Daily Lenten Reflection

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously. –Micah 6:8, MSG

Richard Rohr was the first person I heard say that the gospel message is so simple it’s disarming.  Read that one more time.  Yes, love of God and love of neighbor is a message so simple that it almost takes us by surprise.  In our complex and increasingly complicated world where we are so accustomed to striving, achieving, earning, calculating, and navigating, it has become hard to accept that something, especially love, can be given and received so freely. –Dustin Davis, Disarmingly Simple

Reflection: 

  • How does the simplicity of the gospel message take you by surprise?
  • In your life, is it natural or difficult to accept that love can be given and received so freely?
  • Prayerfully dwell with Micah 6:8. What is God’s invitation to you in this text?

Come Feast With Christ

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Spend time in prayer with these questions for reflection: 1. How does intentional emptying make more space for God in your life? 2. How does this disruption in your normal routine draw your attention to God and others in a new way?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

As we reach the end of our first full week of Lent, here is a poem to prepare our hearts for World Hunger Day (tomorrow). In each emptying and receiving, may you find joy.

COME FEAST WITH CHRIST
WORLD HUNGER DAY

By David Brock

They wouldn’t really get
the guilt part
of World Hunger Day,
our thin-armed Third World sisters
who reach weary fingers
to receive a piece of bread,
coconut, or cracker;
our old-before-their-time brothers
who sip the grape juice
or caramelized sugar water
as they feast with Christ
this Communion Sunday.
They just wouldn’t get
the guilt part.

If you came.
If I was there,
they’d find some yam
or tarot root and cassava greens,
free range chickens or one thin goat,
boiled rice and Coca Cola at room temperature.
They’d rustle up abundance
from a crusty loaf and a dried fish.
They’d work a miracle for the visitor.
You, the guest,
and even their thin-lipped kids
would eat well
on World Hunger Day.

If you or I were the face of Jesus
in their hut today,
someone would thank God
for God’s grace and generous gifts.
We’d sing. We’d laugh.
We’d eat to overflowing
and there’d be enough
and to spare.
We’d laugh more, sing more
than any of us has for too long
and those rich moments
would be the greater miracle.
Joy and abundance
on World Hunger Day.
A full-on feast with Jesus
in the symbols of sacrament
and the hospitality of our hungry
Sisters and brothers in Christ.

I keep forgetting the hospitality of the poor.
I simply keep forgetting the hungry:
More than 800 million of them this World Hunger day.
The thousands who’ll die today
The cold calculations that number the
names of the 7 who die each minute,
in whose drawn faces
the light of the eyes
slowly fades and blinks out.

Wars kill, AIDS kills, cancer kills
But nothing kills like hunger.
They wouldn’t get the guilt part
of World Hunger Day.
They’d just share their abundance
They’d be as generous as they could.
They’d give the gift of hospitality
And they and we would experience joy.

[BFW—www.bread.org (advocacy)
Outreach International
Oblation—World Hunger
The Feinstein Foundation Challenge to Students
Joyce Carter, Ken Schnell]

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!
Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.
March 13-15, 2015
Click here to register!

Becoming Free

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Find a possession that you value or enjoy and choose to give it away to someone else. What does it feel like to let go? How is God present in your generous giving?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I love books. Our home office has stacks of books highlighted and underlined, with messages of meaning and question etched in the margins. If you ask to borrow one of my books, I will feel my heart rate quicken. Several times I have had good friends come to visit who decided to borrow books as they were packing up to leave. I let them go begrudgingly. In fact, I am ashamed to say that I was so focused on losing one of my books that I missed the last several moments with ones I love. I was blinded to the person in front of me because they were taking what was “mine.”

It is ok to love books. The concern comes when I refuse to let them go, when I place them in priority above people or use them to try to be something other than my most authentic self. Why this feeling of resistance? Why this holding on? Are my books part of an identity that I want to portray? Do stacks of books make me feel wise or educated? Do I feel like what I have gained from reading will be lost if I don’t have the pages to hold in my hands? Does the sight of all these books make up for the deeper sense of inadequacy that always threatens to emerge right beneath the surface?

Lent is about honestly confronting everything that keeps us at a distance from the connecting and reconciling impulse of the Holy Spirit. Everything means my attitudes, behaviors, and possessions. It is not exactly the thing that matters the most. It is about locating the feeling of attachment to the thing. It is about realizing, sometimes slowly, that I am not as free as I thought I was. It is about then locating that feeling in relation to all the other things, attitudes, behaviors, relationships I am attached to that keep me from being free in God’s Spirit.

This isn’t an exercise in meaningless, or even mean, testing. It reaches to the roots of a consumer culture that assigns value based on what we have and do not have. It triggers our impulses toward accumulation, sometimes at the expense of others, sometimes at the expense of ourselves. The health of our souls, and the earth, at this moment in history may very well be linked to our willingness or reluctance to let go of the things that have claimed us. This is a justice issue. This is a spiritual issue. This is a human issue.

If God’s desire for our lives is oneness and equality in Christ, then what is getting in the way of that ultimate vision? What are you willing to give to make it real?

Below is a prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Some call it a radical prayer! May these words bless and challenge you as you continue to EMPTY during this season of Lent!

“Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.” –St. Ignatius of Loyola

REMINDER: March 1, 2015 is the registration deadline for our upcoming Lenten Retreat with Presiding Evangelist, David Brock. The theme is INTO THE WILDERNESS (March 13-15). If you are seeking a deeper exploration of the season of Lent in your life and yearn to grow closer with God, we would love to share this experience with you! Email khmclaughlin@cofchrist.org if you have any questions.

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!
Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.
March 13-15, 2015
Click here to register!