Lenten Reflection for 3/13 – “Unexpected Places”

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 7:21-34; Psalm 78; John 7:37-52

The readings above are difficult to read. It is easy to see the false pride and stubborn belief of people looking for any excuse to continue to behave as they had been. Those who called themselves people of faith seem to fail God in each reading, showing pride and being “stiff-necked” (Jeremiah 7:26).

We hear from John a retelling of Christ’s presence at the Feast of the Tabernacles.  The story reminds me of one told by C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce. A mother has reached Heaven and is met by her son who is to escort her. This son is not his mother’s favorite and she looks past him, wondering where her other son is. At the end of the story, the mother chooses to stay behind rather than go with the one sent by God to bring her into her Heavenly home and His heavenly presence.

The crowd attending the Feast of the Tabernacles questioned the nature of the Savior. They did not harm him or arrest him because it was not his time. The people reassured themselves that He was not the expected Savior by repeating to one another “Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee” (John 7:52)

For me, the message says we need to seek salvation and are likely to find it in people and places we don’t expect. It tells me to open my heart to possibility.

The Psalm provides a listing of the wonders provided by a generous God to a stubborn and difficult people who listened to themselves rather than either listening to God’s voice or appreciating what he provided them. When the people were in trouble, they “flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues” (Psalm 78:36), Despite his anger, “he, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; often he restrained his anger, and did not stir up all his wrath.” (Psalm 78:38)

I contemplate the message in these readings and do find hope. They remind me I need to look for God in unexpected places and be open to the lessons of love and faith. During Lent, we can each choose contemplation, jubilation or fighting temptation. In each, we can find new challenges and opportunities to express our desire for salvation by stepping outside our comfort zone and being with God.

Author: Joy Malmgren

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