First Sunday in Lent 2023 Summary and Spiritual Practices

Broken, Exposed, Resurrected
A piece of white sea glass is held between an index finger and thumb against a beach background. Image courtesy of Markus De Nitto via Pixabay.

This year our journey through Lent is guided by poetry, scripture, and The Twelve Steps. Use these weekly summary posts to deepen your spiritual experiences and practices through the season in any way that works for you.


This morning we began our journey through Lent with a poem, the first three Steps, and the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. I’m including these things here, along with spiritual practices that might help deepen your experience of Lent this year.

Beach Lessons, by Rachael Keefe

After a storm the beach sparkles
     with bits of rocks and shells
     treasures in the eyes of some.
Drawn to shapes and colors on the cold sand
     it’s beach glass I am after
     green and brown, mostly, some white
     and the coveted blue, the rare red
Sharp, broken edges worn away
     by water and sand –
     the journey of years.

If sand and glass, waves and wind
     know the secret of beauty,
     why do we resist?
We hide our sharp edges in guilt and
     cover our brokenness with shame.
But could we not benefit from exposure?
     To wear away the sharpness
     reshape the brokenness
     reveal hidden beauty?

Keefe, Rachael A. Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010.

Steps One through Three of the Twelve Steps

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol* — that our lives had become unmanageable.

    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood [God].

*While the Steps refer to alcohol, anything can be an addiction. Some addictions are recognized and treated, while others might be socially acceptable. Even if an addiction is socially acceptable, it may still be causing your life to be unbalanced.

Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. For Twelve Step usage and copyright information read here.

Scripture Passage

Read Matthew 4:1-11

Recommended Spiritual Practices for this First Week in Lent

  1. A variation of the Ignatian Daily Examen: When did you feel close to God? When did God seem further away? Or When did you feel the most grateful? When did you feel the least grateful?
  2. You may wish to try writing the responses to one set of these questions everyday for the week. You can choose the time of day that works best for you and reflect on the previous 24 hours.

  3. Rewrite the Big Book prayer for Step Three in your own words:

    “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!”

    Reprinted from the Big Book, page 63, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

  4. Take 10-15 minutes (at least once this week) to intentionally notice the world around you and within you – going outside or sitting by a window. Reflect on or notice the following:
    • What tempts you?
    • What takes you out of the moment?
    • Where is beauty?
    • Where is grace?

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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post from Rachael

4 thoughts on “First Sunday in Lent 2023 Summary and Spiritual Practices”

  1. I’m sorry to have missed the first Sunday in Lent for myself, but wow – you’ve all planned quite the season, it seems.

    I’ll think through these things this week… Can I get a prayer bead starter stone too please? 😊✌️

  2. The service the 1st Sunday in Lent was lovely and powerful. (Thanks Rachael and Doug!) And I’m impressed with the number of resources/suggestions offered here.


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