Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Psalm 105:1-15, 42; 2 Chronicles 20:1-22, and Luke 13:22-31
Today’s Gospel passage is the prequel to Sunday’s Gospel. Someone asked Jesus if many would be saved, and his reply can seem a bit alarming. However, we have to understand that he was not talking in terms of predestination – which is why it seems alarming to those of us who are good Wesleyans – but instead about Gentiles and Jews. He was warning the Jews that they had better strive to get into the kingdom, because there was a time coming when they would wake up and realize they had been left. The first (the Jews) would be last and the last (the Gentiles) would be first.
The word “strive” in verse 24 translates the Greek ἀγωνίζεσθε (a-gon-idz-the), which is the word from which we get “agonize”. Wesley translated it “agonize, therefore, now by faith, prayer, holiness, patience.” (Notes, 255) Lent is just such a season. Like Jesus did in the garden on the night in which he was betrayed, we spend some time in agony, trying to discover God’s will for us. Sometimes, just like Jesus, we want God to take away the job he’s given us. But Jesus told the Father, “Not my will, but yours.” We should do the same.
Agonize over God. It will take time. It will take energy. God’s worth it, though. Write your own prayer.