Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Lent 2020 (Page 1 of 12)

April 12, 2020 — Holy Week, Resurrection!

This year as we move through this dark and wonderful week, we are going to remember the events of Jesus’ last week and try to place ourselves there with Him. We’ll use the Sonnets of Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press) to encourage our reflection.

Hallelujah, He Is Risen — Wayne Pascall

Today’s Bible reading 

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” — John 20:11-23

More thoughts for meditation

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

15 Easter dawn

He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And now he blesses hers who stood and wept
And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s
Last touching place, but watched as low light crept
Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs
A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.
She turns, but cannot focus through her tears, 
Or recognize the Gardener standing there.
She hardly hears his gentle question, “Why,
Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light
That brightens as she chokes out her reply,
‘They took my love away, my day is night.’
And then she hears her name, she hears Love say
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to Day.

Suggestions for Action:

You may have gathered with us early in the morning to watch the dawn and hear the story from our women. Whether or not you were able to do that it’s time to celebrate the new life that is ours in Christ.

Call 10 people with the best news of our lives:  He is risen!

Attend our online celebration at 5pm. Go to circleofhope.net/onlinemeeting.

For more about Easter Sunday, visit Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

April 11, 2020 — Holy Week, Holy Saturday

This year as we move through this dark and wonderful week, we are going to remember the events of Jesus’ last week and try to place ourselves there with Him. We’ll use the Sonnets of Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press) to encourage our reflection.

Jesus is laid in the tomb — Gwyneth Leech, 2004

Today’s Bible reading 

As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”

Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

More thoughts for meditation

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

12 Jesus is laid in the tomb

Here at the centre everything is still,
Before the stir and movement of our grief
That bears its pain with rhythm, ritual,
Beautiful useless gestures of relief.
So they anoint the skin that cannot feel
And soothe his ruined flesh with tender care,
Kissing the wounds they know they cannot heal,
With incense scenting only empty air.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves,
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old grave,
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found 
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.

Suggestions for Action:

This week as we are quarantined across our church, we’d like to embody our meditation by having each of us do some physical activities to respond to the scripture and sonnets.  Our hope is to help each of us recollect how Jesus is with us throughout our day. We will gather online each evening, but before that time here are some suggestions:

Find a flat surface in your home that you can free from other objects. It could be an end table, coffee table, window sill, etc.  It’s best if this is in a central place that you will pass by throughout your daily activity. Placing a candle on it as a reminder that the Light of the World is with you is a good first step. Each day this guide will suggest that you find an object to place on this small sacred spot you’re creating that represents the movement of the day.  

Today we’re focused on the silence of the grave as we descend with Jesus. So find something that symbolizes this stillness to you. A rock that blocks, an empty space, etc.  Let your imagination be free. Place the item on your sacred space and pray this prayer with all of us:

Dear One – You have known death in a way we never will because You brought Love to bear on its cruel hold. You bless every love that weeps and grieves. We wait in the dark with You. Help us search the depths of our souls now and give ourselves to Your renewing power. 

Breath Prayer:  (Inhale): Here in the dark (Exhale): I wait for Your Light.

Set your phone to ring today at 3 hour intervals.  Traditional hours of prayers in monasteries would be 9am, 12pm, 3pm. But no Vespers tonight. Experience the silence of the grave. When your phone rings at the hours today (or you just remember!) stop for a few moments at your sacred space and repeat the Breath Prayer for the day.  You could take several minutes in this pause or if it’s a busy time for you, just stop for a moment or so to draw your mind and heart consciously into God’s presence with you.

In times of stress like we are all experience during the pandemic, we need to attend to our minds, spirits and our bodies with care.  Sleep is particularly important for our bodies to combat the impacts of stress so be gentle with yourself and don’t neglect your need for sleep; however, we also need to turn our attention very consciously toward the positive. These interludes in your day are designed to offer help in this practice of attunement with God.  Find a rhythm that works for you and adjust the hours as needed.

Prepare for Resurrection Sunday:  We will meet tomorrow before dawn as Mary approaches the tomb.  To prepare for our time online today, so you and your household can wake early to see the Risen Lord.

  • Bake your own Cross cookies (or buy some sugar cookies). Paint a cross on the cookies with red food coloring.  Don’t eat them now.
  • Prepare a place outside to watch the dawn with us.  If you are able, set up a fire ring or collect candles (with wind protection like a plastic cup or maybe a lantern)  so you have warmth and light in the pre-dawn.
  • Ready yourself and/or your household to rise at 6am and gather at your spot outside – on your stoop? In your backyard? Etc . (Looking out the window might do the trick).

We’ll begin at 6:15 am live on YouTube for thirty minutes together. Go to circleofhope.net/onlinemeeting

April 10, 2020 — Holy Week, Good Friday

This year as we move through this dark and wonderful week, we are going to remember the events of Jesus’ last week and try to place ourselves there with Him. We’ll use the Sonnets of Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press) to encourage our reflection.

Station 11: Nailed to the Cross by Jen Norton

Today’s Bible reading 

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” 

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” — Matthew 27:45-54

More thoughts for meditation

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

11 Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

See, as they strip the robe from off his back
And spread his arms and nail them to the cross,
The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black, 
and love is firmly fastened on to loss.
But here a pure change happens. On this tree
Loss becomes gain, death opens into birth.
Here wounding heals and fastening makes free,
Earth breathes in heaven, heaven roots in earth
And here we see the length, the breath, the height,
Where love and hatred meet and love stays true,
Where sin meets grace and darkness turns to light,
We see what love can bear and be and do.
And here our Saviour calls us to his side,
His love is free, his arms are open wide.

Suggestions for action

This week as we are quarantined across our church, we’d like to embody our meditation by having each of us do some physical activities to respond to the scripture and sonnets.  Our hope is to help each of us recollect how Jesus is with us throughout our day. We will gather online each evening, but before that time here are some suggestions:

Find a flat surface in your home that you can free from other objects. It could be an end table, coffee table, window sill, etc.  It’s best if this is in a central place that you will pass by throughout your daily activity. Placing a candle on it as a reminder that the Light of the World is with you is a good first step. Each day this guide will suggest that you find an object to place on this small sacred spot you’re creating that represents the movement of the day.  

Today we’re focused on the death of Jesus where love and hatred meet and Love stays true. So find something that symbolizes for you. A crucifix, a dark night picture, etc. Let your imagination be free. Place the item on your sacred space and pray this prayer with all of us:

Dear One – You have faced every fear and every evil for us and did not turn away.  Thank You.

Breath Prayer:  (Inhale): You have faced death for me (Exhale): I need not fear.

Set your phone to ring today at 3 hour intervals.  Traditional hours of prayers in monasteries would be 9am, 12pm, 3pm and lastly Vespers which we set at 9pm this week but tonight we hope you will join us online for a little bit longer for a Tenebrae observance starting at at 8:30 pm.  

When your phone rings at the hours today (or you just remember!) stop for a few moments at your sacred space and repeat the Breath Prayer for the day.  You could take several minutes in this pause or if it’s a busy time for you, just stop for a moment or so to draw your mind and heart consciously into God’s presence with you.

Today, Good Friday, try to carve out even more time. The Gospel of John remembers Jesus was on the cross from 12 to 3. During those hours, see how much of a vigil you can keep in your own home. This Stations of the Cross prayer walk guide (link) will help. Begin and end your prayer walk at your sacred spot.

In times of stress like we are all experience during the pandemic, we need to attend to our minds, spirits and our bodies with care.  Sleep is particularly important for our bodies to combat the impacts of stress so be gentle with yourself and don’t neglect your need for sleep; however, we also need to turn our attention very consciously toward the positive. These interludes in your day are designed to offer help in this practice of attunement with God.  Find a rhythm that works for you and adjust the hours as needed.

You might want to show us your prayer object on social media. That could help us be together in this rhythm. If you do use #sacredspot2020

Today is Howard Thurman Day! Get inspired by this theologian and activist at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

April 9, 2020 — Holy Week, Maundy Thursday

This year as we move through this dark and wonderful week, we are going to remember the events of Jesus’ last week and try to place ourselves there with Him. We’ll use the Sonnets of Malcolm Guite (Sounding the Seasons from Canterbury Press) to encourage our reflection.

Jesus is condemned to death — David O’Connell

Today’s Bible reading 

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”

He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “Rabbi, am I the one?”

And Jesus told him, “You have said it.”

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”…

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”…

So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”…

Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”

Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” — Matthew 26:17-32…36-38…44-46…59-67

More thoughts for meditation:

THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS

1 Jesus is condemned to death

The very air that Pilate breathes, the voice
With which he speaks in judgement, all his powers
Of perception and discrimination, choice,
Decision all his year, his days and hours,
His consciousness of self, his every sense,
Are given by this prisoner, freely given,
The man who stands there making no defence,
Is God, His hands are tied, his heart is open.
And he bears Pilate’s heart in his and feels
That crushing weight of wasted life He lifts
It up in silent love. He lifts and heals.
He gives himself again with all his gifts
Into our hands.  As Pilate turns away
A door swings open. This is judgement day.

Suggestions for action

This week as we are quarantined across our church, we’d like to embody our meditation by having each of us do some physical activities to respond to the scripture and sonnets.  Our hope is to help each of us recollect how Jesus is with us throughout our day. We will gather online each evening, but before that time here are some suggestions:

Find a flat surface in your home that you can free from other objects. It could be an end table, coffee table, window sill, etc.  It’s best if this is in a central place that you will pass by throughout your daily activity. Placing a candle on it as a reminder that the Light of the World is with you is a good first step. Each day this guide will suggest that you find an object to place on this small sacred spot you’re creating that represents the movement of the day.  

Today we’re focused on the Last Supper and the condemnation of Jesus. Jesus reminds His friends that He is to suffer and willingly faces betrayal.  He sees something more beyond the Cross. He gives Himself utterly without holding back. So find something that symbolizes this ultimate love poured out for you and me. Tradition suggest bread or wine. Those are good. Let your imagination be free. Place the item on your sacred space and pray this prayer with all of us:

Dear One – You saw what was coming and endured the weaknesses of Your friends.  You do the same for me. Thank You. You asked for another way and then You did not turn away from our deepest needs, but toward them. You trusted that light would overcome the darkness of this world, that love would conquer death. Help me see as You see.

Breath Prayer:  (Inhale): Your heart is open (Exhale): to me.

Set your phone to ring today at 3 hour intervals.  Traditional hours of prayers in monasteries would be 9am, 12pm, 3pm and lastly Vespers which we will set at 9pm this week.  Tonight we hope you will join us online for Vespers at 9pm. When your phone rings at the hours today (or you just remember!) stop for a few moments at your sacred space and repeat the Breath Prayer for the day.  You could take several minutes in this pause or if it’s a busy time for you, just stop for a moment or so to draw your mind and heart consciously into God’s presence with you.

In times of stress like we are all experience during the pandemic, we need to attend to our minds, spirits and our bodies with care.  Sleep is particularly important for our bodies to combat the impacts of stress so be gentle with yourself and don’t neglect your need for sleep; however, we also need to turn our attention very consciously toward the positive. These interludes in your day are designed to offer help in this practice of attunement with God.  Find a rhythm that works for you and adjust the hours as needed.

You might want to show us your prayer object on social media. That could help us be together in this rhythm. If you do use #sacredspot2020

Today is Dietrich Bonhoeffer Day! Honor this martyr who resisted the Nazis in word and deed at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.. 

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