Monday, February 20, 2012 — Week of Last Epiphany, Year Two
Frederick Douglass, Prophetic Witness, 1895
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 951)
Psalms 25 (morning) 9, 15 (evening)
Proverbs 27:1-6, 10-12
John 18:15-18, 25-27
Spiritual growth and conversion is a process. The Christian life is an invitation to an ongoing commitment to transformation. We’re not done with a single decision or experience. Paul reminds us today to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Humbly, we are to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. It is comforting to know that “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Good sentiments on the cusp of Lent. Lent is a time for the kind of humble self-reflection that yields penitence. The invitation of Ash Wednesday coaxes us to recognize and embrace our mortality — “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The glare of impending death has a way of adjusting perspective. Traditionally Christians have used these two days before Ash Wednesday as a time of personal inventory. What are the destructive patterns in my life? Where has the balance and priority in my life drifted towoard? How have I grieved God’s Holy Spirit? How have I betrayed my best self? How have I failed others?
The reading from Philippians offers a model — “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, …emptied himself taking the form of a slave… He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.” That is a daunting example.
We receive comfort from the gospel of John today. We read of Peter’s great failure at the crucial moment of decision, when he betrays Christ. But we know the rest of the story. Peter becomes the “Rock” on which Christ founds the church; he becomes a courageous witness to the power of resurrection. Peter is healed of his sin and betrayal, and of the cowardice that a guilty conscience can create.
So we embrace the process of transformation:
Seeing our calling to become like Christ
Confident that it is God working in us to accomplish our transformation
Humbly facing our weakness and failure
Allowing the healing love of God to renew the Spirit within that will enable us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”