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Lenten Devotional: Mar. 3

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Today’s texts: Genesis 42:18-28; 1 Corinthians 5:6-6:8; Mark 4:1-20

Lent is an Opportunity

In the story of Joseph and his brothers, family dysfunction is played out in front of us airing all kinds of dirty laundry. This story provides a glimpse into family systems, ancient attitudes about obligation, and theological reflection on the character of God. The brothers interpret their misfortune to be a consequence of their actions against Joseph, and Joseph reveals his love for those who wronged him. Never do they blame Joseph, but assign the responsibility to God. Joseph himself cuts a complicated figure, one who loves deeply, mourns, and struggles with how to regain his relationship with his family.

Lent is an opportunity to study, reflect, reach out. If we are to take Joseph as our example, Lent is also an opportunity to forgive the debts of those who have wronged us; think of is as a time of Jubilee. Forgiveness is hard, soul-searching work, particularly for those of us who chafe against centuries of de jure and de facto oppression.

Like those who have had every privilege in the world, we too face the impending execution and resurrection of the one we call Lord and Savior. How often are we, who have experienced marginalization, reminded of our complicity in systems similar to those that led to this faith event? How often do we struggle with sin, the nature of God revealed in Scripture, and with living each day cognizant of the sacrifice that lay before us? This Lenten Jubilee is for us, as well. To wrestle with forgiveness of great wrongs is to acknowledge the brokenness of our very human existence, and to rise above the destructive powers against which Jesus battled.

The Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she has lived and worked in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta.  Formerly with the The Common Ground Project at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Laura will be Director of the Leading Generations Initiative at the Fund for Theological Education in Atlanta, Georgia.

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