Day 19 (Third Sunday in Lent)
March 07, 2021
In 1965, my grandfather moved his family of six to Birmingham, AL, to become the new senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Situated downtown, First Pres sits only a few blocks away from 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of the 1963 bombing attack by white supremacists who killed four young girls. Earlier that same year, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed eight prominent white clergy in his now famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” My grandfather’s predecessor was one of those clergy. They prompted King’s famous letter by requesting he appeal to law and order. In essence they said to him: “We agree with your movement, but your methods are too harsh. The demonstrations are destructive and causing too much
backlash. You’re bringing agitators into our city. Wait for a better time and negotiate gently.”
This is the context in which my grandfather began his ministry with First Pres. While he helped the church change their policy to become open to worshipers of all races (a process that undoubtedly required much moral fortitude), I wonder how often he, too, felt the urge of his predecessor and the other white clergy who had written to Dr. King. I wonder how often he preferred for justice to happen slowly, gently, and in an orderly
manner. I think often about how that urge lives in me too.
In this image, I wanted to freeze-frame the destruction Jesus ignites, forcing us as viewers to focus on the process of dismantling and destroying an oppressive system. For those who willingly or unwillingly benefit from systems of oppression, it may feel threatening and terrifying to see them all come tumbling down. But for those held within the unrelenting grip of injustice, it must be completely and utterly liberating.
Again and again, Jesus shows us that his movement is about overturning systems of oppression to bring forth God’s beloved community on earth. Again and again, liberation movements throughout history pursue this same goal. Will we join Jesus in the overturning, or like the disciples, question his methods?
—Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity
Sometimes centering our spirits with visual aids is helpful. We often do this with candles, but there are other artistic ways to create a focal point. When it feels like we are in the wilderness, lost and alone, a bright spot on the horizon provides a lovely reminder that God makes God’s own self known to us in beautiful ways. We pray this meditation jar will serve as that kind of focal point for you.
You will need: A glass jar (with a lid), a bottle of glitter glue, and warm water.
• To make your meditation jar extra colorful and sparkly, you may choose to add your own glitter and/or food coloring.
• Fill your jar with warm water almost to the top.
• Empty the contents of your glitter glue into the water.
• Add a few drops of food coloring and a few teaspoons of glitter, if you choose.
• Top off with more warm water, if there is room in your jar to do so. Don’t over-fill as you don’t want any of the glitter to pour over the edges.
• Place the lid on the jar and make sure it’s sealed tightly.
• Shake the jar gently and watch the movement of the color and glitter.
• As you watch the contents of the jar settle, meditate about the beautiful God moments you enjoyed that day. Shake the jar again and use the time to pray about the ways you hope God will make God’s own self known to you tomorrow.
Read: Mark 5:1-10
Reflection Questions: Take inventory of your soul. What do you carry that weighs you down? What do you carry that brings you to life? Know that God sees it all, and calls you by name.
Prayer: Gracious God, you see me when I am down, and you invite me to tell you about it. You ask me, “What is your name?” And in that moment, I can respond with the lies that cover me, or I can respond, “I am a child of God.” No matter what I say, I know that you love me. What a gift to be seen and called by name. Amen.
—Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org