Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save. - from this Sunday's collect
There is a story told about St. Benedict. He's traveling alone by horse through a forest when he is confronted by a bandit, who demands that he hand over his horse. St. Benedict says to the robber, "My brother, I am a man of faith, and I will gladly give you my horse if you will do just one thing for me. Will you please say the Lord's Prayer aloud with all your heart and soul, without any distraction, from beginning to end?" The bandit thinks this is a strange request, but also a great deal. All he has to do is say the prayer and he'll get this fine looking horse without any struggle at all. So he says, "Alright old man." He takes a breath and begins, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy .... Hey! are you going to throw in that saddle with the horse?"
We human beings are so easily distracted by so many things in life. And so easily tempted away from our own best intentions. Just when you say you're going to eat less, you find yourself eating a giant piece of cake. Just when you say you're going to curb your swearing, you stub your toe and a string of expletives come out of your mouth. Just when you think you can say one short prayer without interruption, you can't keep your mind from wandering toward what you're going to get out of it!
Lent is a time of self examination - it's a time to take an honest look at our own particular distractions and temptations in life and to lay them aside to focus more fully on who God is calling us to be. It's a time to stop being so tempted to pay attention just "to the devices and desires of our own hearts," as one of our confessional prayers says and to look outward at what God is up to, and what God is inviting us to do for others. It's also a time to admit our own human weaknesses, recognizing that we can't do a thing alone - that we need each other - and above all, we need God.
What for us is impossible is not impossible for God. In Lent we are reminded from whom our strength comes. Lent is a wonderful time to read some Scripture, spend more time in prayer and to lean ever more deeply on the everlasting God who has the power to save.
I particularly invite you to join in with our Good Book Club each Sunday at 3 at the rectory through Lent. Come together with others to hear anew God's call to us through the gospel of Luke.