LENT WEEK TWO
FIRST SATURDAY OF LENT, MARCH 5
What is the Examen?
I was introduced to this type of prayer and reflection during my studies at Fuller Seminary. It was in a Spiritual Disciplines class where we participated in rituals, exercises, and practices from a wide range of Christian traditions.
The Examen comes from the Spiritual Disciplines and Practices of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He created the Examen to be a very short prayer that can be prayed at any time. In the Examen we review our recent past to find God and his blessings in our daily life.
The Examen can be prayed daily, as we look back on our day at home, school, play and work. It also may be used as a weekly reflection as we look back upon the week that we have just lived. Each Saturday we will us this exercise during our Lenten journey and I pray that we are all enriched and nurtured by this practice.
How do I pray the Examen?
There are five simple steps to the Examen:
- Relish the moments that went well this week. Take inventory of the blessings and gifts that you received from God.
- Request that the Holy Spirit lead you through the review of the week.
- Review your week
- Repent of any mistakes or failures.
- Resolve in concrete ways, to live well tomorrow and throughout the coming week.
The Examen brings God’s presence into the mud and muck of our lives this past week. It helps:
- unite you even closer to God;
- revel God’s perspective on your life during the week;
- stir in you to praise God for the gifts that have come your way during the week, and to find God’s presence in those gifts;
- give you opportunity to recognize and apologize for your faults, and to grieve your failures and hurts and receive healing from them;
- bring insight into what is really going on beneath the surface of your thoughts, words, and actions – into the very source of your motivations;
- you discern how to handle the trickier aspects of your life, to know what gifts you need from God to do the right thing in the coming week, and to ask God for those gifts explicitly.
*from “Reimagining the Examen” website
Welcome to the Saturday Examen
Read: Psalm 139:23-24 and 2 Corinthians 13:5
During this week first week of Lent, may we take some time and explore our relationship with God and our calling to follow Jesus. How has our faith been challenged or strengthened, and have we been called into a deeper relationship with God?
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 the grace to remain faithful in those disciplines.
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.
*from “Pray as You Go”
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 6
THE KINGDOM GOD
Read Isaiah 55:8-13
The call for those who follow Christ is to permeate society with new values and to try to restructure institutions in accord with the principles established in the Scriptures. That means that teachers will work to change the school system and make it a place where every pupil is valued and encouraged to fulfill his or her potential in a milieu that is, both personally and academically, as rewarding as each teacher can make it.
It means that businesses owners will put things like justice and fairness above profits and will operate within a system that communicates the message of justice for all. Such a business world will embody in its structures the kind of employment practices that reflect the principles of equality for all persons regardless of their religious, ethnic, or class identities.
It means there will be doctors and lawyers who are committed to transforming their professions so that the services they render are just as available to the poor as they are to the rich.
It means that those in labor unions will endeavor to get their unions to abandon postures of anger and meanness toward management and will, instead, try to be agents of reconciliation. Good union members will champion the rights of other workers, but they will always do so in the context of fairness.
The examples could go on and on. Suffice it to say that the real work of transforming the world into the Kingdom of God is the work of the laity rather than the work of the clergy.
-Tony Campolo, Everything You Heard is Wrong
- Take 5 min and meditate on the scripture from Isaiah. What are glimmers of the Kingdom to Come that stand out in the passage?
- Why do so many people pursue the “trivial” ways of Kingdom living, rather than the greater purpose of transforming our world and bringing a taste of the Kingdom of God?
- What specially would it mean for you to follow Christ in your daily living this week? Whether that is in the home, the neighborhood, the workplace, classroom, boardroom, etc. How can your sphere of influence be transformed, in small and large ways, by Kingdom/Good News living?
- Take a few minutes to write down or journal anything that the Holy Spirit has placed on your heart during this time of devotion and reflection.
FIRST MONDAY OF LENT, MARCH 7
JESUS COMES FOR YOU
Read Isaiah 9-10 and Luke 5:27-32
The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.
Jesus reminds us that our “holiness” is not a separation from the sinner. Jesus has a different strategy, even though this kind of “holiness” continues in all immature religion to this day. He came for the seeming losers, and not to create a country club for the supposed winners.
-Richard Rohr, Wonderous Encounters – Scriptures for Lent
Jesus comes for sinners, for those as outcast as tax collectors and for those caught up in the squalid choices and failed dreams. He comes for the corporate executives, street people, superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used car salesman. Jesus not only talks with people but dines with them – fully aware that his table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of the religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.
-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
- Take 5 min to meditate and reflect on the scripture from Isaiah and Luke. What stands out to you and where do you place yourself in the scripture? Begin by asking God, “Where am I trapped and unable to see it?”
- How do you think “ragamuffins” (i.e., broken, hurting, bruised people) feel when they enter the community at FPCH?
- In what way or part of your life are you a “ragamuffin?”
- Take some time to write down some thoughts, images, and phrases that God has given you in this time of reflection and devotion.
FIIRST TUESDAY OF LENT, MARCH 8
THERE IS A SEASON
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 and Mark 1:35-39
The truth is, as much as we complain about it, we are drawn to hurry. It makes us feel important. It keeps the adrenaline pumping. It means we don’t have to look too closely at the heart of life. It keeps us from feeling our loneliness. Solitude, on the other hand, is the remedy for the busyness that charms.
-John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil!
Sow a thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit,
Sow a habit, reap a character
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
-Kennon L. Callahan
- Take time to sit and reflect on our scripture reading and from the quotes. What moved in your heart, made you think, or triggered something deep in your soul? Write anything down that has come before you and pray on this.
- Do you often feel “rushed” and in a “hurry”?
- What regular habits in your life enhance your wellbeing as a person and what habits are destructive to your well-being?
- What new habits would you like cultivate during the Lenten season?
SECOND WEDNESDAY OF LENT, MARCH 9
CHRIST LIVES IN YOU
Read Galatians 2:20 and Romans 7:15-25
I have two lasting impressions: the horror of what we are able to do to each other and almost exhilaration at the nobility of the human spirit that so many demonstrate.
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
There is an Eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
We are all worms! But I do believe that I am a glowworm!
It is a great grace of God to practice self-examination, but too much is as bad as too little. Believe me, by God’s help we shall advance more by contemplating the Divinity than keeping our eyes fixed on ourselves.
-St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582
- What has stood out to you during the reading of scripture. You may want to go back and read it slowly and let it sink in. Watch for a word or phrase that stands out to you. Bring it before God in a short prayer.
- Do you feel that you have a healthy sense of self-esteem?
- Do you ever feel that there are two natures within you battling for supremacy? How do you determine which nature will win out?
- What advice would you give someone who is too focused on themselves, perhaps because of low self-esteem?
SECOND THURSDAY OF LENT, MARCH 10
HUMILITY IN CHRIST
Read Philippians 2:1-11
Humility is the decision to let God be God.
When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.
More than any other single way of life, the grace of humility is worked into our lives through the discipline of service. Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service. And nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like service in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service! The flesh strains and pulls for honor and recognition!
- Take 5 min to meditate and reflect on the encouragement one receives through Christ to live in humility and to regard others better than yourself.
- Think of a genuinely humble person who you admire. Why do you choose the humble to describe them?
- Would people who know you well describe you as a humble person? Why or why not?
- Have you ever gotten mad/frustrated when you felt that you were not adequately thanked for something you did?
SECOND FRIDAY OF LENT, MARCH 11
HELP MY DOUBT
Read Mark 9:14-24
Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.
-Frederick Buechner, Disappointment With God
Over and over, my disappointments draw me deeper in to the mystery ‘s of God’s being and doing. Every time God declines to meet my expectations, another of my idols is exposed. Another curtain is drawn back so that I can see what I have propped up in God’s place – no, that is not God, so who is God? It is a question of a lifetime, and the answers are never big enough or finished. Pushing past curtain after curtain, it becomes clear that the failure is not God’s but my own, having such a poor and stingy imagination. God is greater than my imagination, wiser than my wisdom, more dazzling than the universe, as present as the air I breathe and utterly beyond my control.
-Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life
Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of the mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God Himself.
-Madeleine L ‘Engle
- Take 5 min to sit with the scripture. Was there a word, verse, phrase, or image stand out to you? Meditate on this and bring this before God.
- Do you think that “doubt” is a part of faith?
- Are you uncomfortable with doubt and mystery? Do you approach “faith” as a problem that needs to be solved or a mystery to be wondered?