What labels do you carry in your soul? For good and bad, we all have many identities we’ve taken (or been given) by people in our lives. We begin to inhabit these identities, to take on the labels as who we are, even when they are toxic. The stories of Abraham and Simon (whose nickname is Peter) demonstrate how we discover who we truly are: by following the one who knows us fully and truly.
Say the word "Repent" and many of us get flashes of fire and brimstone. But in this first week of Lent, we see that Jesus' call to repent isn't judgment and condemnation. It's the fulfillment of God's promise not to war with humanity. Jesus' call to repent is a proclamation of God's peace!
When we encounter painful circumstances, we seldom stop to ask how we’re contributing to the pain. We stay in that pain unchanged, or we leave, taking our brokenness into the next relationship or job or home. But God offers us something better than unchanging, endless cycles of pain. God speaks to transform us, to make us into a people who change the world around us even as we have been changed. We don’t leave, and we don’t settle. We choose to stay, choose to be changed and to change.