Isaiah 53…

  • He is rejected. 
  • He has borne our infirmities. 
  • He was oppressed.
  • He was isolated.
  • He was despised.

New Testament text…

  • We are chosen. 1 Peter 2
  • We are healed. Luke 17
  • We are freed. Matthew 12
  • We are invited in to community. Acts 8
  • We are loved. John 13

For what reason would God choose to be born as one of us just to suffer and die on a cross? He deserves none of the punishment you see on the Isaiah 53 column. And we deserve none of the rewards you see on the New Testament text column. To what purpose?

Throughout the month of March First Lutheran will explore these texts and these questions through our small groups Holy Readings sessions and during worship. Sermons, hymns and prayers will be centered on pondering why…

Have you ever really given much time to thinking about Jesus choosing a path of suffering so that you could… what? When we continue to ignore the lonely, look down our noses at others because of what they wear, or pollute the earth without a second thought, how do you think Jesus feels about his choice? When we overeat to the point of obesity while over a billion people every night go to bed hungry; when we spend more money on ice cream than treatable diseases; when we spend more time looking at screens in one day than in prayer for a whole month, how do you think Jesus feels about his choice? He suffers so that we don’t have to.

And yet we do. We suffer rejection from the world. We get sick. At times, we feel isolated and despised. Too often we doubt the truth of Scripture. We hear, “we are chosen” and think, “Who me? What could I have to offer?” We hear, “We are loved.” But we feel unlovable.

This year during Lent, we are remembering together that Scripture is true. Jesus suffered so that we may offer our gifts to the fullest. We are able and given every opportunity to make a significant difference in the world. We are able to offer a witness to God’s kind of love in the way that we’re faithfully married. We’re able to proclaim God’s kind of cleverness and kindness through the work we do or through the way we learn at school. We’re able to show that we don’t live for ourselves but choose to use our lives for others by offering generous service in the form of time, money and energy.

Why did Jesus suffer for you? What are you called to do with the time you have on this earth? Are you doing it?

Last year, First Lutheran asked ourselves, “What are we being called to do with the time we have as a congregation? Are we doing it?” We came up with 75 pages worth of hopes and ideas—callings—that we mean to implement over the next few years. We want to be more hospitable, better at shaping the faith lives of our kids, more generous and more deeply in touch with the love of God—to name a few.

Most of us consider ourselves blessed: financially, with relationships we cherish, with a country we love. We have every opportunity to live our lives in any direction we want. What is acting as your compass? Your faith? Or something else?

Don’t squander your opportunity to participate in God’s love.