“When God Speaks…..” is our worship theme for the Season of Lent. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus heard God speak directly to him twice: first at his baptism by John, and second time at the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:7). What Jesus hears in both instances is basically same: “You are my Son, my Beloved” (Mark 1:11); “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). The first instance signals the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and the second the beginning of the journey toward his death on the cross.
Lent is that journey. Jesus doesn’t hear voices from heaven any more. Rather, according to Mark’s gospel, that journey ends with Jesus crying out to heaven, before he breathed his last, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). About the Human One who cried out those words God had spoken: “This is My Son, my Beloved; listen to him.” Lent is the journey through which we learn to realize that that cry was God’s own, that God’s heart exploded on the cross for the love of suffering humanity, that God’s love is deeper than anything we can imagine, than any human despair, darkness and sin.
“This journey together through Lent serves as an invitation to align the heart of our spiritual nature with the regenerative heart of God, the Sustainer and Deliverer, to set our intention toward life and to align ourselves with the light,” writes Derek Maul (© Derek Maul, Reaching Toward Easter, 2011, Upper Rooms, Nashville, TN, p. 15; underlines mine). Maul’s words remind me of the Candle Prayer we often use in our small group gatherings. I first learned the prayer at a Upper Rooms spirituality workshop in Nashville, Tennessee:
Light of Christ,
shine on our paths,
chase away all darkness,
and lead us to the heart of God.
The heart of God, that has exploded on the cross for us…. can we ever really know it? Prayer will lead us to it and empower us to live in the Light boldly even as we seek to know it fully. And when we do it together as a community our striving will be more whole.