FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! In this 3rd week of Lent, we hope the following posts will be a blessing and an encouragement to you on your journey.

Love,

Lisa and Prasanta

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Lent, Week 3: An Image & A Liturgy via The Rabbit Room (a weekly series exploring themes of suffering and loss through music, story, and art)

History as a Lenten Discipline via Chris Gehrz (each moment in history is one more fiber of wood composing the Cross)

The Wondrous Mystery via Bruce Lawrie (the beauty whispering to me from wild places had been Jesus all along)

Charles Spurgeon Knew It Was Possible to Be Faithful and Depressed via Diana Gruver (his example can encourage believers who “walk in darkness”)

Ten Church Fathers to Start Off With via Ed Creedy (expand your reading — an introduction to writers of the Early Church)

Writing Advice I Took to Heart via Lori Hatcher (encouragement for writers everywhere)


Water of Life, Water of Change

This week, I wanted to share with you an essay I wrote that was published in Plough Magazine on Monday. I wrote the essay to express the frustration I/we often feel in this time of Covid and the inbetweenness that marks our life during the pandemic, during Lent . . . and during our time on earth. I hope you enjoy it!

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Last fall, during one of the many pandemic surges in our area, my two daughters and I took a day trip to Grandfather Mountain State Park. We came across a small river, whose name I no longer recall. My city girls will use any excuse to stop hiking, so I let them pause at the water’s edge and remember what it’s like to play, free and unencumbered. It would have been better to keep walking though; I’d forgotten that standing still gives me too much time to think. Watching my girls on the riverbank, tossing stones and exploring the ecosystem, I ached for them. I ached for the season they are living through, the upheaval and the fear and the isolation. As my daughters played and I mused, the river flowed on, like a timeline I wished I could travel to a better place.

If I followed the river many eons back, perhaps I would encounter the earth’s mother river, the one that fed the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10). There wouldn’t be any aching along those banks, surely . . .

Please continue reading this essay over at Plough!


Weekly Prayer: St. Augustine

On more than one occasion, Augustine spoke of the soul as a house — a place where God dwells, a place that is under construction for most of our life. I’ve always loved the beautiful prayer below, from the Confessions, and find it a good one for the season of Lent.

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The house of my soul is too small for you to enter: make it more spacious by your coming. It lies in ruins: rebuild it. Some things are to be found there which will offend your gaze; I confess this to be so and know it well. But who will clean my house? To whom but yourself can I cry, “Cleanse me of my hidden sins, O Lord, and for those encurred through others, pardon your servant“? I believe, and so I will speak. You know everything, Lord. Have I not laid my own transgressions bare before you to my own condemnation, my God, and have not you forgiven the wickedness of my heart? I do not argue my case against you, for you are truth itself; nor do I wish to deceive myself, lest my iniquity be caught in its own lies. No, I do not argue the case with you, because if you, Lord, keep score of our iniquities, then who, Lord, can bear it?

Confessions Book I:6



WEEKLY PRAYER: DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

This very moving and honest prayer comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters and papers from prison. We might use it to cry out to God during Lent or other times when we come to the end of ourselves and cannot see the way forward.

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God, I call to you early in the morning,
help me pray and collect my thoughts,
I cannot do so alone.

In me it is dark, but with you there is light.
I am lonely, but you do not abandon me.
I am faint-hearted, but from you comes my help.
I am restless, but with you is peace.
In me is bitterness, but with you is patience.
I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.

Source


FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! This week, we’ve rounded up some wonderful posts on the season of Lent and prayer in the night. We hope they’ll enrich your journey this week.

Love and blessings,

Lisa and Prasanta

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Lent, Day 3 via Art & Theology (an artistic and theological meditation for each day of Lent)

Why Christina Rossetti’s “A Better Resurrection” Is Lenten Food For 2021 via Holly Ordway (facing up to, rather than fearing, our weakness)

Ash Wednesday: Guided by St. Clare of Assisi via Shemaiah Gonzalez (how St. Clare can guide us through the season of Lent)

Night Vigil for Insomniacs via Matt Kappadakunnel (an ancient Christian practice and an aid during sleeplessness)

Give Rest to the Weary via Tish Harrison Warren (the prayer for those who are too tired to pray)

The Rabbi Sings the COVID “Blues” via Jeffrey Salkin (“There is a great cloud of unknowing. Sometimes, you just have to embrace it”)


A LENTEN PRAYER

Feb. 17 is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season. During Lent, I like to pray Psalm 51, a psalm of repentance and restoration. Our cries for forgiveness and our knowledge of our failings are more than met by God’s mercy and loving-kindness.

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1     Have mercy on me, O God, according to your
loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

  2     Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sin.

3     For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

  4     Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

  5     And so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.

  6     Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.

  7     For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

  8     Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

  9     Make me hear of joy and gladness,
that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10     Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.

11     Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

12     Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

13     Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

14     I shall teach your ways to the wicked,
and sinners shall return to you.

15     Deliver me from death, O God,
and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,
O God of my salvation.

16     Open my lips, O Lord,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

17     Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice;
but you take no delight in burnt-offerings.

18     The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! As we continue seeking hope and courage in the middle of a pandemic, Prasanta Verma and I bring you a round-up of posts and podcasts to help you on this journey. Enjoy liturgy, words of faith, writing encouragement, homeschooling tips, and more.

Blessings to you . . . and keep the faith.

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A Liturgy During a Pandemic via Porter C. Taylor (a meaningful liturgy for groups or individuals)

Giving Up via Taryn R. Hutchison (When Lent started, Taryn knew what she wanted to give up. What she actually gave up was something altogether different; something more. You gave it up, too.)

How to Fight an Unseen Enemy via Shelly Wildman (what do we need to remember about God in these times?)

Stand Against Anti-Asian Racism in The Time of COVID-19 via Tasha Jun (every human being is made in the Imago Dei and is worthy of being treated as such; an invitation to take a stand)

Civic Housekeeping + Dietrich Bonhoeffer with Laura Fabrycky via Ashley Hales (now more than ever, we need the lessons Fabrycky brings us from Bonhoeffer’s life)

Poet Laura: Keeping Your Distance with Emily Dickinson via Tania Runyan (finding depth even in distance)

The Myth of Perfect Writing Locations via Erica Wright (do writers really need a “room of their own?”)

Tips for Homeschooling in a Pandemic…and Beyond via Ingrid Lochamire (tips for those who are suddenly faced with homeschooling)

 

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

If you’re like me, you may not be sure what day it is . . . most weekdays look alike right now. But I think it’s Friday, so…welcome to Friday Favorites!

Today, Prasanta Verma and I bring you words of hope for what Marlena Graves, in her article linked below, calls a “heavy season.” As Christians, we believe that, despite the weight of everything pressing down on us right now, there is still reason to hope . . . and to pray, believe, travel (vicariously), and write.

Read on, and keep the faith.

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20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic via Jen Pollock Michel (prayers that address specific needs for communities and situations)

C. S. Lewis on Times of Fear, And A Much Needed Psalm via Chase Replogle (words of encouragement from a well-known author and Scripture)

Holding Space via Aaron J. Smith (sometimes, we need to believe for each other)

A Saving Practice Amid a Heavy Lenten Season via Marlena Graves (a reorienting practice for a heavy time)

Writing During a Pandemic via Leslie Verner (what can you do to keep writing now that home life, work live, and schedules have changed?)

30 National Parks Virtual Tours via Jill Mills (explore the country’s amazing parks without having to travel)

 

 

Scar on the Cheek: Betrayal: A Post by Prasanta Verma

As we meditate and pray during this season of Lent, one aspect of the upcoming days of Jesus’ trial is clear: there was a betrayal. This betrayal led the guards to finding Jesus, arresting him, and eventually his dying a brutal death nailed to a cross.

What is quite remarkable, however, is how Jesus responds to Judas. Even though Jesus knew what would happen, he still kept Judas near him as one of his twelve disciples.

The same is true for Peter. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him, yet Jesus still washed Peter’s feet.

Jesus still kept them near. He did not deny them nor betray them, but served and loved them.

If it were not Judas, though, it would have been someone else. It could have been me. Or you. God’s plan will be carried out. If we are honest, we know we also betray Jesus. Have we denied him? We betray him.

“There is no one righteous, not even one…” (Romans 3:10). Even so, to all of us who are unrighteous, we are all offered the gift of reconciliation to God Himself. We are all offered the hope of restoration and redemption. The scabs of our wounds, the scars of sin, and the scratches of pain may be healed, restored, and transformed into gifts that flow from our words, hands, and feet. We are new creatures, sewn up from the inside, able to give love and shine a light into darkness around us.

We have hope to live an abundant life on earth. We have hope for eternal life spent with God. With this kind of hope, this kind of love, our pain transforms into joy, which spreads to others in this hurting world—all made possible by forgiveness. That is love. That is Jesus.

Below is a poem I wrote a few years ago, meditating about Judas’ betrayal, our betrayal, Jesus’ response, and the hope and love that flowers and blossoms out of God’s love for us.

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Scar on the Cheek

The kiss on the cheek
planted swift, turns
to thorny scratch, burns
long and thin, drips

red on black dirt.
Fragile petals live a breath
away, a thin vein from death.
Roses keep distant,

far from drawn swords
ready to impale petal-skin.
Repent and attempt
to pluck stems

of delicate short-lived beauty,
for arrangements in a vase,
that fragrance may erase
the scent of love’s demise.

But watch when red drips:
seeds bloom anew,
emit ethereal perfume, transform
into wild, vibrant, hybrid,

blood-red rose. Are you a rose?
Are you a thorn?
Or one scratched by scorn
of deceiver’s kiss?

Show me your scar.

(Prasanta, 2011)

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Prasanta Verma, a poet, writer, and artist, is a member of The Contemplative Writer team. Born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills, Prasanta currently lives in the Midwest, is a mom of three, and also coaches high school debate. You can find her on Twitter @ pathoftreasure, Instagram prasanta_v_writer, and at her website: https://pathoftreasure.wordpress.com/.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome, friends, to Friday Favorites. The world seems a bit different this week, doesn’t it? There is fear and anxiety over the rapidly emerging public health crisis. There is disappointment as events are cancelled and loneliness creeps in. There is concern for the most vulnerable in our society.

This week, Prasanta Verma and I offer prayers and posts to help us in these troubled times. The first four links below concern the Coronavirus and our spiritual response to it. We also have a post on holding on to hope and a beautiful resource for Lent.

Keep prayer, hope, and beauty in your lives this week and always.

Love from Lisa and Prasanta

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A Coronavirus Prayer via Kerry Weber (a prayer for this time)

Social Distancing with Jesus via Michelle Van Loon (finding comfort and courage in a time of concern)

The Spiritual Practice of Social Distancing via Charlotte Donlon (social distancing to protect the vulnerable among us)

The Surprising Gift of Cancelling Plans and Staying Home via Lesley Sebek Miller (with forced stillness and quarantines, we have the opportunity for quality time and creativity . . . what will you do with this gift?)

Are You Tending a Deep Hope? via April Yamasaki (when you’re tending a deep hope yet not seeing results)

The Lent Project via Biola University (daily Scripture reading, artwork, poem, and devotional–beautifully done)