Lent 1 –

“To be black and to be conscience, is to be in a constant state of anger.” – James Baldwin.

May we amend that to say, “to be conscience is to be in a constant state of anger?” I heard this question posed on a recent edition of the podcast “On Being.” Perhaps this is a little bit of what it means to be prophetic, too. To become transformed into the likeness of the homeless rabbi, means we too must learn to deeply love the creation we find ourselves a part, and not become satisfied to see it continue to slog along the painful path that pits us against them; of winners and loosers; of fear of others, lest we have to share what we have.

This week, we began our Lenten journey by considering how slavery, segregation and racism is has created a rift in our country between the very good creation of God. In order for us to truly seek repentance (to turn and move in the other direction) we have to understand how deeply this sin of seeing our brothers and sisters as the “other” has led to devaluing, exploiting, and outwardly hating each other. Why has this been a feature of human kind throughout the ages? Does the holy scriptures have anything to say to the contrary – to make us repent of such behavior, whether due to our implicit or complicit action? (We know scripture has been used to justify such a worldview – and to that we also lament.)

Please join me in sharing your reaction to the following questions, found at the end of week one of American Lent:

  1. Did beginning this devotional each day allow you to hear the words printed in a different way? How does prayer help us receive challenging words from God and neighbor?
  2. On day one, we were invited into an assessment of “godly grief that leads to repentance.” What did you discover in assessing your giving, praying, and fasting? To whom are you generous? For whom do you pray? For what do you need to grieve?
  3. On day three, we discussed the three-fifths compromise and the temptation to treat people as resources rather than as image bearers of God. How might you be tempted to treat people as sources of support for your interests? Are there systems your participate in, even unwillingly, that treat people as tools to advance others’ interests? What insights or questions emerge from this consideration?
  4. In what ways might your grief over these things produce the fruit of repentance, a change of mind and actions?
  5. How can this group best pray for you this week?