LENT WEEK THREE
SECOND SATURDAY OF LENT, MARCH 12
Our Saturday Examen will make us look prayerfully and reflectively back at what we have done during this week, both our activities and our spiritual disciplines. Where have we seen or felt God in our lives this week? Below is a brief outline of the examen, followed by some suggestions about what one might look for during this time of prayer.
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.
Welcome to the Saturday Examen
- Did you feel God’s presence with you during the course of the week?
- Can you remember one particular interaction, scripture passage, prayer, meditation or reading that really touched you this week?
- Where did you feel a lightness of heart?
- Where did you find it hard to hear God’s voice? Why was that?
- How has this prepared you for what might happen next week?
- Gratitude is an important part of this prayer. What would you like to thank God for today?
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”
THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 13
TAKE UP THE CROSS
Read Luke 9:22-27
God’s great, holy joke about the Messiah Complex is this: every human being who has ever lived has suffered from it – except One. And he was the Messiah!
-John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
When Jesus Christ calls someone, he bids him to come and die. The death is the same death every time… death of self.
The tragedy of life is not that we have to die, but that we might never be born.
- Take 3-5 min and sit with this scripture of the call of Christ to deny oneself. Re-read the scripture 2 times slowly, drinking in God’s word. What moves you or stands out to you during this careful reading of scripture.
- In what sense must we “die” in order to be a Christian? What does the bible mean that we must “die” to self?
- What is the “new birth” that the Bible talks about? How do you feel about it? Does it feel scary, risky, or desirable? Why?
- Where in life right now are you having difficulty “letting go”?
SECOND MONDAY OF LENT, MARCH 14
Read Roman 6:20-23 and Romans 10:9
It is an experience first and a doctrine second.
Doing the work, you’re best at doing and like to do best, hearing great music, having great fun, seeing something very beautiful, weeping at somebody else’s tragedy – all these experiences are related to the experience of salvation because in all of them two things happen: 1. You lose yourself, and 2. You find that you are more fully yourself than usual.
A closer analogy is the experience of love. When you love somebody, it is no longer yourself who is the center of your own universe. It is the one you love who is. You forget yourself. You deny yourself. You give of yourself so that by all the rules of arithmetical logic there should be less of yourself than there was to start with. Only by a curious paradox there is more. You feel that at last you really are yourself.
The experience of salvation involves the same paradox. You give up your old self-seeking self for somebody you love and thereby become yourself at last. You must die with Christ so that you can rise with him, Paul says. It is what baptism is all about.
You do not love God so that, tit for tat, he will then save you. To love God is to be saved. To love anybody is a significant step along the way.
You do not love God and live for him so you will go to Heaven. Whichever side of the grave you happen to be talking about, to love God and live for him IS heaven.
It is a gift, not an achievement.
- Spend 5 min or more to reread scripture and sit in silent meditation. What stands out to you: a word, verse, or phrase. Maybe an image comes to mind that brings comfort or confirmation of God’s salvation.
- How do you react to Frederick Buechner’s definition of salvation?
- What feelings, positive and negative, does the word “salvation” stir inside you?
- When, in your life, did you profess faith in Jesus Christ? If you have not, do you feel moved to say yes to Christ? Or would like to investigate more upon the live of faith? If so, please do not hesitate to contact Tom Hartshorn, firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-606-5223
SSECOND TUESDAY OF LENT, MARCH 15
Read Matthew 6:5-13 and 7:7-11
Prayer develops a whole new consciousness, a whole new way of looking at the world. By putting you in touch with God, amid your very circumstances, prayer enables you to see paradise around you.
-John Killinger, Bread for the Wilderness Wine for the Journey
This is why I think that prayer – opening ourselves up to God and the many ways he has of speaking to us – is not just part of the Christian life but is the Christian life. It is only as we learn to pray that the meaning of faith comes alive to us, and the presence of God in Christ become real to us.
-John Killinger, Bread for the Wilderness Wine for the Journey
Prayer is lap time with Jesus.
- Take time to sit and re-readd the scripture. Let the words of the Lord’s Prayer sink deep into your soul. Sit silently and open communication with our Lord in prayer.
- Do you ever ask God for the “desires of your heart”? Do you think that God wants us to ask for what we want or pray, “Thy will be done”? Why did you answer as you did?
- Have you ever “heard” or “sensed” God speaking to you? What was that like?
THIRD WEDNESDAY OF LENT, MARCH 16
Read Matthew 4:17 and Luke 24:45-47
Before God can deliver us, we must undeceive ourselves.
-St. Augustine of Hippo, 345-430
We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Though Jesus used the word “repent” itself relatively infrequently, the notion is everywhere in his teaching. He called his hearers to a turning to God, to Spirit, that was at the same time a turning away from the present path of their culture.
-Marcus J. Borg, Jesus; A New Vision
To repent is to come to your senses. It is nit so much something you do as something that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, “I’m sorry,” than to the future and saying, “WOW!”
-Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking
- Sit in silence and solitude for 5 minutes. Contemplating the scripture, you just read. And the “WOW” of repentance.
- How do you define repentance?
- Why do we deceive ourselves in to thinking that we don’t need help, we don’t need healing, when in reality, we do?
- Think of a time in your life when you decided to repent. What different has that decision meant to you?
THIRD THURSDAY OF LENT, MARCH 17
Read John 6:1-15 and 6:25-35
People do not live by bread alone, but they also do not live long without it. To eat is to acknowledge our dependence – both on food and on each other. It also reminds us of other kinds of emptiness that not even the “Blue Plate Special” can touch.
It is spiritual lust to seek answers from God instead of seeking God, who is our answer.
Instead of the grumbling about the staleness of today’s bread, let us cultivate an attitude of gratitude regarding the manna from heaven that God gives to us morning by morning.
-Katie G. Cannon, The African American Pulpit
For many years now I have taken to going to church less and less, because I find so little there of what I hunger for. It is a sense of presence of God that I hunger for.
- Sit in Silence for 5 min. Reflect on the scene of the “feeding of the five thousand.” Place yourself in the scene with Jesus: as a disciple, as one receiving the bread and fish, or an observer. What stands out to you?
- Why do we seek satisfaction in the material world?
- List several kinds of hunger that a delicious meal does not satisfy?
THIRD FRIDAY OF LENT, MARCH 18
CONNECTION TO GOD
Read Isaiah 40:27-31
The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.
William Stafford was once asked in an interview. “When did you decide to become a poet?’ He responded that the question was put wrongly; “Everyone is born a poet – a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is why did other people stop?”
-Eugene Peterson, Run With the Horses
It doesn’t take a big person to be used of God. But it does take all there is of him! You don’t need a five-foot pipeline to irrigate a garden. You can do it with a quarter inch hose – assuming an adequate source connection between the source and the hose, and an uncluttered channel.
The only ability God requires is availability. Because the resources are His – and they are unlimited. In his providence He pours those resources through human channels who are willing to be used.
-Richard C. Halverson, No Greater Power
- Take time for reflection and meditation on the scripture passage from Isaiah. What does God bring to you when you contemplate: a word, verse, phrase, or image? Bring this before the Lord in prayer.
- If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you attempt for God?
- Are you aware of occasions in your recent past when God has used you as an ambassador of his love to someone else?
- How do you react to the statement, “the only ability God requires is availability”?