Please consider going to MOSAIC’s website: LSSU.org, and pressing the COVID Health tab for really great materials on body-mind-spirit health during this Pandemic!
19 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.”
Christians around the world entered the season of Lent this past Wednesday. Just like Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8-9) and Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2) entered intense wilderness experiences for 40 days and 40 nights, we too enter 40 days and nights of introspection, prayer and fasting. On Wednesday, a cross of ashes was put on the forehead of young and old as the words from Genesis (3:19) are spoken: “…you are dust and to dust you will return.” Let’s trace the cross now if you would like to on our foreheads as I speak these ancient words: “We are dust and to dust we will return.”
Lent opens up a new Christian door for us every year. We get to decide how we will live just a little bit differently. Some people give up something for Lent. Some people take on something new for Lent. Some people pray more during Lent. It is a wonderful way to do something brand new every year. So what are you going to do this year? (St. Francis of Assisi Discussion)
This year many of the writings about Lent talked about how Lent has been going from March 2020 to March 2022 (the Pandemic) -- entire Pandemic felt a bit Lenten. This is so true!
1.Many people experienced death of loved ones during this time. As the burial prayer reminds us: we are “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal LIFEl” It was bitter-sweet in that there was the missing and loss as well as the joy that the loved one was home and embraced by God. Death and loss remind us of our own mortality, the importance of living our lives well.
2.Many people developed stronger prayer lives; and came to know their inner circle of family and friends in deeper ways. Lenten time can be a time of greater devotion to God. The early Christians prayed seven times a day. Really stopped and devoted time in prayer. The earliest church, about 2000 years ago, taught that a prayer life was deepened by praying: When you rise (dawn/sunrise), at 9 am, Noon, 3 pm, sunset, bedtime, and before falling asleep (midnight). A simple prayer, at these times can help us keep a Christian walk with God. What if we chose a few of these times to ‘chat with Jesus?!”
3.There are angels among us! In the Pandemic, we have seen people “open up their wings!” All of the small ways that we have cared for each other when we were scared, shaken, shattered. The compassion that increased in our relationships and interactions. This continues to be the beauty of the current landscape; and it was even more dramatic in the first two years of the Pandemic landscape.
4.We’ve all adapted in new ways to Pandemic life. It is likely that we will have another wave of the Carona virus in the Fall 2022, again. Still, in our March 2022 Lent, what is one practice we want to take into our life or change in our life in 2022? What would deepen our Christian, Spiritual, and/or Community garden that is our precious life? Try not to be so specific or rigid that it is impossible to reach. What will you change – add in or take out to cultivate your Spiritual Life? (St. Francis of Assisi Discussion)
5.We learned that even in the unknown, the difficult and scary… God is with us. We learned that there can be joy and laughter in the places of quarantine, hardship and exhaustion. We learned that close can be far; and far can be close. We learned to shake out of the idol of routine and embrace the moment. We learned that while initially in the face of it our bones may be shaking and our head in a spin, give us a little time, for we are created resilient and brave.
Utah has one of Creation’s most beautiful treasures: the largest living organism on the planet. It is an Aspen forest. Each tree is interconnected in one living interdependent Life. In difficult moments, like a raging forest fire, the Aspen root system and growth moves underground, branching out, expanding, all beneath the surface. Then, when conditions are right again, unexpected Life just bursts out all over. Lent is such a period for to walk with God. Lent, for Christians, is an underground time where we reflect internally, go within, and in forty days or so, we too, burst forth with unexpected growth and LIFE!
All Abrahamic/Sarahific/Hagarific faith tradition share traditions of introspective time of prayer, fasting and change. Native American traditions in North and South America have spiritual quests for a period of days in the wilderness without food where they seek spiritual visions and wisdom for their people from the Creator.