First Week of Lent: Jesus Confronting Evil
by CHRIS SPENCER*
This reflection is part of a series of Lenten reflections from United Methodist Women members and Women’s Division staff to accompany you to Easter. See other reflections.
During this season of Lent when we are confronted with temptations of materialism, temptations of the easy life and temptations of power, let us remember Jesus. Our strength comes from God, as Jesus’ strength came from God.
He resisted the temptation to turn stones into loaves of bread by saying: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
Jesus resisted the second test of jumping from the top of the temple and being caught by angels, by citing the book of Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, Jesus was promised all earth’s kingdoms and he again quoted Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God.”
Jesus’ test was over and the Devil left.
One of the greatest evils we confront today in society is racism relating to human rights issues. The temptation is to let someone else fight the fight. The temptation is to let someone else get their hands dirty; to let someone else stand up to be abused; to let someone else use their energies to speak out. But God calls on us – God calls on you and me – to overcome these temptations. We must be involved and be a voice for the voiceless.
I recently met Flor Crisostomo and witnessed her great strength and courage as she prepared to enter the Sanctuary Movement at Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago. Ms. Crisostomo came to the United States seven years ago to support her children in Mexico, where she had been unable to find work. She found work with IFCO Systems. When the U.S. government raided IFCO plants across the country, she was arrested. Ms. Crisostomo was ordered to leave the country by Jan. 28, 2008. She spoke out by asking businessmen what they expected her to do.
“If you want me to stay and work, why won’t you give me legal papers?” Ms. Chisostomo said. “I am a good worker and I need the work to support my children. If you want me to return to Mexico and leave your country, then why are you making it impossible for me to survive and feed my children there? Today I join the campaign to make America see.”
God calls us to speak out for persons like Ms. Chisostomo. God calls us to be part of a welcoming community. God calls us show hospitality, and treat all neighbors with respect, decency and justice.
Let us embrace values of family, faith and hard work. Let us raise discussions concerning immigration and human rights, and challenge common myths and stereotypes.
Loving God, we praise you. We thank you for your continual presence in our lives. When we confront our temptations, give us your strength to be a witness to our sisters and brothers, and to stand together for what is right and just. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
*Chris Spencer is a director of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Feb. 04, 2008