Daily Lenten Reflection

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. –2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NRSV

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. –David Brock, Driven Into Lent 

Reflection: 

  • When has the God of immeasurable love, mercy, and acceptance been made real amid your weakness and flaws?
  • What would it mean in your life to accept your imperfections? How is the “cross of failure” inviting deeper transformation within you this season?
  • Prayerfully dwell with 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. What is God’s invitation to you in this text today?

STORIES WORTH LIVING

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: We find peace and hope in returning to ancient memory and story. Consider your family and faith heritage. Spend time in gratitude for those who have gone before you. Find time to share a memory of your heritage with someone, and listen to a memory of their heritage.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“LIVING WORD, LIVE THROUGH ME.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

We are shaped by where we have been.

We are being called in unmooring times to return to the stories that have made us who we are. This is not to glorify the past, but to see how our lives take place in a broader context than just the complex urgencies of this moment. We are part of an expansive, unfolding story of humanity, of creation, of the cosmos, of the holy still creating in our lives and world.

Each of us is called to reclaim the ancient vocation of storyteller.
There are stories we need to remember, stories we need to hear, stories we are called to live, stories we are living now that will impact what is told beyond us.

What stories are shaping you?

In the desert times of life, I find a strange comfort in my wandering Israelite ancestors who wavered between resisting and rejoicing, hungering and hoping, for 40 years in the wilderness. The dream of milk and honey keeps us moving. Something is worth it just beyond the horizon. The way back is bondage. The way forward is freedom.

During Lent, I contemplate the meaning of the Christian story of death and resurrection as metaphor, as cycle. This pattern of renewal revealed throughout the earth, a daily occurrence. I am shaped by the perennial hope of life made new.

The story of my Community of Christ ancestors began with a God-seeking heart surrounded by creation’s beauty. There are days when I wonder if this is somehow an origin of the perpetual seeker within me, pursuing the divine presence in all things. I am not afraid to come before the holy with a question. Can you think of a more faithful way to approach the mystery?

In seventh grade, I witnessed my parents struggle over one of the biggest decisions of their lives- to leave a successful job and comfortable life and move us across the country in response to a sense of call. They would take long walks, prayerfully pondering. The radical choice they made was to leave the allure of financial stability to respond to God’s call, which felt more compelling than anything else. No one said the word “discernment” to me at the time, but this is where I learned it. As a seventh grader I could not comprehend the meaning of this move, but today I see how my own approach to decision-making always involves a preference for the holy.

Our heritage does not always positively impact us. Sometimes our ways of being are a rejection of what has occurred, a reclaiming or redefining of what feels distorted or unjust from the past. My feminism, for instance, is in response to a long, oppressive patriarchy still very much alive where I live and across the globe. The unfolding story I live is the laboring of justice in each generation to be born anew.

There is peace though, in our ancestor’s failings. In imperfection, whining, wandering, we are slowly learning about forgiveness and grace. Each faltering step embedded somewhere deep in our spiritual DNA- a lesson living in us, a hope for the future.

Tell me again of how my ancestors kept faith when it all felt impossible.

Tell me again of how the disciples walked for miles with Jesus and never knew he was beside them all along.

Tell me every story my heart yearns to hear so I can hold on to hope when it feels like all hope is lost.

What stories are shaping you? What stories are you called to tell? What stories are you called to live?

Reconciliation

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Reflect on your life and consider relationships in need of reconciliation. Is there a reconciling action you are invited to make today?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

Today’s reflection was written a while ago when I was struggling with a strained relationship. I believe it is important to be honest about these relationship fractures in our lives. The possibilities for peace we pray for are sometimes waiting to be realized in our own families and communities, where lasting peace begins. Pay attention this day to how the deep in you calls you toward reconciliation.

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I want to stay angry
To live in the feeling of being wronged
Until all is made right again
I want people to know that I take
What they say seriously
That words have power
And demand caution when being used
In destruction purposes

I want to stay hurt
Dwell in this river of self-pity
To satisfy my own self-righteousness
To avoid the painstaking
Slow work of reconciliation

So of course I am resistant to the ways
The solitude moves me to love
To the Spirit promptings within
That gently urge me to get over myself
And move along
The compassion that comes
And sweeps away these sorrow crumbs
Clearing me out
Restoration
To begin again and again

In one moment, I resist
In the next, I relent

Our yearnings are for unity
So this separation we’re in
Is a form of self-sabotage

I am reminded
In love
That angry words are attached
To bodies with faces and hearts
And minds and stories
Other humans
Imperfect like me
With their own muddled
Union yearnings

Sometimes to be a disciple
Is to swallow pride
However sharp as it goes down
And to demonstrate the
Radical Christ love
That is the point anyway

What is deepest within me sings
Forgiveness

Thick are our protective layers
But not impenetrable
All is redeemable

When people are bound
By this communal thread
A vulnerability
Even a meanness
Can be a pathway in
If one has courage and strength enough
To follow it
If one can pass through their own
Swells of self-righteousness
Like moving under the waves
To avoid drifting back to shallow shore
Sometimes we have to hold our breath
And be submerged to go further in

Could it be that our raw, aching sharing
Was actually a love feast
Placed on the table before us?
A taste of the sweetness beyond niceties
A craving for authenticity
A taste that may take time to acquire
And appreciate

Like God
Something we can’t just know all at once
We sip at the mystery

In this prayerful pause
I notice I am
Moving into the day with
A softening, opening heart

So it is in the peaceable kin-dom
Loving confrontation has a holy purpose
So that loving does not enable the defenses
But opens wide
The real

This is the hardest love task
To name the hurts
And journey together
In love
Into a deeper way of being

It is not avoidance
And it is not anger either
It is something deeper
Call it grace
Call it forgiveness
Call it reconciliation
Call it life in Christ

Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful. But it is to loving community such as this that each is called. Be courageous and visionary, believing in the power of just a few vibrant witnesses to transform the world. Be assured that love will overcome the voices of fear, division, and deceit.

-Doctrine & Covenants Section 161