I have bad news and good news, which do you want to hear first? When asked this question, what do we usually say? If we say we want to hear the bad news first it might be because we want to get the unpleasant part over with and end with something positive. If we want the good news first it is possibly because we want the strength and encouragement of the good news to help us through the challenge of the bad news.
The Scriptures for the First Sunday of Lent have some bad news and good news. In the reading from Genesis 8:8-15, the bad news is a flood that devastated the earth. The good news is a rainbow that symbolized God’s promise to be with us. In the Gospel, the bad news is that Jesus is in the wilderness dealing with demons. The good news is that there were angels there to take care of him (Mark 1:12-15).
This is how life is, bad news and good news, demons and angels, floods and rainbows. It is important to acknowledge both. The temptation is to focus on one or the other. If we focus only on the bad news, we can get overly pessimistic. If we focus only on the good news, we could get out of touch with dangerous things that are really going on.
The invitation of Lent is to acknowledge the floods and the rainbows, the demons and the angels. What are demons in our lives right now? Perhaps a sinful behavior. Maybe some unhealthy living habits like working too many hours, eating too much or not getting enough sleep. Maybe we are harboring some kind of bitterness, hatred or prejudice. Perhaps there is a problem that we are not recognizing or denying that it even exists.
What and who are the angels in our lives? Like the people that encourage us, care for us or challenge us. Perhaps some reading that we are doing that is leading to a new understanding about something. What are places that we can go to be renewed, like the beach, the park or even our own backyard? How might we thank the angels in our lives? How could we let these angels minister to us as we face life’s demons?
It does not matter if we want to hear good news or bad news first because life contains both. This Lent is a time to remember God is with us as we name the demons and call on the angels. Just as sure as there are rainbows in the sky.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector