Daily Lenten Reflection

 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” –Luke 18: 9-14, NRSV

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. –David Brock, Driven Into Lent 

Reflection: 

  • How is the Lenten challenge to give something up actually changing you at your core? Are you willing to be changed at your core?
  • How do you respond to the invitation of humility and surrender that come in the Lenten wilderness? What is the deepest call of this season for your life?
  • Prayerfully dwell in the parable from Luke 18:9-14. What is God’s invitation to you in this text?

AN INVITATION

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

An invitation
For you

Today
Right here
Right now
In the middle of everything

In these details
Of this moment
Of this life

No pre-requisites required
Just this simple noticing
Wherever you are

Just a heart opening
Not even sure exactly why
Or to what

Just this sweet unexpected grace
Offered to you
As whatever you most need it to be
Peace
Belonging
Disruption
Hope

Right now
The invitation
Is for you
For right now

You don’t have to go somewhere else
Or be someone else
To receive it

It is in this person
This task
This conversation
This silent awe

What could be more important than this?

There will be other invitations to come
But this one expires
As soon as the moment
Has passed

Each moment arriving
Holding in its open palm
Another invitation
For you
For another
Right-here-right-now
Glimpse
Into the heart of the holy
That is right before you
Right within you
In the middle of everything
Wherever you are

BREAD OF LIFE

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: Incorporate times of silence into your daily routine. Before beginning work, eating a meal, or beginning any daily task, observe a minute of silence.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

We began this Lenten journey with this material reminder of our humanness. Smudge of ash marked us with humility. With repentant hearts we started this walk to make up some distance in the great divide between who we are and who we are called, in love, to become.

I don’t think it is an accident that everything we have to teach us about life in God comes from the earth. Earth is our language. We can include the cosmos too- starry nights of wonder and phases of moon. It is what we can see, what we can touch, what we can taste that helps us make just enough sense of the One we cannot see, cannot touch, cannot taste.

Jesus is known for using the physical stuff of earth to help us to see- mud and spit, for example, in the blind man’s eyes.

This night he uses water in basin for washing road-weary feet. So it is in the kingdom of God.

He breaks bread as symbol of broken body. Disciples consume glimpsing what oneness might mean. Texture of bread saturating on tongue- lingering in the mystery of the moment.

Wine, symbol of blood, poured out. Life-giving substance pulsing in the veins of those who received it- of us right now. The bitter sweetness enters their bodies and they can taste what he is saying as he is saying it. A love lesson engrained in their hearts, alive within them.

I don’t know exactly what this means, only that it has meaning. I wonder if this is how the disciples felt too. Sometimes to simply recognize the presence of meaning is reverence enough.

Throughout the years we have interpreted this sacred meal as inclusion, invitation, hospitality. It has meant remembrance and reconciliation and recommitment. We have labored over its truth in theological debate.

In a faith that is so often mystery, the physical elements contain a holy immediacy. I hold it in my hands. I taste. I eat. What I long for is before me, in physical form and it becomes a part of me in some nourishing way. It is a reminder that what I long for is actually more accessible than I ever thought. This earth-cosmos-language is speaking continuously about God. “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” (Luke 19:40)

The table reminds me of the kingdom of God call to add another leaf, set up some more chairs, and invite the whole world to the feast. This is for hungry hearts, yes, but also hungry bodies that Jesus calls us to love and serve. Sometimes the good news is literally bread.

Every table can become the altar for a sacred meal, for reconciliation, for invitation.
This sacred meal is waiting for you in the world. The body of the One you follow- the blood of the One you love. Take. Eat. Live.

“Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: This is my Body. And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words which express the supreme mystery of faith: This is my Blood.” –Pierre Teilhard de Chardin