Lenten
GesTures
An ecumenical exploration of Lent through sound, movement, prayer, and visual meditation.

Presented by the Presbytery of San Fernando and Dea Studios.
DS Editorial Vol. 1
DEa jenkins
Editor
Lenten Gestures is a project birthed from the creative minds of many artists, writers, and faith leaders. I am grateful for their contributions, and I hope you glean as much from their gifts as I have. Lenten Gestures is an ecumenical effort meant to demonstrate the creative potential of an extended community. This project is designed to offer readers/viewers/listeners an opportunity to experience Lent in a fresh way.

We will journey through Lent by exploring Matthew 25 for the entire season. Matthew 25 offers three takes on how we might prepare for a resurrected life through strategic planning, putting our loaned talents to work, and caring for the least. 

This project is part of a developing collaboration between the Presbytery of San Fernando and Dea Studios. We are excited to share with you in the weeks to come. Thank you for being part of this journey. 
CHAPTER
1
Matthew 25: 1-13
Preparing

February 17 | Ash Wednesday

Matthew 25: 1

Art: Megan Kenyon
Reflection: Dea Jenkins
1"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaidstook their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom."
There was a time when the thought of death would send my stomach into a tight ball of nerves, icy fear slithering its way up and down my spine. As a child I used to lay awake at night fearful of what would happen should I pass away. It was not so much the physical act of dying that scared me. Instead, I feared that in place of the glorious peace promised throughout scripture for all who enter the heavenly Kingdom of GOD post earthly intermission would be nothingness. I feared that my lifeforce would dwindle into a state of nonexistence. The threat of having no consciousness of my own state of being petrified me the most. Not only would I physically cease to be, but I would not even be aware that I had passed from life and into a void of nihility.

Precocious childhood thoughts aside, it is this reality of consciousness that I find most intriguing when reading Matthew 25. In this passage there seems to be a forceful push by way of the narrator, Jesus Himself, to awaken His captive audience to the need to be more fully conscious - that is, to be more fully aware and vigilant. If one is conscious of something, does not that consciousness denote a degree of responsibility? Jesus seems to believe so.

At the start of Matthew 25, the ten virgins are united in their sameness of cause and interest. This hub of consciousness leading them to all seek the same end does not presuppose that they are all wise enough to prepare for the journey ahead. Though they begin in the same place, what will be their story once the bridegroom arrives? In like manner, though we are all sharing this earthly real estate at the moment, what will be our story once Jesus returns? Do our lives heed the warnings to be more vigilant, wise, and prepared - that is, to fully live into the call of consciousness once we are born? Are we prepared enough to fully withstand the pitfalls of sleepwalking through life?
Practice: Scripture to Song

In Megan Kenyon’s piece “Listen and Lament,” the artist quotes Marvin Gaye’s song, “Inner City Blues”. In this practice, challenge yourself by writing a chorus or verse to Matthew 25.

1 | Write out or type Matthew 25. (Suggestion: start with just a section of Matthew 25, perhaps just using Matthew 25: 1-13 for this practice.)
2 | Highlight any words or phrases that stand out to you.
3 | Delete any words or phrases that aren’t highlighted.
4 | Take the remaining words/phrases and rearrange them into a poem.
5 | Create a melody for your poem.
6 | Repeat the process using other parts of Matthew 25 to create your song.

* You can also replace the parable of the ten virgins with your own story that embodies the themes of preparation and awareness.
Foreseeing

February 18

Matthew 25: 2

Art: Dea Jenkins
Reflection: Mike Harbert
2"Five of them were foolish, and five were wise."
One of the things I struggle with is practicing foresight when I believe certain things "must be done." Even when I’ve prayed about it, once I get MY sights on what appears to be the right thing, look out! Sadly the end often becomes more important than the means and true love goes out the window.

Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins speaks to this struggle: “Five of (ten virgins) were foolish and five were wise” (Matthew 25:2). Why were five foolish? They did something without practicing “foresight.” Why were five wise? They practiced “foresight.”

Foreseeing requires getting beyond our natural compulsions that often mislead us. Instead of simply taking action based upon what we believe is right in the moment, we must take steps to allow God to speak to us about what is truly right and best before taking action. For me this means slowing down, taking a deep breath and practicing these steps:

1) Honestly getting in touch with what I believe is right and needed in the moment
2) Sitting quietly, listening for God’s perspective about what is right and needed
3) Asking a trusted and godly friend their perspective about what is right and needed
4) Making sure what I believe is right and needed is in line with scripture
5) Honestly discerning if there is true peace in my soul before taking action.

If what I feel is right and “must be done” before I practice these five things, most likely what I believe is right and needed is not. Yet when I take these five steps before taking action, I avoid falling into compulsions that mislead me and hurt others.

This Lent, I encourage you to take time to prayerfully consider whether you need more of this kind of foresight in your life. What might this look like and what will this require? What simple, intentional and incremental adjustments are needed (each day) to allow this way of living to become more your actual reality?

Grace & Peace,
Mike Harbert
Learning

February 19

Matthew 25: 3

Photography: Dea Jenkins
Reflection: Bobby Harrison
3"When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them [...]"
Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.

The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."

Practice: A Kinesthetic Journey Through the Psalms


1 | Find 3-5 psalms that you can pair with Matthew 25.
2 | View and practice "A Kinesthetic Journey Through the Psalms".  
Providing

February 20

Matthew 25: 4

Art: Dea Jenkins
Reflection: Judith Hirsch-Fikejs

Practice: Rule of Life


Download and use Practicing The Way's 'Rule of Life Workbook'.
4" [...] but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps."
"This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through,” so goes the old southern Gospel hymn. Human existence is often characterized as a journey, even in secular literature. Scripture refers to the Christian life as journeying toward God's heavenly kingdom. For now, we are mired in this temporal world, and as transient as our earthly sojourn may be, believers are called to live as God's Kingdom people now. The contrast between the Wise and Foolish maidens who go out to meet the Bridegroom is a case in point. In this single statement found in Matthew 25:4, we encounter individuals who know what is required of them. The Wise Maidens were prepared. They left nothing to chance. They not only filled their lamps with oil, but were prepared to buy more if necessary.  

Oil has long been seen as a metaphor for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are indeed marked with the sign of God's Spirit in Baptism. But what of daily living? Can we prepare, be ready, be looking ahead each day, allowing God's Spirit to awaken us, to be our inner power source?  The spiritual disciplines of prayer, self-examination, confession, and goal setting can be powerful aids. We can view each new day as another occasion of learning and serving, allowing God's Spirit to shine into our workplace, homes, schools, and among friends and family.

Perhaps each of us can spend time daily considering how we can be “filled with the Spirit,” as we honor our Lord, preparing to meet him as the Resurrected One.
Waiting

February 21

Matthew 25: 5

Art: Jess Velarde
Reflection: Rachel Coleman
5“As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.”
What does it mean to wait? What changes this act from simple passivity into an intentional activity? I wonder if it is not perhaps some future event one holds in one’s mind. All of the maidens wait for the bridegroom and their energy is focused on his arrival, though they know not exactly when that will be. And yet, all of the maidens recognize the bridegroom when he does finally arrive—even those who were unprepared.

It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps, we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.

“*Behold* the bridegroom!” All of the maidens were waiting for him, all of the maidens recognized him upon his arrival. What then separates the foolish from the wise? Might we say that the difference lies in how completely the maidens let the act of recognition transform their period of seeming stillness, transform this interiority? The foolish know the bridegroom, but do not let this recognition affect their whole selves. The wise let it in- and transform all their other activities, so that their waiting truly becomes an act of their whole being. Their waiting becomes, ultimately, an offering.

Practice: Matsutani's "Stream"


Watch artist Takesada Matsutani's performance of "Stream". As you're watching journal using the following prompts:

1 | What is your impression of Matsutani's use of repetition?
2 | What do you make of the element of water used in the performance?
3 | Place yourself inside the performance. Where are you? What are you doing? What emotions are rising or falling for you as the performance unfolds? Do any of these thoughts and feelings coorelate to what you've read in Matthew 25 so far?

Watch artist Takesada Matsutani's performance of "Stream". As you're watching journal using the following prompts:What is your impression of Matsutani's use of repetition? What do you make of the element of water used in the performance? Place yourself inside the performance. Where are you? What are you doing? What emotions are rising or falling for you as the performance unfolds?
Beholding

February 22

Matthew 25: 6

Art: K. McFarland
Reflection: Dea Jenkins
6“But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’”
Imust admit that I read verse six with a tinge of skepticism. After mulling through long stretches of waiting, it is easy to dismiss the strands of encouragement that periodically cross your path. Unfortunately, skepticism can easily cause one to miss the moment of actualization. If, after waiting for so long, the actualization does suddenly materialize, will you be caught off guard? Will you be ready to receive?

To behold is to take notice of, to witness, to suddenly fill your gaze on a fixated point of chosen clarity. Beholding goes one step further than simply “looking”. To behold is to take in and to wonder.

Hasn’t God filled your life with wonders worth beholding? Even when you’ve waited for the next to materialize, wasn’t there always something in the now that spoke to the glorious works of thoughtfulness, intentionality, and creativity on part of the Creator? Hasn’t each “now” set you up to finally and fully behold that which you craved for, prayed over, and thought long and hard about? I find in Matthew 25: 6 the reminder that God does indeed always deliver on what God has promised. There will always be a moment to behold when it comes to what God has spoken to be true.

I recently heard a pastor speak about how time is simply catching up to what God has already known and spoken to be true (Torré Roberts, pastor of The Potter’s House at OneLA). I find the permeability of God’s timespace fascinating - that we can move through time in what appears to be a linear unfolding, but in God’s actuality (the Truth of all that is actual), time unfolds over and over again upon itself, moving in circulatory patterns, criss-crossing across dimensions, unfolding at times in full view of what seems speculatory. In full reality, time is actually a mirage of what is to come, of what is left behind, and of what is now. And what is now if not both perpetual promise and opportunity for beholding?
Practice: MoMA's Artful Practices for Well-Being

Allow this exercise created by Lissa Mazzola to harness your ability to take in and behold. You can use these same techniques in multiple areas of life.
Anticipating

February 23

Matthew 25: 7

Art: Dea Jenkins
Reflection: Gretchen Saalbach


Practice:
Conversatio Meditation


Visit conversatio.org, and select one of their meditations.
7“Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps."
Matthew 25:7 gives us a picture of anticipation that’s linked with preparation – get ready because the bridegroom is coming! But there’s been a long delay until finally a voice cries out, “He’s coming!” and the bridesmaids get their lamps ready.

Anticipation can be fun and exciting, and we turn that excitement into action. We do what we can to prepare so that we’re ready when the moment we hope for finally arrives.

But if there’s a delay, a significant delay to the point that you’re not even sure that thing is going to happen, then that fun and excitement can become so many other things, like anger, disappointment, and apathy. We go back to life as usual and maybe wait for something to happen, but not with any sense of expectation that causes us to make room in our lives for that thing.  

Sometimes going back to life as normal is okay, because what we hoped for just won’t happen. But the danger is that’s not always the case. Sometimes we do have to continue to wait with a sense of preparation, that the hoped-for thing will happen, but we will miss it if we aren’t ready for it.

Making room for God in our lives is just like that. We can have great experiences with God when we first start walking with Him, but over time life normalizes and we no longer feel the need to be so into reading the bible or praying or other spiritual practices. The problem is, though, if we aren’t making space for God continuously, we will miss out altogether on the opportunity for Him to come again and do amazing things in us and through us.

While we don’t know when God will show up in our lives in a life-changing way, let’s choose to make space in our lives for Him to come whenever He chooses, and live in anticipation that He will come. The wait will be worth it.
Discerning

February 24

Matthew 25: 8

Music: Ivan Wong
Reflection: Al Han


Practice:
Google's Wassily Kandinsky


Explore Google’s Wassily Kandinsky experiment.

1 | How do the sounds and music deepen your understanding of Kandinsky’s painting?

2 | Does the exercise offer insight on the process of discernment for you?
8“The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’"
Ihad the honor of officiating a wedding of a young couple in my church plant recently. Due to Covid, the wedding was very intimate… less than 30 people in attendance. However, the bride and groom were able to have a full bridal party with four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. The couple informed me ahead of time that two of the bridesmaids would be performing a special song during the ceremony. I reached out to these two bridesmaids prior to the wedding asking them to practice before the dress rehearsal of the wedding, to which they strongly agreed.

On the day of the dress rehearsal, however, it was obvious to everyone that the two bridesmaids had not prepared or practiced whatsoever. As I was going through the Order of Ceremony with the engaged couple, the bridal party, and the family members involved, these two bridesmaids were off to the side of the altar playing the piano and singing the song as if it were their first time. They wasted everyone’s valuable time during the dress rehearsal. Sadly, the two bridesmaids’ lack of preparation was an unfortunate distraction and an unnecessary delay to the larger event that was happening, which was the wedding. 

The “virgins” in Matthew 25 are akin to the “bridesmaids” in today’s context. In a traditional first century Jewish wedding, it was customary for several close friends of the bride, typically ten virgins, to escort the groom to his newlywed bride after the wedding ceremony. Since ancient lamps required oil to stay lit, the extra supply of oil was a wise form of preparation.When  the five bridesmaids who ran out of oil asked the bridesmaids with extra oil to give them some, it would have actually been unwise to do so, as all of them ran the risk of running out of oil, leaving nobody to escort the bridegroom to his bride. 

So much of growing in faith is about preparation, being wise, and discerning.
reasoning

February 25

Matthew 25: 9

Art: Dea Jenkins
Reflection: Nick Warnes
9“But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’"
When going up Waterman Drive toward Lake Arrowhead on a snowy day, there is always a line that forms at the top of the mountain. The line is not due to the weather, but to police stopping cars to ensure they have chains on their tires. Many will wait for hours without chains to get through. When police identify that they don’t have the chains, drivers  are immediately sent back down the mountain to purchase chains in order to get through. A frustrating experience for all.

While many may be quick to experience empathy for both the drivers and the foolish bridesmaids in Matthew 25, this is not what Matthew 25 is about. Matthew 25 is about a reasoned preparation.

For the driver:Why did you not bring chains? Did you not watch the weather? For  the bridesmaids with the lamps: Why did you not bring oil for the lamp?

This text reminds readers to not only be prepared, but to be reasonable in your preparation. Of course drivers are going to need chains to get up the mountain! Of course the bridesmaids with the lamps are going to need oil! This is well within reason!

With all humility I approach this text with some questions and invite you to do the same. If Jesus were sitting next to me, what am I not prepared for in my faith that would be unreasonable? Am I prepared to love my enemy? Am I prepared to engage with my neighbors? Am I prepared to pursue justice? Am I prepared to live joyfully? Am I prepared to care for the widow, or those experiencing homelessness? Am I prepared to give away all that I have?

This is the challenge of this text. To read it through the lens of the foolish bridesmaids and not through the lens of the wise bridesmaids. Much reflection will be due if one does so, and I hope that you will engage in such a way this day..
Consumating

February 26

Matthew 25: 10

Art:
Reflection: Dea Jenkins



W
hat does it mean, to wait? What changes this act from simple passivity into an intentional activity? I wonder if it is not perhaps some future event one holds in one’s mind. All of the maidens wait for the bridegroom and their energy is focused on his arrival, though they know not exactly when that will be. And all of the maidens recognize the bridegroom when he does finally arrive—even those who were unprepared.

It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.
It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.

“*Behold* the bridegroom!” All of the maidens were waiting for him, all of the maidens recognized him upon his arrival. What then separates the foolish from the wise? Might we say that the difference lies in how completely the maidens let the act of recognition transform their period of seeming stillness, transform this interiority? The foolish know the bridegroom, but do not let this recognition affect their whole selves. The wise let it in- and transform all their other activities, so that their waiting truly becomes an act of their whole being. Their waiting becomes, ultimately, an offering.
PErsevering

February 27

Matthew 25: 11

Movement: Brianna Kinsman
Reflection:
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Denying

February 28

Matthew 25: 12

Practice:
Reflection: Al Han
In high school, people would often confuse me for my little brother and vice versa. It’s an honest mistake because he and I were only one year apart in age, similar in size, and we even shared clothes sometimes. Usually if one of my brother’s friends would approach me and call me by his name, they’d realize almost immediately that they made a mixup, apologize, then move on. However, on one occasion in high school, a girl in his grade ran up to me excitedly, grabbed my arm, and started rambling on about a mutual friend of hers and my little brother. She was talking so fast and so loud that I wasn’t even able to interrupt her to tell her I’m not my brother. After what felt like five straight minutes, I nearly yelled at her, “I don’t know you!” There was an awkward pause of the two of us looking into each others’ eyes, she became flushed with embarrassment then replied, “Oh my God! I thought you were your brother! I’m so sorry!” She ran off sheepishly and I walked away slightly vexed.
Learning

March 1

Matthew 25: 13

Art: Julia Hendrickson
Reflection: Gretchen Saalbach
Ibroke my elbow at the end of April, 2020, and it’s been a long road of recovery involving two surgeries and a lot of physical therapy. I still can’t fully stretch out my arm, or rotate my forearm back and forth, so I’m doing a number of exercises designed to help me stretch and bend my arm, and work on strength and flexibility.At first it was easy to see what improvements I had made. But I’m now at the point of recovery where any gains I make are hard to notice because they are small improvements rather than the bigger improvements that happened earlier in my recovery. I observe them through sudden shifts in what I can do,. I’m grateful to my therapists; because of their abilities, they can see what I can’t. They see what is going on with the structures and tissues of my arm and take me through activities that will help with scar tissue and stiffness. They ask me about pain levels and any changes I’ve seen, and work with me to make sure that the day of recovery will happen. We’re told in this passage to keep watch because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Keeping watch means to observe what is happening, and to respond in a way that foreshadows the truth of God’s kingdom. We make room in our lives for God to speak to us and to empower us so that we can be His hands and feet. We do this with others – this is a multigenerational, multiethnic, multigendered work - because we each have limits on what any one of us can see and know, and we need everyone’s input and encouragement so that we can fully reflect the fullness of God and what He wants for us as humans. We celebrate together the ways God’s love and goodness breaks into our lives and the world around us. Let’s ask God to help us be alert to where He’s at work, and partner with Him to see His kingdom come.
Chapter
2
Eat & Drinks
The
Viktualienmarkt
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Bar
Centrale
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Jodlerwirt
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Das Maria
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Aroma
Kaffeebar
A great place to sip coffee and do some excellent people watching. Not only is the food — such as the paper and twined wrapped sandwiches — fresh, local and good, but half of the space is a thoughtfully curated shop full of curios, culinary treats and modern crafts. Make sure to wear your hipster sunglasses, and do try the delicious Mango-Mint shake.
CHAPTER
4
Contributors
Musicians

Megan Kenyon


Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.
The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."
Movement Liturgists

Megan Kenyon


Wen Dombrowski
Wen Dombrowski
Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.
The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."
Visual Artists

Megan Kenyon


Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.
The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."
Writers

Megan Kenyon


Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.
The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."
Hosts

Megan Kenyon


Oh, to be foolishly in love. So captured by the rapturous thrill of it all that all else fades away. Enlivened by a melody within, whimsically dancing about like wonder and awe materialized.
The text tells us of ten brides-to-be, on their way to meet their Beloveds. Each grabbing a lamp to light the way. As if love-enough couldn’t lead them. But either in haste or in hubris, five neglected the oil. And so, we are told, foolish they are. But foolish we already knew. For only fools fall in love. So what then of this foolishness? What was the foolishness of their wayward ways?



Perhaps the foolishness was not their forgetfulness. Nor ignorance. But rather, their arrogance. The human-held conviction that our foolish love could be sustained by our fickle hearts. Oh, how our hearts are strong: big, bold, and brave. But our full-bodied, emboldened courage comes with slivers of such tender vulnerability. And so these hearts — the big, bold, and brave ones — they also bend and bruise and break.

We are foolish to believe we survive on the strength of our hearts alone. For we are sustained only by oil from above. Oil poured upon. Oil in us that is not of us. Oil that recognizes an utter, desperate dependence upon God’s extravagant provision.

The oil is God’s to give. If but only we come to the end of ourselves, and simply ask. May we learn, even and especially in our foolishness, simply to ask for the oil.

“Oh God, our hearts cannot survive without what you give. May we aim not to be both our own blood and water in this body and flesh. But instead, in our veins, may we learn to see you as our source of life.

Give us your oil, oh God. So we may pour our our hearts with your life. Beloveds and Brides. Learners and fools. Fools for your love. Fools filled by your love. Fools pouring out your love. Fools aflame."
Preparing

February 17 | Ash Wednesday

Matthew 25: 1

Art: Megan Kenyon
Reflection: Dea Jenkins
There was a time when the thought of death would send my stomach into a tight ball of nerves, icy fear slithering its way up and down my spine. As a child I used to lay awake at night fearful of what would happen should I pass away. It was not so much the physical act of dying that scared me. Instead, I feared that in place of the glorious peace promised throughout scripture for all who enter the heavenly Kingdom of GOD post earthly intermission would be nothingness. I feared that my lifeforce would dwindle into a state of nonexistence. The threat of having no consciousness of my own state of being petrified me the most. Not only would I physically cease to be, but I would not even be aware that I had passed from life and into a void of nihility.

Precocious childhood thoughts aside, it is this reality of consciousness that I find most intriguing when reading Matthew 25. In this passage there seems to be a forceful push by way of the narrator, Jesus Himself, to awaken His captive audience to the need to be more fully conscious - that is, to be more fully aware and vigilant. If one is conscious of something, does not that consciousness denote a degree of responsibility? Jesus seems to believe so.

At the start of Matthew 25, the ten virgins are united in their sameness of cause and interest. This hub of consciousness leading them to all seek the same end does not presuppose that they are all wise enough to prepare for the journey ahead. Though they begin in the same place, what will be their story once the bridegroom arrives? In like manner, though we are all sharing this earthly real estate at the moment, what will be our story once Jesus returns? Do our lives heed the warnings to be more vigilant, wise, and prepared - that is, to fully live into the call of consciousness once we are born? Are we prepared enough to fully withstand the pitfalls of sleepwalking through life?
Practice: Scripture to Song

In Megan Kenyon’s piece “Listen and Lament,” the artist quotes Marvin Gaye’s song, “Inner City Blues”. In this practice, challenge yourself by writing a chorus or verse to Matthew 25.

1 | Write out or type Matthew 25. (Suggestion: start with just a section of Matthew 25, perhaps just using Matthew 25: 1-13 for this practice.)
2 | Highlight any words or phrases that stand out to you.
3 | Delete any words or phrases that aren’t highlighted.
4 | Take the remaining words/phrases and rearrange them into a poem.
5 | Create a melody for your poem.
6 | Repeat the process using other parts of Matthew 25 to create your song.

* You can also replace the parable of the ten virgins with your own story that embodies the themes of preparation and awareness.
Foreseeing

February 18

Matthew 25: 2

Practice:
Reflection: Mike Harbert
One of the things I struggle with is practicing foresight when I believe certain things "must be done." Even when I’ve prayed about it, once I get MY sights on what appears to be the right thing, look out! Sadly the end often becomes more important than the means and true love goes out the window.

Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins speaks to this struggle: “Five of (ten virgins) were foolish and five were wise” (Matthew 25:2). Why were five foolish? They did something without practicing “foresight.” Why were five wise? They practiced “foresight.”

Foreseeing requires getting beyond our natural compulsions that often mislead us. Instead of simply taking action based upon what we believe is right in the moment, we must take steps to allow God to speak to us about what is truly right and best before taking action. For me this means slowing down, taking a deep breath and practicing these steps:

1) Honestly getting in touch with what I believe is right and needed in the moment
2) Sitting quietly, listening for God’s perspective about is right and needed
3) Asking a trusted and godly friend their perspective about what is right and needed
4) Making sure what I believe is right and needed is in line with scripture
5) Honestly discerning if there is true peace in my soul before taking action.
If what I feel is right and needed “must be done” before I practice these five things, most likely what I believe is right and needed is not. Yet when I take these five steps before taking action, I avoid falling into compulsions that mislead me and hurt others.

This Lent, I encourage you to take time to prayerfully consider whether you need more of this kind of foresight in your life. What might this look like and what will this require? What simple, intentional and incremental adjustments are needed (each day) to allow this way of living to become more your actual reality?

Grace & Peace,Mike Harbert
Providing

February 20

Matthew 25: 4

Practice:
Reflection: Judith Hirsch-Fikejs
"This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through” so goes the old southern Gospel hymn. Human existence is often characterized as a journey, even in secular literature. Scripture refers to the Christian life as journeying toward God's heavenly kingdom. For now, we are mired in this temporal world, and as transient as our earthly sojourn may be, believers are called live as God's Kingdom people now. The contrast between the Wise and Foolish maidens who go out to meet the Bridegroom is a case in point. In this single statement found in Matt. 25:4, we encounter individuals who know what is required of them. The Wise Maidens were prepared. They left nothing to chance. They not only filled their lamps with oil but were prepared to buy more if necessary.

Oil has long been seen as a metaphor for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are indeed marked with the sign of God's Spirit in Baptism. But what of daily living? Can we prepare, be ready, be looking ahead each day, allowing God's Spirit to awaken us, to be our inner power source?  The spiritual disciplines of prayer, self-examination, confession, goal setting can be powerful aids. We can view each new day as another occasion of learning and serving, allowing God's Spirit to shine into our workplace, homes, schools, among friends and family.
Perhaps each of us can spend time daily considering how we can be “filled with the Spirit” as we honor our Lord, preparing to meet him as the Resurrected One..
Waiting

February 21

Matthew 25: 5

Art: Jess Velarde
Reflection: Rachel Coleman



W
hat does it mean, to wait? What changes this act from simple passivity into an intentional activity? I wonder if it is not perhaps some future event one holds in one’s mind. All of the maidens wait for the bridegroom and their energy is focused on his arrival, though they know not exactly when that will be. And all of the maidens recognize the bridegroom when he does finally arrive—even those who were unprepared.

It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.
It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.

“*Behold* the bridegroom!” All of the maidens were waiting for him, all of the maidens recognized him upon his arrival. What then separates the foolish from the wise? Might we say that the difference lies in how completely the maidens let the act of recognition transform their period of seeming stillness, transform this interiority? The foolish know the bridegroom, but do not let this recognition affect their whole selves. The wise let it in- and transform all their other activities, so that their waiting truly becomes an act of their whole being. Their waiting becomes, ultimately, an offering.
Beholding

February 22

Matthew 25: 6

Art: K. McFarland
Reflection:
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Anticipating

February 23

Matthew 25: 7

Practice:
Reflection: Gretchen Saalbach
Matthew 25:7 gives us a picture of anticipation that’s linked with preparation – get ready because the bridegroom is coming! But there’s been a long delay until finally a voice cries out “He’s coming!” and the bridesmaids get their lamps ready.Anticipation can be fun and exciting, and we turn that excitement into action. We do what we can to prepare so that we’re ready when the moment we hope for finally arrives.But if there’s a delay, a significant delay to the point that you’re not even sure that thing is going to happen, then that fun and excitement can become so many other things, like anger, disappointment, and apathy. We go back to life as usual and maybe wait for something to happen but not with any sense of expectation that causes us to make room in our lives for that thing. Sometimes going back to life as normal is okay, because what we hoped for just won’t happen. But the danger is that’s not always the case. Sometimes we do have to continue to wait with a sense of preparation, because that hoped-for thing will happen but we will miss it if we aren’t ready for it. Making room for God in our lives is like that. We can have great experiences with God when we first start walking with Him, but over time life normalizes and we no longer feel the need to be so into reading the bible or praying or other spiritual practices. The problem is, though, if we aren’t making space for God continuously, we will miss out altogether on the opportunity for Him to come again and do amazing things in us and through us. While we don’t know when God will show up in our lives in a life-changing way, let’s choose to make space in our lives for Him to come whenever He chooses, and live in anticipation that He will come, and the wait will be worth it.
Discerning

February 24

Matthew 25: 8

Practice:
Reflection: Al Han
Ihad the honor of officiating a wedding of a young couple in my church plant recently. Due to Covid, the wedding was very intimate… less than 30 people in attendance. However, the bride and groom were able to have a full bridal party with four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. The couple informed me ahead of time that two of the bridesmaids would be performing a special song during the ceremony. I reached out to these two bridesmaids prior to the wedding asking them to practice before the dress rehearsal of the wedding, to which they strongly agreed. On the day of the dress rehearsal, however, it was obvious to everyone that the two bridesmaids had not prepared or practiced whatsoever. As I was going through the Order of Ceremony with the engaged couple, the bridal party, and the family members involved, these two bridesmaids were off to the side of the altar playing the piano and singing the song as if it were their first time. They wasted everyone’s valuable time during the dress rehearsal. Sadly, the two bridesmaids’ lack of preparation was an unfortunate distraction and an unnecessary delay to the larger event that was happening, which was the wedding.
The “virgins” in Matthew 25 are akin to the “bridesmaids” in today’s context. In a traditional first century Jewish wedding, it was customary for several close friends of the bride, typically ten virgins, to escort the groom to his newlywed bride after the wedding ceremony. Since ancient lamps required oil to stay lit, the extra supply of oil was a wise form of preparation. So when the five bridesmaids who ran out of oil asked the bridesmaids who had extra oil to give them some, it would have actually been unwise to do so as all of them run the risk of running out of oil leaving nobody to be able to escort the bridegroom to his bride.
So much of growing in faith is about preparation, being wise, and discerning.
reasoning

February 25

Matthew 25: 9

Practice:
Reflection: Nick Warnes
"This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through” so goes the old southern Gospel hymn. Human existence is often characterized as a journey, even in secular literature. Scripture refers to the Christian life as journeying toward God's heavenly kingdom. For now, we are mired in this temporal world, and as transient as our earthly sojourn may be, believers are called live as God's Kingdom people now. The contrast between the Wise and Foolish maidens who go out to meet the Bridegroom is a case in point. In this single statement found in Matt. 25:4, we encounter individuals who know what is required of them. The Wise Maidens were prepared. They left nothing to chance. They not only filled their lamps with oil but were prepared to buy more if necessary.

Oil has long been seen as a metaphor for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are indeed marked with the sign of God's Spirit in Baptism. But what of daily living? Can we prepare, be ready, be looking ahead each day, allowing God's Spirit to awaken us, to be our inner power source?  The spiritual disciplines of prayer, self-examination, confession, goal setting can be powerful aids. We can view each new day as another occasion of learning and serving, allowing God's Spirit to shine into our workplace, homes, schools, among friends and family.
Perhaps each of us can spend time daily considering how we can be “filled with the Spirit” as we honor our Lord, preparing to meet him as the Resurrected One..
Consumating

February 26

Matthew 25: 10

Art:
Reflection: Dea Jenkins



W
hat does it mean, to wait? What changes this act from simple passivity into an intentional activity? I wonder if it is not perhaps some future event one holds in one’s mind. All of the maidens wait for the bridegroom and their energy is focused on his arrival, though they know not exactly when that will be. And all of the maidens recognize the bridegroom when he does finally arrive—even those who were unprepared.

It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.
It seems then that waiting and recognition are tied together somehow. In thinking of what is to come, what may look like a period of stillness is transformed into an act of moving toward something, if only interiorly, an activity that in fact involved our whole being. Perhaps we may say it this way: waiting is the moment of recognition extended through time.

“*Behold* the bridegroom!” All of the maidens were waiting for him, all of the maidens recognized him upon his arrival. What then separates the foolish from the wise? Might we say that the difference lies in how completely the maidens let the act of recognition transform their period of seeming stillness, transform this interiority? The foolish know the bridegroom, but do not let this recognition affect their whole selves. The wise let it in- and transform all their other activities, so that their waiting truly becomes an act of their whole being. Their waiting becomes, ultimately, an offering.
PErsevering

February 27

Matthew 25: 11

Movement: Brianna Kinsman
Reflection:
Munich’s year-round open-air  farmers’ market. Hardly a secret destination but well worth visiting, especially if you know which stands to hit. For quick, cheap and delicious grilled sandwiches made with generous slabs of French bread and ingredients like prosciutto, figs, mozzarella, goat cheese and more, head to Luiginos, an organic cheese stand that boasts the production of the “World Champion” winning Emmentaler cheese. Look for the yellow awning toward the eastern border of the market.
Denying

February 28

Matthew 25: 12

Practice:
Reflection: Al Han
In high school, people would often confuse me for my little brother and vice versa. It’s an honest mistake because he and I were only one year apart in age, similar in size, and we even shared clothes sometimes. Usually if one of my brother’s friends would approach me and call me by his name, they’d realize almost immediately that they made a mixup, apologize, then move on. However, on one occasion in high school, a girl in his grade ran up to me excitedly, grabbed my arm, and started rambling on about a mutual friend of hers and my little brother. She was talking so fast and so loud that I wasn’t even able to interrupt her to tell her I’m not my brother. After what felt like five straight minutes, I nearly yelled at her, “I don’t know you!” There was an awkward pause of the two of us looking into each others’ eyes, she became flushed with embarrassment then replied, “Oh my God! I thought you were your brother! I’m so sorry!” She ran off sheepishly and I walked away slightly vexed.
Learning

March 1

Matthew 25: 13

Art: Julia Hendrickson
Reflection: Gretchen Saalbach
Ibroke my elbow at the end of April, 2020, and it’s been a long road of recovery involving two surgeries and a lot of physical therapy. I still can’t fully stretch out my arm, or rotate my forearm back and forth, so I’m doing a number of exercises designed to help me stretch and bend my arm, and work on strength and flexibility.At first it was easy to see what improvements I had made. But I’m now at the point of recovery where any gains I make are hard to notice because they are small improvements rather than the bigger improvements that happened earlier in my recovery. I observe them through sudden shifts in what I can do,. I’m grateful to my therapists; because of their abilities, they can see what I can’t. They see what is going on with the structures and tissues of my arm and take me through activities that will help with scar tissue and stiffness. They ask me about pain levels and any changes I’ve seen, and work with me to make sure that the day of recovery will happen. We’re told in this passage to keep watch because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Keeping watch means to observe what is happening, and to respond in a way that foreshadows the truth of God’s kingdom. We make room in our lives for God to speak to us and to empower us so that we can be His hands and feet. We do this with others – this is a multigenerational, multiethnic, multigendered work - because we each have limits on what any one of us can see and know, and we need everyone’s input and encouragement so that we can fully reflect the fullness of God and what He wants for us as humans. We celebrate together the ways God’s love and goodness breaks into our lives and the world around us. Let’s ask God to help us be alert to where He’s at work, and partner with Him to see His kingdom come.
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