Reflections for Lent 2019

On April 6, 2019, Community of Christ will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Temple in Independence. As it happens, that celebration will fall during the 40-day season of Lent, which in 2019 runs from March 6 (Ash Wednesday) through April 20 (the day before Easter).

Traditionally, Lent is a season of self-examination and repentance. It is an opportunity to take stock of our discipleship: Where are we in relation to where God wants us to be? This year, in observance of the 25th anniversary of the Independence Temple, I have created a series of daily reflections for Lent, focused on the call to “become a people of the Temple” (Doctrine and Covenants 161:2a).

Lent 2019

The reflections are based on passages from the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Book of Mormon. The series of reflections will work through the following weekly themes:

ASH WEDNESDAY (Mar. 6-9)
A people of the Temple seek and receive forgiveness

FIRST WEEK OF LENT (Mar. 10-16)
A people of the Temple seek transformative encounters with God

SECOND WEEK OF LENT (Mar. 17-23)
A people of the Temple prepare for ministry

THIRD WEEK OF LENT (Mar. 24-30)
A people of the Temple promote wholeness of body, mind, and spirit

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT (Mar. 31-Apr. 6)
A people of the Temple promote peace, reconciliation, and healing

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT (Apr. 7-13)
A people of the Temple offer welcome to all

HOLY WEEK (Apr. 14-20)
A people of the Temple follow Christ in the way of suffering love

I had hoped to be able to make the entire series of reflection available in booklet form at the beginning of Lent, as I did with the Temple-themed Advent reflections I wrote at the beginning of this liturgical year. Unfortunately, I’m still writing. So I will have to make the reflections available one at a time, day by day. Look for the first reflection to be posted here on the morning of Ash Wednesday, Mar. 6.

I will eventually make the entire series available in booklet form, so people can reuse the reflections in future years, if they wish.

Christmas: Day 5 (Dec. 29)

This is the last in a series of daily reflections for Advent. I wrote enough reflections to last an entire week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent; since Christmas Eve fell on a Monday this year, I’ve been publishing the remaining reflections through the rest of this week. The theme for this week’s reflections has been: “The Temple reminds Community of Christ that God is with us, working through us to transform the world.”

1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:15, 19
(excerpted; fresh translation)

Do you realize
that you, collectively, are God’s temple?
It’s true—because God’s Spirit lives in you all.

God’s temple is sacred;
and therefore you all,
because you are God’s temple,
are a sacred community.

Do you realize
that your bodies
are parts of Christ’s body?

Do you realize,
each of you,
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
which God has given to be in you?

Reflection:

A temple. A body.
Both metaphors have a basic meaning in common:
Temples and bodies are both places where spirit/Spirit lives.

What is different about the meanings each metaphor communicates?

I feel that the metaphor of the body (we are the body of Christ; God’s Spirit lives in our bodies) better captures the idea that God lives in us in order to work through us. Bodies are active. They move. They go places. They do things. They make things. They speak. They reach out. They touch people.

Temples, unlike bodies, do not move, or act, or speak; they just sit there. But because God lives in them, temples are sacred. Perhaps, then, the metaphor that we are a temple better communicates the idea that we must be treated—all of us—as sacred, as beings of great worth, requiring reverence and care.

That’s what I see in these metaphors.
What about you? What do you see?

About this reflection

Christmas: Day 4 (Dec. 28)

This is part of a series of daily reflections for Advent. I wrote enough reflections to last an entire week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent; since Christmas Eve fell on a Monday this year, I’m publishing the remaining reflections through the rest of this week. The theme for this week’s reflections is: “The Temple reminds Community of Christ that God is with us, working through us to transform the world.”

John 2:13-21
(excerpted; fresh translation)

Jesus went to Jerusalem.
In the temple,
he saw the merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves
and the money changers seated at their stations.

He drove the sheep and cattle out of the temple,
using a whip he had made out of ropes.
He spilled the money changers’ coins
and knocked down their tables.
He said to the dove sellers,
“Get these out of here!
Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business!”

People challenged him:
“What right do you have to do this?
Show us a sign!”

He replied:
“Demolish this temple,
and within three days I will raise it back up.”

They scoffed:
“This temple took 46 years to build—
yet you can raise it up in three days?”

But the temple he was speaking of
was his body.

Reflection:

Christ’s body was a temple
because God lived in it.
I am a member of Christ’s body.
I am a stone in God’s temple.

“The Temple calls the entire church
to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace,
where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances
can be gathered into a spiritual home
without dividing walls.”
(Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c)

What can I do better,
to help make Community of Christ a sanctuary
for people from all backgrounds?

In other words:
What can I do better,
to be a stone in God’s temple?

About this reflection

Christmas: Day 3 (Dec. 27)

This is part of a series of daily reflections for Advent. I wrote enough reflections to last an entire week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent; since Christmas Eve fell on a Monday this year, I’m publishing the remaining reflections through the rest of this week. The theme for this week’s reflections is: “The Temple reminds Community of Christ that God is with us, working through us to transform the world.”

Ezekiel 43:1-7; 47:1-12
(excerpted and paraphrased; fresh translation)

My guide led me to the east gate of the temple’s outer court.
Looking out, I saw God’s glory moving in from the east.
It made a sound like the roar of floodwaters
and lit up the earth.

The Lord’s glory came in through the east gate
and filled the temple.
I heard a voice from inside the temple say:
“This is the place where I plant my feet.
I will live here, among the people of Israel, forever.”

From underneath the temple, water began to flow.
It ran across the outer court and out through the east gate.
My guide led me east, away from the temple,
following the water’s path.
The water kept rising—first as high as my ankles,
then my knees, then my waist, and higher still,
until it had become a deep, rushing river.
We stood on the riverbank.
There were suddenly many trees lining both sides of the river.

My guide told me:
“This river will flow down into the Dead Sea
and turn the saltwater into freshwater.
Every land through which the river flows
will teem with animal life;
every body of water into which the river flows
will be healed and filled with fish.
Wherever the river flows, everything will live.

Along its banks, all kinds of fruit trees will grow.
Their leaves will never wither,
and they will produce fruit all year round.
Their fruit will be good to eat,
and their leaves will be useful as medicine.”

Reflection:

I hold in my mind an aerial view of the Temple in Independence. World Conference is in session; and although I can’t see it because I’m hovering in the air outside the building, I know that inside the Temple sanctuary, a worship service is being held. Members of Community of Christ from all over the world are gathered there.

I hear a sound like the roar of floodwaters. I look east and see an enormous, shining cloud hovering low above the earth, moving towards the Temple. The cloud envelopes the Temple, then passes inside through the roof and walls. The Temple begins to glow.

The great bronze doors open, and the crowd of worshippers inside the Temple stream out of the sanctuary, down the outer steps, across the plaza designed to look like a world map. As I watch, the crowd morphs into a literal stream, a river of healing water. The river continues to gush out of the Temple, seemingly inexhaustible. It floods the entire area surrounding the Temple, then keeps flowing out in every direction.

God—
Make us, Community of Christ, a healing flood,
flowing out from the Temple to lands near and far.
Wherever we go, may life flourish.

About this reflection

Christmas: Day 2 (Dec. 26)

This is part of a series of daily reflections for Advent. I wrote enough reflections to last an entire week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent; since Christmas Eve fell on a Monday this year, I’m publishing the remaining reflections through the rest of this week. The theme for this week’s reflections is: “The Temple reminds Community of Christ that God is with us, working through us to transform the world.”

Isaiah 6:1-3, 8
(excerpted; fresh translation)

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne
elevated high above the floor,
wearing a robe so long and wide
that it filled the temple.

He was waited on by fiery beings,
each with six wings.
The fiery beings called out to one another:
“The Lord is holy, holy, holy!
His glory has filled the whole earth!”

I heard the Lord say:
“Whom will I send?
Who will go for us?”

I said:
“I am here—send me!”

Reflection:

I imagine myself standing in the sanctuary in the Temple at Independence, where the Daily Prayer for Peace is held, with the organ and the spiral ceiling. I am seeing there what Isaiah saw in the Temple at Jerusalem: God enthroned, the gigantic robe, the fiery seraphim. I hear God say, in a booming voice, “Who will go for us?” “I am here!” I call out in reply. “Send me!”

I imagine myself kneeling by the manger in the stable at Bethlehem. I look into the face of the baby, which is the face of God made flesh. Maybe he’s sleeping, exhausted from the delivery. Or maybe he’s awake, absorbing all the strange new sights with wide, blinking eyes. I lean close over him. “I am here,” I whisper. “Send me.”

About this reflection