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Lent Devotions

Lent is a season of reflection and opening ourselves up to God’s presence. To help you do that, we are posting daily devotions. These devotionals come from A Sanctified Art LLC.  We also will be posting videos of members sharing their thoughts and reflections twice weekly.

 

March 5

Scripture: Psalm 22 
“To God, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.” (Psalm 22:29)

As I contemplate the idea of people beneath the earth and people in the womb, I feel a sense of beautiful protection. In particular, I feel a deep connection to our minuteness in contrast to the greatness of God. Each time I meet this text, I find myself taken by the repetitious time spent in joyous and abundant praise of God. God, we love you. God, we are amazed by you. God, you are everywhere, you are everything. God, we praise you!

In this piece, I depict a sense of covering—covering in the womb, “people yet unborn” ( v. 28); covering in the soil, “sleep in the earth” (v. 31). A spiral radiates outward representing praise. The pattern depicts people in various poses of prayer and praise.

As I cut tiny stencils of prayer poses, I abstracted them to depict the shrouded minuteness of our being in God’s presence. As we became a beautiful and intricate pattern of prayer and praise, I began to see other images in the patterns—masks, faces, flowers—as though all states of being are present in that constancy of appreciation for God.

Prayer:
Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image on the left. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
-by Hannah Garrity, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is an artist and an athlete, a daughter and a mother, a facilitator and a producer, a leader and a teammate.

Word of the Day: 
Answer
Reflection Prompt: 
What hurt do you take to God? Knowing that Jesus quoted this passage on the cross, how does that change your perspective of this psalm?



March 4

Scripture: Psalm 27
Word of the Day:
Shelter
Reflection Prompt: 
Psalm 27 is a morning song, designed to start your day. What is your favorite part of your morning ritual? Where could you include more gratitude and praise?
Prayer: 
God of the dawn, if you were a home, I would pray: Put me inside those four walls. Open the door and pull me in. Let me walk your hallways and sit on your
couch. Teach me the flow of the floors as I memorize the flow of your voice. I want to be close to you. Help me get there. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas



March 3

Scripture: John 5:1-18
Word of the Day:
Well
Reflection Prompt: 
What would life look like for you to be well? What visible or invisible things in your life need healing?
Poem: "Truth the Ricochets"
I went to a lecture once—
An interfaith conversation with interfaith leaders.
Whispers bounced off the church’s tile floors
As people shuffled into place,
Carrying hope alongside assumptions—
Mixed into pockets like loose change.
About halfway through the evening,
A young woman in a blue hijab began speaking.
She was the youngest person on the panel,
Seated far to the left. You might almost miss her
If you weren’t paying attention;
But not here, not when she spoke.
In quiet determination she told us of fear and persecution.
She told us of hatred and racial slurs,
Thrown at her people from car windows like bombs.
It was a truth I did not know,
And that truth ricocheted like sunlight through the cathedral windows,
Touching almost everyone that day.
Then a man in the back, who could have been me—
Who has been me—
Approached the microphone and said,
“Your people are persecuted. You live in fear. You are battered by hate.
If that is true, then why am I just now hearing about it?
Why is your story not on the news?
Why have you not spoken up about it?”
And the air was still, partly because we held our breath in anticipation,
And partly because the Spirit slows her dance when we stand at the edge of truth.
The woman in the blue hijab leaned into the microphone
And whispered with a quiet strength that can only come from years of practice:
“We are screaming.”
If there is one truth in my life
That unfolds again and again,
It is the need to listen.
For again and again, I will try, with good intentions,
To act and walk with love.
But again and again, I will make mistakes.
Again and again, I will say the wrong thing.
Again and again, they will call me Peter,
And again and again, they will be right.
So again and again,
I will pray for a truth that ricochets,
For ears that will listen,
And for space to hold truth.
If people are screaming,
And to be clear—people are screaming—I do not want to miss it.
-Poem by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas



March 2

Scripture: John 4:43-54 
Word of the Day:
Live
Reflection Prompt: 
When do you feel most alive? What does it feel like? When are you the furthest from feeling alive? What can you change?
Reflection Video: 



March 1

Scripture: Mark 8:31-9:8
Commentary: I’m a Black woman who does antiracism education and advocacy in a very white denomination. I do that work often in the face of fierce opposition from fellow Christians, but it’s not hard to understand why. Think of the times we’ve tried to quiet a friend who was going through a tough time, or averted our eyes away from someone asking for money at a street corner. Approximately 75% of sexual assaults in the U.S. go unreported for a reason. We don’t exactly incentivize the telling of hard truths.

Hard truths trouble the waters of our understanding and challenge notions of what is real. For Peter, hearing Jesus foretell his agonizing death and resurrection must have made no sense. Just before this, he had named Jesus “Messiah” (and, according to other gospels, Jesus in turn named him “Peter”). How could the Christ talk like this? Peter wants to quiet Jesus. Jesus would instead quiet him.

At Jesus’ transfiguration, a sight that may have been more in line with Peter’s Messianic imagination, he wants to build altars to mark the event. But again, Peter is quieted. He is told to listen.

The Lenten journey calls us to examine the things in which our hearts are invested. How important is comfort to us? Would we be willing to listen to hard truths and be changed by them even if it proved to be difficult? Or are we committed to the status quo because, though it may be imperfect, it’s at least familiar?

Again and again, we are implored to listen, especially when what we hear is unsettling. Repentance means changing direction. Like a heavenly GPS, Spirit is highlighting a new path. May we tune our sensors heaven-ward, despite the difficulties along the way.
-by Rev. T. Denise Anderson, (she/her) is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coordinator for racial and intercultural justice with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, working in connection with the agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice and Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

Word of the Day: See
Reflection Prompt: If God were to ask you, “What do you see?” What would you say? How would your answer impact your actions?



February 28

Scripture: Mark 8:31-9:8
Commentary: I’m not a good listener. In the midst of our national reckoning around structural racism and white supremacy in the U.S., I’ve found that I’ve done a terrible job listening to my Black and Brown siblings. I constantly have to resist the urge to explain myself, to be seen as good and antiracist. I try saying all the right things, I do performative acts of allyship, and quite honestly, I need to be quiet and listen. I need to be ready to accept criticism, and instead of trying to prove anything, I need to gain awareness of my internalized biases and learned racist tendencies and do the difficult work of unlearning them in every moment. “Get behind me, Satan” (Mark 8:33).

Here we find Peter stepping in and saying all the right things, rejecting the notion that Christ must suffer and die; but in the end, he’s not listening to Jesus. It seems Peter’s rejection of this narrative reflects his fear of the suffering he also might face in following Christ. “Let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

Six days later, the disciples are called to listen once again. In this image, I zoomed out to focus on the moment of Transfiguration. Jesus shines like a beacon atop the high mountain while former prophets appear. The disciples are terrified, but also want to live this moment forever, making the glory-filled rock face their home. At once a cloud descends, obscuring things further, and God’s voice echoes down, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). It’s almost as though Jesus had exhausted all efforts to get the disciples to listen, and God had to spectacularly reiterate the importance of listening. I think it’s important to note that following God’s words, all the disciples could see was Jesus.

Prayer: Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image above. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
-by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is an artist, graphic designer, and theologian

Word of the Day: Speak
Reflection Prompt: What words do you need to say to yourself today? What things are you so passionate about that you can’t help but talk about them?



February 27

Scripture: Deuteronomy 11:18-21
Word of the Day: Words
Reflection Prompt: What is the hardest part about opening your Bible? What goals do you have for your relationship with scripture? What can help you get there?
Prayer: God who speaks, as a people, we seem to have forgotten your Word. Those who went before us knew scripture like the back of their hands, but I admit, I can struggle to remember stories and verses. I know you’re in there—inside the pages of my Bible. Help me find you. Help me crave your word like I crave connection. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas


February 26

Scripture: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Word of the Day: Commandments
Reflection Prompt: What distractions in your life pull you from the core values of your faith? How can you recenter?
Prayer: God of our ancestors, take me back to the beginning. Take me back to the foundation. Remind me of the core of faith—to serve, to love, to walk with you. When I lose my way and find myself caught up in matters that do not matter, bring me back to your center. Amen. -Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas 


 

February 25

Scripture: Hebrews 4:1-10 
Word of the Day:
Rest
Reflection Prompt: 
When was the last time you truly rested? What practices are restful for you? What changes in your life need to be made to protect rest?
Reflection Video: 

 


February 24

Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17
Commentary: In the beginning God filled the formless void with color, texture, light, flavor, time, and life. God scooped the clay and carefully molded it, breathing life into the nostrils of humanity. These are the images of a tender, imaginative God who loves Creation limitlessly.
Following the Creation narrative, humanity quickly spirals into violence, corruption, and power-hunger toward the total destruction of Creation. God becomes deeply aggrieved and even regrets creating humanity (Gen 6:6). God decides it best to return all of Creation to the chaotic void, though God finds hope in Noah’s family. I’ve struggled with this narrative, but I find myself feeling a tremendous amount of compassion. I can only imagine how painful it is to watch the work of your hands devolve into brutality.
God offers Noah, his descendants, and every living creature an all encompassing promise, vowing never to flood the earth again. Despite humanity’s destructive role, God limits God’s self and alone is held accountable in this covenant. God requires nothing of humanity or the entirety of Creation in return. God gives humanity a chance to start fresh, and the opportunity to choose a different path. If we model our actions after God’s, then we would humble and limit ourselves in order to better love God and care for Creation. Sacrifice and selflessness pave the new way.
In this image, God’s hands hold various animals and plant life, and are surrounded by the bands of the rainbow, shielding Creation from the swirling waters of chaotic destruction. I chose not to image humanity because the hands are at once God’s and ours. We must respond to God’s covenant by protecting and keeping the earth. It is our responsibility; it is our calling. God meets us where we are—utterly dependent and bound toward self destruction—with a promise sealed with a bow bursting with the endless spectrum of colors light holds.
Prayer: Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image above. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
-by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is an artist, graphic designer, and theologian

Word of the Day: Healing
Reflection Prompt: What corners of your heart need healing? What pains you?


February 23

Scripture: John 2:13-22
Word of the Day: Temple
Reflection Prompt: What angers you deep in your bones? Where is God in that anger?
Prayer: God of justice, you flipped tables in the temple, and then immediately spoke to people who were eager to listen. We seem to only be able to do one or the other—we can be prophetic or pastoral. We can be angry or be gentle. We can speak or listen. Help us to hold both at the same time. Teach us your ways, so that we too can be agents of change. Amen.-Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas 


February 22

Scripture: John 2:13-22
Commentary: My personal story is, though my family wasn’t very “churchy,” I somehow came to religion in my teens. I came to my denomination in seminary after learning more about the Reformed tradition. Reformed theology emphasizes God’s initiative, which is consistent with my own experience. I can’t tell you that I ever really found God. It was God who found me, and kept finding me throughout my life. Whether I was observant or indifferent about my faith, God was always close by. Mark’s gospel serves as source material for both Matthew and Luke’s gospels. It’s the shortest and most perfunctory of all four gospels. In just seven verses, we learn of three significant events in the life of Jesus as he began his ministry. The first is his baptism, where God claims him as God’s own beloved son. The second is his experience in the wilderness, where God sends angels to attend to him as he faces the Accuser. Lastly, after John the Baptist’s arrest, Jesus begins proclaiming God’s proximity and reign while calling for repentance. The common thread in each account is God’s closeness. In pivotal moments, God is extraordinarily present with Jesus and those around him, and for good reason. In the Black church we sing of how God picks us up, turns us around, and places our feet “on solid ground.” God’s proximity informs our trajectory. God approaches us to claim, equip, and send us to do God’s will. Again and again, God meets us where we are, but doesn’t leave us there. We shift from sinking sand to solid ground, navel-gazing to community, personal pietism to justice for all, and away from behaviors, both personal and systemic, that frustrate God’s vision for the world.
-by Rev. T. Denise Anderson, (she/her) is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coordinator for racial and intercultural justice with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, working in connection with the agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice and Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

Word of the Day: Keeper
Reflection Prompt: What images of God are comforting to you? Where does your spirit need comfort?
Prayer: Gracious God, Scripture says that you are my keeper, which floods me with images of cradling hands softly catching me. I imagine I could slip through your fingers if I wanted to—the freedom is there. However, as long as I want to be here, you have me. What a comforting idea that is. I think I will stay. Amen. -Poem by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas 



February 21

Scripture: Psalm 84
Word of the Day: Selah
Reflection Prompt: The word “selah” is used 74 times in scripture. The meaning is unclear, but many believe it indicates a pause. Where or how do you need to pause in your life?

Poem:
God never begins letters with the words, “I hope this finds you well,” For those words imply distance. Instead, God begins God’s letters to you with the words, “Remember when?”
Beloved child,
Remember when we dipped our toes into the water?
Remember when we dove right in?
Remember when the ice cream dripped down our hands
And the cicadas sang their song,
And the seasons changed,
And the days were long?
Remember when we fell in love and the world was new?
Remember when our heart was broken?
Remember the tears?
Remember the long nights?
Remember when we laughed again and the sound surprised us?
Remember when we marched in the street?
Remember when we cast our vote? Remember when we believed in hope?
Remember when?
I do. That’s what God’s letters say. So on this day, and every day to come, Remember: God is meeting you. If you look back, you might remember when.

Prayer: Gracious God, being people of faith has never been easy. From the very beginning, we have needed reminders—to be gentle, to show courtesy, to devote ourselves to good works. In a world of division, help me be gentle. May that gentleness be a power for good. Amen. 
-by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas 



February 20

Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12
Word of the Day: Gentle
Reflection Prompt: Can you think of a person in your life who is gentle yet strong? How are they impactful? How might you adopt that character?
Commentary: In the image, I am mesmerized by the lines, the way that even in the two-dimensional, this dancer is in perpetual motion. Even in a whirlpool, threatening to suck away her life, this dancer is rising— effortlessly. It is magical. But fighting oppression in real life is a constant exercise in finding the magic in a moment. Fighting oppression in real life is the antithesis of effortlessness. As I look around our world, I see people doubling down to forward oppression. As I look around our world, I see so many amazing embodiments of our Holy Spirit, pushing back, spinning out, rising up. It is magical. I am amazed. In this image, I have represented a woman spinning up out of a whirlpool, her face shining up at the sun. She rises above the ruins of ancient cities. Background motion spins up with the energy of the woman who represents the Holy Spirit, who represents the oppressed breaking free from the yoke, breaking “forth like the dawn” (Isaiah 58:8). Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image on the left. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
Prayer: Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image above. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
-by Hannah Garrity, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is an artist and an athlete, a daughter and a mother, a facilitator and a producer, a leader and a teammate.


February 19

Scripture: John 1:35-42
Phrase of the Day: Come and see
Commentary: Again and again, we are invited inward. The common thread here is the focus on expressing love for God in secret, not for the recognition of others, but as an outpouring of devotion for God alone. I think the references to spiritual disciplines are less about the particular acts themselves and more about the intention fueling the action. The intention affects the quality of the action itself. Does your outward action align with what’s going on inside of you?
There are times when I’ve been with friends and I’ve felt this tug to document the event and share it on social media. This impulse yanks me out of the present moment, away from my friends, and I find myself focused on how the event might be perceived by others. Ultimately, it’s as though the moment isn’t actually happening. I’m not present in mind, body, or spirit; I am elsewhere, fixated on my phone. Have you heard this before: “If you didn’t post it, did it even happen?” I think that is a great question to consider. Are we so caught up in the amplification of our actions and how they are widely perceived, that the actions themselves are void? If we are more concerned with how our public prayers and acts of allyship are received, are we actually praying? Are we actually being an ally?
God invites us into thorough self-examination and authentic relationship. In this image, a person kneels with arms extended, basking in the glow of God’s all-encompassing love. It is in the true pursuit of God, this intimate, inward turning, that God sees you. It is in our full, embodied intentionality that we find deep connection with God and ourselves. This is the reward.
Prayer: Breathe deeply as you gaze upon the image on the above. Imagine placing yourself in this scene. What do you see? How do you feel? Get quiet and still, offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.
-by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is an artist, graphic designer, and theologian


February 18

Scripture: Psalm 126 
Word/Phrase of the Day: Those who dream
Reflection Prompts: 
What dreams do you have for this world? For yourself? For your community?
Member Reflection Video:

Poem: "INVITED"
I like to imagine that each year,
God invites me to a party.
God drops me a note that says,
“No gifts, casual dress. Come just as you are.”
I like to imagine that I am brave enough to go.
I like to imagine that I decide that I am worth it.
This was no pity invite,
There is no obligatory postage.
God wants me there.
So I get myself together,
Smudged glasses, sensitive ego, wrinkled shirt, and all.
I ring the doorbell a few minutes late on account of the fact that
I lost my keys twice trying to get out the door,
And I almost turn back to hide in my car,
Afraid that I might embarrass myself over appetizers or small talk.
But then God answers the door,
And God says, “You’re here!”
And I smile, because I am.
And with every step past that threshold,
I know that God is cheering me on.
It’s the pride of a parent watching their child take their first step.
If I freeze, God is not disappointed.
If I fall, God is not mad.
But if I trust the invitation,
If I move closer,
I know, God celebrates.
Friends, you’ve got mail.
It’s an invitation to dust off your shoes,
To go deeper,
To trust that you’re worth it,
To lose your keys and your faith,
And then to find them both, along with your worth.
You are invited.
We are invited.
Again and again and again.
This invitation is for you.
-by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas

Prayer: God of tomorrow, brokenness weighs on us. No one is left untouched. And so we lift our eyes to you, dreaming of the day when love is all we carry. Give us the strength to be those who dream—today and tomorrow. Amen.—by Rev. Sarah Are



Ash Wednesday (February 17)

Scripture: Matthew 6:1-21
Commentary: As I write this, millions have been affected by a disease that was unknown to humans just a year ago. It has stolen loved ones and changed us in ways we are still discovering. On Ash Wednesday 2020, it hadn’t yet had the global impact it eventually achieved. You probably marked the occasion by having ashes imposed on your forehead as a sign of lament and repentance, showing you intend to turn things around in your living.

That was when we could touch, hug, or just be with each other without face masks and an imaginary tape measure.

I’m sure lament is easy to find today. There is also much we still need to turn around.

Collectively known as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew’s anthology of Jesus’ teachings begins with the Beatitudes, a litany pronouncing blessings upon the unsung folks. The poor in spirit, the meek, the mourners, the peacemakers—these are called “blessed.” Jesus shows himself here to be countercultural. The kind of religion he promoted wasn’t performative, as so much of religious life can be. We give because it is necessary. Prayer prioritizes God’s will, not our words. Fasting produces spiritual, not physical evidence. What we value is different.

There’s something poignant about this in a time when we cannot rely on most of the social norms we’ve used our whole lives. Even facial cues fail us because of the masks we must wear! Performative interactions with God and others will similarly fail us in these times. They simply won't be enough. We must go deeper.

Again and again, God invites us into fuller ways of being. There is no better time to accept that invitation than now, when so much is different. Maybe no ashes mark our foreheads today, but they can still mark our hearts.
-by Rev. T. Denise Anderson, (she/her) is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coordinator for racial and intercultural justice with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, working in connection with the agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice and Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries.

Word of the Day: When you pray 
Reflection Prompts: What are your spiritual practices? What spiritual practices need new life?
Prayer: Teaching God, you remind us to avoid going through the motions on autopilot so that we can engage our faith with our whole hearts. You’re worth our whole hearts. So today I pray: Be there in my fasting. Be there in my praying. Be there in my walking and waking. Make this journey real. Make it rich. Make it yours. Amen.
-Prayer by Rev. Sarah Are, Founding Creative Partner of Sanctified Art; (she/her) is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas