As I wrote in my introduction to the 40 Days of Community journey, this opening week is guided simply by "Let's Be a Community."
I feel more united with you all ready, and that is the truth! Thank you for your feedback and for your company.
I didn't issue a formal challenge for the week; I kind of think that just getting into the groove of thinking about community with intention and purpose is challenge enough in and of itself. Over the weekend, be praying and thinking about how God would have you engage with your community in the time between now and Easter morning.
I cannot tell you enough how much I have enjoyed hearing from you in the #40DayCommunity hashtag. Practicing prayer and reading and meditation three times a day, knowing your voice is echoing mine somewhere in the world, has truly been a delight these past few days.
I want to make sure to clarify: there is no "keeping up" or worrying about "falling behind" as we go. Meeting with God three times a day in the liturgy of Common Prayer is about your time spent with Him. I'm sure through the days to come I'll miss a prayer time here and there. We should keep our hearts focused on seeking Him, not pleasing someone else.
In fact, I think there is a subtle danger in the observance of Lent: if we aren't careful, the focus shifts all too easily from preparing our hearts to celebrate the Resurrection to focusing too closely on self (my fast, my sacrifice) and on rules.
This was made clear to me yesterday morning when Kyle shared a passage as he prepared a Sunday School lesson. In the closing verses of Galatians, we hear this reminder from Paul (as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message):
I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Good stuff - for Lent and for every season.
For those reading along in Common Prayer, what were some of your favorite moments from the past few days?
I was completely undone by the quote from Basil of Caesarea in the morning prayer for March 9:
Are you not a robber, you who consider your own that which as been given you solely to distribute to others? This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry; this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked; those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of him who is barefoot; those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor.
Good morning, gut punch! I now know exactly what I need to do with those storage bins full of clothes in our spare bedroom being saved for The Great Maybe Someday. These words have pierced me and I can't shake loose of them.
The Evening Prayers, with their focus on confession, are a powerful close to each day. I'm curious - is anyone brave enough to pray and confess out loud with someone? That's a challenge I hope to take up myself.
I would love to hear what has happened in your heart and mind in the past few days. Feel free to share a comment or write a post of your own and share the link!
(FYI - I'll be away from the computer most of the weekend, but I'll be eager to hear your thoughts as soon as I am back.)
Next week's focus will be on participating in a Community of Support and the plethora of ways that can be lived out. I so look forward to our conversations with you on that!
The peace of Christ to each of you. You mean so much to me!
photo by ibm4381