Lent: An Invitation to Simplicity and Resistance

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

In the madness of keeping up, a gentler invitation has entered our hearts, revealing the depth of our attachments to status and things. It whispers, “less, less, less”—echoing in the cavernous soul, trembling the foundations of this life we’ve made thus far.

What is small and quiet can become most mighty. Such is the way of Christ. Just one thought planted, proposing an alternative way, screeches to a halt the illusions of success, casting light on the hidden motivations for our money and time. We gasp at how subtle and impactful the neglect of our deepest values can be. We barely remember how, along the way, we traded in these values for a dream that was never truly ours.

What do we really need? What does matter most? Sacred conversations with courageous souls, unwilling to live in the wearying status quo, spark conviction in us anew. We, too, can choose a simpler way—discerning for ourselves what is necessary and what is abundance. Liberation from materialism beckons, release from the incessant cultural chant of “more, more, more.” Sometimes we share stories to share courage. I am grateful for the handfuls of fresh courage we have received.

This Lent, we have asked writers to share their stories of sacred resistance after the model of Jesus in the desert in the Daily Bread Blog (You can subscribe here: http://www.cofchrist.org/blog/daily-bread#!/). They are stories of release and awareness, of growing honesty and hopeful transformation. We invite you to journey this Lenten way with us, finding new courage and conviction in stories shared. How is the Spirit inviting you to resist and release in the desert this Lent?

(Read today’s story, a reflection on Ash Wednesday: http://www.cofchrist.org/daily-bread#!/2262/breathing-life-into-the-dust)

As we receive these stories and consider the intersections with our own, you are also invited into a practice of Spiritual Freedom (click here to access the practice), which is about becoming radically available to God as we discover and release distractions and attachments.

Additional Lenten Resources, including a retreat companion on Sacred Restraint, can be found here: https://spiritualformationcenter.org/news-and-events/lent-2017/

However you practice Lent this year, may it be a time of transformation and renewal for ourselves, our communities, and the world. Blessings of courage as you resist and release along the Lenten way!

Lenten Resource for Individual and Small Group Reflection: screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-5-44-58-pm

Let It Be With Me: An Advent Invitation

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” –Luke 1:38, NRSV

Entering another darkness
Edges lined in hope unseen–
Another practice in
Control released
Making space for what
I cannot make.

Approaching the unknown forming,
Straining to know and name.
Light will grow along
This path of promise
Shining on what must be seen
As I need to see.

Surrendering to mystery
Beyond comprehension,
A desire emerges
Greater than fear
And it opens in me
This willing yes.

Spiritual Practice: Allow this story from the gospel of Luke to come to life in you.

What does it mean in your life to say, “let it be with me according to your word”?
What Advent invitation for faithful surrender is emerging in you?
What does it feel like to live in humble uncertainty, releasing control? How might this be a sacred space of transformation and growth this Advent season?

Daily Lenten Reflection

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” –Matthew 19:25-26, NRSV

Something is calling to be given up in you and me. It’s hard. But, it is invitation. An invitation from the God of all creation; from the God who is revealed to us in Christ Jesus. The giving up gives place for the more—more life, more clarity about what matters most, more you and me—the genuine you and me.

Have we got the guts and the capacity to do that? Well, yes. With and in Christ, it is possible! –David Brock, Driven Into Lent

Reflection:

  • What is calling to be given up in you this Lenten season?
  • How does the giving up give space for the “more” you are seeking?
  • Prayerfully dwell with Matthew 19:25-26. What is God’s invitation to you in this text?