First Sunday in Lent
Bulletin-back meditations for the 2018 Lenten season will focus on the emotions in the Gospel passages, and how our feelings can change our interpretation and understanding of the gospel.
Remember watching the reality television show Fear Factor? Do we need to set five tarantulas on a man’s chest to see him squirm in a panic? Fear finds a way of bringing us to our knees and to our Lord—without the coaxing of television producers.
The Gospel writer Mark fosters less of a story line and reads more like an accountant’s report with a rapid succession of events and facts. For example: “After John was put in prison” (Mark 1:14 NIV). Fear must overwhelm John’s witness while in prison.
We all make mistakes. We all fall short of God’s vision and glory for us. Sometimes our poor choices have consequences that may lead to jail time. Incarceration happens even to Christians. And the fear of seeing our precious rights vanish and revoked should shake us to the core—a true fear factor. Confinement brings us to our knees.
Today I invite you to pray for, to write, to visit, and to support someone jailed, confined to their bed, or restrained in a facility. I see in the Gospel of Mark how John’s imprisonment leaves little or no hope for him from his disciples. Really, this is no different from the disciples who abandon Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
Fear factor really does haunt the shadows of our life more than we think. Look how the news of the day exposes, saturates, and bombards us in a milieu of uncertainty. Even in the prisons of our lives, God’s love will still drive out fear.
Lord Jesus, whatever frightens me about my life this morning, I place in your heart of love. Heal my fear this morning. Amen.
John Wallace, pastor, First Moravian Church, Dover, Ohio