Connecting in Lent

On readings for the first Sunday in Lent, Year C

Opening Prayer

GENTLEST OF WAYS

          Expectations of you to be harsh and demanding

Fade with the gospel reality of your gentleness:

Showing mercy to a sinner ready to be stoned,

Curing years of an ill woman’s hemorrhaging,

Touching disdained lepers with tender concern,

Weeping at the gravesite of a beloved friend,

Awakening the dead, forgiving the arrogant,

Gathering playful children whom disciples shun.

Everywhere in your life there is tangible evidence

Confirming the truth of your gentle kind-heartedness.

Today: I approach all life with gentleness

-Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 28

Opening question for sharing

As we begin this Lent, how are you doing?  How are you feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually?

Scripture

Luke 4: 1-13

After Jesus is baptized, he goes into the wilderness and fasts.  He is tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, worship the devil and thus rule all the kingdoms of earth, and throw himself down from the top of the temple to see if God or angels will catch him.

For the beginning of this Lent, I am going against the trend to give up something in solitary penance, as Jesus did in the wilderness.  I’m going to suggest that we take on something that connects us with God, with nature, with others, and with our deepest selves.  Here are some readings you might find helpful in finding how you might connect and what you might take on during this time before Easter.

Readings

Do you think there is anything not attached by its unbreakable cord to everything else?

Mary Oliver

Connections lay undiscovered beneath the surface of our everyday interactions with others.  How might we live differently with the realization that they are there?

 -Joy, in Friends of Silence newsletter, March 2022

Make the next 40 days prayerfully powerful in a new way. Don’t simply “give something up;” FAST from what paralyzes you from embracing Christ’s example (Is it fear? pride? a grudge?). Instead, FEAST on trust: His offer of companionship now (making burdens light) and His offer of peace ahead that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).
       It is hard to move from one global crisis to another. Challenges such as a pandemic, inflation and war can drain our well of hope. Yet, God gives us the freedom to choose how we’ll respond. God offers to work with us, through us, and in us if we accept the invitation. Through us, God can glorify any situation.

-Maria G. Cressler, Executive Director, Ignatius House, Atlanta, GA

FINDING JOY IN GIVING AND RECEIVING

Lorri Brining

GIVING

Giving of time

Lending an ear

Giving comfort & understanding

Making time to care

          -for a pet

          -for home and family

Being patient

Giving smiles     

Remembering Jesus

-in all my work and interactions

          -in how I treat people I meet or pass on the street.

Being nonjudgmental

Trying to be considerate

Giving kind advice or gentle redirection

Modeling patience and peace, but not indifference

Joy in helping others without resentment or fear

Being courageous

Getting involved

RECEIVING

Invitations

Constructive criticism

Kindness

Jesus, through scripture & daily prayer

Love

Resolutions

Solutions

Revelations

Puppy kisses

Compliments

Grace

Trust

Appreciation

Gratitude

Humility

Inspiration

Motivation

Consolation

Direction

Blessings,

Hope

Healing

Opportunities

Meditation

Gradually relax all parts of your body from your feet up to your head, three times breathing in God’s light, love, and comforting darkness, God’s strength and power to heal.

Imagine yourself at the beach using all five senses in imagination. There’s enough sunshine for you to feel pleasantly warm but not overly hot. You hear the waves lapping on the shore, the calling of seagulls, and the soft murmur of the wind in the pines. You’re walking at the water’s edge, watching the foam roll onto the sand at the leading border of the waves. You can feel your bare feet sinking into the damp sand as you walk. You can almost taste and smell the salt tang in the air.

As you amble along, you notice that something has washed up on the shore just a few feet in front of you. You realize it’s a bottle, so you walk over to it and pick it up. Inside is a description, in words or pictures, of an invitation to your heart’s desire for this Lent.  It’s a description of ways to connect with God, with others, with Nature, and with yourself, by giving and receiving. What is that desire and invitation?

As you are pondering the contents of the bottle, Jesus walks up.  Share with him your heart’s desire.

Meditational Art Project

On a clean piece of paper, write some of the ways you’d like to give and receive this Lent.  Or write parts of the readings that especially move you.  Cut out pictures of nature from magazines or art books and paste them in and around the words on your Lenten Sheet.  Keep your artwork near you to look at and enjoy during this holy season.

Closing Prayer

New Prayer for Peace

How do we pray for peace from half a world away?

How can words salve and soothe real wounds,

Assuage real fears, wipe tears from real eyes?

God of endless compassion, transform our prayers

From words into bridges that span the distances

Between us, uniting our hearts in yours.

Every time we turn our keys in a lock,

May we remember all who are losing their homes. 

Every time we step into our cars,

May we remember all who are having to flee.

Every time we embrace our children,

May we remember all who are trying to shield theirs from war.

May our besieged brothers and sisters

Be drawn into the arms of the suffering Christ,

And may our cry be heard as one voice

Ringing out from every corner of the earth:

God of endless mercy, grant us peace.

Amen

Cameron Bellm, courtesy of the Society of Jesus @wearethejesuits

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