Week Three: Bearing the Gift

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“As Christ’s body, lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism from those who hesitate to respond to the divine vision of human worth and equality in Christ. This burden and blessing is yours for divine purposes.” -2013 Words of Counsel, Community of Christ

It is not easy.
That was never a guarantee.
This is the gift you bear–
Burden and blessing.

How do you even explain what’s happening?
Something coming alive in you–
This throbbing hope,
This ancient yearning.

What if it doesn’t make sense?
What if others don’t understand?
What if it changes you?
What if conviction for the vision
Awakening within
Turns into courage
Then action
Then reality?

It never has come easy.
Why, then, is it worth the risk?
What is it that captures the heart
Into moving in love toward
What is otherwise rejected?

Sometimes you can’t get comfortable
No matter how hard you try.
Once the God-vision
Has come alive in you
It is all you can see
Even in devastation
And division
And hatred
And fear.

Especially then
It makes itself known
A holy disruption
A new, old way
Aching to be born.

This time it is impossible
To avoid seeing what needs to be seen
To avoid doing what needs to be done
To avoid feeling what needs to be felt.
You know now that it’s not
For someone else
In some other place
At some other time.

And you feel the gift you bear,
Burden and blessing,
Growing in anticipation–
The whole creation
Groaning in anticipation.

In every unlikely
And likely place,
This gift you bear
Kicks and turns within
Forming for labor
Forming for life.

Spiritual Practice: Breathe deeply and pay attention to the deepest hope that rises up within you. When is it a blessing? When is it a burden? How are the burden and blessing for divine purposes in your life and the world?

PETITION

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: Before you begin your day of work or activity, silently offer this prayer (taken from Psalm 46:10), which is best said with a rhythmic chanting of the words and a pause for contemplation after each line. You may choose to end the day with this same prayer.

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.

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.”

Today’s post is written by David Brock, Community of Christ Presiding Evangelist.
What prayers do you utter in the holy week moments of your life?

Petition
By David Brock

Our most primal prayers are those of petition, God.
In moments of panic we blurt out our brief,
passionate pleas and toss out our bargaining chips:
Protect our perfect or imperfectly parented child.
Make up the difference in our hastily prepared sermon.
Cover us as we approach our next looming deadline.

With sighs too deep for words, we plead
for a cure at the bedside of a loved one.
In a groan from our deepest interior, we join
the psalmist in a longing for cleansed heart
and renewed spirit; the prophet’s heart of flesh
in exchange for one of stone.

Please stop this interminable internal ache.
Let us see but a shadow’s promise of light
in the world’s heart of darkness, We beseech
Thee, God of grace. We are ministers of vision
who cannot see far enough on our own;
people of capacity who cannot be or do
all that is needed without each other, or you.

Forgive us, we implore you.
Give us, and the world, your beauty
for our ashes, the oil of joy for tears;
a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Seeds of Tomorrow

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: The Living Word speaks anew in each generation. What are your hopes for those who will come after you? What are you doing to live a life oriented toward that future? Do something today that will make a difference to God’s unfolding story in the future.
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

I believe in planting trees, even if I am not in a place long enough to watch them grow.

When we moved to Ohio, our first act as new homeowners was to plant a young maple in the front yard. Twenty years from now, the tree will grow large enough to provide shaded relief for the front of the house. It will be a beauty to behold while walking on our block. I have no guarantee that I will be in this exact house on this exact piece of earth twenty years from now, but it still felt worth it to reach down low releasing roots into fertile soil.

I am trying to find a way to say that this is about more than landscaping.
It is about choosing to enact a future I may never fully see because I have a love and hope for those I will never meet.
Sometimes what we do that we will never see is what matters most.

“All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” Hebrews 11:13

Immediate gratification is so alluring (and increasingly normative) that it is becoming harder to hold a long view. What of our grandchildren’s grandchildren? What will be the state of the earth when they walk upon it? What stories will they be telling about us, their ancestors? Are our actions now leaving them with a future of hope or despair?

Lent is a time for releasing whatever is getting in the way of the thriving of life made new. It is for finding our way on this journey that crosses the thresholds of time, a way walked by our ancestors and those whose hearts have yet to beat alive with hopes of their own.

May we make our lives the seeds of God’s vision of hope for the whole creation.

It is worth planting what we may never see.