Our first Lenten devotional of 2022 is written by Rev. Addison Gardner. Addison is a third year Brite Divinity School student on the ordination track in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She also serves in TCU’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life as the Disciples Campus Minister. May her words today help you as you begin your Lenten journey.
Reading: Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken Spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Reflection: In many Christian traditions, an Ash Wednesday service marks the beginning of our Lenten season. We gather to contemplate our humanity as the gritty combination of oil and ash form a familiar cross on our foreheads. As a child, I found this service ominous. In a sanctuary filled with dimly lit lanterns and somber piano music, my minister would look me in the eye and explain that I came from dust and to dust I shall return. Understanding the brevity and fragility of life can be daunting. Sometimes we are reminded of loved ones lost in years past, or perhaps we fear the impending finality of an ill friend or family member. These feelings of loss, grief, and death are often buried underneath layers of protection that we learn to build for ourselves, but the Lenten journey requires that we strip away such layers.
Our societally-taught discomfort of pain may lead us to gloss over these forty days and focus on the resurrection of profound joy. While I understand the lure of doing so, I hope you’ll join me this year in allowing yourself to feel your humanity. Allowing yourself to be human means recognizing your shortcomings and imperfections, remembering moments of regret and seasons of pain, and spending time reflecting on the grief of the past week, month, and year. Being human is not easy and recognizing one’s fragile status is daunting. And yet, we do not exist alone. As you spend time contemplating your physical, spiritual, and mental presence this Lent, I invite you to do so in a spirit of companionship. It is my hope that you recognize the humanity in all people who surround you, as they are also navigating the complexity of morality.
There may be moments in these next forty days that you feel as if you’re traveling alone, and that’s okay, too. If you find yourself in spaces of solitude, may you also find companionship in your faith with God. Remember the reflection Jesus practiced by himself while cherishing the humanity of those around him in acts of love and service. Whether you find yourself in a church pew every Sunday or wrapped in a blanket on your bed because there does not seem to be enough energy in the world to make you sit up, may you know that you are beloved–each and every last bit of your human, perfectly imperfect self, is made by the love of God.
Let us pray,
Most Holy Creator, we thank you for your gift of humanity. We thank you for the small choices we make daily that culminate into our personalities, hobbies, relationships, and lives. We ask that your presence be made known to us as we travel through this Lenten season, and that we may continue to see ourselves in the same light and love that You see us. As we strive to love our human selves more fully, we also ask that you guide us to love those around us with no exceptions. May your radiant and unfailing light serve as a guide throughout these forty days, and may we follow this light with an understanding that we might not always be within eyesight. For God we know you are greater than our doubts and fears, and that You remain steadfast through all times. We ask this in your Loving and Gracious name, Amen.