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2024 Daily Lenten Meditations

Psalm 51:10 reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

Reflect on your newness in Christ as you journey through Episcopal Relief & Development's Lenten Meditations, written by Miguel Escobar, and discover new ways your faith is guiding you through the world. Use this space to read and re-read the Lenten Meditations each week.

Lenten Meditations for March 11-17, 2024.


They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

Isaiah 65:21


In today’s reading from Isaiah, the prophet envisions God’s renewal of the earth, offering transcendent images of abundance that resonate with humanity’s deepest aspirations. These verses depict the end of infant mortality, the gift of long and peaceful lives, the ability to build and enjoy one’s home, and a world where children are not born into calamity and are free from exploitative inequalities.

However, the reality we face today is far from this dream. According to the World Bank, many still live on less than $5.50 per day, children are born into war, climate change displaces millions and poverty and inequality affect infant mortality and life expectancy. The dream of Isaiah, where each person can build a home and live peacefully, seems distant. Despite these challenges, Isaiah’s vision serves as a guiding North Star.

While we may not be there yet, it shows us where we are heading. Through collective efforts, including the work of organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development, we can join with God in the ongoing renewal of the earth, working toward a future that reflects the prophetic dream of Isaiah.


Today’s readings
Psalm 30:1–6,11–13 | Isaiah 65:17–25 | John 4:43–54


In a world where the dream of Isaiah seems far away, what actions can we take individually and collectively to move closer to that vision of abundance, equality and peace?




My Father is still working, and I also am working.

John 5:17

I recently noticed a linguistic quirk, or what might be considered a false cognate, between English and Spanish. In English, the word “fastidious” generally praises a person’s meticulous attention to detail. However, in Spanish, calling someone “fastidioso” describes them as overly fixated on minutiae to the point of being annoying.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus displays little patience for the religious fastidiosos of his day. He heals a man who has suffered for 38 years,
and when religious authorities object because the healing takes place on the Sabbath, Jesus redirects their focus to the greater miracle of the healing itself. In response to their rule-based objections, Jesus states, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.”

As someone who values rules, order, policies and procedures, I often grapple with whether I am being “fastidious” or “fastidioso.” I believe that religion, perhaps especially Anglicanism, tends to attract and cultivate a certain fastidious personality, for better and worse. Jesus’ example reminds us to focus on the bigger picture. God continually invites us to recognize the transcendent miracles happening in our midst.


Today’s readings
Psalm 46:1–8 | Ezekiel 47:1–9,12 | John 5:1–18


In your life, how do you balance between upholding rules and policies while also recognizing the importance of seeing the larger, transcendent miracles that unfold around you?




Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the Voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5:25


One of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ message is the way he talks about both abundance and scarcity. For Jesus, there is materially enough for all. The feeding of the 5,000, his promiscuous generosity toward outcasts and his healing ministry bear witness to God’s abundance amidst poverty and inequality.

And yet, the Gospels point to one resource that is scarce: time. “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here…” Jesus says in today’s passage. Jesus speaks of the shortness of time both in terms of his own life but also in a cosmic sense. He knows his time with the disciples is very brief—and that our own time on earth is, too.

Jesus’ physical presence on earth was brief; his public ministry was just three years. The Gospels convey a sense of urgency to Jesus’ ministry; he is constantly rushing from one place to another, always aware of the storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

In our own lives, I believe we are called to somehow embody this Jesus-like witness to both abundance and scarcity. There really is enough for all, but time is short, the situation is urgent and we must act quickly.


Today’s readings
Psalm 145:8–19 | Isaiah 49:8–15 | John 5:19–29


How can we strike a balance between embracing abundance and embodying the sense of urgency Jesus displayed in his ministry?




Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.

Exodus 32:12b


Today’s selection from the Book of Exodus is one of the most extraordinary moments recorded in Scripture: God and Moses engage in a debate and God’s mind is changed as a result.

Moses is a reluctant liberator who helps free Israel from Egyptian slavery. His story doesn’t follow the typical hero trajectory. There’s the Moses who protects the Israelites from the dangers of the wilderness, standing in the breach (Psalm 106) between the dangers of the desert and even between his people and God’s wrath. And there’s Moses, who loses his cool, angrily striking a rock with his staff, and never actually entering the Promised Land.

The memory of Moses transcends his time, and he becomes the archetypal liberator for later generations. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is described as a new Moses, leading humanity out of the slavery of sin. More recently, Harriet Tubman was called “Moses” for guiding enslaved people as they escaped north to freedom. Reflecting on Moses reminds us of the fact that our faith is, at its core, about freedom. Freedom from slavery. Freedom from sin. Freedom from fear. May Moses’s example continue to guide our way.


Today’s readings
Psalm 106:6–7,19–23 | Exodus 32:7–14 | John 5:30–47


As we reflect on the iconic figure of Moses and his role as a liberator, how does the concept of freedom resonate with your spiritual journey and understanding of faith?




He reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

Wisdom (Apocrypha) 2:12b–13


Today’s lectionary passages include a striking passage from the Book of Wisdom. It is about a group of people lying in wait for a righteous man, “because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions.” They complain: “He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange” (Wisdom 2:14–15). This passage names an important but often forgotten reality: the prophets and Jesus were often burdensome and strange.

Perhaps because we worship Jesus on Sunday, many of us believe we would have admired Christ while he was alive. Yet if you read the Gospels carefully, it is clear that he was frequently a confusing and exasperating presence even to his closest disciples. But this is not only true of the prophets and Jesus. When one considers the moral geniuses of the twentieth century, very few were recognized as such in their lifetimes. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the lowest point in his national popularity. Before her death, Dorothy Day was perceived by many in the Roman Catholic community as a holy terror. Thomas Merton’s outspoken pacifism resulted in his being ostracized by his own religious community. Each was a burden, each a “reproof of our thoughts,” and each was powerfully, faithfully strange.


Today’s readings
Psalm 34:15–22 | Wisdom (Apocrypha) 2:1a, 12–24 | John 7:1–2,10,25–30


How might Lent be an invitation to become more faithfully strange?




God is my shield and defense; he is the savior of the true in heart.

Psalm 7:11


Last fall, I visited a German-speaking Lutheran Church in Barcelona, Spain, where twentieth-century pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer had served for a short time. He eventually returned to Germany, took part in acts of resistance against the Nazis and was imprisoned and executed as a result. Bonhoeffer was a rare voice of resistance among German Christians, and so this small community of mostly elderly, German-speaking Spaniards cherish his writings and memory.

The sermon that Sunday was about a remarkable poem that Bonhoeffer wrote to his fiancé from prison shortly before his execution. This poem, which has since been made into a hymn, speaks directly to his fiancé with longing: “I long to live these fleeting days beside you,” and it describes his heart as “crushed by the weight of bitter days.” And yet, he also describes his profound sense of being accompanied, harbored and surrounded by the presence of angels:

And when the silence deep spreads all around us,
Then let us hear those swelling tunes begin
From world unseen which all about us widens As all Your children raise their highest hymns.*

*Translation by the Rev. Timothy M. Boerger


Today’s readings
Psalm 7:6–11 | Jeremiah 11:18–20 | John 7:37–52


How do you perceive and experience moments of spiritual guidance during times of adversity?




Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


The Book of Common Prayer, p. 832

Today’s readings
Psalm 51:1–13 or 119:9–16 | Jeremiah 31:31–34 | Hebrews 5:5–10 | John 12:20–33