John 1:29‐34

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”


On this second day of Lent we begin to live more deeply into the disciplines and practices we committed to for this season. I think it is important to consider again each year the purpose of these Lenten disciplines, for too often I fear that we see them as merely a means of punishment, which is certainly not what they are intended to be. This morning’s reading from John offers a helpful framework for understanding the purpose of our Lenten practices. Here in the first chapter of John we witness an incredible moment of recognition. John the Baptist sees Jesus, the first time the text mentions an encounter between the two, and he immediately proclaims, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ John sees Jesus and immediately recognizes him as the one who comes to set us free.

Our Lenten disciplines are intended to help us, like John, to see and recognize Jesus’ presence in our own lives. Sometimes God reaches out to us and we experience God’s presence in powerful and unmistakable ways—in worship, in creation, in loving relationships. There are many other times, however, when God reaches out to us but we are too busy or too distracted to notice that, as the patriarch Jacob declared, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ (Genesis 28:16). Lent is a time when we as a community and as individuals commit to a deeper journey with God. Our disciplines and commitments for this season, whatever they might be, are intended to help us to draw near to God so that we might recognize the divine presence that surrounds and sustains us always.

Blessings,
Patrick+


Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, p. 29)