Pause

We live in a world where we can be easily overwhelmed and tempted by a dizzying array of colors, sights, and sounds. Lent provides an opportunity to step back. To look. To listen. To ponder. To go beyond what overwhelms and tempts us.

As we journey to the cross, let us make space for what our souls truly long for: the love and grace of Jesus Christ to whom all hearts are drawn.

What catches your eye? What captures your imagination? What tugs at your heart?

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Listen

Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One to be glorified. I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.

John 12:23-26

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Think

Harry Potter… Twilight… The Hunger Games… The Fault in our Stars. In recent years each of these books has taken the world by storm. Like any good story, their power comes from the way people get drawn into the lives of their characters. As you turn each page, you can imagine yourself standing alongside Harry, Bella, Katniss, or Hazel.

Jesus’ story is no different. In today’s passage, Jesus invites his disciples to be drawn into his life and mission by losing their lives for his sake. By setting aside personal needs, wants, and desires, Christ says we can bear the same fruits of love that he does.

It is an amazing invitation, but also a daunting one. For Jesus and for us, "losing one’s life" involves pain, tears, and sacrifice. But Jesus promises that wherever his servants are, he is there too. Jesus does not leave us alone. When we feed the hungry, pray for the sick, or love others before ourselves — difficult as it might be — we not only imagine but also see clearly Jesus standing alongside us.

Ben Acton

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Pray

Holy God, you have invited me into the life and work of Jesus. Help me have courage as I respond; help me let go of my life so that I may be a source of love and healing in the life of others; and help me know that as I serve, I am never alone. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Go

You have come to read, to listen, to reflect, to pray. You have come to consider the deep longing of your soul and to consider what draws your love, your trust, your service.

So now, go!

Go, knowing that the One to whom you are drawn is never far from you;

Go, trusting that the gifts you have been given will be up to the task;

Go, drawing others by the kindness of your words and actions into the always welcoming love and grace of Jesus Christ, who, through the cross, draws the world to himself.

Amen.

Ben Acton

Ben Acton is the Associate Pastor for Education and Youth Ministries at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where he lives with his wife, Rachel, their son, Nate, and Lucy, the wonder dog. When he isn't trying to make the world a better place by empowering youth to speak and the church to listen, Ben likes reading comic books, watching Auburn football (War Eagle!), and drinking Diet Coke. Lots of Diet Coke.

Wondrous Love: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Mark Hayes - markhayes.com

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