In my walks and runs recently, I’ve begun to see something exciting in nature. Maybe you’ve noticed it: there’s more sunshine, it’s getting warmer, and there are signs of spring around every corner. I see green shoots poking out of the soil. I see buds on the trees. The world of nature is opening up again.
I think the human world is opening up, too. Mild temperatures, plentiful vaccine supplies, and diminishing Covid cases make for an environment where it’s possible to contemplate a return to schools, offices, and a more normal life.
I’m excited that Galilee is beginning the process of re-opening, too. You’ll be hearing about it more and more. The green shoots you’ll see around Galilee will be ministries in bloom: an in-person youth event here, clusters of ten springing up in small groups there. Soon we’ll permit twenty-five persons in worship. Like buds on a tree, we will start small and grow larger, with the aim of worshipping in the sanctuary with regularity again.
God is good! We are opening up.
Open up inwardly.
I think there is a deeper message here. Re-opening should not be limited to nature or even society. It should also happen within. Just like buds flourishing in the spring sunshine, your heart and your mind can open up toward God.
Lent offers an invitation to open your inner self to God’s new life. It doesn’t require some extraordinary act. It requires simple ones. Jesus is always doing exceptional work with simple material. He takes something as common as bread and blesses and breaks it to share with the multitude.
Could Jesus have fed thousands if he wasn’t open to God? He was always doing what we’re called to do in Lent—concentrate on God, speak to Him, eschew anything that is not focused on the Father.
If you accept the Lenten invitation to open your soul up to God, and you act by putting God and your neighbor first, you will be astounded at the results. Conversely, if you put something other than God first, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or what degree of planning you do, or how noble your intentions. The results will not satisfy.
When his disciples questioned how he was able to feed the multitude, Christ cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14–15
Maybe that’s a way of saying, don’t conform to the world but concentrate on God. You’re not going to experience abundant life unless you taste what God offers you, which is a relationship. That’s accomplished when you open yourself in prayer and daily devotion.
It’s spring now. Time to make like a tree—and bloom in your relationship with God.
Pastor Jason Duley