Daily Lenten Reflection

God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. Psalm 63:1 (MSG)

There are no obvious reasons to look forward to Lent. We begin with ashes and end with the Last Supper.

In the between-time we’re invited to ponder dust and walk in wild, dangerous, desert landscapes. We’re invited to face our mortality and our weakness. Frankly, few of us would choose Lent. Most of us have to be driven into it, just as Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit after his baptism. –David Brock, Driven Into Lent 

Reflection: 

  • Where do you notice reluctance within on this Lenten journey? When do you find yourself led by the Spirit into something you would otherwise not choose?
  • How is the Spirit moving in you in the between-time of Lent as you “ponder dust and walk in wild, dangerous, desert landscapes?”
  • Prayerfully dwell with Psalm 63:1. What is God’s invitation to you in this text today?

Driven Into Lent

by David R. Brock

There are no obvious reasons to look forward to Lent. We begin with ashes and end with the Last Supper.

In the between-time we’re invited to ponder dust and walk in wild, dangerous, desert landscapes. We’re invited to face our mortality and our weakness. Frankly, few of us would choose Lent. Most of us have to be driven into it, just as Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit after his baptism.

I don’t get to the vulnerability of Lent’s invitation without a fight; without strong resistance. Give up something for Lent. Give up an addiction: coffee, CNN, this month’s top 40 countdown, Facebook, impatience. “Oh, yes,” I say, “I’m not going to trivialize Lent by just giving up chocolate. It means so much more.” Well, yes it does, Dave, but don’t use your non-trivialization to sophisticatedly rationalize your way around giving up a habit bordering on addiction! Lent does nudge, push, even drive us to give something up!

And maybe those 40 days of “giving up,” of fasting (whether from food or a news feed), or surrendering power or confidence, or confessing, “I can’t be this; I can’t do this on my own,” will alter something at my core . . . forever. Maybe that is what I dislike most about Lent. Maybe that is why I have to be driven to it, rather than politely invited.

Lent is primarily about dislocation. It is about the inability to go on with business as usual. “The ashes of Lent,” says Ron Rolheiser, “invite us . . . to leave our regular beds and tables to sleep and sit patiently for a while in the ashes . . . so that some silent, inner, gestation process can teach us what it means that we are dust and that we are invited to turn from sin to the gospel.”

Here’s the unwelcome truth. The God of immeasurable love and mercy and acceptance is most often made real to us in our weakness and in our flaws and in the displeasure with our unpleasant self. In our imperfection, says Richard Rohr, “the cross of failure becomes the catapult toward transformation.”

I’m not sure this reflection will do much to cause you or me to walk into the risk of that which is ultimately the Good News, the Gospel, but that’s what we’re offered.

Something is calling to be given up in you and me. It’s hard. But, it is invitation. An invitation from the God of all creation; from the God who is revealed to us in Christ Jesus. The giving up gives place for the more—more life, more clarity about what matters most, more you and me—the genuine you and me.

Have we got the guts and the capacity to do that? Well, yes. With and in Christ, it is possible!

Daily Lenten Reflection

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35, NRSV

Lent has begun. What should we do? Jesus didn’t get a free pass on the desert. Luke says the Holy Spirit led him there. He didn’t resist the wilderness; he chose it. The liturgical calendar wisely gives us space to follow him on our own little 40–day trip to the spiritual hinterlands. For a short time we get to go without. Scarcity is a useful tool for smoking out the latest kingdom in our heads. Better, fasting from what we want is a means of grace that recalls us to the real kingdom: the Reign of God preached and embodied in Jesus Christ.

Let whoever is hungry come.–Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads

Reflection: 

  • How are you invited to choose the wilderness this Lenten season?
  • What spiritual gifts are available when you intentionally “go without?” What invitation may be present in scarcity?
  • Prayerfully dwell in John 6:35. What is God’s invitation to you in this text? For what do you truly hunger?