First Sunday in Lent 21 February A.D. 2021 MP

First Sunday in Lent                         21 February A.D. 2021          Morning Prayer

Psalm 15, 92       First lesson. Jeremiah 17:5-14       Second lesson. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13


                                        Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing
                                        that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all
                                        those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and
                                        contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and
                                        acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the
                                        God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;
                                        through Jesus Christ our Lord.                  Amen. 

Here we are at the beginning of Lent, a season of intense reflective prayer and meditation. This is not a time of great deprivation.  
The very idea of avoiding or stepping away from a behavior or favorite item, whether it be food or pleasure, runs in the face of what we are to do daily.
  We are to “crucify” self, we are to follow Jesus as closely as we can, daily, not just for a 40 day season once a year.  Why?   Well we can get some clues from today’s readings. 
1. For instance; “...The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?...”   When Jeremiah penned this several millennial ago, he was just pointing out the obvious.  
 A. Given the chance to do good, humans tend to do bad. 
 B. Given the chance to follow the Lord, humans will run for cover like the proverbial ‘cockroach in the kitchen’.   We head for darkness, just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden, once they had disobeyed God.  They hid in the bushes, because by eating the fruit of the Tree, they realized that they were naked and no longer innocent.
 C.  Their hearts became deceitful that fateful day in the Garden, they were now desperately wicked, because they had not obeyed their Father/Creator. 
 And they knew it, so they hid from Him.

 2. Now, not all is lost. Because we can read in the two psalms for today, what is the correct behavior of those who love the LORD. 
 We are to seek the Lord while He may be found. Where is the Lord to be found?  That may be a topic for another message, not today.
 And as we read in Jeremiah, we are not to rely on others for our salvation.  That is not a reference to helping each other in times of trouble, no, it is reference to salvation.  
The Lord provides our salvation. He sent His Son, His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Passover Feast.   He and only He can save us from our desperately wicked hearts.

So as we continue our times of meditation and reflection during this period of Lent, let us always turn our eyes upon Jesus, in him will we find peace. The very words of promise as the psalmist penned them so many centuries ago, still resonate today, because they are true.  Remember the Word of the Lord does not change, even though post-modern man has tried to reinterpret the Word. 
Don’t let that trouble you, go back to the Word, it remains true as the day it was penned.

  “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.   For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.  O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.”

And as Jeremiah wrote:
 “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.  Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise... 
 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.”

He warns us of those who forsake the Lord, but more importantly he points out the healing that is given for those who SEEK the Lord.  “Heal me, save me”.   And to cap it off, the glorious high throne of the Lord (having been in place from the beginning) is our place of sanctuary.

This is our hope as we enter this season of reflection and awe, as we seek to understand the mystery of why our Creator provided us a way of Salvation, His Son, Jesus Christ, this is what we should reflect upon during these forty days before Easter.  No other faith has a suffering servant who willingly lays down his life for the salvation of his creation. None. And then the most glorious miracle...he picks up his life and rises from the dead to a glorious resurrection. No other faith can claim that.

I have a homework assignment, it is contained in our second lesson; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
In it, St. Paul lists in detail the issues that can and will separate us from our Creator.  He lists the multiple behaviors and sins that will sicken us and weaken us in our daily journey towards the Kingdom of God.  Please take time to read this passage and reflect on the meaning that Paul was writing about, he was trying to focus the church at Corinth towards a righteous path, away from their predilections and towards the “glorious high throne from the beginning {which is} the place of our sanctuary”.  
Paul does not leave us in a land of hopelessness, he encourages us with the following: “...There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

   Beloved, let us go home today encouraged, armed, and ready to do battle against all that which is contrary to the Word of God.      Go and be blessed.

Let us pray:

O GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

THE Lord bless us, and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, both now and evermore. Amen.