As we get used to the shape of this season, we wanted to highlight that we won’t be releasing a daily office over the weekend. Instead, we want to invite you to intentionally practice Sabbath over the next two days – a set time for worship, for rest and for delight.
We have created a practice guide to help you and your family as you weave Sabbath into the rhythm of your week. You can access the practice guide and videos here.
Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
“In the wilderness, life is stripped of distractions. It is quiet. The topography demands discipline, simplicity and fierce attention. The wilderness lives at the pace of kairos times, which can be slower but is always richer.”
The desert air helps you see clearly; as does fasting, one of Jesus’ practices of the wilderness. When we fast, a mirror is lifted before us, and through the groaning of our stomachs or the twitching of our thumbs, we quickly see where our attention and devotion is often found. Or to paraphrase Richard Foster, by fasting, we see how easily we have allowed nonessentials to take precedence in our lives.
Fasting involves going without something, normally food, in order to hunger for more of God and create space for focussed times of prayer, worship and prophetic witness. When (not if), you fast as Jesus would say, you abstain from something that you turn to for the satisfying of an appetite in daily life, so that you can go deeper towards the roots of longing.
In fasting, we practice saying no, for the sake of a deeper, and better yes.
If Mary Oliver is right (and Mary Oliver is always right), in saying that attention is the beginning of devotion; then if we were to audit what gets our attention, we would find the line between devotion and distraction often becomes blurred.
Modern life is full of seemingly innocuous distractions. In the short term, they keep us from doing the things we want to do. However, pull the thread a little longer with the amount of time we spend numbing ourselves out and we see that distractions can stack up and lead us away from living the lives we desire to live.
When you glance up from your phone and look at your life, what do you see?
I’m not saying that all distractions are bad. I just want us to be aware that they can affect who we are and who we long to be. For when nonessentials become our daily bread, we will find ourselves being subtly nudged away from the intentional embodiment of the God shaped life, especially with its compassionate concern for those who need us to fast in the way God has chosen.
In the desert of Lent, we have the opportunity to see the shape of our lives much more clearly, and pay fierce attention to the small things that stack up. For there are nonessentials that we should perhaps fast from more often and distractions that we could give less screentime and bandwidth to.
Jesus was once asked by an expert in the Torah, “Rabbi, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied by simply spelling the essential components of life:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” Matthew 22: 37-39
Remember, attention is the beginning of devotion.
All to pray the following words aloud.
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all,
I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands,
I commend my soul.
I offer it to you,
With all the love of my heart.
For I love you, my God,
and I so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Prayer of Charles de Foucauld
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.
‘Second Mountain’ – David Brooks
‘Upstream: Selected Essays’ – Mary Oliver
Celebration of Discipline’ – Richard Foster’
‘How To Do Nothing’ – Jenny Odell
‘Garden Song’ – Pheobe Bridgers