Archives: Luke 13:31-35

The Wild Prayer of Lent

If wilderness is the landscape of Lent, then prayer is the road that takes us there.

We live in a blind and busy city most of the time, a crowded confine of social norms, work and family obligations, and a general “business as usual” status quo.

It can be difficult to sustain a dedicated prayer life in the chaotic swirl of trying to keep up with our calendars, care for our dear ones, and cope with the unsettled tension of our common life.

The great gift of Lent is the call into the wilderness. It is an invitation to let the dust of daily life settle, and the graced silence of the desert begin to soothe and open our weary hearts.

But the wilderness cannot invade the city. It can’t come knock on our doors and drag us out into an encounter with the Holy.

We have to say yes.

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Lord, Make Me a Pharisee

Imagine yourself as a major fan of the Indiana Hoosier basketball team.

For most of you, that will not be a stretch.

Now, go bigger. Imagine yourself as a ticket taker at Assembly Hall.

Now, go bigger. Imagine yourself as a graduate assistant in the equipment department.

Now, go bigger. Imagine yourself as an assistant coach to the Indiana Hoosier basketball team.

You are sitting on the bench next to Head Coach Tom Crean during every game. You are strategizing and encouraging and celebrating as Williams and Ferrell and Hartman dominate from the paint to the perimeter every night.

You are extremely invested in IU basketball.

Your life revolves around setting them up to go deep in the NCAA tournament.

This could be your year! You could go all the way to the National Championship!

Now imagine, in your role as Assistant Coach, it’s the eve of the Big Ten Tournament, and you and your fellow coaches draw up all the plays and plans and strategies for your run through the tournament.

This is the set-up for the end of your entire breakout season, the season that has recaptured the glory of famed Hoosier Basketball, the season that has awakened Kansas fans like me to the fact that the road to the Final Four once again runs through Bloomington.

There is very tight security around your preparation for the Big Ten Tournament. Players and coaches alike know how important it is to not spill any secrets to the media or even family and friends.

Preparation in a monster conference like the Big Ten requires a military-style discipline and cohesion.

Now here comes the crazy part.

You arrive in Indianapolis for the tournament. Most of the teams stay in a one of a few hotels near the arena.

You hear that the Head Coach of Purdue basketball, Matt Painter, is going to be at such-and-such restaurant for dinner the night before the opening game.

Matt Painter and Purdue represent potentially a major threat to the end of IU’s season this year, not to mention being IU’s most hated long-term rival.

And then you, the assistant coach of the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, sit down at Matt Painter’s table and hand him IU’s entire tournament playbook.

He recognizes you and opens the book with disbelief as you start to take him through it, explaining to this enemy coach every single part of your team’s tournament strategy. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, all of it.

You’ve just betrayed the organization that has commanded your every shred of loyalty probably for your whole life, and alerted that organization’s enemy to your exact plans to defeat it.

WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! Continue reading

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