My honest answer to the question, Do you crave serenity? is an emphatic yes! I don’t have enough serenity in my life and want more. By “serenity” I mean a tranquility and calmness that no pressure or stress can shake.
We live in turbulent times — times that regularly sap this quality from our lives. Lent gives us the opportunity to acknowledge our deficiency and take steps to address it.
Jesus models what deep serenity looks like and he invites us to attain more of it through our relationship with him. During this season we again encounter his serene bearing under the most stressful conditions imaginable.
On trial before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus faces death by crucifixion if the outcome goes against him. Rather than collapse in this anxiety-ridden situation, he not only manages to remain tranquil but also to seize the moral high ground. As the interrogation continues, he displays so much poise under pressure that he puts the governor on the defensive. To a reader of the gospels, it appears that Pilate, not Jesus, is actually the one on trial.
This Sunday we’ll explore the secrets of serenity found in this extraordinary encounter. The question for all of us is, How badly do we crave this quality? If we really want more serenity, what changes must we make in our lives? What sacrifices are required? What new wisdom must we attain?
A student once came to the Greek philosopher Socrates and told him that he longed for truth. Socrates took him out into a river and held his head under water. The student struggled but Socrates held him down until the student almost drowned. When he finally let the student raise his head, Socrates told him, “When you want truth as much as you wanted air, come back and see me. Only then will I teach you about truth.”
I hope we all crave serenity for our souls as much as we need air for our lungs. May our time together this Sunday help us grow in this quality! Our lives and the lives of those with whom we live and work will be better for it.
In faith, hope, and love,
Evan Howard, pastor