Lent

Lent Meditation for Easter Sunday

Miss earlier practices in this series? Meditate here!

Easter Sunday! What a celebration! In this final practice in our series, we receive the first words Jesus says to his disciples when he walks into the room they’ve hidden themselves in,

Peace be with you

Hear and receive those words from Jesus in your own circumstances and soul today!

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance. 

— JOHN UPDIKE, SEVEN STANZAS FOR EASTER

Lent Meditation for Holy Saturday

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In this Holy Saturday prayer meditation practice, we use the tools of imaginative prayer to place ourselves in the room with the disciples where they hid after Jesus was buried.

These disciples had just seen their leader brutally murdered. Some of them had betrayed Jesus just hours earlier; all of them knew of one of their own that had actually handed Jesus over. Can you imagine their shock, fear, grief, confusion, and shock?

In addition to placing ourselves in that room and noticing the waiting rooms in our own life, we also meditate on a story told by Brennan Manning.

In this story, an old man is praying by a riverbank when a scorpion floats by who looks like it’s drowning. The old man reaches out a couple times to try and rescue this scorpion but it stings him violently both times. An onlooker walks by and chastises the man for his foolishness in trying to save this evil and ungrateful creature., The old man replies,

My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.

Lent Meditation for Good Friday

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In this Good Friday prayer meditation practice, we use the tools of imaginative prayer to place ourselves at the foot of the cross.

Before practicing with this video, I encourage you to read one of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s crucifixion. You can find them here:

Matthew 27:32-56
Mark 15:16-41
Luke 23:26-43
John 19:16-37

Hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Zechariah wrote that we will, “Look upon the one whom you have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10) and that is what we do in this practice.

We gaze on Christ, hanging from the cross, a silent gazing on the person of Jesus, a loving gaze on the passion of Jesus.

Lent Meditation: Imaginative Prayer (Week 7)

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As we enter into Holy Week, we embrace an ancient prayer tool called Imaginative Prayer to journey with Jesus nearer the cross.

In this video, we sit with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. You can read one account of Jesus’ experiences that evening in Matthew 26:36-46.

Throughout the course of his ministry, we read of many times Jesus snuck away from the crowds and even his close friends, to go away and be alone in prayer with the Father. But on this evening, Jesus does not want to enter into prayer alone, but asks his closest friends to join him.

Using the help of the Holy Spirit, we place ourselves with Jesus in the garden that grief-filled evening and minister to and alongside him.

Thomas Merton says of contemplative prayer,

[it] is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found.

Lent Meditation: Lectio Divina (Week 6)

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In this video we practice an ancient form of listening to Scripture called Lectio Divina. Using Jesus’ words from John 17:20-21 at the Last Supper, we marinate in Jesus’ prayer to the Father that his disciples and all that would follow would live in unity.

And I ask not only for these disciples,
    but also for all those who will one day
    believe in me through their message.

I pray for them all to be joined together as one
    even as you and I, Father, are joined together as one.
    I pray for them to become one with us
    so that the world will recognize that you sent me.

John 17:20-21, Passion Translation

I’ll read the passage four times – the first time, simply listen to the words. The second time, listen and notice any words or phrases that jump out at you. The third time, meditate on how God is inviting you to respond to this text. And the fourth time, simply rest and receive as the text is read.

Lent Meditation: Surrendering Distractions (Week 5)

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Over the past few weeks in our Lent Prayer Meditation series, we’ve been embracing Jesus’ invitation to surrender. We’ll wrap up our focus on surrendering in this final practice as we seek to surrender distractions and impure motives.

Leaning into the story of Jesus driving out the merchants who’d set up shop in the temple in Jerusalem, we examine what “merchants” have set up shop in the temple of our hearts.

In the words of Meister Eckhart,

As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God…

This is how the temple is cleared: when a person thinks of God and honors him alone. Only such a person is free and genuine.

Quoted excerpts from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Lent Meditation: Surrendering Suffering (Week 4)

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Over the next few weeks in our Lent Prayer Meditation series, we’ll embrace Jesus’ invitation to surrender, and in this practice in particular, surrendering our suffering.

In this practice, we let the words of Thomas Merton convict and encourage us:

Merely accepted, suffering does nothing for our souls except, perhaps, to harden them…

Suffering has no power and no value of its own. It is valuable only as a test of faith.

To believe in suffering is pride: but to suffer, believing in God, is humility.

Quoted excerpts from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Lent Meditation: Surrendering Independence (Week 3)

Miss earlier practices in this series? Meditate here!

Over the next few weeks in our Lent Prayer Meditation series, we’ll embrace Jesus’ invitation to surrender, and in this practice in particular, surrendering our self.

In this practice, we embrace the words of Oswald Chambers calling us to surrender our independence and submit ourselves to co-crucifixion with Christ:

Paul says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’; he does not say, ‘I have determined to imitate Jesus Christ’ or, ‘I will endeavor to follow Him’ but, ‘I have been identified with Him in His death.'

Ask yourself: Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is – the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me?

As we hold this question before the Holy Spirit, we allow our hearts, our motivations, our leanings, to be searched.

It is not just a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from natural standpoint that keep us back from God’s best.

Quoted excerpts from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter