The First Sunday of Lent
Cycle B, February 18, 2018
Genesis 9: 8-15; Psalm 25;
1 Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15
“Joy or Pain?”
By Rev. Liz Miller, M.Div.


Christmas was just a few months ago. We anticipated the season and it was one of joy, family and memories. Today is the first Sunday of Lent. How can we go so quickly from joy to Repent and gloom? Is it truly gloom or is there more meaning to Lent then we even realize?


We are dusted with ashes at the beginning of Lent. The ashes remind us that our life is only temporary, a journey in this life. We were once dust and to dust we shall return. Lent does have a serious side to it. Lent helps us to focus and to turn away from things that distract us. Sometimes our life seems to be in shambles and we wonder...why…are…we…here? What were we really made for? We all have moments of doubt.


Jesus wants repentance. Is it skipping meals, giving up something, wearing sackcloth like the early Christians or fasting? At times repent means that we regret something, and we feel remorseful. It could be some of that, but I think repenting goes so much deeper. Repentance is turning away, turning around, changing. It is recognizing our limitations and trusting God. It is a change of heart and new attitudes. God does not want sacrifice but love. God speaks of love more than anything else. 


To repent is to turn more completely to a living Christ. We should not imprison ourselves in the past but into today and the future. The past is dead and gone. We cannot change it. The future is not promised to us but we do have today and God wants us to love…today…one day at a time. Love is stronger than death, It was the love of Christ that took away the sins of the world. Love has power! Trust God, give him the power to shape us.


Lenten repentance is shaping our lives from death to life, from sin to love and from fate to freedom. We live love freely. 


Lent is also about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not simple or easy. Sometimes it takes a long time to forgive. Jesus gave us a powerful prayer. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” If we forgive others than God will forgive us. If we do not forgive others than we will not be forgiven. This is important and is not a choice. For me I start out with wanting to forgive and asking God to help me forgive. It is hardest to forgive people who have really hurt me when I had done nothing wrong. However, in releasing that there is so much freedom. It took me over 30 years to forgive my earthly father but when I truly let it go it was no longer a burden. 


As Christians we need to walk with Christ, sharing in his journey. We have been made new because of his sacrifice on the cross. Our pilgrimage is not finished, and this is not our home. 


“During Lent, take time to pray, to sit in silence and look at the cross. Link his pierced hand to yours and hear him say, “I’m here because I love you,” No need for words; He knows what lies in your heart. Let yourself feel-Maybe your sadness for sin, maybe gratitude of how important we are to God. Don’t try to analyze it; feel it, sense it, touch it! Feel the profound joy that Jesus promised us.” ( These 40 days keep the crucified Jesus in front of you. 


During the Eucharist today remember it is the replay of the supper and the cross; “This is my body given for you” When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” Touching him, tasting him, we proclaim Gods victory over death. His body is given for you, each day. 


During this Lent forgive others and yourselves.  Break the chains of oppression and celebrate the cross that made it possible for us to believe, to hope and to love. Embrace this change and allow God to change your heart. 


There are moments we feel the pain. Gethsemane was not a laughing matter.
Is Lent joy or pain? I would say both. We need to remember we are risen Christians. Jesus is risen, and we have risen with him into a new life. During these weeks we re-live the stages of our Lord’s pilgrimage, his way to the cross. The cross is victory, not defeat. Let us overcome fear and death. Lent is for joy and pain, it is dying and rising. It is a journey with high hopes and sometimes despair. 


Make Lent a loving look at Jesus crucified, Give your mind a rest. Let the senses and your emotions feel. 


Come alive in Christ, laughter and tears are both life giving. 


Come, let us walk this journey together.