These are the writings that touched me this Lent.
From Lenten Meditations 2018 by Episcopal Relief and Development
Sunday, February 18
"O God, you made us in your own image and
redeemed us through Jesus your Son:
Look with compassion on the whole human family;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
break down the walls that separate us;*
unite us in bonds of love; and
work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth;
that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
* this Collect appeared in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
Monday, February 19
"The 'death' of one's own priorities (goals, toys, attention, achievements) to make room for someone else is an act of love that requires sacrifice." — Mary Carter Greene
Tuesday, March 6
"I once asked a group of fourth graders at church to write down three people beside their parents who were most important to them. . . . I told the kids I wouldn't look at their lists, but I was curious: Did anybody have a priest on the list? No. Did anybody have a Sunday School teacher on the list? Hands shot up. . . . Discipleship is strengthened not only in the pews but also in the places where lay people minister." — Boykin Dunlap Bell
Friday, March 16
". . . Then I had children of my own. I skipped lots of page . . . in our children's Bible. One day, I didn't turn the pages fast enough. 'What's that story?" my son asked. It was the sacrifice of Isaac. 'We'll read it another time,' I hedged. "I don't like it." This piqued my son's interest so I took a deep breath and read. When I finished, my son nodded. 'So, Abraham was really old, right?' 'Right.' 'Well, sometimes when people get old, they get confused. . . . So Abraham thought God was telling him to do something mean, but he was wrong. He was confused. And God stopped him.' . . . I liked my son's conclusion. Instead of hiding parts of the story, maybe I could let my child explain them." — Boykin Dunlap Bell
Monday in Holy Week, March 26
"The Children's Hour
"Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
"Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour."
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
". . . Longfellow's poem continues by telling the story of three young girls plotting to ambush their father in his study. He hears them and plays along, collapsing in a tangled web of children and laughter upon their 'sudden raid from the hall.' This is a beautiful image of family. . . . If we are not holding apart sacred moments to be present with our loved ones throughout the day, what is the purpose of this life? What do we lose if we are not willing to pause at the Children's Hour?" — Chad Brinkman
Wednesday in Holy Week, March 28
"Before Happiness you are Adventurous." — Miles Greer, age seven, from his book, The Feeling Guide
"These words of my younger son have challenged me more times than I can count. I am the sort of person who tends to err on the side of 'When I am happy/content/secure/(fill in responsible and cautious adult words here), then I will take that risk, try the new thing, go toward the unknown.' . . . Adventures are the beginning of the journey, not the end. . . . Following Christ and living a gospel-centric life is anything but safe and secure, easy or common." — Jerusalem Jackson Greer
Easter Day, April 1
"Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories." — Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.
"I sometimes think that no one over the age of twelve should be allowed to preach on Easter Sunday. I think this especially when I am schedules to preach on Easter. . . . After Jesus rose from the dead, John's Gospel tells us that he appeared to his disciples while they were fishing. 'Feed my sheep," he said to Simon Peter. "Follow me." These are simple commandments; they're even easy enough for children to understand. And yet for Christians, they are the work of our entire lives." — Gay Jennings
From Living Well through Lent 2018: Loving with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind by Scott Stoner
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
"Letting go of judgment is often a hard, but necessary, first step in being able fully to love someone. . . . Why? Because our judgment gets in the way and when we are full of judgment, we have no room to love. This doesn't mean that we don't make judgments about what is right or wrong, but rather it means that love sees the bigger picture and remembers that this person is also loved by God, and realizes that all people, including ourselves, are imperfect works in progress."
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so to have the life that is waiting for us." — Joseph Campbell
". . . Our carefully made plans for our lives (and for the lives of others) gives us the illusion that we are in control, and it is humbling when life takes unexpected turns. At the same time, twists and turns in life are also reminders that our task is not to control, but to stay loving in the midst of the changes and chances of this life."
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
"The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways." — Russ Barkey
". . . The key to loving someone who is going through some type of adversity is to be persistent, yet not pushing, with our love, and to not take it personally if offers of support are rejected. In this way the other person will know that our love is genuine, and when they are ready to begin to soften and to let others in, they will know we are waiting and available."
Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018
"It is impossible for us to fully understand the emotional space the disciples found themselves in the day after Good Friday. . . . While we may not be able to feel exactly what the disciples felt that terrible day, most of us have experiences our own 'Holy Saturday' moments, times when we have experiences a devastating loss or trauma, made a terrible mistake, betrayed someone or been betrayed, and/or have found ourselves filled with fear and uncertainty, unsure of the way forward. Whenever I feel this way and am unsure of what is going to happen next, I find comfort in the wisdom of the Quaker saying, "way will open."
— When I read this passage, I immediately thought of Jurassic Park, when Jeff Goldblum's character says, "Life finds a way."
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I close this post with the Collect for Holy Saturday, a beautiful Collect so seldom used that I've decided to add it to my Saturday Morning Prayer:
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Photograph from the Chicago Botanic Garden
as a Lenten harbinger of the Easter Garden