LENT 2021 – DAY 20

Jeremiah 10:11-24 
Romans 5:12-21 
John 8:21-32 

I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control, that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger, or you will bring me to nothing.
[Jeremiah 10:23-24]

Today marks the halfway point of our Lenten journey and I have spent the last day or so pondering how to mark this milestone on our path.

When I committed to this task of writing a daily reflection it was with the intent of engaging more with the lectionary readings, in hopes that I would perhaps discover an insight that no one else had seen before. That, of course, was a preposterous presumption motivated by the ego. Because when I consider the innumerable eyes that have perused and studied Scripture since the words were initially written, at this point there can be no such thing as an original idea.

There are days when thoughts leap off the page for me. There are others when I’m met with silence. No matter how many times I read a particular selection, or how many times I concentrate on a word or phrase in a reading, it reveals nothing to me. I won’t say that today is one of those days, because I came into this day with a purpose in mind, and merely needed a verse or two to support it. It is hard to approach any day with a tabula rasa, a blank slate of the mind.

To give you an idea of how I have approached each day, I sit in my recliner and go through my liturgy, read my lessons and the accompanying reflection, then I move to the computer and begin writing. I have mentioned before that I also spend a portion of my “time with God,” reading from books and authors that supplement what I find in my devotional. I do that especially during Advent and Lent, the two seasons that seem to generate a proliferation of meditative thinkers.

On occasion, when I’ve come upon a familiar passage of scripture, I refer to a sermon I may have written, and I insert a portion of it into that day’s reflection. Those with a keen eye – especially pastors who have been reading these writings regularly – can tell when a reflection sounds “sermonic.”

Before I go any further, I am grateful to God for those of you who have accompanied me on this pilgrimage. I certainly don’t know who all of you are, but I definitely appreciate your reactions, your supportive comments, and your words of encouragement along the way. It is always reassuring to know that someone else has appreciated what I’ve written. If I were writing just for myself, I would simply enter my thoughts into a journal and set it aside to read much later. I need to share.

This quest comes at a pivotal stage in my life. I certainly have the time, not being bound to the demands of a work schedule. The discipline of writing daily has created a rhythm that I find calming. It is voluntary, not required. So far, it has been pleasing, not a chore, despite the dry days when my mind is tested beyond capability. It has given me purpose, something to pursue and something I’ve needed in my continual adjustment to a life of leisure. Some have suggested writing a day ahead, so that others may have these thoughts in their inboxes early. So far, I have resisted that advice, preferring the spark of the spontaneity that awaits me each morning.

So now that you’ve entered my brain and know how it functions, I close with a portion of a poem by Sister Joan Chittister, entitled “Seeking God.” In several ways, it encapsulates what I have tried to articulate in my meditation today.

Sister Joan Chittister

The search for God
is a very intimate enterprise.
It is at the core
of every longing of the human heart.
It is at the search for ultimate love,
for total belonging,
for the meaningful life.

It is our attempt
to live a life and find it worthwhile,
to come to see the presence of God
under all the phantoms and shadows –
beyond all the illusions of life –
and find it enough.

But the search depends,
at least in part,
on the complex of energies within us
that we bring to the challenges
of this seeking.

We do not all hear the same tones
at the same volume,
or see the same visions
in the same colors,
or seek the same goods of life
in the same way.

The search for God depends, then,
on choosing the spiritual path
most suited to our own
spiritual temper and character.

Chittister, Joan. The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life, (New York: BlueBridge, 2011.)

Again, thank you for your companionship along the way.

†      †      †

Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

One thought on “LENT 2021 – DAY 20

  1. Thank you again.I appreciate your words and ❤️. And if you don’t mind listening, I’m seeking some wisdom and insight about a prayer line I’ve been on for about 8 months. During that time we’ve all witnessed answers to many of our prayers.It’s been a blessing mostly bit there have been some red flags for me theologically. 1) There is a constant bashing or disregard for “traditions “. 2) The idea that God wants to “elevate” us or “take us higher” which I understand in the form of spiritual maturity, but there’s a sense that some gifts (tongues) are better than others and a clincher for me was about a week ago when someone on the line spoke words ” directly from God” that I did not understand, left me confused and wondering if I was not “spiritual enough to “get it”. So any thoughts would be helpful and I pray you stay well and keep writing! Deb Michaels


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