Jesus’ faithfulness to his calling spurs us on to fulfill ours. He bore the cross and now he wears the crown. Are we taking up our crosses and following him? Jesus’ story maps out the Good-Friday story of our lives. The book of Hebrews teaches us that we won’t have Easter endurance if we’ve forgotten the faithfulness of Jesus!
Many Christians are familiar with the tradition of remembering Jesus’ Seven Last Words from the Cross during Passion Week. The seven last words tell us what the cross meant to Jesus. They also ask us what the cross means to us. Jesus’ last words confront our deepest fears, and call us to face them in the power of his victory.
The celebration of Saint Patrick’s day is especially odd in the USA, where people drink beer to excess in honor of the life of a Christian missionary. What?! All that nonsense about green beer, shamrocks, and leprechauns aside, we can honor the life and ministry of Saint Patrick best by pondering his “breastplate,” a prayer traditionally attributed to him.
Using those little plastic all-in-one communion capsules—one website actually calls them the miracle meal—to celebrate the Lord’s Supper is not that different from observing Lent. Both practices, one ancient and the other quite contemporary, are means toward an end, enabling us to enrich our life in Christ in community with other believers. It’s all a matter of how we participate. Jesus and Paul don’t tell us anything about plastic all-in-one Communion capsules—they tell us to observe the Eucharist to remember the Lord’s death until he comes. And neither do Jesus and Paul tell us to practice a 40-day period of self-denial and reflection before Easter—they tell us about cruciformity, that our lives should be centered on and modeled after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So if we can handle taking communion with little plastic capsules, we should consider observing Lent.
As we think about the dawn of redeeming grace, about a silent night where all is calm and all is bright, and everyone is sleeping in heavenly peace, let’s remember that an ancient spiritual conflict is still raging.
How do your typical prayers stack up next to Jesus’ model prayer? The Lord’s prayer is one of those passages of Scripture where the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” is applicable. Not that we would necessarily hold the Bible in contempt, but we do tend to react with a nonchalant “ho-hum” to well-known texts. We think we already know all about such texts, but our current issues and experiences always sensitize us to see “new” things that have been there all along! We can always use a reminder that centers our prayer-lives on what really matters for eternity.