Lenten Series 2022 – “Good Enough”

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,

 Rev. Stacy

Lent – week 2

“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,

 Rev. Stacy

*from Marcia McFee, www.worshipdesignstudio.com/goodenough 

Lent 3 “Lots of Things Can Be Medicine”

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.” 

Lent 4 – “We Often Believe We Are The Problem”

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! 

Lent 5 – We Are Fragile

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.  

Lent 6 – You Are a Group Project

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.

We Do This ’til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice

by Mariame Kaba

What if social transformation and liberation isn’t about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves? In this timely collection of essays and interviews, Mariame Kaba reflects on the deep work of abolition and transformative political struggle.

With a foreword by Naomi Murakawa and chapters on seeking justice beyond the punishment system, transforming how we deal with harm and accountability, and finding hope in collective struggle for abolition, Kaba’s work is deeply rooted in the relentless belief that we can fundamentally change the world. As Kaba writes, “Nothing that we do that is worthwhile is done alone.”

Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy

by Rachel Ricketts

Do Better is a revolutionary offering that addresses racial justice from a comprehensive, intersectional, and spirit-based perspective. This actionable guidebook illustrates how to engage in the heart-centered and mindfulness-based practices that will help us all fight white supremacy from the inside out, in our personal lives and communities alike. It is a loving and assertive call to do the deep—and often uncomfortable—inner work that precipitates much-needed external and global change.

Unafraid of the Dark: A Memoir

by Rosemary Bray

Bray writes poignantly of her lasting dread of the cold and the dark that characterized her years of poverty; of her mother’s extraordinary strength and resourcefulness; and of the system that miraculously enabled her mother to scrape together enough to keep the children fed and clothed. Bray’s parents, held together by their ambitions for their children and painfully divided by their poverty, punctuate young Rosemary’s nights with their violent fights and define her days with their struggles.

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation

by Jennifer Harvey

With the troubling and painful events of the last several years—from the killing of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police to the rallying of white supremacists in Charlottesville—it is clearer than ever that the reconciliation paradigm, long favored by white Christians, has failed to heal the deep racial wounds in the church and American society. In this provocative book, originally published in 2014, Jennifer Harvey argues for a radical shift away from the well-meaning but feeble longing for reconciliation toward a robustly biblical call for reparations.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

by Isabel Wilkerson

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

Notes of a Native Daughter: Testifying in Theological Education (Theological Education between the Times)

by Keri Day

Keri Day testifies to structural inequalities and broken promises of inclusion through the eyes of a black woman who experiences herself as both stranger and friend to prevailing models of theological education. Inviting the reader into her religious world—a world that is African American and, more specifically, Afro-Pentecostal—she not only uncovers the colonial impulses of theological education in the United States but also proposes that the lived religious practices and commitments of progressive Afro-Pentecostal communities can help the theological academy decolonize and reenvision multiple futures.

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I?: Black Lives Matter and Biblical Authority

by Angela N. Parker

Drawing from her perspective as a Womanist New Testament scholar, Dr. Parker describes how she learned to deconstruct one of White Christianity’s most pernicious lies: the conflation of biblical authority with the doctrines of inerrancy and infallibility. As Dr. Parker shows, these doctrines are less about the text of the Bible itself and more about the arbiters of its interpretation—historically, White males in positions of power who have used Scripture to justify control over marginalized groups.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

by Nikole Hannah-Jones & the New York Times Magazine

This is a book that speaks directly to our current moment, contextualizing the systems of race and caste within which we operate today. It reveals long-glossed-over truths around our nation’s founding and construction—and the way that the legacy of slavery did not end with emancipation, but continues to shape contemporary American life.