By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19 (NRSV)
As we enter this season of Lent we are reminded of our mortality and our need for God’s grace. The 40 days of Lent are reminiscent of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land, and also of the 40 days Jesus was alone in the wilderness, fasted and then was tested by the evil one. Looking back on these two instances in scripture we realize that we are dependent on God for our very lives, and even in the most dire circumstances, it is God who walks with us.
We humans live lives through which we squander the richness of God’s blessing, ignore those who suffer, and continually find ways to distance ourselves from that which God has called us to be. Still, it is God who comes near, calls us to repent and guides us by the Holy Spirit as we wander through the wilderness of our humanity. By the power of Christ’s death and resurrection and through the waters of baptism, God enables us to love others and boldly share the good news of Christ with a world so desperately in need of God’s love and mercy.
The light of Epiphany first pointed the Magi in the direction of the Christ child born in Bethlehem. Again the light shone in blinding splendor on the Mount of Transfiguration, revealing Jesus as God’s Son. Now, as we begin the Lenten walk toward Easter, the light shines on the cross of Christ through which God reconciled the world through the blood of his Son. May your Lenten journey be one that is guided by the light of Christ, in silent reflection of God’s life saving grace, of discipleship and love for all people.
[Jesus said} “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:5-13 (NRSV)
Loving Father; You invite us to come to you in prayer. You invite us to lay before you our lives fears and joys, sorrows, triumphs, today’s and tomorrows. Enabled by our Lord Jesus Christ, we come humbly and fearfully before you as he instructed; in the quietness and silence of repentant hearts. We come petitioning asking for help, seeking guidance, hoping for blessing. Hear us when we pray.
You invite us to worship you; to proclaim our obedience to you, follow your teachings, obey your commandments, and bend to your will. So as we gather in your name, we come to the altars of our churches and cathedrals in psalm and praise, singing your hymns, declaring our faith, chanting our beliefs, and giving you our thanks. Hear us when we pray.
Yet you do not seize our audible praises, disdain ceremonies, ignore anthems, or tune out chants. You are present in silences, felt in tears, heard in sighs and attendant in laments. You call us into closets; invite us to find retreat, bid us to embrace quiet. Help us to risk silence, grasp solitude, and entwine peace. Hear us when we pray.
In silence, solitude and peace you meet us and you hear us; you love us and forgive us. In the silence of our hearts, you refresh us and renew us. In silence, solitude and peace you are there, we are heard, prayers are answered. In silence, solitude and peace; hear us when we pray. Amen.
Prayer inspired by The Rev. Stephan Brown, A Place for Prayer