As we near the end of the season of Lent, Jesus prepares for his death, and for what will be revealed to the world in his death and resurrection. Jesus came to bring a change—a change in the way of our thinking, a change in our understanding of our relationship with God. A new covenant. We must be wary of interpretations that lead to supersession—the idea that Jesus replaces the previous covenants of God with Israel. Instead, we might look to what ways we have become complacent, where we have not served Jesus.
Whom have we left out, like the blind man or the tax collector? Where have we assumed that we had the correct answer and didn’t need to repent or change of our own ways? Now is the time: turn back to God’s ways. Become aware of the sins that we commit in our daily lives, of not questioning who is harmed by our purchases, of not seeing who is exploited for the labor that we readily accept. Who do we, unintentionally or intentionally, leave out because of our biases and prejudices? Repent, and follow Jesus.
God promises a new covenant in which God’s law is written on people’s hearts, and in which no one needs to instruct another, because all people will know God, will be forgiven by God and will automatically follow God’s ways.
Jesus has been appointed by God as a priest like Melchizedek. He suffered for God’s people, crying out to God in his anguish, and God heard him because of his devotion and obedience. Now he is the source of salvation for all.
Jesus teaches that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die in order to produce fruit, and that those who try to save their lives will lose them, but those who give up their lives will guard them for eternal life. Then he asks whether he should pray to be delivered from his hour of suffering, but recognizes that this is what he came for, and that when he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself.
God of the Ever-Changing Seasons, as we prepare for the season that is coming, we give thanks for the winter that has passed. The Spirit is moving in the wind, and we see the signs everywhere that You are doing something new in our hearts and in our lives. Call us into the next season, even if we are afraid. Guide our movement, so that we might not drag behind, stubborn to change, but embracing the newness You invite us to. For even if the next season is hard, O God, we know You will move us through it, and we will emerge again, with more wisdom and insight. For we are not alone. You sojourn with us and bind us together. Help us to prepare for the season to come, and bid farewell to the season that is past. Amen
Meet our Guest Preacher – The Rev. Alka Lyall
Rev. Alka Lyall was born and raised in India, pursued seminary education in the USA, and was ordained as an elder in the UMC in 2005. She has been in pastoral ministry since 2000, currently serving as the pastor of Broadway UMC, on the north side of Chicago IL, she has served the conference and general church in various leadership capacities and currently serves on the GCORR (General Commission on Religion and Race) Board of directors.
She is the first elected clergy to the 2020 General Conference and is the chair of our delegation.
Alka actively participates in several justice-related ministries within the church and community, and is committed to the work of justice, with those who have been rejected, refused, and forgotten by the church, hoping for the day when the church will welcome all the beloved children of God. Alka has 2 sons and lives in Chicago with her younger son, Abe.
Rev. Alka Lyall, Rev. Luis F. Reyes & Rev. John D. Bell
(Alka, Luis & John getting ready for the Ordination Service