Thursday, March 28th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for March 28th: Joshua 4:1-13; Psalm 32; and 2 Corinthians 4:16—5:5. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
The Red Sox first game of the season is this evening in Seattle. I worry about a poor Spring Training season, but they keep saying that everything changes once you hit the first game of the regular season. I sure hope that’s true, but I remember Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
Today’s reading from the Book of Joshua sides with Coach Lombardi on this one. Israel has spent a generation in the wilderness becoming a united people, preparing themselves to enter the Promised Land. They were not ready when they first reached the border as we read yesterday. The lesson of unity was so well practiced after the passage of 40 years wandering in the wilderness that even the tribes that would call home on the other side of the Jordan River crossed with the rest of Israel to stand united with the remaining tribes. Natural boundaries were not stronger than Israel’s unity. The monument Joshua erected with stones carried from the middle of the Jordan River was to be a perpetual reminder of this lesson.
When Paul was writing today’s selection, he was wearing his Plato hat. Plato was the philosopher of “ideas.” The physical world was a mere imitation of timeless, perfect ideas. For Paul it’s Spring Training. It’s practice. But for Paul, it’s Vince Lombardi practice. It matters. He writes: “[This life] is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”
Just like Israel was formed in the wilderness, we are formed in this life. Just as Israel crossed the Jordan River, we will cross to God’s perfect “ideas.” What we do matters. Everything has a spiritual importance. Our faith has the ability to make this world better, but the very practice of morality and charity here prepares us for eternity.
Joshua set up his cairn to remind Israel of their crossing. Lent is somewhat like that. Lent is our annual reminder that we are a people devoted to our work in this world, but that we look forward to God’s eternity. Lent marks Jesus’ crossing and reminds us that we will also someday cross from this world to the next. This is a time for “perfect practice.”
Faith, love and chitchat.
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