By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 3, ‘…all of us…’
Lent calls us to ponder once more the unbounded breadth of God’s love. Paul’s distancing ‘you’ soon gives way to the more inclusive ‘all of us.’ As church folks used to say, there are ‘no big I’s and little you’s.’ In God’s lavish mercy, there are no ‘righteous’ and ‘sinners,’ no ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’–and, for us, no ‘homeless’ and ‘housed.’ Labels that kept us apart no longer exist in God’s ‘all of us.’ We are all sinners, and by grace, we are all righteous. Far from removing the urgent need of housing for all of us, we are reminded we share in a common struggle together. All of us are broken. All of us struggle. All of us are bound to a way of walking in the world that is destructive. But absolutely all of us–as absolute as our brokenness and struggle are absolute–belong to God. In Jesus, we have found a new way of walking–toward life, in freedom, and with God.
Prayer God of lavish mercy, all of us have been lost, and all of us are being found in you.
By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 20, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years…’
We consistently invest a lot of time and money into structures which maintain our status or security. And I am not just talking about temples, either. We spend lots of time and money, for example, to avoid things that trigger particular feelings–rather than deal with them at the root. We buy things that are beyond our means in hopes of convincing others of our worth. We spend years in school in hopes of having a high-paying career. When we let go of societally influenced plans and structures, it is amazing how quickly God can resurrect a new way of life. Mind you, it may disrupt everything we have known and worked for, but we will be all the better for it.
Prayer God, hard as it is, grant me the faith to give to you all the structures I have built around my life to provide me with status and security; if these things be destroyed, you will raise up for me a new and abundant life.
Reflection— v.25 ‘…and the Holy Spirit rested on him.’
It is a simple reflection, but being too proud to admit we even need help, it is one we really dislike. Thankfully, God saves us anyway, whether we like the way he does it or not. And here’s the truth: the most common way we encounter the Spirit of God is as he comes to us in the heart of another person who helps us. Help is found in what Pope Francis likes to call ‘encounter’ (in the Spanish, encuentro, a meeting of the two, a coming together). We have noted in the Psalms and in Mary’s Song that it is through encounter that God comes to saves us, as God’s face turns toward us. Those who truly help us, whether we have known them our whole lives or they are complete strangers to us, do so because there is a meeting, a coming together, a mutual seeing, in which help is found. This is why we must never reduce our need for help—or our desire to offer help, for that matter—to a mere transaction, a trade of services. There is no salvation in that. Help happens in the relationship between people, because this is the place where the Holy Spirit lives most fully and truly.
Prayer Holy Spirit, my heart is open to all who, like Simeon, come to help me.