Fat Tuesday is the New Year’s Eve of Lent. Many faithful believers are having one last hurrah before “giving up” (chocolate, Facebook) or “adding on” (mid-week worship, devotional walking) during the 40-day journey with Jesus to the cross. Some of the faithful know Sundays are “little Easters” and don’t count; pass the chocolate, please.

I confess that I no longer make Lenten resolutions. Instead of practicing willingness, these commitments tempt me to prove willpower. Instead of embracing the opportunity for deeper discipleship, I am tempted to resent the doing or the not doing. I am tempted to reduce a spiritual discipline to a six-week diet plan.

There’s good news for the likes of me in Mark 1:9-15, the Gospel lesson for February 26, 2012, the first Sunday in Lent.

Jesus emerges from his baptism in the Jordan River to receive the Holy Spirit and hear God-the-father identify him as “my Son, the Beloved” (Mark 1:11). It’s the first day of the rest of his life, a life that will bring Jesus to the cross, to the tomb, and to new life.

Claimed and named as God’s own and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is sustained in the wilderness.

Baptism immerses us, too, into our identity as beloved children of God. Claimed and named as God’s own and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are sustained in our wilderness wanderings.

We can breathe deep and listen to Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” Remember, as baptized and beloved children of God we are united in Christ’s death and resurrection. That’s good news! Each day is the first day of the rest of our lives.
Sue Edison-Swift (2/21/2012)

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