LIVING WORDS

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: Practice Lectio Divina
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.”

Living Words
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

What does it mean
That words are alive?

Do they continue to speak
Long after the moment
They are written
Or uttered aloud?

Is their message the same
Even as they say different things
At different times
To different people?

Are living words literally words
On a page
In our mouths
In our hearts?

Or are they also what is being spoken
That is wordless?

Streams of sunlight through branch’s porous patterns
The tall grass trembling in the unseen wind
Season’s cycles of death and renewal
Breathless awe atop mountain expanse
Love’s embrace
Fresh bread
Birdsong
Birth

What is all this beauty saying?

And what of

Desecrated mountain tops mined and abandoned
Rubble and burnt bodies disfigured from bombs
Not enough rice in the bowl of the hungry
The calloused hands of the homeless
Pushing their carts down the sidewalk
Of the busy street where I
Sit comfortable in my car

What words are alive in
The warzone
The hospital
The famine?

Do we really want to hear?

What do these words on page
Have to say to these words enfleshed?
How do these words on page
Yearn to be words enfleshed?

Feed my sheep
Love your enemy
Welcome the stranger
Let the oppressed go free
The kingdom of God
Has come near

Am I a living word?
What is the source of all words
Laboring inside me to say?
Am I living what is being
Spoken within?

Speak us into being
O Holy Speaker
Open our ears to hear
Your word that breathes life
In all things
Living Word
Live through me

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people… And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” –John 1

The Practice of Lectio Divina (From the Community of Christ Guide for Lent)

Select a passage of text that you feel led to dwell in. Relax your body and breathing and offer a prayer for guidance as you interact with the text. Read the text four times, allowing time for meditation and prayer between each reading.
Lectio —read the text to get a sense of the story or setting. Imagine the scene, senses, emotions, and tensions involved in the text.
Meditatio —read the text again to focus on meaning and understanding. What are the surface and underlying meanings? What does the text tell you about God? How do you relate to the text?
Oratio —read the text again to focus on your emotional response. Do you feel joy, sorrow, fear, anger, or guilt? Share your feelings with God in prayer. Ask for help in listening deeply to these emotions and meanings.
Contemplatio —continue in a time of receptive prayer. Breathe deeply and calmly, entering a deep silent state of listening. Wait for whatever God may bring to you in the quietness.

Record in a journal any impressions or insights that come to you and return to receptive listening. If no particular awareness comes, let your mind return to the text. When you feel your prayer and meditation has ended, offer a word of thanks to God to close your time with this practice.

Recommended Lenten Text: Isaiah 58:6–9
Pay attention to the questions that come to you as you engage in this practice. Live in the questions and see how they begin to shape your journey of repentance and renewal.

Lenten Wrestling

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Take inventory of your life. Use this day to pause and write down what you do daily or weekly. What is it that is most life giving in your regular schedule? Is God calling your to imagine new priorities or a different pace?
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 post is written by Janné Grover, Disciple Formation Ministries Specialist for Community of Christ, and it takes us back to the foundational Lenten practice of Fasting. As you read this reflection, consider your own practice with fasting so far. As we move into the third week of Lent, what holy wrestling has occurred? What new insight has been gained?

Lenten Wrestling
By Janné Grover

Lent is one of my favorite times of year. I have grown to welcome the intentionality of prayer and fasting, the change in daily rhythm, the heightened awareness of others and the world around me, and…the wrestling. While the latter is not my favorite part of Lent, it is a process I have grown to appreciate. Let me explain.

This year, in addition to engaging regularly in Lenten practices (you may find these at www.cofchrist.org/a-guide-for-lent), I am fasting from listening to the radio while driving. I realize this is not much of a personal sacrifice, but it removes a bit of noise and clutter from my daily routine and allows me at least 40 additional minutes each day for focused thought and prayer. Yes, this is something I can do all the time, but it is a practice during Lent, which helps me focus more intentionally on what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. While most days this is a peaceful and predictable practice, I have been surprised by some challenges, which have emerged during this practice.

There is a hymn in Community of Christ Sings with an opening line that reads, “We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray” (305). I am confronted by the text of this hymn to consider what it means to pray for the well being of another, for an end to hunger, for peace in the world, or for clarity of thought regarding an important decision. I have wrestled with what God expects of me, and to what I am called to give my attention and energy. Sometimes I feel like Jacob coming out of his tent after wrestling with God. If I pray for something, am I supposed to be part of the answer? That’s a lot to ask, isn’t it? It almost makes me feel too overwhelmed to bother praying about anything! What does God really expect of me…one person with too much on my plate already?

And after the spiritual wrestling match is over, I begin to understand with a bit more clarity.

Praying for the well being of another doesn’t mean I can change the person’s circumstance, but it keeps me present with them in that circumstance. It reminds me of what it means to be companions on a journey. Praying for an end to world hunger doesn’t mean I have to solve the world’s systemic issues surrounding poverty and hunger, but it reminds me a solution will not miraculously happen without a willingness to examine the impact of my own choices and generosity. Praying for peace doesn’t make peace happen, but it keeps me focused on living as a presence of peace and engaged in acts of social justice, which can create pathways toward peace for others. Praying for clarity of thought reminds me to silence my inner conversation and just listen.

In and through the spiritual wrestling I am reminded that prayer changes me as much as it changes a condition for which I pray. It keeps me connected to others, to all creation, and to God. It is humbling to accept that I do not need to know or be the answer to my prayers… but if I journey in an awakened way, I am open to that possibility.

“We are the ones the world awaits to live the words we pray.”

-Edith Sinclair Downing , Community of Christ Sings #305

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!