Rethink Church, and outreach of the United Methodist Church, organizes a photo challenge for Lent and Advent every year. I started following along two years ago just for fun, but it has turned into one of my more meaningful spiritual practices. They publish a list of words, one per day as the topic for your photo. You can do whatever you like with it, but they also post a question on their social media pages if you need some help to get your creative juice flowing. I use it as a Lectio Divina project as I read through the Lectionary readings in the Book of Common Prayer. If you’d like to join in, the link for their schedule is 2018 Lent photo a day . I’m updating the pictures here weekly, my daily meditations connecting the word and each picture can be found on my instagram.
SPIRIT: Ashes to ashes dust to dust. Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. But the Holy Spirit holds that dust together, sustains us, and convinces us there’s more to life than dust.
WATER: “For as rain and snow fall from the heavens * and return not again, but water the earth, Bringing forth life and giving growth, * seed for sowing and bread for eating, So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; * it will not return to me empty; But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, * and prosper in that for which I sent it. ” -Isaiah 55:10-11
FULFILLED: “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?” Ezekiel 18:25-29 It’s such a haunting question, and the repitition drives it home. Is it not your ways that are unjust? I don’t know if every house of boys is like this, but justice is the never ending battle cry in our house. So rarely is real justice being sought or found, and (hopefully) maturity will reveal this to them. So much of the lenten journey is about seeing the pharisee in your habits, your heart, and the culture you’re creating. The pursuit of justice without room for grace is unfulfilling; appealing in the present but fruitless in the end.
BELOVED: I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-26 Sometimes the younger brothers will insist something ridiculous, like that the sky is purple, or that there is always a full moon on Mondays, and that’s why they both start with M. Arguements ensue, the older boys are (mostly) certain they are right, but they can’t prove it. Somewhere along the way I began telling them that often it is more important to be loving than it is to be right. The victory of an arguement always needs to be weighed against the damage done by belaboring your point. They usually don’t like this advice at all, and stomp off in a huff, which reminds me that I am as much in need of the advice as they are, and that maybe next time I ought to act this point out instead of verbalizing it. As Jesus prayed this for us, I pray it for my children too. I pray for myself and for the church this lent to be better at this: to come together over that which we believe rather than argue over what we do not. We are his beloved, and I can’t imagine how much it breaks his heart to watch us wound each other in debates that cannot be settled.
CELEBRATE: “God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 3:20-22 The sundays of lent are a respite, a break from repentance and soul cleansing to celebrate our forgiveness. Todays lectionary readings were all about the covenant after the flood, the baptism of Christ, and the relation between the two. It always strikes me in that story that the spirit descended LIKE a dove, as opposed to an actual dove, and how beautiful that must have been. The comitting of a soul to God’s kingdom is such a powerful thing. I imagine that while the heavens may not part, the spirit descends on all of us somehow in the moment of our own baptisms, as we’re cleansed from our past trasgession drenched with a magnificent grace.
Both my hubby and I made several trips up and down I-95 between DC and Florida as kids. On our first road trip south, we lamented that no matter how much we begged, our parents would never stop there.
“It’s a tourist trap!”, ” It’s so tacky!” They’d claim, which were the same exact arguements for pulling over.
So of course, now that we have kids, we stop every time we pass it. And that’s a lot, since most of my In-laws live in Georgia. I love it’s gaudiness, its horrid cultural insensitivity, the fact that its completely run down, and that only a third of the ‘attractions’ are actually ever open. Every bit of the place oozes with character. Plus the hotel is cheap and it has a cool indoor pool.
I never really thought about the phrase misty mountains until we moved to the Shenandoah. Most winter mornings when we wake up the house is in a literal cloud. And while it doesn’t attract tourists like the summer green, fall leaves or winter snow, there’s still an etheral beauty to be found in the bare trees and gray skies. Pictures here are from the woods around our house and the section of the Appalachian Trail behind our neighborhood.
Processed with VSCO
Processed with VSCO
There was so much more to capture here, but my battery died. Thankful for what I did find though.