s Body”
Ah, Lent. It sometimes seems that Lent can be a season of magnifying our imperfections, second only to the resolution season of New Year. (In all honesty, Lent is not a pleasant time.) We often talk about what we are giving up or taking on as new spiritual practice for the season of Lent.
We often talk about Lent as an individual journey, and that is fitting if we are just to mirror Jesus’ journey in the wilderness. The lectionary this week focuses on Abram’s journey out of Ur (Genesis 12:1-4). Abram, however, did not journey alone he went with God and his family. Abram had his community with him on the journey. Is the lectionary nudging us to consider the journey of our community as well as ourselves?
What if the Body of Christ started a journey of community reflection? I wonder what we would reflect on..dogma, creeds, ecumenical relations? In the UCC, there is little doubt we would focus on issues of justice. But the Christian practice of Lent has traditionally been an internal journey, like Jesus in the wilderness. Is there something internal to the Body of Christ that we might bring forward for reflection and discussion? Surely we are not perfect as a church–as a community of believers–even as the Body of Christ. We celebrate Communion with the broken Body of Christ, surely we don’t expect the body is perfect for we celebrate the brokenness and the new covenant that comes from the brokenness and bringing back together!
Even when we work for justice and ‘walk the talk’ of the gospel to the best of our ability, there is always something more that God is calling us to set out towards. We are not a people destined to settle in Ur.
In the UCC when we reflect on how we live in covenant and community as the Body of Christ, we often reflect on how ‘inclusive’ and diverse our community is~we are multi-racial, multi-lingual, anti-racist, open and affirming, immigrant welcoming. . .. Are we “Accessible to All” as well? If the Body of Christ is always breaking open and coming back together to welcome the stranger from margins…then perhaps the journey is one which continues each time God calls us to move forward. Do we continue to respond as Abram did? Do we simply go or do we say ‘enough of your speaking God, we are staying in Ur where we know who we are and who we include’?
The UCC asserted at the 2005 Synod, that is called to be a church that is “Accessible to All”. This does not mean that the church, or the Body of Christ, is or will be perfect–just that it is faithfully continuing the journey. This is the season of Lent, the time to reflect on or to practice a new understanding of our response to God’s call. To paraphrase the A2A checklist: Our score is less important than our willingness to survey and assess places where improvement is needed.