Daily Lenten Reflection

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Romans 8:5-8, MSG

There’s no room to be smug. Who hasn’t been tempted by images that bubble in the unconscious places of our souls, just out of sight. We would be ashamed to voice them, if we could see them clearly. But because we don’t see them clearly, these imagined yearnings rule over us. In brief they are little kingdoms in our heads. These kingdoms in our heads are yoked to what ancient spiritual masters called the “appetites.” Do you want to see them? If yes, then, don’t feed them and see what happens! –Anthony Chvala-Smith, The Kingdoms in Our Heads

Reflection: 

  • When you practice restraint, what “little kingdoms” show up in your head? When do you become aware of the “appetites” in your life?
  • What are you invited to become more conscious of this Lenten Season? What images, expectations, or “imagined yearnings” motivate your behavior that live “just out of sight?”
  • Prayerfully dwell in Romans 8:5-8 (MSG). What is God’s invitation to you in this text? How is Lent a time to be lead “into the open, into a spacious, free life?”

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?

Blessed Letting Go

First Sunday of Lent
Practice: FASTING

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.”

Fasting Blessing
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Blessed is the space made
From letting go
Blessed is each yearning
For what you’ve given
That reminds you of
Why you have given it

Blessed is what the space can mean
As it grows inside you
Sturdy for holding
What you never imagined
You could hold

Blessed is all that enters
The inward space
As it is being cleared
The way the Spirit
Stretches outward
Within you
And breathes deep
A joyful sigh of liberation

Blessed is the emptying
The heart-focused release
The desire to love
More than the desire to have

Blessed is the space made
That expands as you see
How the One you seek
Comes to your threshold
In a thousand faces and forms
Waiting to be received

Blessed is the emptiness
Blessed is the openness
Blessed is the letting go