Beacons of Hope: Fourth Sunday of Lent

As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.

Psalm 55:16-17

Seven times a day I praise you
    for your righteous laws.

Psalm 119:164

At this point in Lent, many are weary. Forty days is a long time– more than a tenth of a year. At the beginning of Lent, some may come looking for spiritual renewal or novel self-discovery. And while many find it, others are left waiting.

Observing Lent in general may feel repetitive, or perhaps sticking to one’s fast or chosen practice feels mundane. While waiting in this season, I want to reflect on how God meets us in repetition. Liturgy is one repeated practice in which God meets us, and it takes multiple forms. Catholic and Orthodox churches have beautiful, highly developed liturgies for various feasts and seasons of the Church calendar. Some Protestants use similar liturgies, and others use heavily modified ones. Evangelicals may experience the repetition of a song or experiences in worship as liturgical.

In addition to the liturgies we pray and sing, much of our lives are repetitive. Caring for a child, cooking supper, teaching courses semester after semester, advocating for just policies over and over. We practice spiritual disciplines over and over again, too.

God longs to meet us in the repetition of our daily lives. The psalmist is continually crying out. Benedictine monks practice ora et labora, Latin for prayer and work, a way of life that strives to make work prayerful and recognize prayer as an important kind of work. Whether in washing dishes, changing diapers, shoveling snow, changing our clocks, writing one more letter to Congress, speaking out against harassment. Time and time again.

With the repetition of Lent year after year and our Lenten practices day after day, we have the opportunity to wait for God to meet us independent of our actions. Instead of striving for renewal and new spiritual “highs,” we can wait for God’s presence in the ordinary, mundanity that fills more of our lives than any social media account would suggest. In doing so, we can learn to see our whole life as a liturgy, prayer, and act of worship.

May our lives become liturgies that we craft into such beauty that we will to repeat. Crying out for mercy, asking the Lord, “When, when will we see justice?” May our lives join that great cloud of witnesses that have preceded us. May we also remember and pray for communities of Christians in the Middle East. They remind us of God’s faithfulness to the region where our faith began, where Christian prayers have been repeated over and over again longer than in any other place.

Gracious God, we long for your presence. We praise you for your righteous laws and ask that they be enacted here on Earth as in Heaven. Listen to your peoples’ cries throughout the days, weeks, months, and years. May we encounter you throughout our days, no matter where we find ourselves or what we are doing, and find the strength to persevere in Lent, patience to wait for justice, and hope to keep on fighting.

Kevin is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he also earned an M.Div. His research focuses on the relationship between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Palestinians with disabilities, and how the occupation produces disability. He is currently waiting to continue fieldwork in Bethlehem until it is safe to do so. In joining CMEP, he is excited to complement his research with advocacy work.

Kevin also earned a BA in philosophy from University of Chicago and has researched how churches can better care for and empower people with various disabilities. He has affiliations with the Evangelical Covenant Church, Vineyard USA, and United Methodist Church. In his spare time, you can find him running, biking, or playing the piano. CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.