Lent 2021: Religion by Pastor William H. Lamar IV
Updated: Feb 19
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
February 17, 2021
Religion is a word that we want to bury – ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We prefer a sexier ecclesial vocabulary, one more suited to the therapeutic lens through which we view discipleship. We want relationship and connection, not religion.
I, too, am a cultured despiser of the word religion and all that it connotes.
Religion communicates stiltedness and rigidity. We see religion as the opposite of life-giving.
But what if there is yet life in this despised term? The word religion is said to be derived from a Latin word that means to bind or to join. During our Lenten journey we are called to be bound together with the mystery of the divine life and we are called to be bound to one another.
Repentance, reflection, and other disciplines make holy binding possible.
The Christ hymn in Philippians 2 is about religion. It is a kenotic melody that calls us to sing and to dance in self-giving, other-affirming movements choreographed by the One and the Redeemer. Jesus did not grasp at the power of divinity, but Jesus bound himself to us. Jesus emptied himself in us.
We like to talk about this kind of emptying in song, sermon, and liturgy. But we are loath to truly bind ourselves to Jesus. We are humble and obedient until we feel pain or pressure. True religion binds us completely to God and one another. True religion binds us so completely that it becomes difficult to know where the divine mystery ceases and we begin.
This difficult, terrible religion attracts and repels me. During these 40 days, may the Holy Spirit open us all to the religion of Jesus.
Reflection Question: Why are we reluctant to be bound to God and one another? What are we afraid to lose?
Reverend William H. Lamar IV
The members and friends of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
have written their devotions and reflections on the impact of the season of Lent
in their lives. Each testimony in the booklet is a personal reflection of the
We welcome you on this journey with us as we discuss our sacrifices and hope
that some aspect of the scripture, reflections, or prayers will inspire you as you
experience the season.
Read along with us each day or download the book to read along with us offline. May God bless and keep you throughout this season of reflection.