A team of people at the Branch have created a guide for Lent. Each week has a personal reflection, questions to help process the passage, suggested Scripture for the week and a prayer.
You can download the whole guide here: 2016LentGuide
Or, if you’d prefer to read it right here, we’ll post each week’s reflection and resources below:
Reflection 6: the week of 3/21
Read Luke 15:1-10
We live in a culture that likes to celebrate. We get together with family and friends during holidays, and if you’re at all like my family, sometimes several times. We plan elaborate birthday parties for our kids, of which I am definitely one. We celebrate important people and events through marches or parades. We enjoy the celebration.
The thing I’ve been celebrating most in my house is potty-training success. We rejoice when our two-year-old uses the bathroom. We praise her and clap and cheer and give her all the affirming words we can. Sometimes we dance or even offer a special treat. We celebrate.
In Luke 15:4-6, the shepherd searches for his lost sheep and when he finds it he goes back home and celebrates with his friends and neighbors. He rejoices over his lost sheep. In Luke 15:8-10, the woman who loses her coin delights with her community over finding it once again.
At first glance the message behind the parables seem obvious. We know we are the “lost sheep” or “lost coin” and that we are lucky enough to have a God that will search for us when we wander off course. And while I think this is an important message, I think the other piece to consider is whether we celebrate when we, or someone we know, has found their way home.
In order to celebrate, we need to know who was lost in the first place, and that takes vulnerability. Are we vulnerable enough to step forward to say, “I’m lost”? Some people are lost in their relationships, whether it be with a sibling, parent, or a spouse. Some are wondering in faith, asking questions and feeling ignored. Some of us are wandering back from being lost not too long ago. But do we let people into these places with us? If we don’t, then we are missing out on the something we do best, celebrating.
And even though we are excellent at celebrating–who doesn’t love balloon animals, confetti, and a good bounce house?–our celebration cannot compare to the rejoicing that takes place in heaven when a lost child of God finds their way home (see Luke 15:7).
It’s clear that we need to celebrate with one another, and we need to let each other have access to our lives in order to do that. But just as we celebrate, our Father is celebrating even more, delighted and joyful that the “lost sheep” is found.
Questions for reflections:
- Where do you feel lost today? Find some time and space to dwell with God in those lost spaces. Listen.
- When have you felt like the 1? When have you felt like the 99?
- Celebrating our return or another person being found requires that we are close enough to be vulnerable. Where do you see this kind of vulnerability in your life? If you don’t, what is keeping you from vulnerability?
- Is there an area in your life that requires repentance? Take a moment to write down what specifically you need to turn from.
Prayer: God of patient love,
you await the return of the wayward and wandering
and eagerly embrace them in pardon.
Through baptism you have clothed us with the glory of Christ
and restored our inheritance:
give us generous hearts
to welcome all who seek a place
at the table of your unconditional love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Holy Week – March 21
In this holy time,
as we remember the sacrifice of the cross,
we offer the prayers of our hearts,
that through them we may be transformed
to be servants of justice, love and peace.
Make us steadfast witnesses of our Savior’s reign,
that we may live in the pattern of Christ,
who was faithful in all things,
and whose darkest hour gives light and hope. Amen.