The Lives We Actually Have: 40 Days to Reflect, Pray & Bless our Imperfect Lives

by Charissa Bradstreet, Interim Rector

Our Lenten Study Series: Blessings for our Actual, Imperfect Lives

In the midst of Lent, when we take time to reflect on what is awry and to grieve where humanity struggles to live into love and grace, we can go ahead and bless what feels imperfect.  It is part of the work of preparing for the celebration of resurrection.

Some of Jesus’ first words to those who followed him were pronouncements of blessing – upon those who may have felt they did not deserve God’s blessing, or that God’s blessing had clearly passed them by.  We are invited to follow Jesus in the work of declaring that all of humanity is welcome at God’s table, and the whole of our being, warts and all, is safely held in God’s embrace.  We are called to invoke God’s blessing for ourselves, our loved ones, and the nitty gritty moments of our daily lives.

This year’s Lenten devotional was written by Kate Bowler, and the title is Bless the Lent we Actually Have: 40 Days to Reflect, Pray, and Bless our Imperfect Lives.  It was designed to be used in conjunction with her book The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days, but it is not necessary to buy the book.  There is enough content in the daily devotional to support reflection.

Here is a snippet from the opening to our devotional:

Sometimes we wait. Spiritually, I mean. We just wait. Maybe something will happen?

When Lent rolls around every year, we are offered a chance to stop waiting. We are in the part of the story when Jesus is an arrow pointed straight at his own end. He will die. But first he will suffer and be betrayed…And it should make us pause. That is where we meet Jesus. We meet him on his way down…

Jesus will walk with us through whatever kind of Lenten day you are having. The lovely one. The garbage one. The one that barely seems like it counted at all…This is your invitation to join others in community and bless whatever this season is actually bringing you all. So let’s stop waiting. This is the one we have. Let’s bless it all.

– Kate Bowler, from “An Invitation” in Bless the Lent we Actually Have: 40 Days to Reflect, Pray, and Bless our Imperfect Lives

How will we use this devotional?

  • As a daily time of reflection: You are encouraged to access the version that we have online since it includes links to each day’s scripture reading as well as to other resources (related podcasts, recorded hymns, etc.).  The daily readings include a blessing from Bowler’s book – if you don’t elect to buy that, focus on the scripture reading and reflection questions.
  • As a weekly area of focus: Each week has a theme (Blessed are the Fragile, Blessed are the Imperfect, Blessed are the Curious…). The newsletter will have a link to a weekly blog on the theme.  This theme will probably show up as well in the sermons.
  • In community with others: On Wednesdays during Lent, a rotating list of parishioners will open up their homes and you will have the opportunity to gather with others for a shared meal and a time of reflection using this devotional.  I hope you can join us!  RSVP here.