Lent daybook, 30: Groaning together

A Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. (You can see previous Lent daybook 2017 posts here)

Wailing Wall by Steve Prince (source)

Wailing Wall by Steve Prince (source)


Song for today: Gimmie Shelter by Merry Clayton & In Labor All Creation Groans by Bifrost Arts

Listen to all of the Lent Daybook 2017 songs at this playlist on Spotify:  Lent 2017


I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?
*
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages, who says, ‘I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms,’

... Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord.

But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.”
*
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
— Psalm 69:1-4 * Jeremiah 22:13-17 * Romans 8:18-23 (ESV)

Prayer for today:

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:33, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, in your Word we trust, in your Word of eternal life, given us in Jesus Christ our Savior. We build on this Word of life in these days when it seems that everything is losing strength and value, and yet there is so much longing in people’s hearts. You will not let our hope be disappointed. What you have spoken must be fulfilled. What is promised in Jesus Christ must come into being, not only for a few but for the whole world, for which he died and was raised from the dead. Be with us. Keep us so fully alive that our lives reflect all the goodness we are allowed to experience and we overcome all the evil which tries to attack us. We thank you for calling us to life and for renewing us again and again. May your name be praised among us forever. Amen.
— Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Spiritual practice for today:

Today -- or this week -- fast from all social media. Instead, spend the time listening through Part 2 of Handel's Messiah (the "Easter" part)


(see all Lent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Lent daybook, 29: Watch this potter (to imagine God at work)

A Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. (You can see previous Lent daybook 2017 posts here)


Song for today: Dust We Are and Shall Return by The Brilliance

Listen to all of the Lent Daybook 2017 songs at this playlist on Spotify:  Lent 2017


God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.”

So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.

Then God’s Message came to me: “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel. At any moment I may decide to pull up a people or a country by the roots and get rid of them. But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don’t cooperate and won’t listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them.

”So, tell the people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem my Message: ‘Danger! I’m shaping doom against you, laying plans against you. Turn back from your doomed way of life. Straighten out your lives.’

*

[Jesus said] “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
— Jeremiah 18:1-11 * John 6:39-40 (MSG)

Prayer for today:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy before he first suffered pain, and did not enter into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that I, walking in the way of the cross, may find it to be none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ you son my Lord. Amen
— from "The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime" by Phyllis Tickle

Spiritual practice for today:

Watch the pottery video above (or search for yourself, there are many beautiful, mesmerizing options!) and pray for the Holy Spirit to enlarge your imagination about how He works in your life - through the gifts, the suffering and, even His discipline.  Agree with His word that Christ is doing the work of the Father to make everything and everyone "upright and whole".  Thank Him and choose to rest in this knowledge.


(see all Lent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Lent daybook, 28: Everybody learns the hard way

A Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. (You can see previous Lent daybook 2017 posts here)

Jesus Walking on the Water by David Mach (source)

Jesus Walking on the Water by David Mach (source)


Song for today: The Hard Way by Moda Spira

Listen to all of the Lent Daybook 2017 songs at this playlist on Spotify:  Lent 2017


‘I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?’ Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

*

In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, ‘It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.’ So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.
— Romans 7:14-25 * John 6:16-21 (MSG)

Prayer for today: 

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice... The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. Psalm 97:1, 6, NIV

Lord our God, we turn to you, for you are our help. Hear our prayer, we beseech you; let our cry rise to you so that you may send your mighty help in our generation. Continue to protect us from all evil, from death and destruction. Protect us because we are your children. As your children we turn to you, the almighty God, who can make everything work together for good. Be merciful to us, O Lord God. Help us for your name’s sake. Help, Lord, for you alone can bring everything to a good end. So we stand before you in Jesus Christ, holding to every word you have given us and knowing for certain that you hear us. Amen.
— Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Spiritual practice for today:

Slowly reread the Gospel reading today. Where are you in the story? Which character do you most identify with? Why?


(see all Lent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Lent daybook, 27: They ate as much as they wanted

A Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. (You can see previous Lent daybook 2017 posts here)

An aid worker distributes bread and supplies to migrants at a transition camp September 7, 2015 in Magyarkanizsa, Serbia.  (source)

An aid worker distributes bread and supplies to migrants at a transition camp September 7, 2015 in Magyarkanizsa, Serbia.  (source)


Song for today: Deliverance by Strahan

Listen to all of the Lent Daybook 2017 songs at this playlist on Spotify:  Lent 2017


When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”

One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.

When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.

The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.

*

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.

For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
— John 6:1-15 (MSG) * Psalm 89:14-18 (ESV)

Prayer for today:

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer (Collect for the fourth Sunday in Lent)

Spiritual practice for today:

Today -- or this week -- fast from all social media. Instead, spend the time listening through Part 2 of Handel's Messiah (the "Easter" part)


(see all Lent daybook posts from 2016 here)

Lent daybook, 24 & 25: Let's get rid of the preacher

A Lent daybook for these 40 days of prayer. (You can see previous Lent daybook 2017 posts here)

Conscience, Judas by Nikolai Ge (source)

Conscience, Judas by Nikolai Ge (source)


Song for today: Hurt by Johnny Cash

Listen to all of the Lent Daybook 2017 songs at this playlist on Spotify:  Lent 2017


God told me what was going on. That’s how I knew. You, God, opened my eyes to their evil scheming. I had no idea what was going on—naive as a lamb being led to slaughter! I didn’t know they had it in for me, didn’t know of their behind-the-scenes plots:

’Let’s get rid of the preacher.
That will stop the sermons!
Let’s get rid of him for good.
He won’t be remembered for long.’

*

’If God were your father,’ said Jesus, ‘you would love me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn’t come on my own. He sent me. Why can’t you understand one word I say? Here’s why: You can’t handle it. You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me. Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone on God’s side listens to God’s words. This is why you’re not listening—because you’re not on God’s side.’
— Jeremiah 11:18-19 * John 8:42-47 (MSG)

Prayer for today:

You came to taste death, yet You were the Life and had come to bring it to the dead.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
— Gregory the Great, 6th century

Spiritual practice for Friday & Saturday:

On Friday, choose one of the following fasts in honor of the crucifixion of our Lord:

  1. No meat

  2. Skip one meal

  3. No caffeine

On Friday or Saturday, use the guide below to examine your heart and look for meaningful ways to put your faith into practice.

Prayer of Examination:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!(Psalm 139:23-24)

Take a moment to quiet your heart and reflect upon the past week. Look especially for ways to express gratitude and thanksgiving to God for his goodness and love, as well as genuine sorrow over your own sin and brokenness. Close this time of prayer by expressing your hope in the power of the Holy Spirit who is faithful to forgive, cleanse, and transform you into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). (source)

 


(see all Lent daybook posts from 2016 here)