"God is Holy Mystery,
beyond complete knowledge,
above perfect description.
the one eternal God seeks relationship."*
*A Song of Faith, 2006
The purpose of a Lenten Devotional is not to help us understand a text, whether that text is scripture, a poetic reading, a song, or a theological statement. The purpose of a Lenten Devotional is to help us understand ourselves and our relationship to God. We do that by reading text prayerfully, inviting that text to form and shape our very being, often at a subconscious level.
We have an innate tendency towards distraction, preoccupation, worry, and busyness. So much so that in much of our coming and going we fail to be present to the divine presence that is constantly seeking relationship with us.
Yes, God seeks relationship with us.
Yes, God seeks relationship with you.
The invitation of a Lenten Devotional is to slow down, create intention, and be present to a God who wants to be present with us.
In The United Church of Canada, a "Subordinate Standard" is a theological statement that sums up our most basic theology. United Church ministers, ordained and commissioned, are asked upon ordination and commissioning if they are in "essential agreement" to the Subordinate Standards of the UCC. Over our 95 years of history, the UCC has made four theological statements that have been adopted as Subordinate Standards: the Twenty Articles of Doctrine for the Basis of Union (1925); the Statement of Faith (1940), A New Creed (1968, with amendments in 1980 and 1995); and A Song of Faith (2006). Until 2012, only the Twenty Articles of Doctrine had the status of Subordinate Standard, when following a congregational remit the latter three were also included. It is believed that including additional subordinate standards ultimately fulfilled the intention of the authors of the Basis of Union.
But aside from the study leading up to the remit of the three new subordinate standards in 2012, we have heard very little of A Song of Faith. There are a handful of liturgies celebrating Song, and it is occasionally brought out for study groups or membership courses. This year I am introducing Song as material for our Lenten Devotional. It is my hope and prayer that you will find its poetry comforting, challenging, nourishing, and inspiring.
In the pages that follow, I am offering a continuous reading of Song, broken into 45 discrete parts for contemplation. I recommend doing sacred reading (lectio divina) of the selected lines, recording in a journal any insights and personal prayers you have along the way. Details on how to do sacred reading (lectio divina) follow. Further, I recommend once a week reviewing your journal entries, noting surprises, learnings, prayers answered and prayers unanswered. Please also pray daily for the volunteers and staff of Trinity United Church.
In the back of the devotional, you will find several tools: a more detailed description of sacred reading (lectio divina) and Centering Prayer, a Loving Kindness Meditation, and a list of Volunteers and Staff for you to hold in prayer.
Grace and peace,
Rev David Cathcart
December 30, 2019