Category Archives: Lent

God so loved the world

Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Oesterley (1805–1891)
Israel Mourns Near the Waters of Babylon

Despite the pain, suffering, and grief that may be today’s burden, let me not forget to give thanks for the gifts of family, friends, and unexpected kindnesses.

By the streams of Babylon
we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the aspens of that land
we hung up our harps. Psalm 137:1-2

Come out

Today I ask the Lord to open the tomb of my heart and help me untie and let go of all that keeps me dead to my sisters and brothers in our human family: self-centeredness, resentment, blame, negative judgment, prejudice, indifference, scorn, comparisons, greed, fear.

I ask the Lord to grace me with a new life based in the freedom of love, peace, compassion, generosity, and forgiveness.

So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:44b

With open eyes

A.N. Mironov (b.1975)
Christ and the pauper. Healing of the blind man.
Oil on canvas, 2009.

I know I am blind to many of my faults and weaknesses—and sometimes to my gifts and talents, too.

Today I will trust the man called Jesus and ask him to anoint the eyes of my heart so that I may see myself in the light of God’s love and acceptance. I will trust the man called Jesus to heal all that prevents me from being a true servant of God’s love and goodness in the world.

[The man born blind] replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” John 9:11

Tempted

Augustin Hirschvogel (1503-1553) Temptation of Christ

Augustin Hirschvogel (1503-1553)
Temptation of Christ

When I am hungry, angry, tired, lonely, afraid, or in pain, I tend to be short on patience, compassion, and forbearance. I am tempted to snap at others, wallow in discouragement, and forget my call to treat all of God’s people with respect.

Jesus shows me how to turn temptation into contemplation of God’s Word, and to let God’s vision of love triumph over a moment’s satisfaction.

[Jesus] fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:2-3

Bedazzled

Икона, Преображение Господне, 15 в. Новгород Icon, Transfiguration of the Lord, 15th c., Novgorod

Икона, Преображение Господне, 15 в. Новгород
Icon, Transfiguration of the Lord, 15th c., Novgorod

Prayer transforms, bedazzles, transfigures, inspires, transfixes, awes. May I climb the mountain of prayer today in the company of Jesus and listen to what he has to say.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. Luke 9:28b-29

In the desert

William Hole (1846-1917) Temptation of Jesus in the desert Watercolor, ca.1900-1908

William Hole (1846-1917)
Temptation of Jesus in the desert
Watercolor, ca.1900-1908

The desert of inner exploration is a lonely place. It tends to be dry and tiring, and it seems endless. At times I come upon an oasis where I am refreshed and renewed to continue the journey. At times I am accosted by demons of self-hatred, greed, and despair. At times I am befriended by a ministering angel who reminds me I am not alone in my loneliness, that God is always with me.

Let me give thanks for the opportunity to be in this empty place where only God’s love can fill me. Let me trust that the Holy Spirit has led me here.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. Luke 4:1-2

 

Forsaken

TN_0cDo not be afraid of human weakness. Do not be afraid to call out to God from the depths of vulnerability.

Blame, anger, despair, abandonment: give voice to it all. Bow your head and give it all to the Lord.

We have our model in Jesus.

And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34

Read my heart

Grain of wheat

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” John 12:24

We send messages to others in every moment. Our words, attitudes, gestures, body language, and actions speak our truth in that moment.

God has written the law of love upon our hearts. Compassion, kindness, acceptance, welcoming, encouragement, courtesy, and nonviolence are ways to express what God has written upon our hearts.

Do the messages I send others reflect God’s writing?

But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 31:33

Apprenticed to Jesus

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) Nicodemus and Jesus on a Rooftop, 1899 oil on canvas Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)
Nicodemus and Jesus on a Rooftop, 1899
oil on canvas
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
via Wikimedia Commons

God so loves us that he trusts us to be his hands, voice, eyes, ears, heart, and compassion in the world.

In order that we learn how to become more like God, he apprentices us to Jesus. Ours is not academic learning; it is experiential learning where we practice by watching and imitating Jesus.

Heal, eat with sinners, speak out against injustice, serve the poor, pray, love your enemies, lay down your life for others.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16