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Episode 16. Normalizing Repentance, Practicing Resurrection

April 16, 2021

Episode 6. This is My Body: A Body Scan Meditation

Episode 18. Freeing Women from “Biblical Womanhood” with Beth Allison Barr

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I'm Morgan Strehlow - writer and host of the Sanctuary Woman podcast.

Meet Morgan

We may be beyond Advent and Christmas and Epiphany and Lent and, at last, into the season of Eastertide, according to the liturgical rhythms of our Christian year. And while I’m glad our Christian rhythms don’t let us linger in the Advents and the Lents, there are some days where it feels like we are in a perpetual season of coming to terms with our residual brokenness and fallenness and neediness, in spite of all our striving, despite our best efforts at being good and being holy again and again. We are perpetually reminded of our need for a hope, for a promise that is found in the resurrected life of Christ – in our resurrection life that we have in Christ.

A friend of mine, a priest, reminded me a few Lents back that “resurrection is only good news to those who have learned to admit and embrace the fact that they are dead. And, in death, there is only the illogical hope for the gift of new life, rather than resuscitation of the old life.” (Fr. Seth Richardson)

In light of the events of this past week – the murder of two unarmed black and brown boys by law enforcement officers, twenty year old Daunte Wright, and thirteen year old Adam Toledo – and in light of the events of the past year and the forthcoming verdict of the office who murdered George Floyd, I want to lead us into a guided prayer and examen for racial justice, for concilation, and for peace, and for the role we are to play in the making of peace.

I, a white woman, who has racial bias of her own, who has been complicit in racism and unjust systems, who has an exceptional amount of privilege, I am praying from the perspective of a white woman – and while anyone of any race can join me in this guided prayer, I have written it specifically for my fellow white Christians to pray alongside me.

I have found guided prayers a really helpful way for me to engage in prayer and lament and examination. It helps me to rest in relationship with God, creating room for silence and contemplation and presence, as I release the misguided pressure to perfectly perform my prayer and simply listen and respond honestly.

This is an invitation to prayerfully reflect and notice God’s movement in the aspects of our lives where we need to confess, where we need to repent, where we need to be forgiven and to forgive, where and how we are to be makers of peace rather than keepers of it, where we need to be silent, where we need to speak up, where we need to grieve and lament, where we need to act, to march, to flip tables, confront, where we need to bring the hope of this resurrection life that has been gifted to us.

Create a quiet, restful and peaceful space for yourself that invites contemplation and interaction.

Light a candle. Or two or three.

May these candles represent someone or someones specifically.

God, bring to our hearts and minds the names and faces of those who have lost their lives because someone with a weapon or with power, determined that the color of their skin deemed them to be unsafe, or unworthy of life. 

Maybe it’s Daunte, or Adam. Maybe it’s Ahmaud, or George, or Breonna. Maybe it’s Jonathan, Rayshard, Elijah. Is it Atatiana? Or is it Botham? Maybe it’s Jordan or Terence. Is it Philando, Alton, Sandra, Freddie, Walter, Tamir, Michael, Eric? Is it Trayvon?

Maybe it’s someone else in your community, or someone whose tragic death didn’t make national news.

Light a candle for them.

While we raise our hearts and minds in prayer, may we become aware of our own body and how our body is responding as we invite God to speak to us and move through us, as we attend to God’s presence. May we also become aware of our feelings and emotions. May we pay attention.

Begin to take deep breaths.

Inhaling…

and then exhaling… slowly.

Give me courage to confess, O God.
Give me courage to want peace.

Give me courage to repent, O God.
Give me courage to seek peace.

Give me courage to practice resurrection, O God.
Give me courage to make peace.

Now let us pray.

O Light,
Who sees me
Who searches me
Who knows me intimately
Who chases out the darkness 

Expose in me what you find unfavorable
Remove the scales of from my eyes
Soften my heart, and change it 

Resurrect in me the Very Good you intended in the Garden
In the Garden where there was peace and unity
In the Garden, before we chose power over you, God. 

May I look for the goodness and Glory of every human you have created in your very image, O God. 

Reveal to me the Glory of your Black and brown image bearers
Reveal to me the Glory of your Asian and Indigenous image bearers 

May I see them as you see them.
May I desire to know them and be and relationship with them and protect them fiercely. 

Show me, O God
Where I need your forgiveness
Where I need to practice repentance 

And give me an imagination
A holy imagination
To see the world and all of your beloveds it
With new eyes and a new hope.

I’m listening.
I’m keeping watch.
Be near.

REPENTANCE

Imagine Jesus, a brown man, a blue collar laborer, a low-income a carpenter. A jew. With dirty feet, With calloused hands.

He shows up at your home, and invites himself in.

Welcome him in, as you might welcome a brother, a close friend.

Or as you welcome a next door neighbor or an acquaintance.

Or maybe you welcome him in as you would a stranger?

How might those welcomes look different for you?
How might those welcomes feel different for you?

Imagine Jesus sitting across from you at your table. Or maybe he’s sitting beside you. Whatever feels more comfortable for you, let Jesus sit there.

Ask him for his help in showing you areas of your life, in your heart, in your mind, where you need to repent.

As we begin I’m going to read from Psalm 40:11-13:

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

Recall how you’ve wronged this year. Who you’ve wronged this year.

Recall how you spoke up, or spoke over someone else, when maybe you should have stayed quiet, or deferred to another.

Recall how you’ve stayed quiet when maybe you should have spoken up.

Who may have been impacted by your silence or your lack of?

How does it make you feel? How would it feel to release that burden to Jesus?

How would it feel to confess? To repent?

You can do that now.

Recall a wrongdoing that you witnessed. A lie that you heard spoken. A falsehood shared with you be a friend.

And you knew it was wrong. Or you knew it was only half true.

Perhaps you stayed quiet and looked the other way. Maybe you laughed.

Perhaps you bore false witness and repeated what you heard, without knowing the full truth.

Perhaps you tried to change the narrative… Perhaps you wanted to blame a victim…

Because sometimes it’s easier to move on with our lives unbothered when an injustice is done to someone who seemingly deserved it. So we want to believe they did.

Recall how you’ve chosen lies and falsehoods and partisan politicking or religious righteousness over truths and love and human dignity.

Recall how you have chosen comfort and over confrontation.

Recall how you have preferred status quo over good, but hard, change?

Who was impacted by your silence, your gossip or your bearing false witness?

Who has to live in fear to protect your comfort? Fear of losing their life? Fear of losing their child?

How does it make you feel? How would it feel to release that burden to Jesus?

How would it feel to confess? To repent?

You can do that now.

Now, ask Jesus to expose and help you unlearn the racism and racist, biased tendencies that you’ve learned and picked up over the course of your lifetime, whether subtly or explicitly, that hurt and harm the people of color in our life and in our communities.

Invite Jesus to be your companion and guide in the days ahead, ask him to continue convicting and correcting you when these tendencies and biases creep into your words, your actions and your decisions unknowingly.

Now bring to your heart and mind the names and faces of those who you need to make peace with.

Express gratitude for the holy spirit’s gentle work inside of your heart as you put to death that in you which is not good, which is not of God.

After all, only where there are graves is there resurrection.

RESURRECTION

“God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.” That’s from Ephesians 2.

We have been gifted a resurrection. You have been gifted a resurrection life.

In what area of your life, of your spirit, of your mind, of your body, do you need raising?

Where do you have power and privilege to take your resurrection life and offer hope and new life?

The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus has reversed the curse and exile from the Garden –

the curse that was born when humanity hungered for power over holiness.

The curse that was broken when Jesus became human, hung on a cross to rescue a hurting world, then walked out of a tomb to proclaim new life for all of us.

How can you carry the hope of Jesus, and practice resurrection in this hurting world?

How can you practice resurrection with where your money goes?

How can you practice resurrection with how you spend your time?
How can you practice resurrection with how you interact with strangers? Or with what you post or comment on social media?

How can you practice resurrection in your local community and civic engagement?

in your local church?

at your workplace?

In your homes?

In your neighborhood?

How can you practice resurrection with your vote?

How can you practice resurrection with your voice?

How can you practice resurrection by lifting others as you rise?

How can you practice resurrection by using your power and influence for glory of God and for the good of others?

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

Invite Jesus to be your companion and guide in the days ahead, as you seek to practice resurrection again and again and again and again. Because his mercies are new again and again and again.

Ask Jesus to help you stay self-aware of your own harmful attitudes, beliefs and assumptions about those whoa re different than yourself that you need to unlearn. Ask him to rid you of any guilt or shame that you might be tempted to feel in your own arrogance and narcissism, and Jesus to free you from those things too. To help you be humble, to be meek, to be gentle and honest.

Ask Jesus for the courage to want peace, to seek peace and to make peace.

Ask him to use you in the undoing of injustice done to his beloved children.

Now look at the candles you’ve lit.

Think again of the faces and the names that God has brought to your mind.

Respond to a resurrected Christ, who is resurrecting us, who makes all things new.

Psalm 126

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like those who dreamed. those restored to health
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Bring back our captives Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

Oh God, have mercy on us,
For we are sinners.

Help us to not be hoarders of the good life
To remember that there is enough of your mercy and hope and love and joy.

May we not be hoarders of that hope or minimizers of that hope
May we not be hoarders of that joy or minimizers of that joy 

Give us the desire and the will to live out the hope of your resurrection life, to live out the hope of peace on earth, to the best of our ability on this side of Kingdom Come,

Amen.

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