Wednesday, April 1, 2015

4/1/15 by Jessica Mulheim Ward

According to Pope Benedict XVI, the purpose of Lent is to keep alive in our consciousness and our life the fact that being a Christian can only take the form of becoming a Christian ever anew; that it is not an event now over and done with but a process requiring constant practice.  He goes on to say, “Let us ask, then:  What does it mean to become a Christian?  How does this take place?”  If individuals are to become Christians they need the strength to overcome; they need the power to stand fast against the natural tendency to let themselves be carried along.

Okay, I’m sure many of you might be wondering why on Earth I’m quoting a Catholic Pope, when I belong to, and am writing for a Presbyterian Congregation.  Truth be told, I have never been very good at coloring in between the lines.  I like to take a little artistic license and dine a la carte at the spiritual buffet of Christianity.  Pope Benedict XVI’s words and ideas resonate deeply for me, especially as they relate to the lectionary reading for today: John 12:27–36.

The very human part of Jesus is speaking when he says, 27) Now my soul is troubled; and what shall I say?  Personally, I identify very deeply with his inner conflict.  For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a troubled soul.  The trouble of my soul shows up in many forms: depression, anxiety, a feeling of being less than, a constant fear of not being enough, fear of failure and fear of criticism.  All that fear and troubled-ness takes on a life of its own and manifests in anger, irritability, guilt and shame.  So where does that leave me; a wife, a mother, a daughter a sister in Christ who longs to live a life of peace and faith and love?  It often leaves me lost in the dark.

With this passage I have to remind myself that the beauty of our Savior, Jesus Christ, lies solidly in the truth that he gave his life to carry the sins of our souls away.  Too often I forget what it truly means to be a Christian.  I am so quick to forget what Pope Benedict XIV says, that being a Christian can only take the form of becoming a Christian ever anew.  I find myself constantly being carried away by a current of earthly things: possessions, desires, destinations…all forms of distraction from the eternal flame of God’s love.

And so I’m left to wonder, how can I find the strength to overcome these earthly distractions and creep forward, arm in arm with Jesus, walking my way back to my Heavenly Father who created me in his image?
In John 12:35-36, Jesus addresses this question as clear as day: Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

It’s actually quite simple.  The strength I need to overcome all of my earthly distractions, my pain, and my fear comes only from a willingness to constantly practice my walk with Jesus in the light.  The trouble in my soul constantly lures me into the shadows of this earthly world, but that is not where my Creator wants me to dwell.  Everyday I stumble along my spiritual path, chasing the light and the love that God our Father placed into this realm for us to hold and share.  If I’m willing to practice my faith with reverent dedication, the path is luminous.  I see the light in many places: in my husband and the love he shares with me, in my children and the joy they bring to my life, in the safety of my friendships with people who accept me just as I am, in our church where many of you stand by my side and hold me up as I weather many dark storms, and in the love that my heavenly father gives me everyday through the sacrifice of his one and only son, Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for the opportunity that Lent provides me to refresh my commitment to become a Christian ever anew.  Heavenly Father, please grant me strength for the journey; that I may continue to walk in your beautiful light, leaving the darkness and trouble of my soul behind.  


  1. Jessica, thanks so much for your heartfelt, and well written words.

  2. Well put Jessica. Michael Lampier