Friday, March 11 – Lent 2022

Psalm 91

Author: Herman Harris

Reflection: v. 16, ‘with long life I shall satisfy them and show them my salvation’

I had to grow up a lot out here on these streets. I’m 59 years old—I’ve got to make my time valuable. I have to value life now because I’m getting older. I process things differently now. Especially when I see people downtown struggling, it hurts me, because I know I was once there, too. I have so much compassion for the homeless and people who are down and out, because I was there. I was standing in pain, just trying to get a break—trying to get in a doorway. Sometimes we have opportunities, and we mess up. We blow them. At times, we have to keep it moving forward and take responsibility. A lot of times when I’ve messed up, I realized I needed to take responsibility for some of my actions. I have had to look back and say, ‘I messed that up. I could have handled that situation better.’ I’ve grown a lot through this realization, through that process, and even through messing up. I look back at things now, and I stay encouraged. It’s a good feeling to be able to do the things you know you need to do to take care of yourself. You’re supposed to be able to have the things you need to take care of yourself and to feel good about yourself. God wants the best for you. God wants you to live the best life you can. I’m 59 years old, and I want to live the remainder of my life as the best life that I can. That’s why I give it my best every day I wake up. I walk in that bathroom, look in the mirror, and say, ‘This is what I’ve got to do. This is what I’ve got to do to stay sober, to stay blessed, and to stay in the place where I am.’ I’m enjoying the place where I’m staying now, and I’m just trying to keep it moving one day at a time. I trust that things are going to happen as I’m working toward my next apartment. It’s a tedious and slow process, but you can’t give up. You’ve got to just keep on moving forward.

Prayer Walk with us, God, as we keep it moving forward one day at a time.

Thursday, March 10 – Lent 2022

Psalm 91

Author: Herman Harris

Reflection: v. 2, ‘my God, in whom I trust’

These words of this psalm—the promise of God’s protection that we can trust in—remind me of my own journey with recovery. For a long time, I wanted to give up on the process of recovery. Especially when you’re out there drinking and using like I was, I thought I would never get to where I am at right now. I thought the opportunity was never going to come my way—that one of those doors was never going to be open to me. It was my faith that kept me steadfast. I believed that the process could work because I had witnessed it work for others before me. I knew that if you stick with it, results will come to pass. Many times, I wrote down prayers for things that I needed. I wrote them on a board, and sometimes they would come to pass, and that would give me encouragement to stick with the process. I have seen the recovery process change a lot of people’s lives. There are some people I have known who have been in recovery for eight or nine years. Pastor Lattimore is an example. I have known him a long time, since he was at Peachtree and Pine, and he has a long history of clean time now. You need that kind of vision, to see someone move forward, to help keep you moving forward, too. That’s part of why I come to Mercy every day. I’m hoping to help someone who wants help through their own process of recovery. I want to be there for others the way people have been there for me. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, so long as you start somewhere. For me, I had to start somewhere. Now, I’m just more grateful than anything. At this point I’ve come too far, and I just have to keep moving forward and trusting that God is with me.

Prayer Help us to remember, O Lord, that sometimes we just have to trust in the process and trust in you.

Wednesday, March 9 – Lent 2022


Author: Isaiah Lewis

Reflection: v. 13, ‘After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity’

HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Some recovery communities use the acronym HALT to describe when we’re most susceptible to the temptations to give in to destructive impulses and addictions. The scripture today presents Jesus as dealing with at least three of these vulnerabilities: he’s hungry, tired, and alone. Perhaps predictably, that is exactly where the devil shows up. And the temptations Jesus is offered have everything to do with power. Again and again, the devil tries to needle Jesus into proving himself.

Sometimes when I’m hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I can be convinced that I have something to prove, too. I feel vulnerable and that scares me, so I cling to false promises of power. But Jesus doesn’t fall for the devil’s trap. He isn’t afraid of his own human vulnerabilities, so he doesn’t have anything to prove. He has just been baptized and told by the Holy Spirit how much God loves him, and he holds onto that love to keep him stable in the midst of temptation. I don’t have much in common with Jesus, but if I can remember my baptism when I’m feeling the need to flex, I can get a little curious about what that not-enoughness is hiding. When my identity is grounded in God’s love, I’m better equipped to fight the temptations of power and privilege.

Prayer God, help us ground our beings in you. Be with us in our vulnerability and keep the devil and his temptations far from us.

Tuesday, March 8 – Lent 2022

Luke 4:1-13

Author: Chad Hyatt

Reflection: v. 2, ‘he was tempted by the devil’

It seemed to me that the Bible Belt I grew up in was hell-bent on convincing me I was hell-bound. My mom would browse Christian bookstores when I was a kid, and I would inevitably find my way to the comics section. Christian comics in the 70’s? Y’all have no idea. As a teen, I discovered Al Green, and among his gospel numbers was one entitled, Yield Not to Temptation (For Yielding Is Sin), that I thought was pretty catchy. So naturally enough, even though we didn’t go to church, topics I presumed to be essential to a good Christian life were made up of words that felt pretty scary to me back then—like sin and temptation and how to be holy. To be honest, I haven’t really thought about these themes using those terms in a very long time. But reading about Jesus facing temptation in the wilderness gives us an opportunity to re-think traditional ways we have understood theological categories like temptation. One way of talking about temptation is anything that pulls us away from our hearts staying centered in our true identity as beloved children of God. Temptation is anything that makes us feel the need to prove our worth—to ourselves or to anyone else. The core of the temptations that Jesus faced is found in all the ‘if’s’ that call into question his identity: ‘If you are God’s beloved child, prove it by this…’ We face temptation when we are lured away from the truth of our belovedness and try to prove our worth, by defining ourselves through wealth or power or privilege or status—and the list could go on as long as there are enough materials laying around by which we can piece together a DIY sense of self. Yet being tempted doesn’t call into question our faithfulness. We will always find ourselves tempted to measure our worth by some other standard. Growing deeper into our hearts, into the truth of our belovedness as children of God, even as we struggle against our own broken and destructive patterns, is a life long process. It doesn’t end. It didn’t end after forty days in the wilderness for Jesus. As they say, the struggle is real. But more real by far is the truth of God’s love for us. Temptation is nothing more than when we are pulled away from that truth.

Prayer Jesus, you stayed true to who you knew yourself to be, a beloved child of God, even when you were tempted to prove yourself. Help us to overcome every temptation to become anything other than who we are, beloved just like you.

Monday, March 7 – Lent 2022

Luke 4:1-13

Author: Chad Hyatt

Reflection: v. 3, ‘The devil said to him, If you are…’

We have nothing to prove in order to be loved. We have nothing to prove in order to have worth. And yet. And yet we so often feel we do, we must. Because, let’s be honest, it seems the whole wide world around us tells us we do—perhaps not always directly but certainly indirectly. Our basic identity as beloved children of God is challenged everyday in countless ways. It’s challenged by racism, genderism, and poverty. The thing that is most true about ourselves, that should be the most intuitive, seems to us to be absolutely counterintuitive. We allow our worth and value to be determined by what we wear, what we look like, what we do, who we are with, who recognizes us. If you think Jesus doesn’t understand those struggles, trust me, he does. The temptation in the wilderness is nothing more than the devil throwing God’s love in his face and saying, ‘Prove it; prove you are really God’s Son, beloved and the source of God’s delight. Prove you are who God says you are.’ And Jesus shows us the way to stand in our belovedness as a child of God when the devil comes at us with the same kinds of demands. Jesus says, in effect, ‘No, I have nothing to prove; I know who I am.’ And that’s the grace we can hold onto, the grace to claim our identity and to not give it up—no matter what forces or voices or narratives—within our own head or without—make us feel as if we must prove it again and again. You have nothing to prove. You are beloved, child of God.

Prayer Spirit of Jesus, stay with us in our wilderness—stay when the devil and the world and our own thoughts demand that we prove what we cannot but never need to: that we are your beloved children.

Sunday, March 6 – Lent 2022

Luke 4:1-13

Author: Chad Hyatt

Reflection: v. 1, ‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness’

There’s no sense in talking about Jesus being tempted unless we talk about Jesus being baptized first. It is the Spirit that came upon him in those muddy waters, after all, that leads him and is with him in the wilderness. So let’s recap: Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit came down, and a voice from heaven spoke over him. ‘You are my beloved Son; in you I find my delight,’ the voice says. That’s who Jesus is. That’s his identity. And whether we believe it or not, that’s ours, too. No, of course, neither you nor I are likely to be confused with the second person of the Trinity. Happily for the universe, I can say with confidence we are not god. But all the same, you are a beloved child of God. And just as God was pleased with Jesus, God delights in you.

Trust me, I know that’s maybe one of the hardest truths for us to accept, acquainted as we are with our own brokenness and so often consumed with all the ways that we fail to measure up to our own ideals—let alone the expectations of others. But this inviolable belovedness is the essential truth of our existence. Being a child of God, like every other human being made in God’s image, isn’t a decision that you or I or anyone else gets to make about ourselves or others. That’s God’s choice, my friend, and it has already been made about us, long before you or I came to be. We belong to God, we are claimed by God, and we will never be forsaken by God. Period. End of story. Whatever else you may know about yourself or claim to be true, that is the truth that will not change. That is your identity. That is who you are.

Prayer Oh, voice from heaven, you call us at every moment your child, at every instant, beloved. By your Spirit, help us to trust in your unending love for us.

Saturday, March 5 – Lent 2022

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Author: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum

Reflection: v. 10, ‘as having nothing, and yet possessing everything’

In Paul’s letters to the early Christian churches, he is often writing to remind these budding communities of the life they have signed on for with Christ. For Paul, this new life in Christ is no small thing, and has involved many changes and sacrifices. To follow Christ, there is much to give up and a lot you must walk away from. Paul describes in this letter feeling unknown and misunderstood—speaking the truth and yet being treated as an imposter of ill-repute. Paul also notes being treated as having nothing, despite possessing everything. Ever since I was a child, I have loved the traditional practice of ‘giving something up’ for Lent as a form of fasting. While I believe that God wants us to have good things and to enjoy life and abundance fully, there is also wisdom sometimes in giving things up. Sometimes it is okay to set something aside for a while, to take a little less, or to stop and take stock of what feels most important. While I certainly would not have articulated it this way as a child, I think giving something up was a small and subversive way that I combatted our consumerist culture that tells us that more is always better. ‘I want it all, and I want now.’ Don’t tell me our society is not set up for the constant and instant gratification (of some). But does that always serve us? Do those of us with more, more, more ever really feel like we have enough? Or do we yearn for what Paul describes—seemingly having nothing, but possessing everything. Perhaps there is some wisdom in some of our old traditions if they can help us to actively resist the urges for things that do not satisfy. Perhaps this Lent, you might take some time in this slow season to take a reckoning of all that we consume—maybe there are things to give up, maybe there are things to consume less of, maybe there are things to share. And maybe in the slowing down, that brief pause we take to pull back our grasping hands for just a moment, we’ll find what Paul has found instead: everything.

Prayer Instead of grasping for more things we don’t need, help us to seek you, O Lord.

Friday, March 4 – Lent 2022

Psalm 51:1-17

Author: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum

Reflection: v. 17 ‘a broken and contrite heart…you will not despise’

As I sat down this year to contemplate our Lenten texts, I felt a sinking and creeping reminder that this will be our third Lenten season of the pandemic. It was this time of the year in 2020 when everything shut down, and our collective lives changed irreversibly. How foolish we were, thinking our sacrifices would be short-lived and borne together. That realization somewhat zapped my creative energy; what new thing could I even have to say for Lent this year? Forgive me for my morose musing and remembering. I know it is much easier to pretend this arduous season is behind us, to pretend that death doesn’t surround us still, and to try to envision yet another new way forward. But for many of us, things do not feel over. I try to cope by giving myself small promises of hope: ‘You’ll feel less anxious when Emi [my daughter] can be vaccinated, too.’ Or ‘It will get easier when you can welcome your community inside again and when the freeze-shelter can reopen.’ Or ‘When the number of deaths each day go down, you’ll feel less worried about the vulnerable people in your life.’ Like a too-long Lenten season, I sit here today in my pain, worry, grief, and even my penitence. And I yet wait for hope to dawn, even as it still feels far off and unrealized. And that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay right now—God is with us when things are not okay, too. We do not have to put some beautifully worded theological spin on our hurting hearts to be acceptable to God. No, beloved, our broken hearts, God does not despise. So as we embark on yet another Lenten season together, and I find myself still hurting, still waiting, and still worrying, I am thankful that my broken heart is enough today.

Prayer Accept my broken heart, O God, hold it tenderly and care for me.

Thursday, March 3 – Lent 2022

Isaiah 58:1-12

Author: Chad Hyatt

Reflection: v. 6-7, ‘Isn’t this the fast I choose… to share your bread with the hungry?’

Why is it when we fast as communities of faith that our fasting looks more like what Isaiah says God doesn’t want rather than what he tells us God wants? Humbling ourselves, bowing down, and ashes—even if we do forego the sackcloth—we have aplenty. But where is sharing our food with the hungry and bringing the homeless poor into our homes, working to break apart unjust systems and casting aside our violent, finger-pointing ways? Fasting is so much more than giving up something. Fasting is a form of protest. When we fast, we call on God to break into our weary world with saving justice. Yes, when we fast, we deny ourselves some aspect of our basic needs for a time—but not because we are unworthy of having our needs met. We fast as a protest that proclaims every human being has a right to the same things we all need to live and thrive. To deny ourselves in such a purposefully symbolic way is an act of solidarity with all who are suffering. When we fast, we sign with our bodies that we are both complicit in the shape of the world as it is and that we are willing to collaborate in its wholesale liberation. Fasting becomes an act of turning our hearts toward justice. But as Isaiah reminds us, it is not enough to deny ourselves only for a time. In fact, it is less about calling ourselves to account by what we give up than it is by what we do in relationship with others. This Lent let’s do more. Let’s fast by denying ourselves some food or comfort for a season in solidarity with those who cannot escape hunger or affliction. But let’s also share our table with the hungry and find ways to comfort our sisters and brothers who are suffering. Let us break the yokes of systems that oppress others and lift heavy burdens together instead of expecting others to carry them. Let’s stop all of our angry and self-righteous finger-pointing that scapegoats and demonizes other human beings created in the holy image of God. Let’s stop threatening violence and using it against our sisters and brothers. Let’s put an end to exploiting others, especially laborers, and make sure everyone can enjoy the dignity of work. Repairing the world, as Isaiah calls us to do, is hard work. But this Lent, let’s make a start of it together.

Prayer Saving God, we long to give you the fast you desire—our justice.

Lent Devotionals 2022

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Welcome, beloved community, to your 2022 Lenten devotional! This year you’ll find art, daily reflections on scripture, and prayers lovingly crafted by our pastors, staff, and members of our community.

In our Mercy worship services we often employ a form of lectio divina to study scripture together. We read through a passage once listening for words and phrases that stand out to us before we read the scripture a second time. Then we share the microphone to talk together, ask questions, and share insights about what the passage might mean. In our community we could talk about anything from difficult theological questions and historical context to how a particular word or phrase is speaking to our community and context on any given day. Our devotionals reflect this community practice. Each day you’ll notice a word or phrase from the passage to reflect on, a devotion written by someone in the community, and a prayer that you can carry with you throughout the day.

We hope these devotionals deepen your Lenten season and remind you of your connection to our community!