First Week of Lent, 2023


Dear Friends at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood,

We begin our Lenten journey together and this gives us an opportunity to look inward at our lives and consider where and how we are with God.  In this season we can reflect on the meaning of life with Christ and how do we bless others in a hurting world. Each week we will provide readings, scriptures, spiritual exercises, poetry, art, and thoughts for us to ponder for the next 40 days. 


On Ash Wednesday our season of Lent began.  We enter a time of 40 days, excluding Sundays, to the Easter celebration.  Let us recognize that Lent is a period of spiritual discipline in which we deepen our relationship to our Lord.  Lent concludes with Holy Week with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, the betrayal, the crucifixion, the burial, and the JOY of the resurrection.

Let’s encourage one another to make our Lenten Journey and practices a priority.  If we all carve out time each day to hear what God is trying to say to us, God will provide you with valuable spiritual insights.  Through these practices, devotions, meditation, fasting, scripture reading and prayer each of us will grow in depth in our walk with Jesus the Christ.


Find 20 – 60 minutes each day to sit with the Lord.  It may be helpful to keep a journal or notebook of reflections and thoughts as we go through the daily devotions.

The Lenten devotional will be provided each week with a link through our ePres to the FPCH website ‘Musings” page.


Please do not hesitate to contact Tom Hartshorn,, with questions thoughts or ideas for our Lenten journey together.

So the journey begins…





First Monday of Lent


Monday’s we will provide a Meditation and Reflection during the Lenten Journey.

Many of you may already have a Meditation routine for your daily times of quiet and prayer with the Lord.  For others this may be new or a foreign discipline that is only for Yogis.  The reality is that Christian Meditation has been a practice since the early Church.

It is a time to carve out silence so we can hear the soft quiet voice of God.  We are so bombarded by media, social media, music, and just plan noise.   This noise fills our lives and chokes us out of the healing qualities of quiet.  It also allows us to sit with our Lord and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit.

What you will need:

  1. A quiet space
    1. At a table and chair with a supportive back rest
    2. A chair or couch where you can sit upright.
      1. I would encourage you not to do this lying-in bed unless you need a nice nap.
    3. Cushion on Floor
  2. Your Bible
  3. Timer – good to set a timer for et amount of time in Meditation.
  4. A notepad or tablet/computer that you may write down some notes and reflections when the time is finished.
  5. On open spirit to meet the Lord.

(I recommend you read through this whole practice, get yourself prepared and then begin.)




Read slowly and allow the words to penetrate.



John 3:14-17


If you would like to set a timer for 5 or 10 min.  If you haven’t practiced mediation or it has been a while maybe start with 5 minutes.

Find a posture as you sit with a straight back; I like to think a tall back.  Pretend a string is coming down from ceiling and is attached to the top of your head.

Not rigid and not too relaxed.


This is what brings one back into focus if our mind begins to wonder.

Begin by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Not too labored and not too shallow.

Normal breathes:

In the nose and out through the mouth.

You can close your eyes to help center.

Continue your breathing and begin praying one of these short prayers listed below.  These helps us keep Christ at the center of our meditation and focus on the Lord.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy.”

“Come Lord Jesus, come.”

“Jesus, let me feel your love.”

“Jesus, lead me into joy.”

“Lead me Holy Lord.”



You can create your own,  Centering Prayer has three characteristics:

  1. Short – no more than 8 syllables – first part of prayer prayed on in breath and the second part as you exhale.
  2. Include a Name for GOD
  3. Have a request: “give peace,” bring joy,” have mercy.”[1]


Once you feel centered begin:

Sit in silence.  If your mind begins to wonder don’t stress.  Come back to the breath and the centering prayer 2 or 3 times.

If images or words come to mind.  Don’t focus to hard on them just make a note of it and get back to the breath and centering prayer.

Once the timer has gone off you may open your eyes.


John 3:14-17


Eyes open or closed.

Begin Centering Prayer

Breathe in …      “Come Lord Jesus,”

Breathe out…    “Come.”

Or whichever prayer you choose.


Sit in silence before the Lord another 5- 10 minutes.


Thank the Lord for this time of sharing in the silence together.





First Tuesday of Lent


Today’s practice will be Lectio Divina, the literally meaning “divine reading,” but better translated as “spiritual reading.” 

Lectio Divina comes to us from the earliest days of the church, in the 3rd century Origen practiced this “divine reading,” to describe a way of approaching Scriptures for the purpose of finding a personal message from God.

From the earliest days of the church to 2023, Lectio Divina continues to be a life-giving practice that draws us into intimacy with God that leads to real transformation.1

Lectio Divina is broken up into 5 separate sections:

  1. SILENCO – Silence (we can use our Centering Prayer to help prepare.) Take 60 seconds (or more) in silent preparation for sacred reading.
  2. LECTIO – Listen to the text by reading out loud slowly and repeat 3 times.
  3. MEDITATO – Meditation – Reflect on what word, words, phrase or sentence that speaks to you from the text, then write it down.
  4. ORATIO – Pray – Pray as responding to the words, phrases, sentence that God has stirred in you.
  5. CONTEMPLATIO – Rest in the presence of God, allowing the words revealed to take root.[2]



  • SILENCIO – 60 seconds or more of silence
  • LECTIO – Scripture read out loud slowly and repeated 3 times.
    • John 2:13-22
  • MEDITATIO – Reflection on a word, words, phrase, or sentence that speaks to you from the text. Hold onto it or write it down 
  • ORATIO – Pray as responding to the words, phrase sentences that God has stirred in you.
  • CONTEMPLATIO – Rest in the presence of God allowing the words revealed to take root: 3 to 5 minutes.
  • AMEN




Second Wednesday of Lent


Today we have a reading from the book of Mark, a short reflection on the scripture and then a poem by Walt Whitman.

  • MARK 6:53-56


Today’s Gospel reports Jesus healing many people at Gennesaret. We hear that people brought the sick from all over the region and all of them were cured. “Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.”


An awful lot of contemporary theologians and Bible commentators have tried to explain away the miracles of Jesus as spiritual symbols. Perhaps most notoriously, many preachers tried to explain the multiplication of the loaves and fishes as a “miracle” of charity, with everyone sharing the little that he had.

But I think it’s hard to deny that the first Christians were intensely interested in the miracles of Jesus and that they didn’t see them as mere literary symbols! They saw them for what they really were: actions of God breaking into our world.

“Daily Gospel Reflection” Bishop R. Barron, Word on Fire Ministries


Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,

Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water.

Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with one I love, or sleep in the bed at

Night with any one I love,

Or sit at a table at dinner with the rest,

Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honeybees busy around the hive of summer forenoon,

Or animals feeding in the fields,

Or birds, or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining

so quiet and bright,

Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest and all, are to me miracles,

The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread the same,

Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,

The fishes that swim – the rocks – the motion of the waves – the ships with men in them,

What stranger miracles are there?





Second Thursday of Lent


Maria Monetta-Burke has been a member of the FPCH community for over 20 years.  She is now a full-time staff member serving and blessing the community on our Security Team.

Maria enjoys writing haikus from her daily devotional, scripture, and prayer time with our Lord.

The haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.

This haiku is Holy Spirit inspired from 2 Corinthians 1:12:

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity[a] and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.

2 Cor 1:12

A simple life, Lord

Your grace is enough for me,

Be sincere, my heart.

Thank you Maria and we look forward to many more haikus.  Maybe we all can be inspired to try and think of artistic, creative, and new ways to engage with Scripture this Lenten Season.





Second Friday of Lent


Isaiah 58:6-9a

Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,

and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,

the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.


Matthew 6:16-18

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look somber, like the hypocrites, for they mark their faces to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.



We are now on our Lenten journey. During this time many people think about fasting.

Is fasting part of your disciplines this Lent.  When you think of fasting what comes to mind?

Removing certain foods and drink? Sugar, grains, alcohol, candy, etc…

God is speaking here of “the fast that I choose”. What is the fast that God chooses? Does that make a difference to your approach?

Reread both scriptures slowly.  Let the Holy Spirit move in in you.  Finally, sift through all the thoughts and feelings that have come to you during this time of prayer. Can you turn them into a prayer to God?


You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours.

Do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace.

That is enough for me.






Second Saturday of Lent


How do I pray the Examen?

The following practice is called The Examen where one simply pauses to prayerfully reflect on your week with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We invite you to set this prayer as a weekly rhythm every Saturday. Taking the same amount of time as you would for your regular Lectio Divina practice — pause, sit and review the experiences of this past week.

The Examen practice (or prayer) is a progression of reflections, steps, or movements (see below) that like a magnifying glass allow you to see yourself and the activity of God more clearly as you retrace your week. As one author puts it,

“we are searching for the ripples of the divine that radiate throughout the ordinary.”

As you give yourself to the Examen practice both joyful (consolation) and painful (desolation) moments from your week will surface. Take notice of what you’re feeling and sensing, and when the pain filled moments speak, lean in. For what the Holy Spirit may be initiating could be the gentle work where healing, transformation, clearing, or wholeness is taking place. Trust God’s love.


  • Become aware of the presence of God and His love for you.
  • Review the week with gratitude.
  • While asking yourself the following questions, be attentive to what you’re feeling or to what you’re thinking:
    • Where in your week did you experience consolation; joy, comfort, peace, etc?
    • Where in your week did you experience desolation; sadness, frustration, failure, etc?
  • As you become attentive to your desolation what sadness, frustration, or failure might you need to confess? Where might you need to receive forgiveness?
  • With hope, look toward tomorrow. What newness would the Holy Spirit be inviting you into?*

*shared from –

Read Hosea 6:1-6 & Luke 19:1-9

I hope you have observed that Jesus is never mad at sinners! He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.  The Pharisee is a public holy man who is not holy at all.  The tax collector in Israel is a public sinner, with no credits to his name whatsoever, who ends up being the saint?

–Richard Rohr

What has brought new life and joy this week?

Where have you seen Jesus revealed in a new or fresh way?

What has surprised or disturbed you this week?

Share with God an encounter that changed, challenged, or comforted you.

Ponder times when you may have resisted God’s guidance.  What has stopped you from being wholehearted?  Speak with the Lord about this.

Pray for the week to come, for God’s guiding hand in your life and your interactions with others.

Are there any Spiritual Disciplines you have committed to practice throughout Lent?  Ask the Lord for grace to remain faithful in those disciplines.

Closing Prayer

You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,

That is enough for me.


[1] “Meditative Prayer,” Richard Peace


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