Lent Devotions: Seeking the disciplines of belonging


Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)

By Rev. Dr. Jim Moiso

Psalm 1

My Muslim friends pause five times daily to pray, to remember who the Holy One is and who they are.  When we are in a meeting together and sunset arrives, we pause. They exit to pray, return, and we resume.  At one airport where people protested the president’s first travel ban, many stopped to kneel together to pray, because it was time.

Something in me responds to that corporate “delight in the law of God,” the “blessedness” of that communal discipline.  On occasion, I find myself a bit envious of that reinforcing liturgy of belonging, that “practicing the presence of God.”

Yet, our tradition is not Benedictine, not a given routine.  We have learned that we are free from the “law” (which also fits nicely with the individualism of our age).  For us this has meant even shying away from disciplines, lest we unconsciously seek to earn God’s grace.  What we can lose, though, is the essential communal nature of our belonging.  Somewhat-weekly worship without much interpersonal connection, and with no “life together” in between, doesn’t quite make it.  I long to share regularly the struggle of trying to live faithfully in Christ in this time.  I hunger for more than 140 characters.  For me, faith is always personal, but never private.

As I have considered this, it seems that this longing is also a source of hope.  It is as though God has implanted in me/us a need for life together, for regular journeying partners and routines, in the best sense, for Christ’s community.  How “blessed” is that?

Yes, Psalm 1 appears black and white, them and us.  Unlike any other, it is the opening bookend of the Psalter.  Yet it invites me/us into faithful community, so that I/we can face all of the grays which show up very quickly in succeeding poems.

As I reach out for more shared discipline this Lent, I continue to engage in a small routine—sometimes rote, sometimes reminding, sometimes sustaining.  As I shower, I remind myself (a la Luther):

I am baptized, oh yes, I’m baptized,
I am baptized in the name of the One.
I am baptized, oh yes, I’m baptized,
And I belong to Christ and his forevermore.

Rev. Dr. Jim Moiso earned his doctorate in ministry from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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