SACRED INVITATION

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Focusing on the source of all life awakens us to our connectedness with all life. Reach out to someone today who needs a sense of belonging. Invite someone to your home for a meal, or to your church.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“You who are first and the last, the living and the dead and the risen again; you who gather into your exuberant unity every mode of existence; it is you to whom my being cries out with a desire as vast as the universe; ‘In truth you are my Lord and my God.’” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The whole spiritual life is a pull toward unity: unity with our true selves, others, God, and creation. Through spiritual practices like centering prayer, we dwell in that space that awakens the oneness impulse within us. We begin to see our connection with all other life as more than theory. It is the way we live God’s vision for our world. The peaceable kingdom we are called to co-create resides in each oneness impulse lived.

This is why invitation is such a holy act. In western church culture, invitation carries a lot of baggage from religious proselytizing that has felt diminishing and dehumanizing at times. We wonder: what is the motive here? What is the agenda?

It is a shame that this is the case. In a society that can be so lonely and isolating, invitation is a powerful way to live God’s oneness vision together. It is sacred because it is about belonging. Rather than dehumanizing because of a hidden agenda, authentic invitation always honors the full worth of others in a truly mutual way. Despite how resistant we have become to anything that feels too much like proselytizing, we all deeply crave real invitation to what is most meaningful about this life we share.

This is at the core of the purpose of Lent. It is a season for stripping false distances and getting closer to the heart of things, which leads closer to your heart… and his… and hers… and every other heart that beats wild desire for deeper connection so often subdued because of the risk of being real. What if I’m not accepted for who I truly am? is the fear that drives so many false-self actions. Life in God’s Spirit reveals another way- where all belong in love to God and one another. This is the invitation we yearn to receive.

Let this spirit of invitation emerge naturally within you. As you dwell in God as the source of all life notice who you feel drawn toward. How is the pull toward unity coming to life in you? Who do you yearn to belong with? When you pay attention to these inner movements, you may be surprised. You may feel drawn to someone you don’t know or hardly know or wish you didn’t know. You may feel drawn to someone you think you know really well but realize how you have become casual or clumsy in a relationship in need of renewal.

Pay attention to this inward union pull.
Allow it come to life through you anywhere, everywhere.
Dare to release a sacred invitation and see where it may lead.

It is about deepest life in God’s Spirit coming to expression in the world. It is about wholeness. It is about restoring worth. It is about paying attention to how we are called to belong to one another. It is about the world as it could be.

MAKING SPACE FOR GOD

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Choose to eliminate one task from your schedule today. Spend that time intentionally dwelling in God’s presence, even if only for a moment!
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

Creating space can be hard. Our basic need to feel needed competes with the humble reminder that we are not in control.

This is what Lent has come to say to us. Yes, our responsibilities and commitments matter. We are connected to one another and our choices impact all the other lives in contact with our own. Yet, it is a wider perspective that Lent brings us. It is an invitation to see everything we did not make and cannot do, to cease the anxious pace of “not enough”, to discover renewal in humility.

It is the invitation to rest, for once, for a moment, maybe even for a while, in our belovedness as children of God- created, enough.

A couple weeks ago, some responsibilities were canceled due to frigid temperatures and harsh winter winds in Northeast Ohio. I allowed the winter storm to bring a Sabbath blessing. I stopped. I laid down everything expected of me. As I eased into the day, I felt my anxieties lessen. The world did not stop after all. What I had perceived as a thin thread holding everything together in my life began to feel more like a rope- reliable, strong to hold.

This isn’t just about feeling good individually. Sabbath has systemic impact. Just as we think everyone around us is impacted when we lay something down, everyone is impacted when we refuse to stop and breathe. Everyone includes the people closest to us, our communities, and the earth that is our home. Sabbath keeping is an act of justice, a radical counter-cultural way in a world that measures worth by accumulation of busyness and achievement.

Space making is peace making.
Sabbath is the threshold to shalom.

May you breathe deeper this day as you create space within for the God who says- you are enough.

The Peace of Wild Things
By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.