Lent 1 :: Saying “NO” to evil!

I have always rather liked the gruff robustness of the first rubric for baptism found in a late fourth-century church order which directs that the bishop enter the vestibule of the baptistery and say to the catechumens without commen- tary or apology only four words: "Take off your clothes." There is no evidence that the assistants fainted or the catechumens asked what he meant.

[Aidan Kavanagh, A Rite of Passage]


What an interesting way to begin our Sundays in Lent: what a strange passage! If you think about it though, it really does fit. Lent is that singular time during the church year when we stand bare before God. There is nothing hidden, no aspect of our lives, that does not come under the gaze of Godly scrutiny this season. We are vulnerable. Small. Weak. Perhaps a bit ashamed, like those fourth-century about-to-be-baptized folk getting ready to be reborn into new life through the cold waters of baptism, we start out this Lenten journey stripped of all pretense, ready to have God clothe us with grace, mercy, and joy.

Are we ready to receive this garment of new life?

Perhaps reminiscent of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the candidates for baptism are faced away from the altar and are called upon to renounce the King of lies and death. In a moment, they will be asked to say “yes” to Jesus, but, for now, they have to say “no” to evil.

Following Christ begins when we turn from those other things which demand our allegiance. That is the first step which strips us bare of all that we might find to be safe and secure. It is a place of vulnerability. A place where Jesus bids us come.

Are we ready?

RCL lections for the First Sunday in Lent, Year A

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