Lent Week 1—Wednesday
Psalm 119:49-72 Genesis 37:25-36 1Corinthians 2:1-12 Mark 1:29-45
When the sea comes calling you stop being neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.
– From Breathing Under Water by Jared Mackey
Whether it is being sold into slavery, healed from leprosy, touched by addiction, suffering through a pandemic, or facing death, suddenly giving up life as we know it, being forced to change and to give up things that we hold close, feels a little like learning to breathe underwater to me. I’m not talking about giving up sweets or alcohol like we often deprive ourselves of during Lent. I’m talking about giving up the things we don’t think we can live without. The sorts of things that will change us if we don’t have them. Giving those things up makes me feel a little like Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:3, “And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.”
During Epiphany, Dean Alston preached a sermon quoting Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship: “When Christ calls a person, he bids that person to come and die.” I don’t think Bonhoeffer meant to literally stop breathing, but to die to the things that we hold close and that keep us from having a life-changing experience of God. He calls us to give up house, money, status, and security for the coral castle—for the chance to learn to breathe under water and to lift ourselves up to the transformative embrace of God. The Dean also said, “God is hungry for us. God is entering the frame of our days in order to find us. God is on the move, coming for us, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.” And that gives me hope.
Joseph believed that despite his brothers’ efforts to destroy him, God had a transformative plan for him. The leper knew, if He chose, God could make him clean. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. And Paul knew that God had bestowed gifts upon him through the spirit that is from God, that no eye could see, nor ear hear, nor human heart conceive. How will you choose to be transformed this Lent? What other than chocolate, wine, or red meat will you give up in order to die to God? Or will you lay it ALL down, learn to breathe under water, and take that next step closer to Jesus?