Second 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. You can use this weekly summary post in any way that is helpful for you.

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This week our journey through Lent continued with two poems, the Fourth Step, and the story of Nicodemus going to Jesus in the night. I’m including these things here, along with spiritual practices that might help deepen your experience of Lent this year.

Insecurities, by Deb Gave

What is a life?
     Food security
     Health care access
     Power of control
     A place called home

Being tested with material temptations
Enduring life struggles
     tempted will

Who is creating a puppet of power?
Where is authority?
Why the clashing ideas
How can we understand what’s happening?

Resistance – Transitions
Of it all … Watching it fall
Compliance taking it’s toll
In a cloud covered stroll.

Reminiscent of Nicodemus

How many have come to You in the night –
cloaked with shadows, shaded by sins,
real and imagined?

One who walked in darkness came to You.
Did he see a great light?

History claims Nicodemus was afraid of what others would think,
didn’t want to be seen by judging eyes.

I like to think he was hiding from himself,
not wanting to admit his arrogance or his need,
afraid You would leave him alone –
unworthy to walk in the Light.

Born of darkness,
shaped by secrets,
I am a child of shadows –
unwanted, unknown,
frequently unseen.

Maybe Nicodemus was, too.
He had a perfect life –
a position of power,
a place of respect,
a proper son of Abraham.
But he needed something more.

One night he stepped out of the shadows
to ask about the Light.
You gave him answers
too bright for him to bear.
He took your words,
bundled them up for later use.

How many nights have I come to You?
Holding my secrets
as if You couldn’t see . . .
Whispering my need
as if You couldn’t hear . . .
Asking for more . . .

Shadows are not enough.
Power, respect, propriety –
all safe and desirable, acceptable even.
But they leave an emptiness that can only be filled with
Darkness or

Nicodemus knew.
He walked through the night
to carry out the Light.

He traded comfort, predictability
for the winds of the Spirit
that would blow the shadows out of his life –
a little at a time as he pondered the Word.

I want what Nicodemus got –
Courage to walk from yesterday into today.

No keeper of Tradition,
I am not enamored with power or place.
This lifetime of night-time,
I could do without.

So I come like Nicodemus did –
in the night, tired of darkness,
asking, pleading . . .
Give me the Word that will illumine me,
cast out the shadows – real and imagined –
Set me free,
to do as Nicodemus did.

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

Step Four of the Twelve Steps

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

*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 John 3:1-21

Recommended Spiritual Practices for this Second Week in Lent

  1. You may choose to continue with 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?

    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. If you are continuing this practice from last week, you may notice a theme or pattern emerging that may be helpful.

  2. Write down your own moral inventory. Be honest with yourself about who you are and who you are not; what you have done and what you have not done. Leave nothing out. And, as suggested this morning, you may wish to begin with the statement, “I am a beloved child of God.” If it helps, end with the same statement.

    Also, you do not have to complete this moral inventory in one sitting. Do it over the course of the week, or the next several weeks.

  3. If it is more helpful for you to be more active, try taking going outside with your camera and taking photos of two opposite emotions. You could choose joy and sorrow, love and fear, hope and despair, delight and anger…any set of opposite emotions.

    When you are done either one day or each day of the week, create a collage – digital or printed – and think about how these emotions live side-by-side in you and notice where you discover holiness in their midst.

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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