Thought for the Second Sunday in Lent

“Faith is not synonymous with certainty…but is a decision to keep your eyes open.”

Doris Betts

Ash Wednesday: Switching Stories

crossAsh Wednesday comes as a diagnostic moment for those who choose to observe it.  We remember our limits, our contingency, the shortness and uncertainty of human life: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

This is a hard truth, one that should help us live with greater engagement and gratitude for the present.  Very early this morning, at the first Eucharist of Ash Wednesday, I shared in my homily that the season of Lent is a way of making a new beginning and an opportunity to relive the story of God’s longing for us and our longing for God.  What else would cause us to gather before dawn in a dimly lit chapel other than our longing for the one relationship that helps us make sense of human life?

The wisdom, passion, and brilliant life that is the story of Jesus, is also our story—the means by which our lives take on greater meaning and significance.  The alternative stories of the world—stories of appearance, achievement, and affluence—have worn achingly thin in light of the historic times we live in.  That is why Jesus’ announcement of the existence and availability of another dimension of life, the announcement that the Kingdom of God has drawn near in time and place, strikes us as good news.  It is this story, God’s story of healing and reconciliation, of sufficiency and grace, that we are invited to enter with willing receptivity in this Season of Lent.

Todd Hunter defines repentance as “the implementation process of switching stories.”  That’s a new twist on repentance for me, and one that illumines the journey of Lent in a fresh way.  What overarching story is currently defining my life?  In practical terms, how does that story shape my thoughts, judgments and actions?  Maybe it’s time to switch stories once again.


RkStMarysWelcome to Ora et Exerceo, a new website that has grown out of my previous blog, “World of Your Making.”  My name is Rick Lord and I recently served as the Rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia.  I had the privilege of serving this vibrant Episcopal parish since the summer of 1994 and am now retired or “re-wired” and self-employed.

This blog is something of an online journal for me. While I tend to write primarily about matters related to personal faith, wholistic spirituality, and missional leadership, I have in recent years discovered a renewed passion for the study of the classical guitar (I majored in guitar performance as an undergraduate). What’s different about my recent efforts with the classical guitar is that I have come to appreciate the time I spend in practice as a musical form of contemplative prayer and that has been a rewarding and somewhat surprising discovery

In 1999 Pope John Paul II composed a Letter to Artists and dedicated it “To all who are passionately dedicated  to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.”  In this Letter, he reminds us that the object of all great art is beauty, and beauty makes us nostalgic for God. Whether we consider ourselves people of faith or not, the arts arouse in us what he describes as a ‘universal desire for redemption.’

So in the days ahead, I plan to explore the intriguing relationship between art and beauty, transcendence and nostalgia, prayer and practice and other things that keep human life distinctively human.  From time to time I’ll be posting video projects from my guitar studies on the portfolio page. I hope that you may find some inklings of beauty through these pages and that you might share a few with me along the way.

Thanks for stopping by,