Lent Devotions: A Work In Process


Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). 

By Rev. Dr. Deana Reed 

Matthew 5:43-48

“But I say to you…”

Jesus, the teacher said: “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” 

There is so much we are hearing these days – truths, lies, alternative facts, alternate facts… 

Our minds are on overload listening and fact-checking. 

And today Jesus gives a clear and concise, yet challenging, word: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that…”

Reading the passage, I chuckled at the ‘coincidence of it all’ (that this would be the passage for me to focus on). Loving the enemy is not an easy thing for me. Enemies near and far; enemies of those dearest to me.

And yet, Jesus says to do just that. So I looked again and noticed something helpful. Don’t miss the “So that…” This is when Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase enlivens the challenge: “… for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” I am a work in process on this one.

Love, so that you will begin living into your wholeness, your full being as a child of God.

Jesus the teacher – always thinking beyond the moment to the larger picture — a realm of wholeness, of peace, justice, welcome, humility, enemy and friend, diverse and together…

Studying with a Benedictine Community in Indiana, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned and try to practice is to Hold Things Lightly.

I actually hold my hands before me, palms up and focus on the situation, the people; whatever it is that might make my hands clench and not be open to God’s working. I have found this a helpful way to re-focus my energy, thoughts and prayers to encompass God’s wider view… 

Live out your God-created identity, Peterson writes. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. 

This Lent may we seek to do this and listen for Jesus’ words, “But I say to you…”

Rev. Dr. Deana Reed is the director of field education at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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