RCL Year C Lent 2
Genesis 15:1-12 and 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17–4:1,
Saint Luke 13:31-35

What is an acceptable sacrifice to God?  Do we really have to take a heifer three years old, as Abram does in today’s first lesson, a female goat three years old, and a ram three years old and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other, remembering not to cut the turtledove and the young pigeon?  Is giving up chocolate for Lent an acceptable sacrifice?  Is taking on the commitment of a new ministry during Lent an acceptable sacrifice?  Do we even need to offer an acceptable sacrifice in order to gain God’s favor?  In other words, can God be bought?  Do we have any idea what an acceptable sacrifice might be?

The fifty-first Psalm may offer some help: “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; * a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”[1]  The broken and contrite heart that is not despised by God is the heart set to do God’s will in the world.  And what that heart does to reconcile the world to God is a sacrifice, a holy action which makes holy the deed and the doer.  For us Christians, the supreme example of a holy action done to reconcile the world to God is Christ’s self-offering of himself on the cross.  But like it, everything that you and I undertake this Lent and any day of our lives for the purpose of reconciling the world to God, of bringing people to God, is the sacrifice of a troubled spirit, a broken and contrite heart.  For our hearts must break and our spirits must be troubled at the distance between the world as it is and the world as God wants it to be.  You have only to consider Jesus’ bitter remarks about Jerusalem killing and stoning the prophets, and all the people God sent to help Jerusalem, in order to understand what Jesus thinks about that very distance.[2]

When I have presented at Spiritual Gifts workshops, I have told people that their calling, their vocation, as Christians may be found at the intersection of what the world most needs and what they most want to do.  And I tell that to you.  Lent is available to you to look inside to see what you need to do, what you can offer, to take your rightful place in the reconciliation of the world to God.  You may be surprised to discover that what you can do, and what you can offer, is something you really like to do and really like to give.  After all, in my experience, God doesn’t play hard to get.  He lets us know how to approach him.

It may only be a superstition of mine or it may be an insight, but when each one of us is devoted to bringing God’s kingdom to our world, that kingdom will have arrived.

[1] Psalm 51:18.

[2] St. Luke 13:34.