Lent: Day Two


Each weekday in Lent we will be releasing a daily office; a set of prayers, scripture readings and reflections. You’ll be able to use the daily office in a way that works best for you. You can weave the daily devotions into the time you spend alone with Jesus, or you can draw your spouse or families together for a short time of reading, praying and worshipping together. 

As we get used to the rhythm of the daily office together, you’ll notice a few pointers to help you along the way.

Now, let’s begin the journey.

 

Matthew 4:1-11

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.

After a long, hard journey, the end point for travellers along the Camino de Santiago is surprising. You would expect to be greeted at a finish line, with ticker tape and shouts of congratulations swirling around you. Instead, you’re welcomed into Mass, spoken in a language that you don’t understand.

For days, weeks, or months following the Way of St. James through quiet villages and unending fields, waymarkings keep you headed in the right direction, right to the front door of the Cathedral in the centre of Santiago de Compostela. This is packed with fellow pilgrims, each reaching the destination of their own journey. You take a few laboured steps to find your space before a priest begins the service, leading psalms, prayers, and ancient songs in Latin, spoken with a Galician brogue.

And then it happens.

Eight younger priests scurry around a set of ropes while their elder fills a large vessel with incense, lifting it above his head and pushing it towards those gathered. Every element of the service has been full of reverence until the eight men violently tug on the rope, hoisting it high as the butafumerio swings through the length of the cathedral.

At first, you’re struck by the movement of the vessel as it flies over your head, not quite believing what you’re seeing. This has never happened in church before.

And then, you begin to notice the incense filling the room.

As with any liturgical act, the swinging of the butafumerio is full of tradition and definition. To us on that day, it was said to symbolise the words of 2nd Corinthians 2:15.

“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

People travel from across the world to walk through the wilderness of the Camino. As they begin to consider their return, they are called to carry the scent of Christ all the way back home. It is a beautiful invitation, especially when you consider who you are standing alongside. For the incense descends on weary travellers; those who have been bruised by a long journey, their sweaty shoulders burdened for weeks by their backpacks.

As you stop for a few minutes at a cafe along the road for a morning espresso and talk with strangers, your go-to question is to ask, “Why are you walking this path?” As you listen, a pattern emerges: a recent bereavement, a divorce, getting fired, the desire for healing, or a longing for answers. For those uncertain of the way ahead, the simple instruction to keep walking in the same direction becomes a blessing.

The message of the Pilgrim’s Mass is clear. The invitation to be the aroma of Christ is offered to the broken and the bruised. Those who have walked the road of life and still keep going.

Later in his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes words of the Lord as he reflects on his hard path: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

To which Paul responds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2nd Corinthians 9: 9-10

We get tripped up believing that grace is made perfect in our perfection. In arriving at the cathedral unscathed, energetic, looking good, and feeling fresh. The truth, however, is that these hard times in the wilderness with their seasoned scars, they don’t pull us away from Jesus – they enfold us into Him. We follow a Guide who through His being amongst us shows solidarity with our humanity; He knows the topography of the desert like a Shepherd, who still bears wounds, even in His resurrected body.

Our woundedness and the memories of our wanderings in the wilderness don’t need to be on display for the whole world. We don’t need to be exhibitionists. However, with our Closest Companion on the road of life and our Anam Cara, our small band of fellow pilgrims along the way, our bruises can be shared, carried, and consecrated. For in our bodies we are invited to participate in the suffering life of Christ, to be His compelling aroma in a bruised and broken world.

Perhaps then, when we stop faking it, Jesus and the way of His Kingdom becomes relatable and touchable.

We will all face the wilderness, where our weakness will scream louder than our strength. In this hard but formative place of preparation and transition, we are invited to walk the everlasting way as we learn to depend upon the sustaining grace of the Father, live open to the guidance of the Spirit, and all the while trusting in Christ, who journeys with us every step of the way.

Or as Brennan Manning, a well travelled sage, puts it:

“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signalled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.”

Stuart Bothwell

 

All to pray the following words aloud.

Father,
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,
without reserve,
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.”

Ann Voskamp

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.

Acknowledgements
Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God  by Brennan Manning

 

Lent: Ash Wednesday


 

Welcome to Lent.

Today we set off on an annual pilgrimage towards Good Friday, while with every step along the way remaining open to the wonder of Resurrection Sunday.

Each weekday in Lent we will be releasing a daily office; a set of prayers, scripture readings and reflections. You’ll be able to use the daily office in a way that works best for you. You can weave the daily devotions into the time you spend alone with Jesus, or you can draw your spouse or families together for a short time of reading, praying and worshipping together. 

As we get used to the rhythm of the daily office together, you’ll notice a few pointers to help you along the way.

Now, let’s begin the journey.

 

Genesis 3: 1-19, Job 1:21

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.

Why can’t it be spring already?

We feel tugged towards newness by the strength of spring, two seasons are wrestling together and we’re caught in the middle. Still in the grip of winter, we feel tugged towards newness by the season of spring.

Longing to rush ahead to the next thing, we tend to push past the seasons, believing that our lives can be made, when in fact they grow. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, sprouting, becoming and abundance cannot complete its course.

Time is needed for winter to complete its work.

In the quiet of winter it can appear that there’s not a lot going on. Yet, underneath the surface, at the level of the root systems, the deep work of preparation for the dawning of resurrection is taking place.

Each year, followers of Jesus take forty days before Easter to embrace a liturgical season that draws us inward in self-examination and downward in humility, as we join the wanderers, the exiles and Christ Himself, in the wilderness – a liminal space of formation, preparation and transition.

Lent is more than just a choice to give something up for a few weeks, it’s an invitation to empty ourselves once again so that we may draw closer to God and live openly towards our neighbour. 

Through repentance, storytelling, forgiving and fasting, we allow ourselves to hunger and thirst for righteousness knowing full well that a feast awaits us.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day where last year’s palm branches would be burned and its ashes rubbed onto the foreheads of those who hear “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” whispered into their ears. 

We set off on the lenten pilgrimage with a day of humbling; a day that helps us face facts. For there is a clarity to behold through the nights of late winter.

We see clearly that the fallout from the fall rages on. For all the goodness we enjoy, life still breaks our hearts. The first line of Heaney’s ‘The Cure at Troy’ is a complete sentence. We can’t escape death. In this world we should expect trouble. Existence is fragile. Sometimes the best we can come up with is just admitting that it’s not supposed to be like this.

Either that, or we just groan.

“How long, Lord?  How much longer must we wait until there’s no more not yet and only just now?”

Lent also helps us to see ourselves clearly, as we confess that we are not in control, our lives are not linear and we still sin. Lent leads us to repent of our brokenness while at the same time inviting us to turn our faces toward Love Himself.

Love, who is closer than the breath carrying our confessions.

“What if the deeper you know your own brokenness, the deeper you can experience your own belovedness? I wonder if this is the refrain of the believing life: I fall because I am broken, but I rise because I am beloved, and I fall again because I am broken, but I always rise because I am always beloved?”

Ann Voskamp

Through the changing of the seasons we see life and ourselves clearly, but above all, in the practice of Lent, you will find gentle Jesus drawing near to you, beckoning to come away with Him once again. His presence and our belovedness is what Lent brings into clearest view.

We’re caught in the middle of winter wrestling with spring. We’re caught in the tension.

Either we can short circuit the seasons, rushing ahead or we can give ourselves over to clarity, joining Jesus Himself in the wilderness, as He tends to us and teaches us to sing His song in a strange land.

For it is doxology that pushes back the darkness and directs us towards the dawning of resurrection.

The Lord gives. 
The Lord takes away. 
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Stuart Bothwell

 

All to pray the following words aloud.

Father,
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,
without reserve,
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.”

Ann Voskamp

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.

Acknowledgements
‘The Broken Way’ – Ann Voskamp