The First Sunday of Lent

The season of fasting has begun and since Wednesday I had no meat or coffee. Because Sundays in Lent are days of celebration I was looking forward to a morning cup of coffee (Sundays are in Lent but not of Lent because they celebrate the Resurrection). Unfortunately  I seem to have contracted some sort of stomach bug from my daughter which made for a long night. Coffee just doesn’t sound right today.

My experience of Lent has been good. Thursday was Valentines and my wife and I celebrated Thursday and Friday evening. I didn’t break my fast, but it seemed odd to be polishing off a box of truffles, wine and some fancy cheese in a season of self denial. Still the time was a gift (and my stomach didn’t erupt until Saturday night).

My devotional practice has been really nourishing. I’ve been going through two separate devotionals.  Deeply Loved by Keri Wyatt Kent has given structure to my morning devotions. In the evening my wife and I have been reading Seeking His Mind by M. Basil Pennington. Kent is a protestant woman and each day she gives a short reflection on a scripture following by a ‘presence practice.’ The first few days had me reflecting on how I think God sees me, resting in God’s love and remembering Jesus’ loving presence with me throughout my day,  pruning my commitments, practicing the examen and receiving the day. Kent seems to have a gift at presenting the spiritual life as an invitation and not a burden. I have enjoyed her meditations thus far.

Pennington’s book are also scriptural reflections. He presents a scripture and his notes from engaging that passage in Lectio Divina. I am quite certain that Sarah and I are doing this devotional wrong. We ought to practice our own Lectio before reading Pennington’s meditation. We do not, we just read. The first couple reflections seemed to be more about commending this meditative practice while the next couple of readings were more engaged in reflection on the life of Jesus (from early in the gospels). These short meditations before bed (followed by a brief prayer) are our nightly routine.

So far neither of these devotionals (different as they are) have much of a corporate dimension to them. They remind me to seek God and rest in Him but they do not call me to enter into suffering, work for justice and connect with other Christians. I assume Kent and Pennington get there.  Part of my Lenten plan was to also integrate praying through Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I have not, but I recognize that that would provide some of the corporate dimension I’m missing.  So far my devotions invite me into a deeper experience of God but I have reflected little on the cross and Jesus’ journey there.  I have not meditated on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.  I need to get blogging on the penitential psalms soon! Here is a collect for today:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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