We present three Lenten Reflections/homilies here: two by women who are Roman Catholic Priests: Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle,RCWP of Toledo, Ohio and myself, Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP of Fort Myers, Florida; and one by a renowned Methodist Minister and Author Rev. Jan Richardson. Rev. Beverly is focused on the First Reading from Deuteronomy while Rev. Richardson and I consider the Gospel. As I am very much into genealogy and family history as meaning in our lives I am particularly interested in Rev. Bingle’s spin on Deuteronomy and her connections to today’s world with it that rings true for so many families throughout the world. And as I face the unknowns of another health issue I am completely attuned to Rev. Jan’s reflections on the Gospel.
We begin with a beautiful reflection from the blog of Rev. Jan Richardson, Rev. Jan’s reminder of the preceding event for Jesus, the Baptism and the affirmation of him as “The Beloved One” is one I take with me, not only through this Lenten period but through any times that are difficult in our ministry and lives and especially when I am about to enter the difficult unknown, a time sort of like now in my life. It is my challenge and my comfort to remember that I too am beloved. And, you ARE too!
Rev. Jan’s Reflection:
“Reading from the Gospels, Lent 1, Year C: Luke 4.1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
If we back up a bit in Luke—if we turn around, hang a left at the genealogy, and take a look at Luke 3.21-22—we will be able to enter this week’s text with the same knowledge that Jesus had: that when he went into the desert, he went with the baptismal waters of the Jordan still clinging to him, and with the name Beloved ringing in his ears. How else to enter into the forty-day place that lay ahead of him? How else to cross into the wilderness where he would have no food, no community, nothing that was familiar to him—and, to top it off, would have to wrestle with the devil? How else, but to go into that landscape with the knowledge of his own name: Beloved.
In this first week of Lent, as we turn our faces toward whatever this forty-day place holds for us, we would do well to have that name echoing in our own ears—to enter into the terrain of this season with the knowledge that we, too, are the beloved of God. And so I want to offer you a blessing that tells us this. It’s a blessing I wrote last year for those who joined us on the Beloved Online Lenten Retreat—a beloved community indeed.
As we cross with Christ into the landscape of Lent and into the mystery that lies ahead of us, may we know at least this about ourselves: that our name, too, is Beloved.
Beloved Is Where We Begin
If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.
Do not leave
who you are:
named by the One
who has traveled this path
Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.
I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from the scorching
or the fall
of the night.
But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.
I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
whisper our name:
from Circle of Grace
For a previous reflection on this passage, visit Lent 1: Into the Wilderness.
New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
– See more at: http://paintedprayerbook.com/2016/02/11/lent-1-beloved-is-where-we-begin/#sthash.rdG40Wgr.dpuf
In last year’s Lent 1 reflection I also reflect on the meaning of temptation in Jesus’ language, Aramaic (slightly modified below):
(This week) we celebrated Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season at our Good Shepherd Church. I looked into the eyes of those assembled-I saw those who were tired from the heavy work and heavy blows of life-from hard manual work and demanding professional work, to seeking work where there was no work, from serious bodily illnesses, from family strife and living in neighborhoods where drive-by shootings have become common place, as recently as yesterday. I saw faithful followers who came to renew their vows to live like Jesus removing any obstacles from the path. I saw steady golden glimmers of the hope that faith brings. I saw the burdens of sin laid down in baptism and the mantel of life put on. I easily recalled their baptisms as I had baptized several of the young people and adults who came to accept the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads. I easily remembered with regret my own sins and affirmed the joy of my own baptism and all of the sacramental blessings I have received. I saw the freshness of life in the eyes of the youngest and the constant hope in the tired eyes of the oldest. As I looked into the eyes of those assembled it was not hard to embrace the fragility of life and know that whether it be star dust or good rich earth our bodies are temporal and will all too soon return to the earth while our spirits are united with our Loving God in life forever…
And I saw before me those struggling, as I am, to lead a life in imitation of Christ. Beyond our shortcomings I saw the intentions to get closer to Christ in this Lenten season, not only by giving much less priority to those things that may take us away from God,(our teens have identified technology addiction as something to fast from this Lent and they are so right) but by actively increasing our service to others. It was so helpful when our Co-Pastor, Judy Beaumont said,”… and if you find yourself doing the same things that keep you from God over and over again, forgive yourself and just start again-but don’t give up, DO start again”. …
As Jesus struggled in the desert for 40 days we too struggle with those things that challenge, dilute and diminish our dedication to the Gospel of service, love and justice especially to God’s poor,outcast and struggling. In the Aramaic translation of the “trials/temptations” of Jesus in the desert, we see that the word “dnethnasey” (loosely translated by most as ‘temptation’) means less being tempted and more trying out or being tried out. And Satan is not a supernatural being but a deceiver and the battle is with deception. So we see Jesus struggling with what his mission is to be and if he will accept it and live it. He knows how hard it will be. ( He encounters a battle with gratifying his own needs and wants(bread), with attaining false spiritual power(a ministry of magic and tricks), and with political power(all this can be yours). Power itself is a deception he deals with in order to emerge in his ministry with compassion and love for all.) He emerges- preaching repentance, preaching turning our lives around, changing our lives and believing the good news, with all our hearts. “Believe” in Aramaic connotes “believing in” in the sense of loving another (not a dogmatic belief system). Parents who love a child or spouses and friends who love one another truly believe in them). So, as we have accepted the cross signed on our foreheads and either recalled that we are dust, or as we say, “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” may we try in these forty days to imitate Christ in the way that we love and serve others.”
Rev. Judith A. B. Lee, RCWP
And, we also have an insightful reflection on the Hebrew Scriptures text from Deuteronomy that begins our worship the First Sunday of Lent by Rev. Beverly Bingle of Toledo, Ohio:
The book of Deuteronomy tells us that,
like our ancestors in faith,
we must recognize that the power of God
has brought us to this land flowing with milk and honey.
We are to say, “My father was a wandering Aramean”
who traveled from place to place,
out of oppression into freedom and security,
living in peace.
Between the years of 1835 and 1837,
violent acts were perpetrated
against the Jews of Marköbel, Germany.
George and Minnie, married there in 1833,
left Marköbel in the midst of that violence.
With two-year-old Henry, their only child,
they traveled the 4,200 miles to America,
hoping for peace and security
in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Henry married Anna Elizabeth, daughter of British immigrants,
and they raised three sons in northwest Ohio.
Henry’s son Conrad married Sarah,
also a child of immigrants, hers from County Mayo in Ireland. They
traveled 25 miles west
and settled in Scott Township, Sandusky County, Ohio,
where they joined St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Millersville,
east down the Greensburg Pike
about a mile-and-a-half from their Home in Tinney.
They raised seven of their nine children to adulthood,
sweating and scrabbling to make the boulder-strewn fields
flow with milk and honey.
Their youngest surviving son Cletus married Marie,
whose ancestors were Dutch and Danish and German,
Shawnee and British and French.
They found a small piece of land about halfway
between his native Tinney and her native Vickery,
rich and productive soil that became
for them and their three children
a land flowing with milk and honey.
Yes, my parents—
and their parents and their parents’ parents,
as far back as I can trace—
were “wandering Arameans.”
I am blessed to live a long and fruitful life
and settle into a place flowing with milk and honey—
well, with eggs and lettuce and tomatoes and beans—
and the loving embrace of friends and family on the journey.
It’s the history of the human race,
whether they’re our ancestors by blood or by faith,
ordinary people looking for security,
and the power to make a living
for themselves and their children.
Those Arameans that Moses talked about
were an ancient people in Aram and Babylonia—
the land we now call Syria—about 3,000 years ago.
Too many of today‘s Arameans are wandering the world right now,
hoping for a land
flowing with milk and honey
instead of bombs and bullets.
Over 7 million have left Syria in the last four years,
and another 2 million have fled their homes inside the country.
Nine million men, women, and children
running from violence and oppression—
that’s equal to the whole population of the state of Michigan.
Over 200,000 have died from the violence.
That’s like murdering seven out of every 10 Toledoans.
Or the entire population of Akron.
Toledo, a city built by immigrants, has offered safe haven
to 54 of the 80 Syrian refugees received in the State of Ohio
in the last four years.
Some of you volunteer with our local organizations
to help refugees settle here:
UsTogether, Welcome TLC, and Water for Ishmael.
Some of you volunteer in the many activities
of our Northwest Ohio MultiFaith Council,
building peace among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists,
and every other religious group in our community.
And we write letters and sign petitions
in support not only of Syrian refugees
but South American refugees
and refugees and immigrants from every country.
It’s not just refugees.
Too many people here in Toledo live in despair
of ever finding anything but affliction, toil, and oppression.
We rank #1 in the nation
in the increased concentration of poor people.
One out of seven in our town live below the poverty level.
And poverty is much worse in other places around the globe
than it is here in Toledo.
Our homeless shelters are full again this winter,
but we have shelters
and we have generous donors like you.
You work for and with people in need here in Toledo.
You show your belief in Paul’s observation
that there is no difference between Jew and Greek,
that all are one in Christ.
Just this month you sent financial support to 1Matters
to help the homeless,
St. Martin de Porres’ Black History Month concert,
and the Seagate Food Bank.
That’s on top of the load of in-kind donations
you pack into my car every weekend
for Monday delivery to Claver House and Rahab’s Heart.
And then there’s the environment.
Twenty percent of the world’s population
uses up resources at a rate
that robs poor nations and future generations
of what they need to survive.
That kind of excess and waste and abuse of the environment
break the fifth commandment:
Thou shalt not kill!
But all of you, by putting your time, talent, and/or treasure
into our Tree Toledo project,
are keeping that fifth commandment.
So we say, on this First Sunday of Lent,
“My mother and my father were wandering Arameans.”
It’s time to give thanks, like Moses says,
for the great gifts of God that we enjoy.
It’s time to help others get to this same place
because, as Paul tells us,
we are all one, all equal, all without distinction before God.
It’s time, as Luke’s Gospel tells us, to look to our brother Jesus,
another wandering Aramean,
as he heads into the desert on a spiritual search.
It’s time for us to walk with him into these quiet Lenten days,
searching and praying
to become even better
at following him on the Way.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
AMEN! Let us move forward into Lent and beyond all levels of death to Resurrection.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
IN this picture with me are three who live the Gospel of justice and peace: Jackie Allen Ducot of the Catholic Worker House in Hartford, Ct, Rev. Judy Beaumont and Rvda. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Colombia. Jackie and Judy have been imprisoned for their peace activism and continue to live lives of serving the poor and struggling for social justice and Rvda. Marina Teresa has risked much to serve the ends of justice for the Afro-descendants of Colombia. We are humbled to follow in their shoes this Lenten season.