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Into the Mud: A Lenten Reflection


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Into the Mud: A Lenten Reflection

Guest Commentary of Bishop Gretchen Rehberg

March has long been associated with mud in my mind. I think it comes from growing up on gravel roads. As the snow and ice would slowly melt away, the road became a track of giant ruts and mud. It was impossible to keep a vehicle clean, and you had to drive fairly slowly if you didn’t want the mud to splash up everywhere. Of course, some people seemed to want just that very thing, driving fast down the muddy road.

Over the years I have pondered the fact that Lent is always part of muddy March. It seems appropriate. As the snow melts the trash along the road becomes visible, then we go through a period of noticing and being frustrated by the mud that covers our vehicles and wish we could wash it off and keep it off.

And then, for a period of time at least, the mud goes away with the full coming of spring and summer, and we can keep our cars clean. It seems like a metaphor for lent and Easter, the recognition of the “mud” that can get on us, and the cleaning that comes through the work of the grace of Christ.

Like any metaphor, it only works so far, and falls apart if taken too literally, and yet it is a truth that very few people want a muddy car, or a muddy soul. It is also true that simply by traveling down the roads of life it is easy to get covered with mud. So what can we do?

Let me invite you first to not be too upset about the mud. I say that not from dismissing it as unimportant, instead I know that we can so easily go down the path of despair if we focus on the mud. Instead, focus on the practices that help shore up the road so it doesn’t become muddy. (Ok, at this point the metaphor is stretched too thin and I am going to stop!).

Lent is a time of self-examination. It is a time to take a good look at your life in Christ, to ask what practices you are invited to engage in to deepen your walk with Jesus. We know the practices of our faith, prayer, studying scripture, works of mercy, acts of compassion, the practice of forgiveness — all of these help us grow in our faith, become stronger in our Christian life.

We are invited to grow in Christ, to have stronger, deeper, more meaningful relationships with Jesus. This Lent is a good time to commit to the practices that help us in our relationship with Jesus.

The following morning and evening Examen is one way to center your day in Jesus.

My prayer for each one of you is that this Lent you may find you growing in your relationship with Jesus, so that your faith may be strengthened, and your commitment renewed. A blessed Lent to you all.

Branches on God’s Vine, Rooted in Jesus Examen Prayer

Give yourself time and space for this practice. Begin with a ritual that works for you, such as lighting a candle, bringing attention to your breath, or wrapping yourself in a prayer shawl. You may want to have a journal and pen available for your time of prayer.

Morning Examen: As you begin your day, notice how you are feeling, offer gratitude to God for being present with you, and scan your day ahead. Use the following question to discover where and how you would like to encounter God: What are you looking forward to? What are you dreading?

Then think about being a branch connected to Christ, the Vine. How is the Spirit inviting you to be connected to the Vine today?

Evening Examen: As you end your day, notice how you are feeling, offer gratitude to God for being with you today, and scan the day behind you. Use the following questions to reflect on where and how you encountered God today: What felt like growth? What felt like pruning?

As you ponder these things, pray to the Spirit for guidance about what you are called to plant, grow or strengthen in yourself and your congregation.

Editor’s Note: This devotion comes from the March “News & Notes” e-newsletter from the Bishop’s office of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and is here published with The Rt. Rev’d Gretchen Rehberg’s permission. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of SpokaneFāVS.

Gretchen Rehberg
Gretchen Rehberghttp://spokanediocese.org
The Right Reverend Gretchen M. Rehberg, Ph.D., D.Min. was ordained and consecrated March 18, 2017 as ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane.

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