When Things Feel Like They’re Not The Way They’re Supposed to Be, Maybe Lent is Exactly What We Need.

When Things Feel Like They’re Not The Way They’re Supposed to Be, Maybe Lent is Exactly What We Need.

Sometimes it seems like we’re better at building walls than building bridges.

Every morning, many of us wake up and log on to what can feel a little bit like a battlefield. We’re confronted with news bulletins and newsfeeds that outline, in thousands of strongly-held convictions and hastily written rebuttals, how our work of building the Beloved Community is clearly undone. We label and belittle. We partition and divide ourselves from one another. And we can feel the depth of all this collective brokenness. In our minds. In our hearts. In our souls.

As God’s children, we know in our bones we were built for connection. The divine love in us cries out for communion. Our spirits long for justice. We ache for inclusion. But habitually, we create castes instead. We decide who’s in and who’s out. And as though love were a scarce resource, we hoard belonging until it really does start to feel like there simply isn’t enough. Sometimes we do all this knowingly. At other times, we don’t even know we’re doing it.

It might seem like an overwhelming task, to build a bridge. It can feel so much easier to protect ourselves than to risk reaching out across a divide to embrace our others. And when we stare at the width of the divides we need to cross – the divides of racial justice, or LGBTQ rights, or what it means to be an immigrant – it becomes clear how much of the work is not just undone, but just beginning.

Our work to love our neighbors as ourselves is still just beginning.

I don’t know about you, but for me, this undoneness can be paralyzing. Sometimes I spend more time thinking about HOW to do the work of loving well than I spend actually DOING it. I want to find quick fixes and easy repairs instead of facing the brick-by-brick labor that can be necessary to name what’s broken, to own my part in the brokenness, and to begin moving toward repair.

But I am not alone with my undone work. God is undone with me and undone with us.

What if we offer the space between where we are and where we want to be up to Jesus? What if, during Lent, we take the time to name and own every wall we’ve built for self-protection, every label and partition we’ve erected, and lay them before the Divine to ask for hope, help, and healing?

Could we bare both our wounds and our complicity, trusting that the God who is undone with our world is equally undone with our hearts and nowhere near being done with capacity to love and transform us?

What if we believe that God is better at building bridges than building walls?

As part of our Lenten practice this year, we’ve written this simple body prayer to help us practice bringing our undone work to God and trusting the work God has left to do, in us and in the communities we’re building. While we practice this prayer, maybe the movement can remind us that the work we have to do is active, while the words remind us that God is with us every step of the journey.

I come to You UNDONE… exactly as I am.

(hands in front of you, palms facing up)

I open to Your unwavering love.

(extend your arms like you’re opening them for a big hug)

You see me. You know me. You never leave me.

(place your hands on your heart)

May the grace I receive become the grace I give.

(stretch your arms out in front of you in offering)

Rev. Jeff Braun is the Senior Pastor of Winnetka Congregational Church, a progressive, LGBTQ-inclusive, justice-oriented and family-friendly church on the north side of Chicago. His calling is to share God’s word of love as spoken through Jesus, to make sure that everyone knows they have a seat at the table and to help us all recognize our oneness in God and with all God’s children.