Tag Archives: Lent

Palm Sunday: Devotion and Denial

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, by Hippolyte Flandrin
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, by Hippolyte Flandrin

Biola Lent Project has a Lent devotional calendar posted.  The daily entries are multi-sensory, with a written devotional, an image, and music.  Here is the link to the Palm Sunday entry:  April 13, 2014.  In it, the author speaks of the attitudes shown by the faces in the crowd in Flandrin’s painting, and how they reflect us today, too, even though we know something that those people did not yet know about–Jesus’ resurrection.  It ends with this simple prayer (of St. Benedict):

O gracious and holy Father,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

For further meditation, please read this older entry on Palm Sunday from RBC’s Our Daily Bread that I came across (Joanie Yoder, February 28, 2001).

Lent is a period of 40 days prior to Easter (excluding Sundays). For many people it commemorates Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness. They “give up something” for Lent every year, like sweets or TV. This can yield spiritual benefits, but denying yourself things and denying yourself aren’t the same. In Luke 9:23, Jesus taught the latter.

This verse can be broken down into three parts. In the statement “If anyone desires to come after Me,” the word desires indicates that this is for sincere disciples only. In the phrase “let him deny himself,” the words let and denyhimself imply a willingness to renounce one’s selfish will and ways. And in the statement “take up his cross daily,” the word daily emphasizes a continual dying to self-will.

It’s easier to give things than to give ourselves. Yet Jesus gave Himself, and so must we. To those who deny themselves in obedient service, He has promised, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (v.24). And to His question, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed?” we are called to answer, “There is no profit!” We show that we believe this when we deny ourselves and follow Christ.

To follow Christ we must let go
Of all that we hold dear;
And as we do deny ourselves,
Our gains become more clear. —Sper

By living for ourselves we die; by dying to ourselves we live.

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Lent, the Rich and Poor in Orange County, and low-income housing

 

The average prA Place at the TAbleice of a home in Orange County, CA, where we live is over $646,000 (the average for CA as a whole is over $345,000).  This simply floors me.  You cannot be low income and really live in this county, yet there are poor everywhere.  The gap between rich and poor is amazing.  There are homeless in the plazas I walk to, along the sidewalks and in McDonald’s (and there are a great many that hang out at the library a bit farther away) and some have died in these places recently.  I have more than they do, by far, and we are low income.  So what are all the wealthy here doing?  Surely many must be millionaires here for the average price of a home to be over half a million dollars.

I just got done looking over a property that we’re trying to buy through a low income housing project.  Only one unit is available, and it is farther away from where we work than I’d like . . . but seeing how the prices are only going up now, we should take it if we happen to be chosen to buy it.  Who knows how they decide that . . .  The average price for a home in the city in which it is in – though it is on the boarder of an even poorer city – is almost $426,000; if you can believe it, the average one year ago was over $100,000 less (hurrah for economic recovery???).  I think, honestly, that the price for the low income home we’re trying to get is too high.  I think the bank owns the whole property or something, and is asking “market value,” but providing loans that are not normally available.  I’ll find out tomorrow.

Anyway, I come to this after reading the short introductory chapters of A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor (by Chris Seay).  Our church is using this book this Lenten season.  I don’t know why most nondenominational Christian churches do not emphasize fasting at all.  Some will talk about it and encourage people to do it, but this is somewhat rare from my experience.  The new church we’re going to is affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination. It’s not Catholic-related by any means (they emphasize Christ’s church in the world, and de-emphasize themselves, more than any church I’ve attended), but they observe Lent.  Christ fasted for 40 days before His public ministry began, and He said that His followers would fast after he ascended, so I don’t know why we don’t emphasize it more.  Anyway, reading this book and considering its messages, is humbling.

It says in here that there are 2.2 billion children in the world – and guess how many live in poverty? – almost half, 1 billion.  Also, stunningly, a child dies every 15 seconds for lack of clean water to drink.  Drink clean water and thank God for all He gives us.  The book, and our church, suggest eating simply for Lent and giving the difference of what we would normally spend on our food to the poor.  I hadn’t thought about it much yet, but I’ll see what we come up with.

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