This Lent, add a journey story to your reading. Follow Gilgamesh to the ends of the earth or the Knights of the Round Table into the forest.
I try not to get too worked up about the commercialization of church holidays. It seems inevitable in our culture, in which most people are at least nominally Christian yet the real national faith is capitalism. The Christmas shopping season is annoying and the Easter candy aisles are dangerous, but it seems futile to rail against things that are more symptom than illness. It is pretty perplexing, however, when marketers try to capitalize on Lent.
I've been enjoying CCblogger Rachel Hackenberg's Lenten sermon series posts. She offers several, separate ideas: on the question "Who do you say that I am?" (following the Narrative Lectionary's readings from John), on prayer practices, on "Lift High the Cross," on the paintings of Anneke Kaai. But my favorite is Hackenberg's series on the Revised Common Lectionary's Old Testament readings.
At our first outdoor procession, I felt awkward. I’d led liturgies before, but my church life and my real life didn’t usually intersect so publicly.
My Lenten practice has almost involved some kind of endurance. As a child I usually gave up something like chocolate or sweets. My practice evolved into committing to walk to the grocery store or buy nothing but food or, one year, give up plastic. But regardless of what I took on or gave up, I have always intended for this to last through all of Lent. The practice ends—or finds a new form—at Holy Week, and the endurance test ends with it. This year, Lent has an entirely different rhythm for me—because of a book by writer and Benedictine oblate Paula Huston.
The church of my childhood paid no attention to Lent. The season's words sounded too mystical to us, too strange and too Catholic.
Sustainable Lenten disciplines anticipate an Easter in which they will continue. But surely Easter hope is for something more.
Chronic illness is like Walden: life is pared down to essentials. But unlike Thoreau, I can’t walk away.
I’m taking a class on the Gospel of Luke this semester, and one of my assignments is to engage in an ongoing spiritual practice related to that particular Gospel. So for the entire semester I am reading the Magnificat daily. It’s a passage that I’ve been drawn to in recent years, but it has been particularly illuminating to be dwelling on it during Lent this year, since it is typically confined to the Advent season. Somehow the triumphal language of the justice that God has already accomplished fits with the modern treatment of Advent as a celebratory season. But Lent is a season of penance, which puts an entirely different spin on the text.
I worry about avian flu. I worry that my identity is being stolen right this second. I check four times to make sure I turned the stove off. It's breathless, compulsive behavior.
When Ash Wednesday arrived in 2009, my recently diagnosed stage IV cancer had already reduced two of my vertebrae to dust. I feared that the rest of me wasn't far behind.
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Luke 19:28-40
Joshua 5:9-12 (Psalm 32); 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32