Lenten Meditations

lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: Inspiration and Instrumentation

by Ed Bacon

Dr. King knew that inspiration was not enough—one needed an instrument in order to live out the vision. Jesus inspired King. Gandhi gave him the instrument of nonviolence for accomplishing Jesus’ vision.

I have been pondering St. Paul’s call for us to have the mind that was in Christ. How would we even begin to do that? Could it be that the meditation practices emerging from both contemporary neuroscientific research and ancient practices of Buddhism provide the instrument by which we can approach the quality of mind Paul calls the mind of Christ?

Continue reading

lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: A Lenten Prayer from Malcolm Boyd

by Susan Russell

It is no exaggeration to say that Malcolm Boyd’s 1965 book of prayers “Are You Running With Me, Jesus?” fed the hunger of a generation of people who had given up on the church and given up hope that anyone connected with it had anything relevant to say.

Trailblazer, truth-teller, and courageous witness to the power of God’s inclusive love, his willingness to put his faith into action has been a powerful witness to the kind of justice former Presiding Bishop John Hines defined as “the corporate face of God’s love.”

From “Are You Running With Me, Jesus:” a Prayer of Repentance by Malcolm Boyd.

Take fire and burn away our guilt and our lying hypocrisies.
Take water and wash away our brothers’ and sisters’ blood which we have caused to be shed.
Take hot sunlight and dry the tears of those we have hurt, and heal their wounded
souls, minds, and bodies.
Take love and root it in our hearts, so that community may grow, transforming the
dry desert of our prejudices and hatreds.
Take our imperfect prayers and purify them, so that we mean what we pray and are prepared to give ourselves to you along with our words.


lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: New Lenten Narrative

by Jeremy Langill

If I’m being truly honest with myself, I’ve always been a little conflicted about Lent. Some years I find it a helpful and sacred time of reflection and new learning, and other years I find myself really struggling to fully engage and participate in any Lenten practice whatsoever.

Since the beginning of this program year, Ed Bacon has been preaching about and talking a lot about a new narrative—that we as Christians have a real responsibility to set a new course for the story of our faith, to be engaged in the real transformation of the many toxic narratives inherited in our religious traditions so that through that process of transformation something new and more closely aligned with God’s love will emerge.

Continue reading

lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: Everything Else Is Temptation

By Susan Russell

As we continue the journey into Lent, we will hear on Sunday the story of God naming and claiming Jesus as “beloved” at his baptism … followed immediately by the forty days of temptation in the wilderness. It is a story that inspired this quote from the Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber:

Identity. It’s always God’s first move. Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own. God’s beloved. But almost immediately, other things try to tell us who we are and to whom we belong: capitalism, the weight-loss industrial complex, our parents, kids at school — they all have a go at telling us who we are. But only God can do that. Everything else is temptation.

Continue reading

lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: No Time but the Present Moment

by Anne Peterson

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality, that we may remember that it is by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life. Amen.

In 1975 a three-months-pregnant, 27-year-old Paula D’Arcy was riding in a car with her husband and daughter when a drunk driver broad-sided them. D’Arcy’s husband and daughter were killed; she survived. Six months later she gave birth to a new daughter.

Continue reading

lenten altar

Lenten Meditation: The Marking of Ashes

by Sally Howard

The marking of ashes on the forehead is an ancient sacramental gesture that in one quick moment, parades the whole of life before our eyes.

When we impose the ashes, we quote a verse from Genesis: “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:19). In quoting this passage, the church calls to mind the entire narrative of the garden, and specifically, God’s decree concerning the serpent (Gen. 3:14-15) the woman (v.16), and the man (v. 17-19) because the church’s understanding of God has been infused with atonement theology and a toxic dualism that splits our being into good spirit and bad body, we tend to hear this text as one more denunciation of sin, as though Ash Wednesday were a celebration of our sin and unworthiness.

Continue reading