Lenten Meditations

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Lenten Meditation: We Will Be Caught if We Fall

by Susan Russell

Joan Chittister has been an inspiration to me since her book “Wisdom Distilled from the Daily” found its way under my Christmas tree in 1991. The subtitle is “Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today” – which I have to confess sounded like a great big snore to me. At first.

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Lenten Meditation: My Guilty Pleasure

by Jenny Tisi

One of my most favorite things about where I live is how close I am to the Saturday morning Pasadena Farmer’s Market.  Since I am trying to lead a more relaxing, healthier, and mindful lifestyle, I decided that I would walk, which is only about a mile away.  I am not a meditative person at all.  I find it nearly impossible to just sit, breathe and be.  A therapist once told me that the act of meditating is meditating.  I’ve always tried to think about that.  So on my walk today, instead of putting in ear buds, I listened.

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Lenten Meditation: Choosing a Journey through Lent over a Commute to Easter

by Susan Russell

Last year my Facebook status on Ash Wednesday read: “Wishing you a journey through Lent instead of a commute to Easter.” It got 133 comments – which I took as a sign that I was not alone in finding that a challenge.

You can’t live in Southern California and not know what it feels like to travel a familiar road without really “journeying.” When I was a new deacon I served up at St. Mark’s in Altadena — and I lived in Huntington Beach. I remember how easy it was to suddenly look up and realize I was in Duarte … and wonder what happened to Whittier. That’s not a journey: that’s a commute.

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Lenten Meditation: Give Me Your Hand

by James Walker

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

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Lenten Meditation: A Beautiful Struggle

by Francisco Garcia

Mark 1:9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

This year in Lent we reflect on the gospel of Mark’s version of Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, where he is “tempted by Satan.” Here in the wilderness, Jesus spends a good amount of time in a psycho-spiritual and physical struggle of self, to affirm or deny his identity and his call to proclaim in radical ways the love and justice of God in the world. However, the dominant Christian narrative and expectation of Lent has become something of a penitential downer. Our litanies can make us feel downright awful, self-loathing even. I’m not so sure that this is what Jesus or even the writers of the gospels intended to have happen.

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Lenten Meditation: Talking to Jesus at Night

by Janine Schenone

We rarely get glimpses of Jesus at night in the Bible. The two that come to mind are Jesus’ night in Gethsemane before his arrest, and also his late-night discussion with Nicodemus. This conversation with Nicodemus is depicted in the Gospel of John (2:23-3:15), which is the Daily Office reading for today.

This scene between Nicodemus and Jesus is so touching to me. Here is Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, coming in secret, or so it seems, which is why he comes to see Jesus “by night.” He wants to know Jesus, to understand Jesus, but he’s afraid to show his fellow Pharisees that he’s intrigued by this Jesus guy.

It’s also touching to me because conversations in the dark, these late-night talks, have a totally different tone and mood. Think of the conversations that happen in the dark. That’s when lovers talk about their truest selves. It’s when children tell their parents about the disastrous day at school, when teenagers plot their escapes, when anything that we fear or wonder about comes knocking at the door of our psyche, asking to speak. It can be the most intimate and true time. We are somehow stripped bare of pretenses and paltry matters.

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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?

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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.

God:
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.

Amen

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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.

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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.

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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.

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