Embrace Transformation (Holy Week)
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries
“Remain here, and stay awake with me.” -Matthew 26:38
We begin Holy Week with Jesus’ own words, a plea for deeper presence. Will we stay awake to what is happening in the dark hours of desperate prayer, or will we find it too much to bear and try (like the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane) to sleep our way through the harder parts of faith?
It is good for us to be here, to be in this desert place, to be gently weaned from what we assumed was essential to discover the deeper calling underneath. We remember, in the simplicity of this season, that this journey of faith is not actually about building the church, growing the congregation, or even saving the world. Those are good things that can be results of faithfulness, but they are not themselves faithfulness. This is the sacred paradox at the heart of this week. The cross confronts our dreams of success and invites us to surrender into a deeper life-changing mystery already at work in us and the world.
Beneath the surface, at the heart of the matter, Lent is about a return to God as the source of our living, God as the ground of reality, God as the sacred presence in all creation, God as redemptive movement throughout time. It is not up to us alone. We release our need for control. We take a breath. We take a step back. We find relief in humility. We see again a wider picture beyond the immediate concerns that have consumed our attention.
We remember that we are part of something bigger-this whole beautiful, complex, hurting, and healing cosmos. We are part of God’s work in the world to unify and restore and redeem. We are part of the divine life that connects us and fills us and encourages us to be who we were truly meant to be. Lent is the season that shouts from our depths-don’t settle for less than the immensity of divine love as the source of your life! Don’t settle for a lesser vision than the dream of shalom for all creation! Don’t settle for your culture’s assumed barriers, boundaries, categories, and ideologies that falsely divide and demean. There is yet more! Our urgencies, agendas, priorities, and passions are reordered in proper proportion to the depth and width and breadth of this sacred invitation and vision.
In this context, Holy Week is a reminder to us that the Christ-way is not a part-time journey. It requires nothing less than our whole selves. “Metamorphosis is more than just incremental change and adjustment,” writes President Veazey. “We may all have to give up something that seems very important to us. But at the same time, we together will experience a liberation-a liberation from many of the things that seem so heavy on us at times. And our experience as we move forward will give us assurance that this, indeed, is the direction God has in mind for us. And it is the direction that will bring blessing into our lives. And it will be like discovering the gospel as if for the first time, even though we have journeyed a long time with it in our movement” (“Metamorphosis,” January/February 2020 Herald).
“Remain here, stay awake with me,” urges Jesus as we move through this Holy Week. Stay present, alert, and bring your whole self. This is just the beginning.
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
Lenten Spiritual Practices
Moving Toward the Peaceful One
As Jesus was nearing the final days of his life, he wept over the city and proclaimed, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:41-42).What are the things that make for peace in our lives, communities, and around the world? During the Lenten season, spend time in silent refection or journaling each day to notice: Am I moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One? Pay attention to your attitudes, actions, and relationships this day. When did you most embody the peaceful One in your daily living? When were your thoughts or actions contrary to the peace of Jesus Christ? How might Jesus, the peaceful One, who is always near to you, be inviting you to draw nearer to him through your daily living?
Fasting and Giving-$40 in 40 Days
A Lenten fast gives us an opportunity to make space in our lives so that God can live in and through us. It’s a time to evaluate what we hunger for most and what we consume. This year, we’ve been invited to tithe as a spiritual practice by setting aside $40 during the 40 days of Lent. If you are participating, pay attention today to the dollar you have given. What might you have done with that dollar otherwise? How does Lenten generosity invite you to reflect on what is “enough” in your life? Who might you invite to join you in this practice? How might your gift be magnified by the many others responding to the same call?
You can make your $40 offering anytime during the Lenten season online or through your offering envelope for Worldwide Mission Tithes.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.