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

“Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.”

Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours. Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (He said this to show how he was going to die.)

John 12:27-33

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Think

In “The Second Coming,” poet W. B. Yeats writes: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”

Sometimes our world and our lives echo this line. The darkness of fear, sin, and self-doubt; the evils of prejudice, injustice, and suffering; the chaos of broken promises and broken relationships are all part of our human experience. Dealing with any part of that darkness can make us feel as if everything around and within us has fallen apart.

Because he was human, Jesus experienced that same darkness on his way to the cross. But because he was God, Jesus also fully experienced God’s power and grace. And so, Jesus makes a promise. Even though his body will also fall apart, he will rise and “draw all things” to himself.

As you walk with Jesus to the cross, as you experience the particular shades of darkness that creep into your life, do not forget this promise. Remember always: Jesus is at work. In his life, death, and resurrection he puts our world and our lives back together again.

Ben Acton

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Pray

As I walk with you Jesus, remind me that you know how I feel. As the darkness of my sin and of the world’s injustice threaten to break me, let me hear and trust your promise that Christ’s love can make broken pieces whole. 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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