Lent has begun! Those 40 days of wilderness-wandering, reflecting, wondering, and getting deeply acquainted with grief, sorrow, perplexion as we travel together toward Jesus’ death. It is a time for fasting – abstaining from something in order to make more room for God. It is a time for charity- almsgiving – for giving to those in greater need than ourselves. It is a time for praying – for ourselves, for others, for the world. And we certainly know the world can use all the prayers we can offer. Lent is also about finding the joy and delight in life and being reminded that we live in the tension in between sorrow and joy, grief and delight because that’s exactly what life is. Life is wonderful but challenging. Life is beautiful, but bits of ugliness appear unexpectedly.
During Lent, we will be exploring the Scriptures alongside a book of devotions appropriately titled, Good Enough, by one of my favorite people, Kate Bowler. We already began our Lent Journey* yesterday, when we applied ashes mixed with oils of frankincense and myrrh to our foreheads, reminding us how fragile and precarious life truly is. As we embark on this well-trod road, let us remind one another that we are doing this together, that we’re all doing the best that we can on any given day, and that “doing” is good enough. And during Lent, it’s especially appropriate to stop “doing,” to stop producing, accomplishing, to stop needing to be everything to everyone, and to stop trying to be perfect, because perfectionism is not the goal or the point of living – living is the point. Are you truly living? May we experience true freedom from the constant “doing” and rest in the presence of God, who loves us despite our imperfections and our need to keep striving. May we release some of that guilt and shame over needing to be perfect and seeking different ways of reaching perfectionism, only to discover that perfectionism is elusive and impossible. And may we embrace the idea that we are “good enough,” and that God still loves us. May we rest in that beautiful, wonderful, surprising love of God.
Join us on Sunday as we take down the devil in the wilderness and realize that we already are special – and that ordinary life is already holy, just as it is.
Whether you join us in person in our Church Sanctuary, or in our Zoom Sanctuary, you are welcome, always!
May We Embrace a “Good Enough” Lent Together,
“We continue our movement through the Lent season this week with another kind of “letting go.” This week we lament that so much in life is out of our control. This is frustrating to us and so sometimes we have been tempted to believe the sayings that tell us if we just “think positively,” we can turn it all around. Yet our experience tells us that this doesn’t always work. Let us turn ladder-climbing toward the expectation of a perfect life into garden-tending, nurturing “what is” and embracing our holy, good enough, lives.
“Even Jesus got dang frustrated when folks didn’t behave as he would have liked. We probably aren’t receiving death threats from Herod as Jesus was, but our wellbeing could be threatened by the idea that if we just try hard enough, are nice enough, say just the right thing, life will always go our way. We run around in so many directions, trying to herd the chicks into some imagined semblance of perfect formation (have you ever tried to herd chicks?). What if we could let go of needing all things and all people to be “just so” and instead learn to dance with the unfolding of that which is not ours to control?”*
Join us on Sunday as we recognize our need to control “everything” because we live in a chaotic world and really need/want some kind of miracle because so much is out of our control.
Whether you join us in person in our Church Sanctuary,
or in our Zoom Sanctuary, you are welcome, always!
May We Embrace a “Good Enough” Lent Together,
*from Marcia McFee, www.worshipdesignstudio.com/goodenough
As we continue our look at what it means to release oppressive expectations about perfection in our lives and in our faith, this week we turn to a harmful idea that the prescription for our fear of failure is to simply work harder. As the book Good Enough reminds us, “We might feel we are climbing an ‘endless staircase’ of achievement, for high grades or success…[in] caregiving, work, or social pressure.” This Lent, we are taking some time to stop climbing ladders and staircases, to tend our souls slowly and lovingly, tilling the soil and fertilizer, and embracing our holy, “good enough,” lives.
“Lots of things can be medicine” is the sub-theme for the third Sunday in Lent. The Scripture reading tells a parable of the “unproductive” fig tree, which had produced no fruit in the three years since being planted. The vineyard owner wants to cut it down, make room for a better, stronger, “more dedicated and hard-working fig tree!” But the gardener challenges the owner, advising that the tree remains and that the gardener will tend to it and nurture it, slowly, over the next year. Let the tree sink deeply into the rich, fertilized soil, soaking in water and sunshine. Wait and see what happens.
You never know.
It takes time to grow. “The productivity experts these days can diagnose what’s wrong and sell us the antidote in 3 amazing sessions for a low-low price that is guaranteed to turn our lives around. But the gardener offers an alternative medicine…
“The truth is that successfully nurturing anything takes time and patience and knowing what each kind of plant needs for flourishing. … What medicine do we need to help what ails us … ‘to turn around’ …? Most of us default [to the concept pervasive in our culture of] pulling up our bootstraps and ‘soldiering on.’ But has that worked before?
Perhaps it is time to try something different.”
As we continue our “Good Enough” journey through Lent, we encounter the parable Jesus tells of the Prodigal Son. With the sub-theme for the week focusing on the message of “We often believe we are the problem,” we find ourselves confronted with judgment. Judging others. Judging ourselves. And if you’re concerned that the phrase “good enough” means that we’ve stopped striving for excellence, that we’ve let ourselves off the hook, so to speak, and are shrugging our shoulders in an effort to just “get by.” That’s simply not true. We do want to excel in all things related to ministry and relationships. But we get stuck in the fear cycle, afraid to risk anything because we might look foolish, or we might make a mistake (horrors!). We think that any mistake we make will be fatal! When this happens, we stop being creative, we stop doing anything new or different because we don’t want to fail or make mistakes. Here’s the thing, though. No matter what we try, we are not going to be perfect immediately. We may never reach the ideal “perfection” we seek. But if we embrace the concept of “let’s just try it, see what happens,” letting go of our fears that it won’t be perfect, we will discover freedom, surprise, and the unexpected. The Prodigal Son was filled with guilt and shame, embarrassment, and overwhelming disappointment. He tried something different, and he did not succeed. But if he had never tried, he would never have had the experiences that he did have. Life itself is a huge risk. Every single day, we face whatever happens, whatever comes our way, and at the end of the day, we realize that it was worth it, somehow. Whatever the day brought us was “good enough.” Not only that, it was filled with discovery, grace, and love. Let’s embark afresh and anew on this crooked, not-yet-traveled- path leading to who-knows-where because we are surrounded by love, grace, expectation, and anticipation!
This Sunday, the theme from our Good Enough Lenten Series is “We are Fragile.” I think Jesus and his followers may have been feeling a little fragile that night over dinner. You’ll have to hear the sermon to know why I think that.
We all feel fragile at times in our lives. The world is fragile right now. A loss of some kind, an unwanted diagnosis, a major change in your life, or an unforeseen crisis might leave you feeling fragile, and vulnerable. How do we face those times and still feel that life as we know it is Good Enough? I hope this Sunday’s service will provide some insight.
Palm Sunday arrives this Sunday! The six long weeks of Lent are nearly over. How is your Lent going? Have you been able to connect with your Good Enough Small Group to study Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie’s book and the 40-Day Companion, A Good Enough Lent? Have you been able to give up on the idea that you need to be perfect – to strive for and attain that perfect life, that perfect job, that perfect body, that perfect relationship? Have you been able to begin to consider the idea that your life, and your faith, are good enough just as they are right now?
The sub-theme for Sunday is “You [We] Are a Group Project.” What does that mean? To me, it means that as much as we strive for independence in this individualistic-centered American society and culture, God intends for us to be in community and communion with one another. Jesus sent two of his disciples to retrieve a never-ridden-before donkey for him to ride into the city, when he very well could have done it himself. It means that we need to wrestle with what it means to be a true community, to be connected with one another deeply and truly, especially right now as we grapple with who we are and who we want to be as a church. That’s our challenge for the week.