by Ron Friesen, photo of St. Joseph Shrine, Yarnall, AZ by Ron Friesen,
It was a nice spring day in Arizona when I arrived to see Margi, one of my hospice patients. Margi, who had been an energetic wife, mother and grandmother, was now in the last stages of her life lying in a hospital bed in her son’s family room.
We reminisced about her life of being a faithful wife and mother. Margi shared with me how she missed being with her faith family, a Roman Catholic Church in central Phoenix. We shared laughter as she shared some of her humorous encounters in her parish.
Slowly, the conversation turned to her current condition. She told me her husband had died several years ago. As we talked about death, I said to her, “Do you remember the last words Jesus spoke on the cross?” She nodded, yes. Do you remember Jesus’ last words, “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46, English Standard Version)? She nodded. I asked Margi, “Are you ready to say those words?”. She shook her head side to side and said, “I can’t say those words.”
I invited Margi to tell me what it would take for her to say those words. She quickly said, “I can’t forgive him.” Becoming more animated she told me that her husband had been abusive throughout their marriage. “The bastard finally died,” she said, “I can’t forgive him.”
Taking a deep breath, I gently reminded Margi of Jesus’ other words on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 English Standard Version). Margi and I had a conversation about what forgiveness means. I reminded her that forgiveness does not mean that what her husband did to her was now okay. We talked about how forgiveness was removing our judgment and placing her husband in the hands of God and God’s judgment. I agreed with Margi that she could not forgive her husband, however, she could pray Jesus last words, “Father, forgive him for what he has done.” She lay quietly in her bed. “I will have pray about that.” As we parted our ways, we prayed the Lord’s prayer together, a prayer that reminds us, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Margi found new meaning in those words on that spring Arizona day.
As you read the last seven words of Jesus which resonates with you?
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
3. Concern for those left behind
“Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” (John 19:26-27)
4. What happens after death?
“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43)
5. Unfinished business
“I am thirsty” (John 19:28)
6. Letting go…
“Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)
7. Embracing the transition
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
I invite you to find a quiet place to reflect on any or all of these words.
Check out our newly launched course, Time to Heal, with Christine Sine, Lilly Lewin, and Bethany Dearborn Hiser.
Black History Month may be over but our need to learn will never cease. Here are some suggestions from our Godspace writers and readers that can help inspire and educate us.
Suggestions from Bethany Dearborn Hiser:
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown http://austinchanning.com/the-book. Powerful, compelling truth-telling about what it’s like for a woman of color to navigate systems of white supremacy in the church.
- Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience by Sheila Wise Rowe. From the description: “Professional counselor Rowe exposes the symptoms of racial trauma to lead readers to a place of freedom from the past and new life for the future.”
I’ve heard these are good too, but haven’t read yet:
- ReDisciplining the White Church by David Swanson
- Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by by Brenda Salter McNeil
- The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby
- White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill
- My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by by Resmaa Menakem
Suggestions from Godspace reader:
- Lanterns by Marion Wright Edelman, founder of Children’s Defense Fund
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olio
- The Broken Road by Peggy Wallace Kennedy
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- How to be an Anti-racist by Ibram X Kendi
- Radical hospitality, Benedict’s way of love by Lonni Collins Pratt (regardless of your belief structure, this is a great book on how to be).
Suggestions from Diane Woodrow:
- “Black and British: A Forgotten History” by David Olusoga. David is a renowned historian and a great story teller. Did you know Black African People had been coming to Britain on and off since Roman times? Some as freedmen, some as slaves. The things David reveals are surprising and shocking and so a part of this island’s history that they should be taught in schools as just a part of our history. This is a book to read slowly.
- “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo is another great book talking about the racism that goes on subtly in Britain. It is a fiction book that gently follows the lives of an intermixed group of British Black and mixed race women and the racism that just learn to go with and accept, which is very interesting. A gentle eye opening book I felt.
- https://blackbritishhistory.co.uk/ I came across this site when I had to Google to get the proper details of David Olusoga’s book. What amazes me is that I didn’t even know about Black British history until I read David’s book and now I’m finding there is a website.
- In fact, another great place I’ve found for reading about people of different races is from https://www.shelterbox.org/book-club/
Suggestions from Lisa Scandrette:
- “The God Who Sees” by Karen Gonzalez: This is a clear and compelling weaving of the stories of Ruth, Abraham, Hagar, Joseph, Jesus, modern day immigrants, and González’s family’s own immigration story, information on current immigration policies, and God’s heart and guidance for how we should care for immigrants. The book is a quick read, but it is rich!
- “The Color of Life” by Cara Meredith: Cara tells her story of marrying the son of civil rights icon, James Meredith, and her journey from a white world where everyone looked like her to a more colorful one. She explores how we navigate desperately needed conversations about race, how we teach our children a theology of love and reconciliation, and what it means to make space for the image of God in everyone.
- “Decolonizing Evangelicalism” by Randy Woodley and Bo Sanders: “Woodley and Sanders provide a unique combination of indigenous theology and academic theory to point readers toward the way of Jesus. Decolonizing Evangelicalism is a starting point for those who hope to change the conversation and see that he world could be lived in a different way.” (from the back cover)
- “Native” by Kaitlyn Curtice: “Native is about identity, soul searching, and the never-ending journey of finding ourselves and finding God. As both a citizen of the Potawatomi nation and a Christian, Kaitlin Curtice shares what it means to experience her faith through the lens of her Indigenous heritage and encourages us to embrace our own origins.” (also from the back cover.)
- “Separated by the Border” by Gena Thomas: What drives a mother to risk everything and bring her child to an unknown country? What happens when that mother and child are separated? How can we as Christians love those who are stretched to the point of desperation? This is the story of Lupe, Julia and Gena. It’s a hard, painful, heartbreaking story. It’s a beautiful and hopeful story as well. Lupe was attempting to come to the U.S. with her daughter, Julia. After braving the dangers of their home country and the journey north, Lupe and Julia are separated. Lupe is sent back to Honduras as Julia remained in the U.S. Their story intersects with Gena when Gena’s family takes Julia in as a foster child. With no easy or trite answers, “Separated by the Border” shares the complicated and traumatic story of a birth mother, a foster mother, and a migrant child’s journey. It demonstrates the tenacious love of a mother, and the love we can have for one another in our places of deepest need.
- “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson: “Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.” (from the Amazon description)
Suggestions from Coe Hutchison:
- PBS special, “The Black Church: This is our story, This is our Song” is excellent.
- These books are also recommended:
We recommend you read this excellent article that Coe wrote about what he has learned through his reading.
If there are other books you would like to add to this list please leave a comment below or email to email@example.com
Note: As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn an amount on qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support for Godspace in this way.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on unsplash.com
by Christine Sine,
These last couple of weeks have been grueling ones for me. As many of you know, I have been suffering from the worst allergy attack I have ever had, wracked by incapacitating coughing fits that leave me feeling I can’t breathe.
In the midst of this, I find myself drawing deeply from the comfort and support that my sacred space with its circle of lights provides for me. Sitting in the midst of these lights, contemplating my “Time to Heal” garden, reading a centering prayer, sensing the embracing presence of God around me, knowing that I am loved and cared for, has been one of the most supportive aspects of these last few weeks. It makes me realize just how important sacred space is for all of us.
At this season in particular, we all need more time to sit with God and sense the comforting presence of the divine being in and around us. To accomplish this, I encourage you, if you have not already done so, to establish a sacred space for the rest of Lent, a place where you encounter God in special transformative ways so that your Lenten practices enter your heart and soul and transforms us into the people God intends us to be. Those who already have a sacred space might like to revisit it and revamp it.
So take some time to create or revisit your own sacred space for Lent. Here are some possibilities to prayerfully consider as you spend this Lenten season at home.
- Your dining room table. Eating meals is a holy time. Regardless of how busy you are in the week, make time for at least one meal to be shared with others. Believe me, you’ve got time and even with social distancing you can provide a meaningful space in which to encounter others, even if it is just through a Zoom shared meal. This yearlong Lent has made many of us busier, but believe me, you’ve got to make time. And perhaps you can make this a time of reconciliation with those with whom you have been estranged.
- Something you are thinking of throwing out, like my old crosses and palms from last year. Recycled items as a focus for Lent remind us that God is in the business of transformation and re-creation. My sacred spaces always contain recycled items and I love to see these repurposed and revalued items as a reminder of the work God is doing in my life.
- Clean a space for Lent. Spring cleaning was a traditional Lenten practice that symbolized the cleaning of inside and out that was meant to take place during this season. What is one space you have wanted to clean up that you could recreate as a focus for Lent?
- Use colour and texture. The traditional colour for Lent is purple but that does not mean that we need to use it. Perhaps there are other colours, textures and images that speak to you about your own personal need for repentance and reconciliation. Imagine ways that you could use these to create a special place for your celebrations during this season.
- Incorporate images. I have a collection of icons, crosses and other images that I love to rearrange for different seasons on the year. Some have been given to me, others I have created, like my Celtic cross on stone from several years ago. I love to sit with some of these images in front me when it comes time to rearrange my sacred space and allow the spirit of God to help me choose which images are appropriate for the upcoming season. I have found this to provide a very profound experience that nurtures and instructs me throughout the season.
- Bring nature into your sacred space. By now, most of you know that I do not consider a sacred space to be complete unless it incorporates a garden, a plant or even a beautiful photo of a special landscape or flower. As one of the prime ways that God speaks to us is through the created world, I think this is important for all of us to include in our sacred spaces. And one of the advantages is that it is so easy to move plants around or purchase new ones that are in keeping with the season.
- Use your artistic gifts to create something new. All of us have been gifted with creativity and imagination, yet we rarely use it in our spiritual observances. Some of us are unaware of our creativity. Others are unsure how to create with the purposes of God in mind. Prayerfully ask God to stir your imagination to create something that flows out of the unique creativity with which God has gifted you. It could be a poem, a piece of art, a photo, a collage, something you knit, carve or sculpt. Or, it could be an entirely new art form that is uniquely you.
- Design a movable sacred space. Some of us do not have the luxury of a place in our homes we can dedicate to sacred space. However that does not mean we cannot design a sacred space. A couple of years ago I put together a Travel Kit for Sacred Space, a tin with several sacred articles in it that I brought out at each destination to give me a sense of rootedness in the rhythms and practices of my faith. For some that might be a good place to start.
I hope you will take time to create or recreate your own sacred space for the rest of Lent. If you do, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or email me with your ideas and images.
Register and Pay for this virtual Lenten Retreat Experience with Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin! Join live or download later!
It is wonderful to have these beautiful contemplative services from St Andrews Episcopal Church in Seattle to walk through Lent with.
A contemplative service with music in the style-of-Taize for the Second Sunday in Lent. Carrie Grace Littauer, prayer leader, with music by Kester Limner and Andy Myers.
Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-710-756 with additional notes below:
“Even in Sorrow” was composed by Kester Limner in March 2020 for the people of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY).
“Within our Darkest Night (Dans Nos Obscurites)” is from the Taize community and is composed by J. Berthier — copyright 1991, all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé.
“Where You There?” is a traditional Black American Spiritual, arrangement by Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons license, attribution (CC-BY).
“Lay Me Low” is a musical setting of a Shaker text is by organist and composer Daniel Schwandt, Music That Makes Community, 2013. © 2013, admin Augsburg Fortress.
Thank you for praying with us! www.saintandrewsseattle.org
Register and Pay for this virtual Lenten Retreat Experience with Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin! Join live or download later!
(Taken from “Lent Liturgy Full Booklet” from Welcome Table Christian Church, used with permission.)
Read: Genesis 17:1-7,15-16; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 9:2-9
As we consider wandering in a wasteland space, I am consistently drawn to the people of Israel in all their wanderings and all their exiles.
Abram was no one. A wanderer. A wanderer with no heir. Land and line were everything. He had neither. And this is the foundational story for God’s people. In his wandering, I have to imagine he became a wondering wanderer. He is said to be a faithful person. There is something about the wasteland that grows faith within us. There is something about exile that gives us space to dream of a right way of living, if ever we are restored to community.
In Egypt, Abraham’s people were enslaved. Now, there is no archaeological evidence of this. It was likely made up. It is *the* essential story in their faith tradition even though it likely never happened. And all their laws come pouring out of it. You were slaves. You will not be slavers. You can hear that theme over and over again the law and the prophets. The story of slavery in Egypt depicts an empire that is abusive. The law and the prophets again and again call the people to mutual care and a loving and liberating relationship with all. They became wanderers and in that wandering, they became wonderers and dreamed of a right way of living, if ever we are restored to community.
And again, in exile. The people wander. They wonder. They wonder how they ended up where they were and realize it was a lack of right relationship, a lack of a loving and liberating way. So they dream, again, of a right way of living if ever we are restored to community.
And so, I love Hoyt’s description of the blessing of Abraham, above: “The word ‘bless’ means to share one’s power, one’s strength, one’s life with another, to be with the other.” God blesses the wandering and wondering Abraham by being with, by sharing God’s power in order to be in solidarity with the man bereft of land or line. And specifically in this passage, we hear that God blesses Sarah. God becomes with Sarah. God holds her, even in her disbelief, in solidarity. And 20 millennia later, that theme of a blessed bearer of children is echoed as Mary calls forth her sister’s blessing in naming her blessing. “All generations will call me blessed.” All generations will know that God stood in solidarity with Sarah and with Mary.
What is more, we know of Abraham’s blessing that it was a blessing in order to become a blessing. God tells Abraham that all people will be blessed through him. God will stand in universal solidarity with the whole family of creation as God stands in solidarity with Abraham and calls Abraham and all his children and Mary and all her children and Jesus and all his spiritual children to stand in solidarity together. Blessing upon blessing upon blessing.
And then we come to Peter who beholds this blessing and wants to build a monument. To solidify a surreal manifestation of the blessing. But he misses the point. God’s solidarity is not on the top of a mountain. God’s solidarity is not in a monument. God’s solidarity is not in a church building. God’s solidarity is pervasive. When we catch glimpses of it, it is like a little seed of faith that takes root and needs to grow into maturity to become nourishment – to birth that blessing of Divine and human solidarity with the whole family of creation.
Jesus tells Peter, “No.”
And Oscar Romero rightly redirects us to that wandering and wondering. How can Christ be transfigured not in a moment or a monument, but in the whole family of Creation? How can Christ be a blessing to the whole family of Creation? How can we become his hands and feet? How can we stand in solidarity with Creation?
When we see glimpses of God’s glory, they are not invitations to enshrine that moment but to spread it across the face of the earth in our living, in our walking, in our wandering, in our wondering.
It seems important to note, before we move on, that directly following this passage is the place where Peter famously says “Lord, I believe, heal my unbelief.”
The dude literally just saw Jesus transfigured and he’s already lost his belief. You can see why he wanted a monument.
This wandering and wondering, this sacred solidarity, this super-spread blessing to be shared with the whole family of Creation is a daily stumbling. Ibram X Kendi says, in How to be Anti-Racist, that being anti racist, or being racist, is like a name tag. We might put one on one moment. But we could very well put the other one on the next moment. And Peter says, “I believe, heal my unbelief”. And God offers Abraham his solidarity and he decides to reach past God to try and forge a way on his own with Hagar. And Christianity continually forgets to live in blessed solidarity with all people and all the family of Creation.
Lord, we believe, heal our unbelief.
May this wandering and wondering time in the wasteland be a time where we heal our unbelief, and like the people of Israel, we become wanderers and wonderers as we dream of a new way of being when finally we are restored to community.
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By Lilly Lewin
What does the wilderness look like in your life right now? Is it trying to work in the isolation of Covid-19? Is it managing kids in virtual school, or is it the harshness of the weather? The brokenness of relationships? Living in the frustrations of politics or the injustices in our world? How are you experiencing “wilderness?” In Mark 1, Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River and then he is SENT BY, COMPELLED BY, the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. I think in my growing up years in church, I didn’t really pay attention to how Jesus got out into the wilderness. I just knew that he was out there for 40 long, lonely, hungry days. And while he was there, the devil decided it was the perfect time to tempt him. Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message, says that Jesus was PUSHED out into the wild by the same Spirit who had just reminded him that he was God’s son and just how loved he was… and how pleased God was with him even before he’d ever done one thing in his ministry! Do you ever feel like you are being PUSHED into the wilderness? Do you give the Holy Spirit credit for this or do you blame someone or something else?
Are you willing to receive the wilderness as a gift from God rather than a curse?
Read Mark 1:9-15 THE MESSAGE
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
I love that Jesus wasn’t really alone in the wilderness. He had the Spirit with him, but also, the animals and the angels!
We are not alone in the wilderness either. We, too, are invited by the Spirit. And it is in the wilderness that we discover our calling and learn so much more about ourselves.
Who has helped you and been your companion during these wilderness days?
What have you learned in the Wilderness Desert of 2020 and 2021?
Take some time to thank Jesus for all he has taught you. Even the hard things. And take time to thank him for your companions, even your animals!
Like the push of the Holy Spirit, I want to invite you to join us, myself and Christine, on a journey into the wilderness on RETREAT next Saturday, March 6th. If you sign up, you can REGISTER to participate on the day, or choose to participate later when you have a couple of hours to set aside as wilderness time.
We will have time to consider and look back at the last year and all its desert experiences. We will have time and space to pray, journal, and create in collage. So find your journal and block off a couple of hours to find refreshment as we journey towards Easter.
Bring with you a kitchen sponge/dish cloth, a rock/stone, paper, crayons, pens/markers, some old magazines and scissors, glue or glue sticks, a bowl of water, a red pen and some bread to taste. We call these things PROPS to Pray with and our time together will be interactive and multi-sensory. Why not invite a friend to journey with you?
i just realized
that in my imagination
the wilderness is always somewhere else;
a foreign landscape i actively have to enter in the act of being faithful.
the wilderness is always where i am
and faith is the courage to stay with it
when i’d rather pretend i am
~ written by Cheryl Lawrie and posted on [hold this space].
by Lisa DeRosa
Christine’s message to our subscribers this week really resonated with me. She said,
Many people feel that this year Lent is not a season but a permanent home. This has us wondering, ‘Why do I need to go on retreat? Why should I set aside special time for prayer and reflection when the whole year has tilted in that direction? Lent has nothing to teach me that lockdown has not already done.’ Yet, I feel this is the very environment in which retreat is most necessary. This is a time to prepare our lives for something new that God is giving birth to.
Taking time for retreat is important for our spiritual journeys with God. It helps us to regroup and refocus, if necessary, and even be encouraged by the path that we are on.
Rebooting Lent Retreat
As we are coming up on the third week of Lent already, this can be a time when some feel the need for a reboot. We want to provide a helpful resource for you during this lagging time. Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin are offering a Lenten Retreat where they will share creative spiritual practices they use during the season, practices that enable them to follow Jesus more closely and fall in love with him more deeply on the the way to Easter. There will be time for reflection, creativity and dialogue as well. Click on the product below to register and pay.
FREE Downloads for Lent
Looking for other resources for your Lenten journey? We updated our free downloads of Hungering For Life: Creative Exercises for Lent, 40 Daily Ideas Guide For Lent and added Jeannie Kendall‘s book of poems for Lent called Gospel Eyes. Great for daily use during Lent!
Time to Heal Online Course
We launched our Time to Heal Online Course in time for Lent. Though this course is not directly related to Lent, it is in keeping with the theme on Godspace through the Lenten Season.
There is so much pain and suffering in our world at the moment but it is time to heal. This course will show how creativity, imagination and reflective exercises can help us address our grief and provide balm for our souls. Facilitated by Christine Sine, Lilly Lewin and Bethany Dearborn Hiser, this course is offered with 180 days of access so you can move through the material at your own pace.
Special prices for people who have purchased a course with us before and/or if you decide to participate in this course with a group!