Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Before the Cross - Third Week of Lent

The crucifix is evocative. Evoking what? Shame. Repentance. Grace. Love. Sacrifice. Salvation. Joy.
All of the above?

My daughter encountered this stirring crucifix, a wooden carving, in the medieval village of Gradara, Italy, near the Adriatic Sea. What stirs within you...standing before the Cross of Christ?

Holy Father, Creator God,

We stand at the Cross with conflicting emotions.

We rejoice that you reach out to us through your Son, Jesus Christ.
But we stand solemnly to confess and to ask that you forgive our sin.

Let’s make that my sin, not someone else’s failures or mistakes.

From the Prayers of Confession in the Methodist Hymnal…

I ask your forgiveness for what I have done, for what I have left undone. (from #890)

I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart.
(from #891)

I have not lived by faith. I have resisted your Spirit. I have neglected your inspiration. Forgive what I have been and in your spirit direct what I shall be.
(from #892)

Lord, may I never underestimate the insidious nature of sin - my sin.
But never let me underestimate the power of love - your love.

Before the Cross, I pray for your grace and I rejoice in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Photo credit: Melissa Habel

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Remission - Second Week of Lent

The Church of St. Maurille, Vouziers, France

Returning to the unpopular-but-fitting Lenten topic of sin and repentance…

There’s an archaic term in Joel 2:13 - a call to
rend your heart to God. He’s not looking for an apology. He’s looking for a true change of heart. The Message translation puts it this way:
“Come back to me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!” Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, this most patient God, extravagant in love…
(Joel 2:12-13)

Dear God,

On Ash Wednesday I acknowledged my wretchedness. Well, I said it, but I really need to own it during Lent.

It’s unsettling (as it should be) but I can enthusiastically pray for forgiveness and remission of my sins. Indeed, I want to be in remission!

…with St. Paul’s prescription from 2nd Corinthians, I pray for:

Purity. Understanding. Patience. Kindness. The Holy Spirit. Sincere love. Truthful speech. And the power of God.

...with the Spirit’s help I rend my heart and affirm Christ’s extravagant love. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lenten Senses - First Week of Lent

Lord Christ,

During this season of Lent,
I pray for sharper hearing
that I will heed your voice:
in Scripture,
in sermons,
at worship,
in nature,
through Godly people.

During this season of Lent,
I pray for improved vision
that I will clearly see your path:
of humility,
courage and trust.

Beyond the bounds of sound and sight
I pray for your touch, for your…
patient nudging,
and saving love.

I pray for a profound sense of your presence. Amen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (from Matthew 5:14-16)

Lord Christ, I believe those instructions to your original team of disciples apply to me as well. They are compelling words, but it’s all very challenging.

How do we define or describe your light? And how do we shine? How do we live as light?

Living by Kingdom values
that others are drawn to your light.

Extending compassion and mercy
that others are warmed by your light.

Modeling purpose with peace
that others are inspired by your light.

Father, it is my intention to serve you faithfully today. Infuse me with your Spirit for good deeds…that I may light a path for others…that your light will shine in their lives. Amen.