Daily Lenten Readings

Readings Written by Rev. LaDonna Cartwright

Day 40

Scripture ref:
  • Luke 18:22
  • John 12: 12-19
  • Zachariah 9:9
  • Luke 19:38
  • Mark 1: 1-11

The Living Lesson

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week. It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as Savior and King. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their clocks across the road, giving Jesus royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!

  Like modern drugstores, ancient pharmacies offered prophylactic or preventive medicines for protection against diseases. For the Egyptians, green palm branches were prophylactic shields placed on top of mummy's to protect the deceased in the next world and to ensure eternal life. Miners used to carry small pieces of blessed palms in the shape of a cross as protection when they entered the dangerous bowels of the earth. Palm branches woven into crosses were placed in homes to work off disease, pestilence, lightning, and demons. Farmers would place palms across their fields to repeal blight and ensure fertility.

   These and similar other practices attribute almost magical powers to Blessed palm branches which have long been considered signs of strength and adversity. Old legends hold that if a heavyweight is placed on top of a palm tree, it would still stand tall. This explains why Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, was believed to have rewarded palm branches to the victors for remaining strong in great conflict.

  As Jesus was greeted with palm branches today while riding up into the Holy City ,these famous lines from the poetry of Robert Frost could well be applied to him…
  "Two roads diverged into a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference".

  The choice of the road that Jesus would travel was confirmed in the Olive Garden of Gethsemane. In fact, it was 3 years earlier, at his Baptism when he first chose that road. His less traveled road was the way traveled by those marked with the 'Tau", the cross of those already living in the  New Reign of the age of God. Faithful to the Cross, Jesus lived centuries - if not millennia - ahead of his time, and so his life set him apart from others. Because Jesus was a living lesson, people called him Rabbi or Teacher and to all who found his lesson intriguing he said "Come follow me" (Luke 18:22) and invited them to become students of the Way. That same invitation still thunders in the ears of all Jesus's disciples today. Indeed it produces tremors of apprehension, if not outright fright, that "The road less traveled" will end on bloody  Cavalry! While one might be tempted to flee, however, do not detour onto that crowded, more traveled road. Instead, remain faithfully besides Jesus as a good student during these days of Holy Week. By doing so, you will learn the art of Healing your sufferings, pains, fears of shame, and the greatest of all fears - the fear of the incurable disease of Eden's  epidemic -death!.
In Gethsemane, Jesus reaffirmed the road that he would travel, even though it would ultimately lead to his death.
Rx Today: Boldly reaffirm your own baptismal decision to walk "the road less traveled by tracing the "Tau" Cross upon your forehead.

Day 39

Scripture reference:
  • Matthew 18:21-22
  • Ephesians 4:32
  • Isaiah 6:7
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Mark 11:25
  • Psalm 51:7
  • Psalm 24:4
  • Galatians 1:4

   A Regulated Elimination System
Today's all about that system that gives a lot of people literally "stomach aches". Since this is a time of purging and that is exactly what the elimination system does in our bodies it is a very important function for optimum health. The 5 main organs involved in the elimination process are the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines and skin. And these components work individually and systemically to rid the body of toxins.

Lungs;Remove carbon dioxide.
Skin; Sweat glands remove water, salts, and other wastes.
Large intestines;Removes solid waste and some water in the form of feces.
Kidney Remove urea, salts, and excess water from the body.

  All these work together to rid the body of toxic waste products that inevitably will cause certain disease, decay and degradation in our bodies if not effectively and efficiently expelled from the host.

 Another internal detoxification process for the human body is one that removes the poison of hurt and anger by people and situations. This healing process first requires draining the poisonous toxin of anger and then flushing one's soul with a flood of compassion for the person or life event that injured you.  This process is called forgiveness.

   Forgiveness followed by reconciliation is the ultimate expression of Jesus' teaching on nonviolence and Love. The Greek word for reconciliation, which is one of the primary healing works of Lent, literally means "making otherwise".

 It suggests a significant and drastic reversal from anger and hostile resentment to love and harmony.

  There is a phrase in the Catholic Easter Vigil liturgy; felix culpa, meaning "O happy fault". The phrase was sung in Latin in former times. I had not  been aware of it until I began researching for Lent. It appears in the midst of a long joyful canticle, the Exsultet or Easter Proclamation and is a part of the prayerful pondering of the verse; O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer.  Felix culpa! Happy the fault of Adam?

 Like a horrible stomach ache, the thought of having a fault and then to the extent of being happy should be a shock to our spiritual sensibilities since we typically want to downplay or ignore our sinful feelings. Confession of sins is a transitional act during Easter, but just as our body needs regularity in our elimination system, the sacrament of reconciliation must be maintained at a high performance level. Christ the Teacher called us to forgive each other 77 times Matt:(18-21-22), implying that forgiveness is a process rather than a one-time act of granting instant amnesty to the offender. Confession and Reconciliation in or outside sacramental celebration bring a healthy purging to one's soul. Happy are our sins that have made it possible for God to Restore us with Healing Love. Happy to our sins that you have an opening to forgiveness, for they are infallible gauges and models of how we are to forgive others. Happy, too, are our sins that safeguard us from being haughty or disdainful of others who are guilty of sin. Be happy, then, that by the brokenness of our sinning we become more beautiful than we ever were in our virginal, white First Communion innocence. Happy are they that are purged through the suffering of sin and the Propitiation for the elimination of its toxic ramifications and destructive dis ease and disease process.
Happy are our sins that Jesus died for us on the Cross so that we may have Eternal Life!!
  Rx for today: Don't let it slip beneath your spiritual radar…the necessity of the internal detox of forgiveness, both yourself and others.

Day 38

Scripture ref:
  • Acts 9:4-5
  • Matthew 10:38
  • 1st Corinthians 1:17
  • Galatians 6: 1-5,14-17
  • Hebrews 12:12

"Be Careful Handling Sharps"

Last year for the Lenten season  Bishop Bryant gave us ashes and nails,  and since next Friday is Good Friday,  today we're going to return to the notion of nails as agents of healing. Bishop Bryant told us to take that thing that was hindering us, bothering us, holding us back,  what we needed to be purged from,.. nail it and bury it!  When what was thought to be the Cross of Jesus was found just outside Jerusalem, the nails used to crucify him were also said to have been buried in  earth. They were said to have been encased in golden, jeweled cases and became powerful relics that were said to heal the sick and crippled in medieval times. The sick came in great numbers to the cathedrals that housed these powerful relics. At least 24 nails were commemorated as the authentic nails of Christ's Passion, however only four nails are found in the earliest depictions of the Cross, often shown with one at each corner of the Cross. By the Middle Ages however, paintings of the Crucifixion  showed only three nails - one for each hand and one nailing together the two feet.
 In preparation for Good Friday and as a rule of life, as we think about the pain Jesus suffered on the Cross and remember the flip side of Paul's encouraging  us to embrace our pain as a sharing and the suffering of Christ's Passion. While he was still a zealous  persecutor of the original disciples of Jesus, Saul had a blinding vision while traveling the road to Damascus. Out of the blinding light, a voice said, "Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting "(Acts 9:4-5).
 Christ is  persecuted again when we persecute others; He is nailed again and again as we inflict pain upon others. Today and everyday is Good Friday, where the nailing of Christ is repeated at 10,000 street corner Calvaries. The 24 pious nails of the crucifixion were but a microscopic collection of the millions of nails with which Christ Was, Is, and Will be Crucified.
In the healthcare field;  handling sharps is  one of the things that we endure intense training around and concerning. The proper way to handle and dispose of sharps.  An accidental needle stick or exposure to a sharp instrument can be known to not only cause injury, but can  transfer all kinds of contagions, including HIV and other viruses and diseases.

  The next time you're tempted to inflict pain on another, whether physically, verbally, or emotionally, see that desire as a large nail that you can either drive into the hand of Christ or one that you can steal away. Become a compassionate thief and steal as many nails as possible for refusing to use them to inflict pain. When, for example, you're in a group that is busy crucifying someone with sharp nails of painful gossip or prejudicial remarks, become a crafty thief and steal their nails by changing the subject. Or you can become an audacious thief by blatantly challenging the spitefulness of prejudice. Each time you steal a nail, you share in Christ's Passion by participating in his Healing redemptive work.

RX for today: Steal at least one nail on this Friday before Good Friday.

Day 37

Scripture Ref:
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Psalm 24:4
  • Genesis 21:6
  • Job 8:21
  • Proverbs 17:22

" Chicken Soup for the Soul"

Yesterday we discussed  what the second most common reason for people seeing a doctor was, well today we're going to talk about the most common reason for doctor visits… respiratory illnesses!, to include the flu, the common cold and most recently Covid-19. With all the things that were done as interventions or preventions or suppressions of these viruses l, we know that one of the main things that is a deterrent to All compromised health is hygiene.
When most people think of hygiene they think correctly of hand washing and water. History fact: the daughter of the healer god mentioned in earlier, Aesculapius was Hygenia, known as the goddess of health,her symbol is a serpent drinking from a bowl, hence our modern day name that describes the term for healthy living and preventive medicine.

  Good hygiene includes proper exercise, a good diet and frequent hand washing to help prevent the spread of illness and keep us as healthy as possible. Likewise good hygiene of the Soul includes a healthy sense of humor.  There are spiritual, emotional and physical benefits of joy and laughter. Science has proven why the Bible tells us to laugh—it’s good for our health! Laughter reduces stress, fights against depression and sorrow, fosters a positive outlook on life, and puts you in an all-around good mood. Laughter also lowers blood pressure, and impacts the cells in your body, preventing disease and setting you up to live long and strong.The ability to laugh at ourselves, our missteps and mistakes, and the hardships of Life cleanse us from the virus of self-importance and complacency. Humor creates a therapeutic corrective vision, allowing us to see around the corner, and to see the funny side of any situation. Humorous vision helps our  from the prison of a narrow perspective - from being locked into only one side, often a negative side, of any difficulty that we may encounter. Comedy tempers pride. Evil, lackng this gift of the gods, finds humor repulsive, and so light-heartedness is the most effective way to exercise the demon of a prideful stubbornness. Pride doesn't allow for laughing at ourselves and our silly moments and so humor can lead to the therapeutic cure of turning upside down with laughter whatever we consider so serious. 

Health warning: Excessive seriousness can be sickening - it is a clear danger to your health ". It has been said by others that a really rich fantasy life is healthy; so that you can imagine what possibilities are and you need a sense of humor so you can deal with what is. Well we know God recommended that we "write the vision and make it plain" (Habakkuk 2:2). A healthy fantasy life contributes to good hygiene because it allows us to imagine a better future towards which we can set our sights. When you're faced with a crippled unfulfilled life, be your own Pharmacy and mix up a healing batch of "chicken soup" of  fantasy, laughter and Hope and let it bring the desired effect and therapeutic relief as a steaming bowl of physical chicken soup. It helps everything feel better when we are feeling down by perhaps the mental viruses of our life as it does when we are physically feeling under the weather. By imagining a desired future that is better than your present life, you create an inner blueprint and so have already started to work in  the future life that God has for us (Isaiah 29:11). Now you can add a large  dose of laughter to the chicken noodle soup with a dream of a happier life and a pledge that with sacrifice and the help of God you can begin to achieve it.

Let the chicken soup of the Soul humor Minister to you as the memories and the recollections of the physical chicken soup that Grandma or Mom or Auntie made when you were feeling under the weather,pulled down by a virus. How it restored in you the promise of Peace, Love and Feeling Better and add these to the memories of God's Grace intervention in times past; those acts of divine involvement in your personal life. Recall the numerous times you have been giving good things, when you have been rescued and liberated, and let these memories reanimate your hope for the present and the future.   
   Remember this Word  from 1Peter 4:13 as we take our RX for today: Practice good hygiene with Laughter and letting Hope flow like chicken soup; from the memory of God's design for a promised Land sown in the seeds of the Passover and then the promise of a new age of Justice, Peace, and True Equality that presents in the seeds of the Lord's Supper.

Day 36

Scripture ref:
  • Leviticus 19:17,18
  • Proverbs 10:12
  • Mark 7:20-23
  • Matthew 6:15
  • Mark 11:25

"Catch It Early For Best Outcome"

Each vertebra consists of the following parts:
 In this week of self-examination, we have started at the head. We've talked about the heart,  but let's talk about the most important part of our skeletal system: our neck and our back.
When most people mention their back, what they are actually referring to is their spine. The spine runs from the base of your skull down the length of your back, going all the way down to your pelvis. It is composed of 33 spool-shaped bones called vertebrae, each about an inch thick and stacked one upon another.

The body is the largest part of the vertebrae and the part that bears the most weight.
The lamina is the lining of the hole (spinal canal) through which the spinal cord runs.
The spinous process is the bony protrusions you feel when you run your hand down your back.
There are of course many more muscles, nerves and tendons that comprise the "back".
The second most common reason for people visiting doctors is back and neck pain. 80% of Americans will experience the agony of back pain sometimes in their lives. As people become more sedentary, neglect exercise, become even more overweight, and speed up our ever increasingly stressful lifestyle, back and neck pain will likely become even more prevalent. Relief is sought through many channels: surgery, pain pills, acupuncture, yoga, massage, chiropractic treatments, and that Rx that no one ever wants to get, " you'll just have to learn to live with it. "
Yes there are many doctors offices that are crowded with this problem. Yet a common job-related complaint that's not taken  to any Physician; having "a pain in the neck". 70% of workers polled in a study reported suffering from some kind of neck pain, which is made all the more acute because its source is- a relationship from which they can't escape". "A pain in the neck" sometimes is a polite euphemism for the pain located in another part of the body. It is brought on usually by being irritated maybe by an annoying co-worker, the boss, or maybe even a family member. When forced to take the Rx, "you'll just have to live with it " the stress created by bottling up emotions very often causes an actual physical pain.

There is research by a Dr. John Sarno of the NYU Medical Center, where he is convinced that outside of arthritic and other orthopedic difficulties, most common back pains are caused by bottled up emotions and suppressed rage. The source of this intensely detrimental emotional constipation could be betrayal caused by a friend; sexual, physical, or psychological abuse; family crisis; problems connected with a job; or any number of other  day to day struggles. He also believes that the fermenting stress of suppressed anger and resentment creates a mild oxygen deprivation that creates muscle spasm, numbness, and pain, that's not only in the back but also other places in the body. His belief includes that "pain is created by the brain to make sure that the rage doesn't come out. " Although these findings haven't been scientifically proven, Jesus  confirms his diagnosis; that suppressed rage is deadly. The Holy Healer may well have prescribed, "never let the sun set on your anger" as he did in (Esphesians 4:26) and so many scriptures and instructions of the Law, some which are listed above.

Being a realist in his humanity, he knew that anger can explode as spontaneously as fire and it's just as deadly if it is not extinguished as quickly as possible. Even the everyday irritation of a minor resentment towards another needs emergency treatment. Jesus warned that harboring hateful thoughts toward another makes us liable to the judgment of murder!  Yes, even in thought and words( Proverbs 15:1).

  Being aware of the dire consequences of intense anger, which manifest only in sin and pain, today our Lenten Rx is to make an appointment to visit Dr.Jesus and repent from the anger that you have. HE will guide you into purging forgiveness and watch your pain begin to decrease.

Day 35

Scripture ref:
  • Jeremiah 15:18
  • Romans 5:3
  • Isaiah 26:3


When I think about "pain" one of the things that usually comes into my mind is a saying that my son Doe's football coach, Elgin Thrower used to say "Pain is  weakness leaving the body" .

  Now those that have suffered from immense traumatic or even chronic pain might beg to differ, however clinical research has shown that there is healing power in reducing the amount of attention paid to the body sensation of our aches and pains. It seems that the most attention we pay to it, the more we experience the pain of our symptoms. For example, continuously thinking of how dry and scratchy my throat feels causes me to cough more often. Aspirin and other pain drugs act like roadblocks on the neural pathways to the brain.

Today's RX for the next time you wish to alleviate some pain your experience is not to use an aspirin type roadblock but, rather, to take a detour - by practicing mindless suffering. And being as absent-minded as possible about an affliction, you may be surprised at the degree of relief you experience. Pain captures our attention, so try intentionally diverting your mind away from it by becoming and grossed in a book, and a conversation, or in the problems of others.
Next week's Passion of Jesus provides some example of this kind of pain relief. In the midst of his all encompassing suffering, Jesus comforted the weeping women of Jerusalem, showed concern for the needs of his Mother and John, and extended compassion to his fellow crucified prisoners. This must have provided for him islands of relief from the excruciating pain of his Cross and Passion.

There is a teaching from Buddha that with our thoughts we can make our worlds, and science confirms that. Our world is pain-filled when our mind is occupied only with our pain. We can practice mindless therapy anytime we itch all over from impatience, anytime we are feverishly angry over some insult or a front, or when we are bored nearly to death by a boring homily or conversation.

As with all medicines, today's prescription for healing can also be deadly when taken in excess or when used inappropriately. For example, we can misuse this medicine by mindlessly diverting our attention away from others' pain of poverty, homelessness, prejudice, or other social evils. We can also fall into the malpractice of mindless violence which itself is becoming an acute crippling disease in our anxiety. Mindless violence is a term that has been used for the unrecognized abuse we inflict on ourselves by being over committed. As we've already seen, violence is a staple and sports, motion pictures, video games, and the news. There is a saying to allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to come to violence. What makes this virus so deadly to our soul -body is that the excessive business caused by striving to respond to every need and good project is often sanctified as the admirable quality of selfless service.  

Lenten TuesdayRx: Give your agenda a medical checkup to see if you are afflicted with the virus of mindless violence. If you are, begin your treatment by immediately taking out your scalpel and cutting back on your commitments

Day 34

Scripture Ref:
  • Jeremiah 31: 33
  • Proverbs 23:7
  • Jeremiah 17:9
  • Matthew 5:7
  • John 7:38

The System At The Heart of the Matter

Today we're going to focus on that organ that we are reminded of every Valentine's Day. It's also used to depict the font of emojis and love.

The Heart..The average heart is the size of a fist in an adult.

Your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day. Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day.An electrical system controls the rhythm of your heart. It’s called the cardiac conduction system.

  The heart decline manifests in many conditions, with hypertension or high blood pressure being one of the most common diseases affecting this system.

  Our problems increase with age because as we get older the tissues of our body, and especially the muscles of our heart, lose their ability to quickly repair and regenerate themselves after damage. With each decade of life our blood pressure tends to increase. The rise in this  pressure is due to the increased stiffness of our blood vessels, which inhibits the normal of blood, causing strokes, heart failures, and angina.

Using the  pulverized willow bark to treat fever and headaches, had the negative side effects of GI or gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding.    In 1893, Felix Hoffman, a young German chemist, seeking some relief for his father's painful rheumatoid arthritis, experimented with a synthetic form of willow bark. It worked, giving relief to his father. The young chemist employer, the German company Bayer, named his  discovery aspirin. It became the world's most prescribed drug and  over a century later  scientists still do not entirely know why aspirin is such an effective painkiller, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory agent. In recent years, " an aspirin  a day" has been prescribed to aid in prevention of stroke and heart disease.

With age this Heart can also suffer from inflexibility. The stiffening of our heart restricts the flow of new or different ideas and causes an inability to embrace change, since those so afflicted are "set in their ways".. Aging hearts easily suffer a decline of zeal and enthusiasm and are candidates for soul stroke, joyless pessimism, and cynicism. In  Sunday's reading Jeremiah spoke of a cardiac procedure performed by God, "I will put my law within them; and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people". What God has written on our hearts is a covenant, a marriage contract.

Regardless of your age, whenever you feel a heart attack of cynicism system, a rigid rejection of something new just because it seems novel, or if you experience a blockage in your circulation of compassion, don't take an aspirin! Instead, take your fingers and move them slowly across your heart, reading real like, the words written by God upon it. The covenant is encapsulated in one word, so prayerfully move from letter to letter L-O-V-E. That word, one of the Divine names it's a summation of what can bring healing to you and to the world  

Today's Rx:  for overall wellness and for a daily rejuvenation of a youthful and flexible heart is to trace your finger over those four blessed letters of your marriage contract with your God that are inscribed upon your heart.

Day 33

Scripture ref:
  • John 12: 4, 20-33
  • Mark 14:34
  • Matthew 13:37-43

"Where Does It Hurt"
The Temple's Alarm System

We are talking about self-examination; understanding, recognizing and reporting those signs/ symptoms that manifest to show that there has been an upset of the homeostasis of our body's natural balance. Part of the reasoning for this type of teaching, the Lenten Pharmacy, has been to highlight the undeniable and established connection between physical pain and it's discourse of "dis ease vs. "disease", and how it responds, and is guided and influenced by our minds.

  "Now my soul is troubled", Jesus lamented in the gospel of this Sunday, the Sunday before Palm Sunday reading, (John 20:20- 33). "And what should I say Father, save me from this hour ". His head must have ached from the pounding of conflicting thoughts - on the one hand, embracing whatever God and His destiny required and, on the other hand, his natural self-preservation that urged him to save himself. As a patient in this degree of agony, Jesus may have felt like the woman whose doctor asked her, " Where does it hurt? ". Looking up at him with a grimace, she answered, ", Where doesn't it hurt"?

  Plato taught that physical pain is also experienced by the soul. Those who experience intense pain know that their souls ache as much as their bodies do. In Gethsemane, anticipating his torturous death on the Cross, Jesus endured an all-encompassing suffering:his sweat became like drops of blood as he cried out, "I am deeply grieved, even to death" (Mark 14:34). Once pain has reached a certain threshold it expands beyond the site of its origin, causing an avalanche of biochemical reactions that affect the circulation, muscles, tissues, and organs of the body - as anyone who suffers from, for example, the excruciating pain of a migraine headache can attest to. Suffering from a headache seems to be a problem that has existed since the dawn of humanity. 8,000 years ago, Sumerian pharmacist offered relief from headaches with the medicine of pulverized bark of a Willow tree. In medieval times, medicinal blood sucking leeches were applied to the forehead, as we have talked about before. Tsar Ivan the Terrible, when an court official complained of a headache, it is written, that he  would order nails to be driven into their head. Although this cure sounds more like a diabolical punishment, nails have been used since primitive times to release the demons believed to reside inside the aching heads. We should show great Gratitude that today we are spared from such primitive medical treatments.

 For his soul- body suffering, Jesus seeks relief not from nails, leeches, or crushed Willow bark, but in the conviction that if he endured suffering like the dying grain of wheat, he will produce the kind of fruit that glorifies God. The Sufi mystic Rumi says of suffering: "Your defects are the ways that glory is manifested. Don't turn your head. Keep looking at the bandaged place. That is where the light enters you".

 Find relief from your pain and the wisdom that your wounds of heart and body are portholes through which the splendorous Light enters you.

RX for today: Keep in mind that your wounds and defects may very well be manifestations of the glory of God and take special care today to listen to your body quietly and intentionally.

Day 32

Scripture ref:
  • Matthew 10:16
  • Romans 12:
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • 2 Corinthians 5: 17
  • Ephesians 4:24

"The Skin We're In"

We're talking about the body, we're talking about self examination and since we know that the beginning of sin, degradation and  decay of our bodies, spiritually and physically, is symbolized by the snake, a serpent.   One of the things that we pay special attention to is our skin. Maybe not ritualistic attention to every part of our body, but the face is the prime  body part that is strategically taken care of or attended to daily, sometimes passionately, but definitely more than any other part of our bodies.

 One of the most important things used in a skin care routine is exfoliating, dealing with the top layer or epidermis of our skin, which is the first defense layer of protection of the system that is known as the integumentary system.The integumentary system is the largest organ of the body that forms a physical barrier between the external environment and the internal environment that it serves to protect and maintain. The integumentary system includes the epidermis, dermis, hypodermis, associated glands, hair, and nails

  "Lenten Molting Days" would be a good name for the coming week. For the past 4 weeks we've been involved in becoming new persons and it's time to shed the old self. Serpents are good role models for disciples of Jesus who are called to ongoing reformation and transformation. Several times a year, snakes grow completely new skins and shed their old ones in a process called "molting". The old skin is removed as a snake rubs itself between two rocks or along rough branches of a bush. Then the snake slips out of its old skin, leaving it behind, turned inside out, but perfectly intact, like a hollow tube. So whenever you find yourself between a "rock and a hard place", Rejoice, because it might just be the place to complete your Lenten healing!. Snakes do not have to struggle painfully to shake off their old skins. When the time is right they just slip out of them and leave them behind. The same should be true for us. For even if we have  earnestly tried to displace ourselves over the past weeks, these next days might not be the right time for us to shed our old selves!  So, Don't Force IT!

Jesus, forever gentle in his Healing, never called his disciples to violent reform. His pattern was first to invite those wishing to be his students to come, learn of him, and imitate his selfless loving. He understood the spiritual rule of ripening - that is a process of maturing in the spirit, our sinful habits, attitudes, and behavior will fall away as naturally as the old skin of a snake.
 Truly, the dilemma of finding oneself between a rock and a hard place can become the occasion to take the last step of transformation, but we need to do so mindful that it is not the final step. The reformation of discipleship is a lifelong process of skin shedding. In fact, the closer we come to the Light, the more we see in ourselves what must be purged and left behind if we are to be fully- filled with the Light. As inner darkness lessens, we can see more clearly. Even the slightest spiritual imperfections now cry and convict us out to be removed. So, Blessed are those, who, serpent-like, shed their skin not once… but continuously. It is not easy to have snakes as models for Christian disciples because of our biblical prejudice against them as a primal source of evil and an image of Satan that must be crushed. If you have difficulty thinking of serpents as Holy Symbols, recall what the Master said when he sent his disciples out into the world,  "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves " (Matthew 10:16).

RX for today: Be  as clever as a serpent and let your next rock and a hard place provide you with an opportunity for fresh and glorious renewal, newly exfoliating a layer of sin sickness.

Day 31

Casting Stones (Judgments) - What's The Mote In Your Eye?

"Let us condemn him to a shameful death." These words from today's reading foreshadow the reality of Good Friday.

Our Friday reflection continues the  mentioned theme of snakes - perhaps the most feared, if not despised, of all God's creations. Our embedded prejudice against them, even when they are not poisonous, can't make it extremely difficult to associate healing with serpents.
 Yet fright at the sight of a snake is not natural. Upon finding a snake, a small toddler will  pick it up and try to play with it. As with all of our prejudices and hatreds, the fear of snakes is a learned behavior. And, indeed we hate what we fear! The cures at The shrine of Aesculapius' are especially fascinating because the patients had to sleep overnight in his temple while his sacred snakes slithered around and over them. Were their healing somehow connected to the fact that they intimately had to encounter that which they so greatly feared? How those patients were liberated from their fears should inspire us to seek similar healings this Lent.

Prejudicial hatred of anyone is a simple abomination to God, who created every person in the image of goodness and beauty. Our society is rightfully proud of it's seemingly recent successes at rising above much of his racial, ethnic, and religious prejudices. However, one prejudice remains that is actually seen by some as good and godly - the prejudices against homosexuals.

The Word of God is evident in its view of homosexuality. The most commonly quoted Bible verses are Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13, which state that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as he would with a woman. In Romans 1:26-27, Apostle Paul says that homosexuality is contrary to God's natural order and results from rejecting God. Additionally, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists homosexuality as one of the sins that will prevent someone from entering the Kingdom of God. While the Bible is clear in its view of homosexuality, it is essential to remember that God loves all of his creation and offers forgiveness to those who repent and turn away from their sins.

  We need to remember that God creates gays and lesbians, just as God creates all of us and that sexual attraction is not a chosen characteristic.  Yes we know that Jesus condemned homosexuality!

Yet, even for those who continue to judge it as sinful, that belief does not grant religious license to have anti-gay prejudice and to malign gays anymore then those guilty of any other sin.
Just as a fear of snakes creates an intense hatred towards them, our fear of those who act differently, look differently or love differently than the majority creates a repulsion towards them.

 "Let us condemn him to a shameful death" was the hate-filled verdict cast upon Jesus.

 Rx for today: Let us not cast the same verdict upon any of our fellow human beings just because we fear or cannot accept who they are.

Day 29

Scripture ref:
  • Genesis 1:7
  • Song of Solomon 4:7
  • Psalm 139 13-14
  • Phillipian 4:8
  • 1 Peter 3:4-6

The Attack From Within

  An autoimmune disorder occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks their own body tissues. Autoimmune disorders are broadly grouped into two categories – 'organ-specific' means one organ is affected, while in 'non-organ-specific' disorders, multiple organs or body systems may be affected. This is the way sin has set the precedent for the inner attack on our bodies.

  Mirror inspection can reveal - to those with eyes to see - a basic prejudice that is perhaps one of the most crippling of diseases. This prejudice is a negative, invalid judgment about you! All prejudice is evil. It's sinfully rejects or degrades the uniquely beautiful person made in the image of goodness which we know expresses the image of God. (Gen.1-27). This self prejudice has been called self-loathing.  We  bemoan ourselves as inferior to others because of  this or that physical or natural quality is lacking.

This disease first appeared long ago in the East, when worm infected fruit in the Garden of Eden carried its virus. Since then, it has become a worldwide pandemic leaping from generation to generation. Theologians call this pestilence "original Sin" and a   spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, diagnosed this disease as "humanities endless capacity for self-rejection. " Psychologists agree that a prime source of bigotry, intolerance, and this day towards others is our self-loathing. The stronger the self prejudice, the greater is the need to treat some particular class, race, or group of persons as inferior to ourselves. History has produced many erroneous cures for this affliction of inadequacy, like greed and power. The rich and powerful are admired because of their wealth and pumped up positions of prestige. Yet, while some may be fooled by wealth or power, the mirror on your wall is not deceived!

  The first symptom of the original disease was an awareness of one's own nakedness. When Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, they were ashamed. Self prejudice produces the embarrassment of nakedness even when we are fully clothed. We suffer this shame when we feel the lack of some quality of body or mind that makes us feel inferior. The old home remedy for this pain is to cover our inner nakedness with an expensive sports car, some important profession or office, a large, lavish home, closets full of clothing and the latest styles, or having children whose sucesses mirror pride back to us as parents. However Jesus the Galilean Healer,  prescribes the most effective, guaranteed, and reliable cure with his Healing Commandment, " Love God and your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:39). But we must learn this commandment backwards... with all our heart and soul, we must love ourselves as we were created,(Psalm 139:13-14) with all our deficiencies and imperfections. Those of us wounded by self-prejudice must then have to start here, or else will never be able to love our faulty neighbor!  Only by an unprejudiced love for our self, will we be able to Love our God, who lovingly designed  each of us as precious in the Divine image. Good self-esteem produces good health by helping us to develop a powerful immune system against viruses that target our body, spirit and mind.. an  affirmative self-image engines resilience to cope with the difficult challenges of life, and it ensures rapid regeneration after daily defeats and disappointment.

So, during these last days of our Pharmaceutical Lent, diligently follow Jesus's Rx for dealing with the disease of self-loathing.

Love The Man In The Mirror!

Day 27

Scripture ref:
  • John 5:1-16
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Romans 12:2,16
  • James 1:8
  • Galatians 5:19-21
  • Phillipian 2:5


As we begin to move towards the last days of the Lenten season, we are going to begin with the most important things that we must do to as our part that plays a huge part of good health maintenance and the delivery of healthcare treatment. To be in tune with our body, detect  and understand when there are changes happening in our body, we have to be vigilant and indulge in self-examination. We know that self-examination of the skin is important to discover melanomas or other dermatologic disorders. There's the extreme importance of self breast examinations by women for early discovery of that process, testicular for men along with prostate exams and examine and knowing the baseline structure changes aid in early discovery of many  other disturbances that manifest themselves in our body. Being attentive to ourselves is vitally important for the discovery and intervention of those things that could slow/stop the progress of "dis ease to disease."  Don't be afraid to touch yourself!

Today we are going to start our journey of self-examination at the uppermost part of our earthly vessels. The head or cranium which houses our brain, the Central Intelligence Agency of our bodies. The organ, made of different muscle, tissue, synapses and nerves than the rest of the body/organs/systems. Protected within the skull, the brain is composed of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem, which essentially dictates our way of life, so to speak. The brain is an amazing three-pound organ that drives  functions of the body, which makes it independently different from every other aspect of our biologies. It interprets information from the outside world, and embodies the essence of the mind and soul. Intelligence, creativity, emotion, and memory are a few of the many things governed by the brain. Its 4 lobes are divided by  2 cerebral hemispheres with distinct fissures, which divide the brain into lobes. Each hemisphere; right and left, has 4 lobes: frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital, which all have distinct functions. The brain  controls every thought and emotion, as well as determining whether you are right or left handed. Every decision, every thought, every action made by the entire body is under direction and locomotion from the brain.

In  today'sreading, before healing the lame man, Jesus, the Good Physician asks the man who has been paralyzed for 38 years, in the Gospel of John 5:1- 16, " Do you want to be healed? " That may sound like a stupid question, but it's not!

Believe it or not, some who are sick really do not want to be healed! Also there are people who have disorders of the brain that result in illness and they may not even realize that they are sick. Today, that same critical question is asked of each of us. Lent is the season for sinners, not saints, a Holy time for Healing the sick, not the healthy. Jesus the Healer spoke plainly when he said that he had come to heal the sick and not those who had no need of a physician. If in fact, you are sick, do you want to be healed? Do you really want to be different than you are today? Over the years, we become attached to our emotional, behavioral, and psychological afflictions. Not only do we grow accustomed to them, we even sometimes defend them with statements, comments,expressions or offhand remarks like; "Well this is who I am, or Love me or leave me, or Well I'm this age and I don't plan on changing"...and many other rebuttals that we come up with when we are confronted with the dis ease of our brains.

When doing our self-examination, we might become aware of a common disease with a Latin medical name borrow from the Roman poet Virgil: latet anguis in herbe, or "  a snake lurks in the grass". We've all heard this expression and know it's inference of having a hidden enemy, but in a subtle play on words it also points to the popular afflictions of having a "snake in the glass" - the looking-glass!  I'm reminded of a message I did lady year on the "Man in the Mirror", which I hope conveyed the point I'm attempting  here. By understanding that our unrecognized afflictions paralyze us precisely because we are sometimes blind to their existence. So today's Rx is to go and look mindfully in the mirror. Don't go look at if your hair needs doing, your eyebrows need plucking or some other on- the- skin imperfection, but look prayerfully, knowing well, how our religious and social institutions are badly in need of healing. We can only heal the world by healing ourselves first!

 Looking at yourself in the mirror, besides the sign of aging, do you see anything disturbing? Look deeply, beneath the surface of your skin and probe your belief system. Do you believe violence is necessary to maintain order, or that the poor are lazy, or that the rich are all  greedy? Scrutinize your personal biases, your different prejudices( good or bad), your preconceived notions about people, religion, politics or even life. After this examination of your internal health questionnaire;  ask yourself the same question that Jesus asked that crippled man: "Do you want to be healed?"

Don't be in any hurry to answer. Take time to consider carefully.  If you are truly interested in a healing that isn't a quick fix, an instantaneous cure, like that of the paralyzed man in the Gospel story.

 But if you do wish to be healed, be forewarned that the Galilean Healer, Jesus may prescribe some intense surgery for you! As will many conditions/diseases today,you may have to undergo the knife, a sacred scalpel that only you can use.

RX for the day: Look at yourself in reflection of  the transgressions that have been borne for the sake of Healing by Jesus Christ and be mentally and emotionally honest, in Spirit and Truth, about your "mind" affliction(s), dis ease or disease, and have regular consultation time with Dr. Jesus.

Day 25

Scripture Ref:
  • Numbers 21:9
  • John 3:14-21

An Article of Faith Healing

One of the symbols in medicine that is readily identifiable is the image of a serpent around a staff.The caduceus, a staff with two snakes coiled around it, is the official insignia of the United States Medical Corps, Navy Pharmacy Division, and the Public Health Service.
The caduceus probably was first used as a medical emblem in the 16th century. In its earliest form, the caduceus appeared as a forked rod, the prongs knotted or crossing to form a loop. Later, the rod was entwined by two snakes with their heads meeting at the top. Legend states that Hermes discovered two snakes fighting and thrust his rod between them. The snakes stopped fighting and wound themselves around the rod. Thus, this combination became the sign of settlement of quarrels.The caduceus is also a symbol of peace and commerce.  
In this season we remember the significance of that symbol in our lives and our connection to the source.

The Serpent! Most people, believers of the Gospel, or not, do not like snakes!! To the Christian it signifies that beginning of sin.. and the beginning of the evolutionary decline of our physical bodies. We Biblically and Spiritually know that this is why we have DNA that is sinful and causes us to war against ourselves in our minds, our bodies, our souls and our spirits. We are aware of what the serpent represents in our life. 

Fear, mayhem, chaos, sin and death!

 But we also have to remember that the serpent  was also used for healing  under the directions of God who instructed Moses to use a serpent to counteract the plague of the serpents Numbers 21. So then the serpent is an article of Faith in some instances?

In and today's reading the Gospel of John 3:14: 21, Jesus is compared to such a serpent intertwined on the Cross. The shocking image that comes to mind as John compares the healing salvation brought by Jesus being lifted up on the cross to the bronze serpent of Moses and his people in the desert.

 The cross of Jesus is a boundless source of healing if we are connected to it. This symbol of suffering is transformed in either the form of the "Tau"cross, remember, from our 1st week readings; prophetically symbolizes that we now live in the reign of God, or the Cross of Calvary by which Christ overcame death itself.

As Christians we have a lot of reverence for the cross.We feel a surety and hopefully never question its effectiveness. The issue for us isn't whether images of the Cross are connected to the source; but rather how we are connected to the Cross! Are we linked to the Cross only  remotely, as a symbol that no longer speaks to us or are we intimately united with it? 

During Lent we use the color purple and we drape it over our crosses. But perhaps our Lenten crosses would be radically enlivened if, rather than using a long purple cloth we drapped it instead with a serpent?

  I think most believers have had a personal experience of being liberated or healed from some paralyzing illness or addiction or life situation and then realized that your healing was connected to the cross in your room and your home? Consider the practice of consciously uniting your suffering, whether it stems from crippling pains of arthritis or throbbing migraine headache, cancer,diabetes, blood pressure, mental health issues, grief, affairs of the heart,  "dis ease or disease", whatever your body, heart, mind or soul is in need of. Unite it to the source of healing- the Cross. 

RX for today:  As part of our self-care: touch your fingers to your Cross and pray that uniting your pains with those of Christ will be a redemptive Holy Communion.

Day 24

Scripture ref:
Matthew 19:14

"Idle Worship" vs idol worship
   At the end of this third week of Lenten discipline and inner reflection, we look forward to Restaurant Sunday - a term derived from the practice of medicinal purging. After the demise of the medical practice of bloodletting, the use of enemas for cleansing and restoring vitality and sexual vigor became a European health thing in the 1800s. In those years, popular enemas began to be used to restore sexual powers were called restaurants, from the French word  "to restore."

  Constantly working and keeping excessively busy can cause us to become emotionally and spiritually constipated. After a long week of work, relieve yourself with a Restaurant Sunday.
  Being purged of a week's worth of work is a good day and way,  for "idle" worship, instead of the worship of idols. Worship means "to reverence, love, or respect,".. and how we need to learn to respects the powers of being idle! The Latin word for leisure is otium, and the absence of leisure is negotium, which is translated as business, work, or trouble. And the trouble with our culture's work driven lifestyle is that it blocks the flow of life.  

A good prescription to heal this blockage is the laxative of play, that child-like activity of leisure time. Like the early years before TV and video games! Play is an essential activity at every stage of human life. As we age and move from one stage of life to another, the ways we play also change. Yet that activity, which we usually think of as merely a childhood occupation, remains indispensable throughout life. Indeed, play is a form of prayer and worship that is more pleasing to God on "Restaurant Sundays".

Play implies having fun, amusing ourselves alone or with others. Play with others as a form of communal worship and communal healing. While a popular Sunday afternoon entertainment is watching others play sports on television, this doesn't have the same effect as actually playing. Since play is a child like activity, adults often feel guilty about playing unless it is in some recognizable form of adult recreation. We see life as serious business, especially the spiritual life, and so those seeking Holiness usually don't want to squander their time playing or amusing themselves. Indeed, this may be one reason for all those unhappy, constipated looking faces seen on the statues of saints! If your life lacks frequent play time, Restaurant Sunday is a good day to change that by making play as important as physical exercise or a healthy diet. You'll be delighted at the cleansing, restorative results!

RX today: Remember God said that "we must come to him as a little children"!... and just take some time out today to play.

Day 23

Scripture ref:
  • Genesis 18,19
  • Matthew,6: 9-13
  • Ezekiel 16:49
  • Matthew 10:11-15

The Dis Ease of Complacency  The Sin of Sodomy, It's Generational!

We are getting close, Good Friday is only 3 weeks away from today, which makes this a good time to reflect on those powerful words in the Lord's Prayer, " forgive us our sins. " The reality of the Lord's Passion should prevent us from ever reciting these words absent-mindedly.
 Whether we use the words "trespasses", "debts", or "sins" these are hardly idle or simply pious words, for Jesus promised that whatever we ask in prayer, in His name, we will receive! Devoutly petitioning God to forgive us our sins implies that we expect God to grant us absolution, which in turn implies a need for pardon. On this Lenen Friday, take time to examine your life for sin and as you reflect on your faults, major or minor, don't overlook the sin of sodomy!
Now before clicking out of this reading or jumping to conclusions at such a terrible suggestion, reflect on the words of Ezekiel concerning Jerusalem: " this was the guilt of your sister Sodom, she and her daughters had pride, access of food, and the ease afforded by prosperity, but they did not help the poor and needy ".(.Ez 16:49) Here in Ezekiel it is declared that Sodom's real sin is the complacent neglect of the needy and poor!

  Nowhere in scripture does it say that homosexuality was the only cause of God to destroy Sodom, yet long centuries of religious practice have earmarked this as the cause of its destruction. Even though sodomy became the legal criminal term for sexual acts judgef to be abnormal, Jesus linked the punishment of Sodom with its failure to offer hospitality. (Matt. 10:11-15).

Ezekiel directly connected the wickedness of Sodom with its overfed, complacent ignoring of the needs of the poor. Today scrutinize your behavior for any sense of complacent generational sodomy, the failure to reach out to the hungry, to provide hospitality to the homeless, and to bring comfort to the unemployed or assistance to those in need. Ezekiel's use of the term "complacent " should sting us faithful church attending Christians as painfully as the suggestion of us being judged as sexual sodomites! Complacent Christian settled in their comfortable prosperity are smug, self-satisfied, and self-righteous and their belief that Bible reading and church attendance but fufills our moral obligations. Being self-satisfied, people are self-blinded to the truth that God desires Mercy towards others - tender loving care - as our most authentic form of worship. Last Friday's reflection dealt with our national complacency as a so-called Christian nation,  that places last amon the world's 20 richest nations in providing relief to the poor and sick of the world. You may be powerless to change this shameful national neglect  or the other exploitative policies of the United States, but you can change yourself!

  The next time before you pray the Lord's Prayer to ask that your sins be forgiven, take a moment to examine yourself for the sins of sodomy and complacency.

Whether it is homosexuality or another transgression, such as the act of inhospitable behavior towards visitors, the act of sexual assault, murder, lying, theft, adultery, idolatry, power abuses, or prideful and mocking behavior, all and any of that was the principal reason for God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The abnormal practices concerning human rights and dignity is sodomic behavior. And sadly has passed through many generations and our ill-spirited DNA.

  RX for today: Search your heart to see how much space is there for the underserved, underprivileged, unhoused and hungry.

Day 22

One of the most controversial and questioned stories of the Bible is from where Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Canan. There have been many discussions as to whether drinking is  bad because Jesus turned water into wine, the contemplation of whether Jesus drank the wine and if so did then he become unholy?....so many discussions around this question.

There is a  theologian Anthony Padovano who said, " it is not healthy to live and work in one world and to believe and pray in another." The harmony of these two worlds is an issue in the development of our contemporary spirituality". Well it is common to blame our contemporary secular culture for this unhealthy division of praying in one world while living in another, it is, in reality, an ancient malady.

   Jesus, the Teacher - Physician from Nazareth, proposed the cure of  living an integrated life - residing and worshiping in one world. As a sacred surgeon, he fused the two separate worlds of temple worship and  daily life by revealing how ordinary everyday activities like eating meals, attending weddings, and extending hospitality towards strangers are actually be holy events. Religions sometime draw distinct boundary lines that separate the ordinary from the sacred by establishing certain places, people, and days as holy and determining the rest to be profane - literately "outside the fanum", or outside the temple. Jesus turned over the religious apple cart by making the profane into the sacred, as all the redemptive actions of his life were done outside the temple and in the profane hustle and bustle of ordinary life.

   As a teacher, Jesus demonstrated how loving, caring interactions with others or sacred rituals that are as Holy as any sacrifices performed by priest in the temple. His teaching is echoed 1 Peter 2:5, "Let yourselves be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God…which is your spiritual worship. Paul agrees in Romans 12:1. This bit of wisdom could be rephrased, "Make your bodily actions of walking, working, loving, and caring into sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God".

  Lent provides us opportunities to sharpen our skills. Everyday things in which each work of our hands - whether fixing supper or folded in Prayer - can be offered as sacrifices pleasing to God l. To live and sleep in such a seamlessly holy world requires no theological tricks or mystical maneuvers; only live in Jesus did. His entire life was a seamless act of worship, since he experienced the Divine mystery abiding within himself and made God present wherever he was. Jesus transformed every place into a temple sanctuary. His greatest wish was that you and I would also share his holy intimacy - as he prayed, " As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us" (John 17:21-22). This awesome Divine indwelling wasn't unique to him, or he wouldn't have longed for his disciples to become just as conscious of this divine union as he was.

Let this Lenten Thursday Rx inspire you to strive to make your life a priestly living sacrifice pleasing to God.

Day 21

Scripture ref:
  • Luke 4:23
  • Matthew 9:12
  • Jeremiah 17:14
  • Psalm 41:3 
  • James 5:15 
  • 3 John 1:2 

Physician, Heal Thyself

We've all, if at the very least in passing, have heard of the phrase "Physician, Heal Thyself" from scripture. There was a Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who was fond of saying,  "Each person has a wise physician within them."  Today, think about making an appointment with your inner physician. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently. The drawing shows a man standing at a receptionist desk, the woman seated behind it says to him, "Yes, your appointment to see Dr. Murphy is at 1:00 this afternoon, and Dr Murphy's appointment to see you is at 2:30." That sounds crazy right? But a recent survey taken by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that the average time spent waiting in an emergency room is 6.2 hours. Patients with incomes of less than $20,000 a year waited for treatment for a whopping average of 13.3 hours! Whether it's an emergency or scheduled appointment, waiting to see a physician is something we've come to expect in this country.

Besides being expected, perhaps this waiting is also intentional. I've often wondered if a secret part of the famous Hippocratic oath taken by physicians is, "Thou shall make thy patients wait for long periods of time, for in this useless idleness healing happens". Flipping through old magazines or  watching your fingernails grow in a doctor's reception room hardly seems medicinal, yet it may actually be essential to healing.   Being forced to remain in a suspended state of non-activity could help to cure the "sin" at the top of the original hit parade of sins- pride. Important people do not have to wait for anything. Having to wait our turn reminds us that there are others who also have ailments, perhaps with afflictions far more serious than our own. Waiting, therefore reminds us of the needs of others. The forced leisure of a waiting room or  airport can purge us of the  frenzy of hyperactivity of contemporary life. In America today, 1 out of 4 people suffer from hypertension, a number which is up from one out of five only 10 years ago!

  Frederick the Great of Prussia, a vigorous man in every situation he faced, would order the Royal Physician, right in the midst of a fierce battle, to cut open a vein and bleed him to restore his calm. Recall this calm-restoring method of Frederick the Wise when you experience highly charged situations at work or at home and find ways to bleed yourself of healthy hypertension. You might, for example, take a few moments for deep breathing, focusing your attention on each breath to help you purge boiling emotions and restore your inner peace. The healing interior physician is the Holy Healing Spirit, who, if you wait patiently in silent stillness, will reveal your hidden ailments of body, mind, and soul and their cures.

  RX for the day: Sit quietly, listen to your body and ask the Healing  Spirit of God to do a whole body exam and to reset all that is out of sync and restore your whole self to its original homeostasis and Divine Glory of it's creation.

Day 20

Scripture ref:
  • Matt: 18:21-35
  • Matt. 6:2
  • John 20:23
  • Colossians 3:13
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • 1 John 1:9

Long Term Therapy:
Does Jesus exaggerate? Can we take him seriously in today's Gospel when he says we must forgive 77 times- an infinite number of times? Does Nazareth's physician use such exaggeration because some medicines are highly effective only in large doses? Certainly, a more powerful or larger dose of medication is required for the deadly illness of tightly clutching our anger and resentment when we are injured or betrayed. The very emotions that prevent us from forgiving another person who has caused us pain, create additional pain in US!
An inability or unwillingness to forgive creates,high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and many other dis eases, illnesses and diseases in us. On the other hand, forgiving others actually reduces blood pressure and elevates our sense of wellness. While Jesus prescribed forgiveness, he didn't describe how we are to practice that good medicine. Yet a few suggestions might be helpful.

Begin with fully acknowledging the painful wound of being betrayed at the hands of a friend, lover, or spouse. All wounds hurt and require treatment, but the first step to well-being is to acknowledge the pain, not to merely bandage the wound by denying the agony it brings. Second, we might attempt to understand the reasons why the individual acted as she or he did.
Third, we can review our options…
We can choose to be a passive victim, pretending the offense didn't happen. 
We can become the wounded aggressor and seek revenge. 
We can determine to end the relationship.
 We can begin the process of forgiving the offender.

This last choice, to start a process of healing reconciliation, it's done not just for the benefit of the offender, but mainly for our own welfare and wellness. Jesus, The Physician, knew that forgiveness is an ongoing process and so he prescribed that we forgive 77 times. If we are fortunate and our wound is not terribly severe, a conscious act of forgiveness once an hour for 7 hours or even once a day for a week, may heal our injured heart. If, however, our wound is as wide and deep as the Red Sea, full recovery may take 77 days of pardoning. Whether your pardoning therapy is brief or lengthy, engage in the process with a sense of high honor, knowing that by your forgiving, you are becoming God-like. Be extraordinarily grateful that in this pardoning process you will experience a two-fold healing of body and soul. The hidden blessing in your generous and unconditional forgiveness is that God is simultaneously granting you unconditional pardon 77 times for your sins. Jesus has indeed given us a truly miraculous medicine for such a time as this!

Rx for the day: Begin your long-term therapy of forgiveness.

Day 19

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • Galatians 5 19-21
  • Hosea 6:6
  • Luke 10:27
  • Acts 6:4

Early Diagnosis gets Best Results:

Yesterday we talked about the disease of "Temple itis".

Dr. Jesus sought to heal the strain of this disease that leads to perhaps the most forgotten of the seven deadly sins. Among the seven: pride,envy, anger, acedia (spiritual or mental slothfulness), greed, gluttony, and lust, it will be as rare as a blue moon to confess to the sins stuck in the middle, acedia. True to Jesus's prediction that the last shall become first; last place lust and its trail of sexual sins now usually rank first among the openly recognized
affronts to moral values. Acedia, on the other hand, is usually regarded with relative indifference, which is probably appropriate since this deadly sin manifests itself in symptoms of spiritual apathy. This strain of templeitis is also expressed as dryness in prayer, boredom at worship, and the itch to check the time while meditating and praying.

  Another symptom of acedia is listlessness at worship which usually infects its leaders. This spiritual illness creates clerical robots that listlessly mouth the liturgy.  Church choirs infected with it may sing on key, but they are more concerned about performing well than praying.
Acedia is also contagious! It quickly spreads beyond our prayers and worship into our living prayer of social justice. The famous silent majority typically suffers from the inertia of acedia, remaining silent and sedentary against local, national, and church related injustices. Among the crippling effects of this often overlooked sin of acedia is a Spiritual lethargy that leaves many of us complacent about hollow, poorly planned and celebrated liturgies that cannot nourish or inspire. When church attendance is valued more than compassion and when rituals are more important than prayer or devotion, Jesus echoes the prophet Hosea, "for I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."(Hosea 6:6)

The Pharmacist of Nazareth's cure for acedia was to mix all Ten Commandments together in his bowl and then use his pestle to grind them into a single one: " and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself" ( Luke 10:27).  To create the wellness of authentic prayer and the necessary medicine for wholesome life, Jesus produced a miracle drug: a love of God, of oneself, and all of life that is wholehearted, whole souled, whole minded, and whole bodied.

To heal hard- to-detect-but-deadly acedia, we need to take Jesus's medicine of wholehearted love daily. We also need to remember that it's a big pill to swallow! Doing everything we do with all our heart requires dedication, especially when it comes to praying. It might not be possible to recite multiple prayers several times a day with the heartfelt intensity prescribed by Pharmacist Jesus,so today's RX: Pray less, maybe even just a single sentence; so that you can feel every word of prayer with all your heart, soul, and mind.

God prefers quality to quantity.. Always!

Day 18

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • John 2: 13-25
  • Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-8, 12-17

"Don't go Viral-Pay Attention to your Temple"

Well, it's the Sabbath or Shabbat, a day of rest and self care. Jesus opens a can of worms today. That familiar saying refers to any inextricable tanglr of problems that is released as soon as an issue is addressed. The can is opened when Jesus encounters the caretakers of God's temple in Jerusalem, which bore a large label: Don't Tamper With Our Religion!

  What most people saw as an acceptable or perhaps even praiseworthy use of that sacred space, he finds repulsive and diseased and, therefore, purges it (John 13- 25). Earlier prophets had likewise condemned the temples' empty-hearted, yet ritually precise sacrificial worship, but today the Galilean Prophets daring act "opens a can of worms".

Worms, in the form of leeches, were once considered the great cure all for whatever made one sick, as we talked about in an earlier reading. These 3 to 4 inch long blood suckers were gathered from swamps for medicinal purposes. With their sharp teeth, they woul open a decision in the flesh and then suck out a patient's blood. The RX for headaches was to place 6 large leeches on the forehead for several hours. For depression, there were used three to five times daily, so they would draw at least two pints of blood; hysterical patients were drained of 4 pints or until they became calm. As strange as all this may sound, the use of leeches was actually a medical advance over the customary practice that began in  400 BC by The Greeks, who instead drew blood with a knife to purge the body. In medieval times, there were also bleeders. For sure,bleeding was a common place prophylactic protection against various afflictions. It was even used religiously to ensure chastity when older monks would bleed young ones to reduce their passionate urges.    Was idolatry the temple disease that Jesus sought to heal by drawing blood with his whip? And in this Sunday's Exodus reading, God thunders out against the disease of idle worship: "You shall not have any other gods before me". "You shall not bow down to them or worship them. " The precise priestly rituals for temple sacrifice in the time of Jesus required the use of only perfect animals, which led to the profitable business of providing these animals to the poor. Besides leading to frequent abuse and exploitation of the needy, Jesus found these practices idolatry.

   To what extent do we today bow down before religious laws and customs as if they were gods? Take a cue from today's reading of Jesus purging God's House of prayer…and examine the health of your personal temple. To purge your prayer life of the viral disease templeitis, neither leeches or the bleeder's knife is required but only a heartfelt resolution. Like the flu virus, templeitis  constantly mutates into new strains that resist treatment. A fruitful Lent and a healthy spiritual life require continuous purging of our own bodily House of Prayer.

Rx for today: let us metaphorically bleed ourselves twice a day, as a patron for this ongoing purging and transformation of our prayer lives.

Day 17

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture references:
  • Luke 15:11-32
  • Proverbs 4:23
  • Psalm 51:10
  • Ezekiel 36: 26
  • Jeremiah 17:9
  • Matthew 5:8
Schedule Your Heart Transplant

   Today we are going to delve into the leading causes of Dr visits, medications Rx'd, surgeries, disabilities and death can be attributed to heart disease. It affects just about every person born, whether it's the skipping of a beat from a star crossed lover, the racing of the heart from fear or excitement alike, to the most progressive of disease of the circulatory system. From erratic blood pressure or "hypertension" to coronary artery disease or "CAD" that requires medication, possible surgery and in severe cases of disease and degradation; a heart transplant. We understand that without a heart, there is no blood flow to nourish and oxygenate our body's cells and systems. Without a beating of this important organ, life desists. We have to have not just a heart, but a fully operational one for maximum impact for/of the Temples in which we dwell.

Today we will dissect signs and symptoms of the Spiritually diseased heart.

  We know that physically, there are many reasons why we may suffer from heart disease. Some are hereditary, and we know there is a huge correlation of the incidence of hypertension and heart disease in the African-American community. There are also risk factors that are controllable such as smoking, diet, the intake of water, use of alcohol, age, stress and many other reasons why our hearts sustain physical damage.

Today we are going to talk about spiritual conditions of the heart. There was once a  man who defined god as whatever was the most important thing in one's life. Using this definition makes it obvious that we are surrounded by the worship of god's with names like Business, Success, Professional Advancement, Making Money, Social Acceptance, Sex, Security, Alcohol, Drugs, Beauty, Automobiles, Expensive Homes, and all of our other favorite items. Regardless of their names, all idols require human sacrifices. Consider hundreds of thousands of human sacrifices on the altars of those glitzy gods who are worshiped in corporate skyscape scraper temples in any of the arenas of Athletics and Show Business. Private homes have also had their idols shrines, where the domestic gods of Cleanliness, Order, Efficiency and the deity of "having my way" are frequently worshiped. Mirrors are shrines of idolatry to the gods of the ego and perpetual youthfulness, before whom we spend much time and personal grooming and beautifying. In the worship of these gods, we sacrifice hours exercising and undergoing the pain of dieting.          

Last  Saturday we reflected about creating Sunday -Shabbat days of leisure from work. There is a connection between that commandment and the 1st commandment forbidding the worship of idols. Most of us believe that with the exception of a few remote places deep in dark jungles, idol worship disappeared centuries ago, but in fact, idol worship today is healthy, thriving, and even practiced by devout Christians. Many churches worship the idols of Material Wealth and Institutional Power right alongside their worship of God. Whenever  only precise adherence to every miniscule rubic makes worship authentic or whenever earthly abundance is lauded as reward for Christian discipleship, there are idols in the sanctuary. The Bible becomes an idol whenever it becomes the unquestioned, absolute authority, particularly where it is applied to a current situation without considering the original context and which the Bible text was written. Church disciplines  and moral dictates become idols when they eclipse the One, True, Loving, and Compassionate God. 

This Saturday's Gospel reading of the prodigal Son (Luke 15) relays the story of a father and his unconditional acceptance of his wayward, sinful son. Jesus' parable is a medicinal story, intended to heal the hearts of the Pharisees and scribes who were outraged because Jesus was violating their religious codes by welcoming sinners as companions and eating with them. The paradox is that these righteous devout Jews would rather have embraced bloody murder than worship a foreign god, yet they have made gods out of their religious human -made laws. Let us not judge but be compassionate towards those unfortunate Pharisees and religious lawyers, because you and I sin just as easily as did they, whenever we make idols out of our religious, cultural, or personal rituals and laws.

Today's Rx:  Pray the Prayer of; "Search my Heart Lord and remove the diseased tissue of my heart that sins against you."

 AND be prepared to undergo an intensive rehab process!

Day 16

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref
  • I Tim. 6:10
  • Luke 12:48
  • Matthew 25:37-38
  • Hebrews 13:16
  • Ephesians 4:27-28

The Therapy of Giving
  The Battle Within

Today's Rx is care- planning for undoubtedly one of the age's oldest reason for sin and degradation, so much so that Jesus even spoke about the issue saying "for the love of money".  Now in focusing on Health/Healing in this series, we all can acknowledge, I would venture to say; be experiencing now, have suffered before and will, in all probability, suffer the condition again, one of the greatest enemy-energy to our bodies, Stress. One most people if being honest, would cite financial constraints as their #1 stressor. And, say it with me…
"Stress is  Dis Ease!

Stress is a killer! Silent or sometimes not so much, as the physical signs/symptoms of stress result in aged appearance, weight loss or gain, fatigue, loss of mental health, and many other conditions.
I remember reading a book that Rev. Ralph Taylor had us read in our Bible Education class..where I believe if you had asked the old pastor of the church, if he believed in original sin I believe he would have answered…

" Believe in it.. I've seen it"! The unbelievable evil that was depicted in the book, This Ever-Present Darkness; by the way you all should read it. Frank E. Peretti is the author… is definitely indicative of the plan of and for this world from the enemy Of God AND of the Glory of the Lord who has supplied all that is needed for all, and gave us the plan and instructions through the Scriptures. But remains the fact, the sin sickness of greed…and Fear. And it causes stress and disease to our temples.

  From the Garden, to Cain and Abel to the right now today  in 2023, one of the public's greatest healthcare and pandemics is all because of the cancer of the unhealthy and unrighteous use/misuse and attitude about paper that has the capacity to bring out the worst condition of nature. The pastor of that old established church saw what we see today, the global reality revealing evidence of unbelievable evil; of war, racial and religious violence, exploitation of the poor, and a neglect of the homeless and hungry by the wealthy and the comfortable; just to name a few. Giving alms and caring for the poor are among the traditional works of the Lenten season and need to be the heart of our ongoing religious disciplines.

Lent should be a time for audit of our financial books, a time to be evaluated on how well we have administered the money entrusted to our care by God. While we may think that all the money we've earned is our personal property, even besides the tithe, that's not the physical ethic of the Gospels where Jesus says " from everyone to whom much has been, given much will be required". Are you financially healthy? Are you generous with your wealth with those who are in need? Does your care of the poor reflect the norm of generosity in your community? Most of us think of America as being the most generous nation in terms of feeding the starving and giving aid to the poor countries of the world. We know that not to be true, even right here in KCMO. Shout out to MSSC Project Hott!, and in reality while being the richest country, America ranks last among the top 20 developed nations in donating to the poor and the sick of the world! Allow that fact to challenge you to examine the depth of your generosity and response to your solemn duty as a Christian to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and give shelter to the homeless. Think about it. We have money to buy our favorite sweets, to rent a DVD, to splurge on things, but when it comes to someone other than ourselves it becomes a problem..When it comes to others selfishness starts to kick in. We are told to be imitators of Christ. Was Christ thinking only about Himself when He died on the cross? No!

  Besides alms giving and caring for the poor another traditional work of Lent is fasting. They're various times in history where this practice has been taken to radical extremes. Some people would fast to the point of near starvation, something no responsible person today will praise or encourage. However Spiritual Fasting to the edge of starvation can help to cure our sins. I'm reminded of another story; once there was an old Cherokee who told his grandson about the great fight going on inside of him. It was a conflict between two wolves. One wolf was his urge to anger, envy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, revenge, false pride, and resentment. The other, the old man said, was his inclination to live in joy, peace, hope, and love, to be generous, humble, passionate, and trusting of all mankind. When he was finished the grandson asked, "which one wins grandfather? His reply was simply " the one I feed". Which one of your wolves is winning? There's always a battle inside, the good one and the evil, the God DNA and the enemy DNA. one of the beasts battling within you, will you starve?

The RX: Giving Is Therapeutic

Day 15

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture reference
  • 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • John 6: 63
  • 1st Timothy 6: 20
  • Hebrews 6: 12

How often do you work out?

for Planet Fitness

Some of us find physical exercise as this distasteful as bitter medicine. Recent survey revealed that over  60% of Americans do not exercise. While medical results have proven that exercise improves one's immune system, controls weight, and reduces damaging cholesterol, it's discipline is still rejected by a majority of people. Instead of doing the recommended 30 to 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, that will reduce our weight, strengthen our hearts and other muscles, and increasing blood flow to our brains, we stay or become idle and out of shape.

 An obvious correlation exists between physical exercise and spiritual exercise. Spiritual health is about the connection with self (personal dimension), others (social dimension), with nature (the environment) and God (transcendental dimension) . Many of us long for a one-a-day reform pill that would save us from helping to engage in a hard discipline of daily conversion. We can long to be vaccinated- as with a flu shot against various sin viruses and our unruly inner beadts, such as the ones Jesus encounter in his Lenten desert experience. Are there some painless substitutions for the hard work of exercising and taming our inner demons? R

emember "TINA"- There Is No Alternative!  However, before whipping your demons into shape, do not confuse exercising your demons with exorcising them. Lents twin focal points include a preparation for baptism and a renewal course in how to live our lifelong baptismal reformation. During Lent, everyone is a convert. The preparation for and living of our baptismal calling require conversion, changing what is negative and destructive into what is positive and productive. Exercise is critical to this conversion process, just as it is in the taming of  horses or elephants or dogs. They are tamed and trained by repetitive exercises and reinforced by rewards and punishment. It is the same when converting our dark energies into positive powers of life.

For example, lust is a vice among the seven capital sins that today usually means excessive, uncontrolled sexual craving. However, lust was once used in a positive sense, for being vigorously, passionately excited about art or music or anything else. Converting lust means exercising and taming the same selfish desires out of that life- energy, and changing it into a powerful tool for loving and caring for others, into a tool for justice, and even into a tool for Prayer and Holiness. Look back over your list of pet faults and you will find an index of potential converts. Instead of casting them into the Lenten garbage can, employ the patient discipline of exercising again and again their positive qualities and you will convert them into powerful allies for your Holiness.

Rx: Increase Your Stamina by Exercising Daily.


Day 14

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • Mark 10:52
  • Mark 8:25
  • Hebrews 4:13
  • Proverbs 3:5-6

Is It Real Or Memorex
When we think or talk about pharmacies, these are places that are usually trustworthy and you can pretty much be confident in the medication that will be described to you. Pharmacies do not sell placebos, but perhaps they should. Those sugar pills, lacking any medicinal substances, sometimes produce surprisingly healing effects. European physicians and neurologists in the late 19th century, began prescribing these imaginary medicines to treat imaginary illnesses. In their practice's, they encountered patients suffering from a variety of painful symptoms, yet clinical tests did not reveal or  verify any  physical causes of the symptoms. The physicians concluded that their patients' afflictions were the result of hysteria caused by repressed anxieties and suppressed feelings. When they prescribed placebos, telling patients that they were taking a new, powerful medical medicine, astounding recoveries often occurred!    

The healing achieved by this imaginative medicine demonstrates the ability of the mind to create both illness and healing. Dis Ease  and Disease. The power of belief to produce physical changes which were clearly and sometimes humorously shown in experiments where people acted drunk after taking what they believed was a strong liquor, but in reality was the only placebo alcohol. After Jesus had cure someone, he frequently said, "your faith has healed you", Mark 10:52. Interestingly, some translations use "saved" instead of "healed" as both are implied in the root word. All this suggests the profound importance of faith in your personal healing and in your Lenten practices. If you take some daily medication, think about the healthy practice of the Hopi Indians of the Southwest, who say that all medicines should be taken with a prayer. 

Be your own pharmacist, lovingly mixing together your medicines with trust filled Prayer, and you will find the effectiveness of your medicine to be greatly enhanced. The best prescriptions for ensuring good physical health always include a proper diet and regular exercise. Because what we think impacts our well-being in both body and soul, it is also essential to  maintain a proper diet of wholesome thoughts. Such a diet should include blessings and good wishes for all people and thoughts of gratitude from the gifts of life and the beauty of creation. A healthy diet also abstains from sickening thoughts of anger, revenge, hatred, and violence. 

A mental diet devoid of  such thoughts is especially difficult in our culture, because we Americans seem addicted to violence in our sports, our entertainment, our music, and even the way we resolve our international conflicts. With our thoughts we make the world. One has to wonder if we are creating this cultural creed. We Believe violent words or deeds are the best way to resolve interpersonal and domestic conflicts. We Believe violent behavior on the sports field or in the movies is fun and Good entertainment. We believe armed intervention in global conflicts is more noble than patient diplomacy and, therefore, the best course of action. 

This second Tuesday of Lent is a good day to begin to reshape our cultural creed so that it is more closely reflective of the Apostles Creed. 

If we follow today's prescription of imagining ourselves into better spiritual health, then perhaps at the end of Lent Jesus will say to you, "your faith has healed you."

Day 13

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • Matthew 6:22
  • Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26
  • Habbukuk 2:2-3
  • Corinthians 2:10-15
  • Ephesians 1:18

How's Your Vision

One of the most neglected areas of the human body are the eyes. They are surely very important to everything we do, and make life a lot easier than if we could not see. But we often never get a check up or consider proactive care for our sight until there's a change in our vision. Today we'll talk about sight, the ability to SEE!

  If we could have shared with those three disciples the mystical experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus how different would our Lent and our lives be! An Islamic spiritual teacher Ibn Al- Arabi taught that spiritual seekers have a religious duty to create imaginative "theophanies" or "appearances of God" for themselves. I think that he uses the strong expression "religious duty" because second or third hand religious experiences simply don't transform or inspire. We all know that the sharing of "testimony" can be an awesome tool for faith and even the birthing of conversion for someone. But it's the experience for one's self that truly transforms and brings things into focus. If indeed it is your religious duty then consider making one of your Lenten activities the creation of your own mystical visions. This isn't pretending or make believe mysticism or "seeing" what isn't there.

Rather it is using our God-giving imagination to make present the sacred unseen. That awesome Divine mystery is present everywhere in creation, but it's too dangerous to be seen with our normal vision. It can be safely imagined by our mind's eye. The theophany of the burning bush out of which Moses heard God speaking to him, is a good model for us. Choose any common bush or tree and set it aflame with your imagination, then listen for what you might hear. You don't need a mountain top to have a mystical experience, your laundry room will do just fine. As you remove freshly cleaned clothing from the dryer, "SEE" it as dazzling white as Jesus' clothes at the Transfiguration. It has been said that the most beautiful profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  He who can no longer wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead. Mystical experiences, are not then superfluous to life, but is essential to living it fully.

There's an old saying: "what do you do after a mystical experience?'  You do the laundry! To this I would add, " but you do it differently." With your imagination, the finger of God Spirit, you can correctly illustrate images of yourself as a kinder, friendlier, more prayerful, compassionate and patient person. Dwell upon images of yourself with a serious desire that they be realized. Then, let that Holy finger of God's spirit prod you forward into actualizing those mental pictures in your daily life. Remember the Scripture in Habakkuk 2:2-3," write the vision, make it plain" As we create our mental blueprints for personal reform for becoming better and more lovable people it is crucial to remember that is isn't necessary to make ourselves more lovable in order to be acceptable by God.

To be lovingly accepted by God does not require removing a single fault, yet God's love for us urges and enables their removal. But our vision must certainly improve to 20/20 vision Spiritually.Jesus' invitation to discipleship did not require that those who wanted to follow him be sinless, pure, or perfect or have physical sight, such as the man by the pool in Bethesda. Jesus simply says, "believe me" and "follow me ", knowing that in doing so they would be transfigured into beautiful living images of the All Beautiful One. In other words, freedom from sin is a fruit of faithful Christian discipleship, not it's prerequisite. And seeing God's Grace is the epitome of perfect eyesight.

Rx for today: Let your Spiritual eye transform your outlook in the physical.

Day 12

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • 2 Peter: 1:4
  • Gen. 2:7
  • Mark 9:2-10
  • Rom 12:1
  • Daniel 9:3

  Self Care Sunday- Let's Do A Makeover
Well here we are,our 2nd Sabbath or Shabbat. Ready for Worship in our particular places.  We have prepared ourselves to present into His Presence in the sanctuary. We want to go appropriately into the house of the Lord. We do our hair, thoughtfully get dressed and finally become convinced that we're ready. To if not look our best, to look decent and presentable. OH GOD IS DEALING WITH ME RIGHT NOW AMEN!  Anyone that knows me knows that I have way too many clothes!!. A lot!!  Now I'm not bragging, see God is always gonna deal with you first when you represent His Will for your Life to others, Amen.. We are talking about " purging" or "Pharmacon" in this season, so I'm working on my shopping addiction, and getting rid of Alot of things, amen. And address the possible dis ease that may accompany or even be the root of my shopping. I Thank God for His Care, Correction and Conviction And Conversion towards us.

Well, back to the topic at hand. We have to look good, have all the right gear, body right, hair on fleek, right right right…ready for the world! Or are we?...should we even be??
Today we are going  to talk about a craze that has taken over the world. It's really not anything new. It has been "a thing" since the Fall in the Garden and sin came in. Pride!!
 It was prevalent in early Biblical days and down through all historical cultures. It signifies the most sought after elective medical procedures of any type. Physicians that have these type of practices are usually some of the highest paid practitioners in the whole scope of medicine. There have even been accounts in the news and medical journals alike, of people that weren't medically trained or competent where performing procedures sometimes even out of places that were not sterile or made for procedures.
All this is the result of the chase to decline aging and look. Today we are going to talk about "cosmetics."
In Egyptian culture, over 8,000 years ago, these cures included a variety of skin creams and oils rouges for cheeks and coloring tints for skin, lips and hair for use by the living and… for the dead.  And true today, billion dollars companies, pharmacies and drugstores alike have entire departments devoted exclusively to one of the oldest of all healing medicines.. cosmetics. Cosmetics which comes from the Greek word for "skilled in decorating" or medicines, designed to treat the disease of aging and that equally ancient affliction of not being beautiful enough. These disguising ointments attempt to restore what time has stolen youthfulness, sexual vigor, skin tone and hair loss and graying.

Not surprising in ancient times men used cosmetic cures for hair more than women did. There were several Rx's prescriptions for male baldness: a paste of crushed Myrtle berries for instance. Graying hair was treated by wearing a paste of herbs and earthworms overnight!! There was so many more; yellow flower pollen, even gold dust for bleaches In Phoenician to achieve the blind haired culture associated with Greek mythical  heroes like Achilles.
Although in the times of Jesus, who began his Ministry at the ripe old age of 30. Because at that time in Palestine and Jersuleum,it is noted by several resources I used for study, that 75% of the population died by their mid 30's. ( Even though there's scripture that states 3 score and 10).

Those who live beyond that age commonly suffered from tooth loss and a variety of diseases. By the age of 40 90% were dead. It is not noted or even entertained by thought of whether Jesus used cosmetics. But I will venture to say that because of the possibility of sin that stems from that, he would be innocent of that as well.

So one would invoke a picture of the possibility that the Jesus who climbed that high mountain to his "desert cure/retreat" with Peter, James and John could have well been an aged wrinkling graying man.

Yet in the cure and  the mental health break, that he took to get away, to get down inside of himself,and in relationship with God the Father.
He was Transfigured more beautifully,  Gloriously and Majestically tha any youthful golden head Greek god- hero could ever be!  And the scriptures that we hear about Mark 9:2-3, it is just a snapshot of the Heavenly Glory that we should share with the Risen Christ. Or does it have some personal meaning for this life? Everyone suffers from the effects of aging and while cosmetics can hide and reduce these effects is there another art or "skill in decorating?"
Some of us may have planned to spend a quiet day observing the Sabbath, doing nothing practical,  but possibly some self-care that could include a pedicure or manicure, maybe it's a facial or just a long soaking bath. Just to make ourselves feel a little better or maybe we want to get our hair done or get that new set of lashes. Hopefully we're not at that point where we would go for cosmetic surgery, BBL's, nose jobs, skin lightening, etc.  Change your eye color with color contacts when your eye vision is perfect!  All the things that we do to enhance ourselves because we want to OR don't think we fit into the social standards or expectations. People can't take a picture without filter, we don't like natural hair, we tattoo ourselves, we do all those things to enhance ourselves… but we have to know that beauty just isn't skin deep.

Lent is a cosmetic season of beauty, not only from the outside but also the inside. We were made in God's image and the scripture says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our Lenten practices are intended to allow what is inside us to radiate outward as Jesus did when he became a transparent see  through Christ. But we're not God right? True! But thatbdoes not change the glorious image of God that also resides in us. Our body is a temple,holy and acceptable(Rom.12:1) So yes maybe the drooping skin, the silver coming out in the hair, the image that's lost its little luster, the sagging lines to expanding waistlines, just losing shine you think… tarnished by neglect, sins and human frailty. We have to remember not to become prideful in our outward appearance. Although we are made in his image (Gen), that imbibes His God attributes!

In addition from dust..
 Remembering that prayer polishes the soul and a habitual desire for inner beauty causes your soul to shine outwardly and light up your face and add a aura to your being that can only come from the beauty and the holiness of your relationship with your Father God, as He even showed his inner Beauty,Power and Majesty when he revealed himself to Moses (Exod 33). Let your transformation into the glorious Christ not be delayed until your death. Daniel 9:3, And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:"
Let your makeover begin today. Lenten Rx for today; Simply began today to think, to speak and to act as he did and as Bishop James Bryant says," Worship God in the Beauty of Holiness". For that is  a makeover that will be for eternity.

Day 11

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref
  • Exodus 20:8-11
  • Ezek 20: 19-20
  • Ezek. 58: 13-14
  • Heb. 4: 9-11
  • Lev. 26:2
Rx: Ketchup Sunday:  Use God's FMLA

We've all heard the old adage, in the old remedy of "an apple a day will keep the doctor away".

Well today we're not going to talk about the apple we're going to talk about ketchup in a metaphorical term. We'll start with the tomato since we're talking about "ketchup Sunday". We know that the tomato is usually thought of as a vegetable  is well used, and well loved and even the condiment that is made from tomatoes, ketchup is a staple in most American homes. Now we know the tomato is deemed  to have a lot of healing properties. Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant "lycopene", which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a fruit from the nightshade family native to South America.
Despite botanically being a fruit, it’s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable.
They are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
And it's good as it sounds and is the  greatest  on our french fries, this is  not the " catch up" that we are going to dissect today.

Today we examine catch up Sunday. For overworked, busy 24/7 Americans Sunday is usually used as a second Saturday, a catch up day required for mowing a lawn, shopping, cleaning doing the laundry, sports events or just doing what we want to do for pleasure. Regardless of the separation of church and state many Americans probably proclaim that America is a Christian nation. This religious myth is used to defend erecting monuments of the Ten commandments in public places. Yet what best defines America as a Christian nation? Is it having a ten Commandments in our public institutions or having a majority of our citizens faithfully adhere to them? including the third commandment "thou shall keep holy the Lord's Day." Today continues last Saturday's reflection on Lent as a time for healing rejuvenation, of Sunday as a day of leisure and rest. To attend worship for an hour or two  on the first day of the week isn't enough, Lenten resolution should heal our wounds and not just superficially soothe them. Scripture scholars say that worship attendance at the  synagogue during the time of Jesus was not a requirement for the Sabbath, but rest from the work was. The Mosaic Law defined that the way to keep the Sabbath Holy, was by abstaining from labor. Attendance at weekly worship can help us enter into Sabbath the rest, but by itself it doesn't allow the Sabbath curative benefits to take hold. Our Sunday needs to be designed as a lively tonic or Rx to restore the tired and weary. Pharmacies in the ancient world offered various salves and ointments for rejuvenation. A good prescription for sick Sundays is scribbling on your calendar after each Sunday the word Shabbat, making it the hybrid Sunday-Shabbat. In Hebrew, Shabbat means to rest and so the first day of the week would become "Sunday to rest."  After a long week of work following this simple scribbled prescription can help work healing miracles by rejuvenating you personally as well as revitalizing your marriage, family and other relationships. Rest has medicinal power, and rest at home can heal you with the aids of relaxation, reading, enjoying a hobby, or reconnecting with nature. Today's dire poverty of leisure is injurious to the love relationships of friends, spouses, parents, and children, causing each of us to be locked inside our own whirling hamster cages, endlessly running from one thing to another. Yeah for all it's benefits, abstaining from labor on your Sunday Sabbath Shabbat may be as difficult as it is for alcoholics to give up liquor. To help you break your addiction to work, you might begin to think of the Sunday Shabbat as a weekly mini vacation. When you're sick and tired of the old, endless grind with no light at the end of the tunnel feeling, rejoice that God wants to give you 52 weekly free days a year, on top of your annual vacation.
God's own FMLA for His People.

Day 10

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref:
  • Genesis 2:7
  • I John 3:4
  • I Peter 2:24
  • Galatians 5:6
  • Psalm 119:11

"Systemic Ailments"

We all know that there are a myriad of disease processes, conditions and illnesses that beset, affect and infect  the human body. We have infants that are born with congenital birth defects. We have young toddlers that develop cancers, and sickle cell diseases. We certainly know that the older we get, the more that this Temple begins to dissolve, evolve and incur  more aches and pains and/or health problems. There are those problems that are caused in response to the way that we treat our bodies. Some of us mistreat our bodies by doing things or even by not doing things that will enhance our body and health.  And then we have those conditions that come from just having deviant or erratic cells in the body, that begin the sickly declining effect on the body systemically. 
Today we are going to talk about one of those things that are congenital from birth in all of us, and that is simply the "sickness of sin". We know that it first manifested with Eve in the garden and the serpent and that same serpent, that same vehicle for disease, is still seeking to cause dis ease and disease in our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits.

We talked a lot this week about Jesus going off into the wilderness or "wilddeor" a word that comes from Old English meaning "wild animals". 

Mark told us that Jesus was among wild beast and the book of Matthew recounts that in this wilderness he also encountered the devil, the personification of evil. So be prepared in these days of your Lenten retreat for such encounters with the untamed beast and the evil that dwells in you and around you. You are thinking, "did she just say the evil in me?" 

Yes I did, and although I didn't mean to offend you,I want you to find it offensive. I want you to be aware that the perpetual presence of evil in this world is an undeniable reality that reveals it's dark self in our personal sins and is what an author called Peter Gomes calls the "sins of the system."  These communal or cultural sins of a society or nation include war, slavery, legalized racial and sexual discrimination and the ruthless profit-driven exploitation of the poor, migrants and the uneducated. The concept of corporate sin is both ancient and new. Most examinations of conscience dwell only on personal sins and thoughts, yeah, we are also accountable for those actions done in our name as a nation. Vocally denouncing and objecting to immoral national acts and policies certainly reduces our personal moral liability, but to what degree that moral protest absolves us it's something only God can judge. Each citizen of a nation harvests the good or evil seeds that the country sows. 

Sin is sickness, a pestilence that infects both the individual, the community and the whole social system. While our American society may seem like a faceless entity it is composed of individuals with real faces and souls. Just as we are personally responsible for our sins, we are communally accountable for the sins of our nation, especially if we support these sins and the leaders who enact them.  The seven deadly sins listed in the Bible are Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. We were last week encouraged to make a list of our pet faults, confessing and naming our "symptoms". Today make a short list of your pet virtues. The medicinal reason for compelling this brief index of your best qualities is critical since your virtue is the weakest part of your soul's immune system. Being diabolically clever, evil commonly attacks where you are the weakest, which is paradoxically where you feel the strongest and the most virtuous. For example, virtuous weekly Church attendance can reassure us that we are fulfilling our religious duties and so can camouflage our failures and generously caring for the poor and oppressed. Likewise the virtue of patriotism, while praiseworthy as a love for our native country, can easily blind us to the immoral sins of our country, such as war and the ruthless pursuit of financial gain. Similarly, where the virtue of promptness is fertile soil for sins of impatience, anger and resentment. Today,again, let's make a short list of our healthy virtues; then post an alert "Lenten guard" at those unprotected strongholds to guard against sneaky thoughts and attack by the evil one that cause Dis Ease and Disease. We must guard our gates. The procreator of systemic sin is still roaming.. seeking ..whom he may destroy, so we must practice " intensive care" and monitor continuously our vital signs of discernment and the strong medicine of Prayer!  In addition to reading these listed Bible verses about sin, use prayers for strength to rely on God for self-control over temptation. Scripture and prayer are two of our most powerful means to cleanse our hearts and minds of this systemic contagion that potentially affects every fiber of our being and every part of our bodies.

Day 9

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture refs:
  • Matt. 7: 7-13
  • 1 Cor. 16-14, I Cor. 13:13, I Cor. 13: 4-7
  • Coll. 3-14
  • John 15:13
  • I John 4:8
  • 1 Peter 4:8

Rx for today: Do Rounds Daily

One of the things that is important practice in the Health and Healing arts, is collaboration. If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that every morning there is a team of Drs. that come into your room. These people are of different disciplines…depending on what's going on with you, there may be a specialist for that disease process, then the "attending" or the doctor that is in charge, a couple of students and residents. A collage of different people, backgrounds, circumstances, wishes, dreams and hopes. The commonality of it is that they are all there to try to elicit a better outcome for the patient. When these providers encounter patients maybe for the first time with the diagnosis or maybe for the fifth time and the patient is in the mindset of defeat, fright or maybe even anger at the prognosis of what they're going through or just from being tired of being in that environment, so we have to be very careful to be full of empathy, patience and caring; but more importantly the best practitioner or clinician is one who really loves and has a passion for what he is doing.

Mother Teresa, a famous woman who is known for her tender care of India's sick and dying. She  once said "the biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the disease of being unwanted!". Her diagnosis of the world's greatest plague causes us to be Doctors without borders, outside the 4 walls of our worship places and spaces to address and be  healers of a global sickness.

In today's scripture of Matthew 7:7-13, Matthew quotes Jesus saying that all the commandments can be summarized as this;" do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

For disciples of the Healer - Savior, the term "treating" others holds a playful but powerful double meaning. The first meaning is to show others the same behavior as we would want shown to us. A physician's use of the term "treat" adds the sense that we are to attend to each other's wounds, as we would wish to be cared for if we were sick. Let our Lenten reflection for today be to ponder your personal response to Mother Teresa's diagnosis of the world's greatest epidemic who's walking- afflicted you encounter daily. Remember Baptism has made us all Healers through the Power of Jesus Christ.

Dr Jesus used the ancient medicine of love and respect to treat the undesirables who are exiled to the far edges of his society - sinners,prostitutes, tax collectors and the physical as well as the religious lepers that were snubbed by the righteous for their failure to observe every minute religious law. Sick people are contagious, so the seemingly mindful keep a proper distance from them to ensure they don't become polluted with the same disease. Jesus didn't keep such a prophylactic distance from the sickly unwanted ones, nor did he wear plastic gloves while eating with prostitutes to protect his reputation as a Holy man. Being a wise physician of the spirit, he knew the cure worked only by direct, physical, and loving contact. In baptism, through our unity with Christ the Savior, we were anointed as Priest and Prophets and also as Healers. Unlike Jesus as you make your daily rounds you probably might not encounter social religious cast offs, prostitutes or corrupt tax collectors, or HIV/AIDS patient. You will however come into the direct  contact with those who feel insignificant, unwanted or of little value. These are the invisible people; they may be sackers at the grocery store, garbage collectors, the homeless, those on welfare or those that are struggling with mental problems. This sickness of unimportance especially infects teenagers who may lack the gifts of athletic ability, a high IQ, good looks, the newest fashion or even likes on social media. The disease of being unwanted afflicts the elderly in the nursing home and the aged living alone in their homes. On this day and in the coming days of Lent, make it your practice to practice the healing medicine of Jesus and Mother Teresa; LOVE.  While we remember and are Grateful that God Loves(d) us despite our dis ease and disease of having a sin sick nature, remembering the scripture John 3:16, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so those that believe on him , shall not perish, but have everlasting life" No greater Love!!

Reverend Ganaway  always says that "we are love with skin on it" so I say, let's lotion up and show somebody the beauty of the skin of discipleship.

Day 8

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture refs:
  • John 3:5
  • Acts 2:38
  • 1Peter:3:21

Water- God's Transforming Elixir

The RX for today is to Stay Hydrated.

One of the most important things that we can consume to ensure health and a model of homeostasis for our temples(bodies) is simply H2O or more commonly called water.
Did you know that you can live a lot longer without eating solid food than you can live without consuming water? Did you know that the blood that flows through our veins is largely 80 to 90% water? The importance of water in our lives is so much more than people deem it to be. Its transparent appearance masks the wholesome and healing properties that is the composition of H2O.

The significance of water and this days reading will be manifested in "Baptism". Probably the most important encounter we will ever have with water is not one that is the physical intake of water, but the outward expression of the cleansing of the innards and the New Life in Christ.      

Baptism gave birth to the first Lent. After his life altering baptism by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God led and escorted Jesus into the desert to spend the prolonged period of  reflection on what had happened to him and on the task before Him. That same Holy Spirit is eager to lead you into the desert of this Lenten season, where you can pharmaceutically reflect upon your own life changing baptism, whether you were baptized as an infant or an adult.

It would be fair to say that the day of our baptism should be more significant in our lives than the day of a wedding or ordination or any other event of importance that takes place in our lives. Lent should awaken us to our rarely exercised, or even perceived priestly and prophetic anointing as baptized disciples of the risen Christ.

We Glory in the physical ritual dignity of baptism, but the real work is just beginning. It is when we decide to seal our commitment to relationship with Christ and become baptized that the enemy really turns up his war plans and attacks against us. With this knowledge, it should become extremely obvious that every baptized saintly woman or man should be a person of


Urban dwelling disciples today are challenged to create a lifestyle of meditation. The silence of a monastery, or a Zen temple is conducive to meditative prayer. On the other hand, a noisy horn honking traffic jam or a loud workplace is more conducive to "centrifugal" prayer. Unlike centering prayer, where the movie is " centripetal" meaning- inward to encounter the mystery of God, centrifugal prayer spins outward from the center of the self, whirling out into the world like the spiraling arms of an octopus. Centering prayer flows out of the monastery tradition and it's based on the indwelling of the Divine healer. With eyes closed and silently repeating a mantra or focusing affirmative word one strives to empty the mind of all thoughts so as to experience God and the stillness of the present moment. Centrifugal prayer, on the other hand, is based on an equally true reality, the ever-present dwelling of the Divine mystery in all places. In this meditation, we keep our eyes open in order to feel our heart, mind, and soul with the invisible presence of the Divine in which we are being engulfed. In an act of Faith-filled knowledge and trust, we can acknowledge this presence of God with a slight nod or a bow of reverence made to the flat tire or the empty gas gauge or to the traffic jam that's seemingly never to move again or even to the gift of an empty parking space, and many other challenges that we live through daily. Rich and healthy is the person who is able to pray both centering and centrifugal prayer since they perfectly compliment one another. In many ways centering prayer is easier, as a distracting exterior world has been shut out and the voice of God can be heard more clearly. For most of us meditation or centrifugal prayer is more difficult, demanding more faith because the congestion, cacophony and chaotic state of everyday life can easily eclipse the presence of God. Yet both the busy urbanite and the sequestered monk are called to Holiness by union with God in the midst of a daily life, the union that started in the water of the baptismal pool. The good news of the Gospel is that it is just as valid to be a municipal Saint as it is to be a monostatic one.

Just as we have to water ourselves daily to maintain a healthy balance physically in our body, baptism and the constant prayer and communion with God will water and nourish our Spirit and our potential for Spiritual growth will bloom beyond measure, you'll be "planted like a tree by the waters" and be fruitful, whole and Healthier. Remember God first moved on the waters!!

Day 7

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture refs:
  • Isaiah 59:7
  • Lev. 17:11
  • Eph. 1:7
  • Heb 9:14
  • Acts 15:19

Rx for today:
  • A Necessary Blood Transfusion

One fairly common condition of the human body is called anemia. We know that anemia occurs in the blood which is essential for life. This occurs when there is not enough hemoglobin, or the part of the blood that is filled with the nutrients that mixes with the plasma to make the blood a total component. People that have anemia or  people that have been around people that are anemic know that it gives you high fatigue, low concentration and just a general feeling of malice in the entire body.
Many doctors offer and prescribe an array of vitamins and minerals to control this condition which sometimes even goes to the point of a person having to receive a blood transfusion to restore the original homeostasis of the blood that sustains life.

And that is what we are going to focus on today: the "anemia" that is associated with Christian living.

 Just as we stated that anemia lowers your endurance and tolerance, so does the anemic process of a daily prayer and study life. Yesterday we talked about the desert cure experience.
In studies, it is noted that early in the 5th or late in the 4th century, the once heavily emphasized religion of Christianity became anemic as the Roman empire took over and diluted the strong body of Christianity. Those wanting to heal themselves of this lukewarm virus started going out to try to capture the "desert cure" for themselves and retreating to the sandy wilderness of Egypt and Palestine to try to find what Jesus found in his wilderness time. People fled the cities and became nomadic in seeking to rekindle that zeal for the Gospel Holiness. The gospel wilderness medicine worked. As they left as nomads these desert fathers and mothers "purged" themselves of the luxuries and comfort of city life and found God in their solitude and their prayer. Some of their writings became spiritual guides that have lasted through the tradition of Christianity. Sometime later a Saint Benedict of Nursia, who was seeking his desert Holiness, without trying to go out into the wilderness, began what became a movement in the western world of monasticism. The installation of these monasteries allowed for the benefits that could be experienced in the wilderness, inside the walls of a monastery. These were "walled in deserts" that provided sanctuary from the pleasures of the city and the self-limiting conflicts and structures and constructures of the world and family life. It provided a rule of life for those seeking Holiness with set times of communal prayer and work and with fasting, celibacy and bodily penances in moderation.
Monasteries,to this day,  remain the classical model of Prayer in Holiness for religious men and women, for the secular clergy and for many lay people.
Monastic spirituality is a rich, valuable but disciplined way of Holiness, but it is not practical for the generations of today. Daily work schedules and family commitments do not allow for the luxury, oftentimes, of retreating from the daily hustle and bustle to find God in the solitude and meditation that one could provide in a closely guarded seclusion. Since our Jewish ancestors were wandering the desert no man's biblical texts are filled with references to the desert as God's dwelling place. But now our job is to discover God's abiding presence anywhere and everywhere in this busy hectic world. God's presence permeates a noisy bustling marketplace or a loud busy home filled with small children just as much as it does in an isolated wilderness or in a distant monastery.
This is great news since Jesus has affirmed to us that sacred reality. He never calls us to retreat from the desert or the marketplace or the world but medicinally invites us to discover within it the inviting divine presence of God for the reversal of "spiritual anemia", by the Blood that was shed for opportunity to change,recover, be healed and delivered..

Day 6

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture ref
  • Mark 1:12-15
  • James 5:6
  • Psalm 19:14

The Word for today's reading is "Purge" or "Pharmacon"- purification through purging.

We know that traditionally and medicinally the word purge means to rid the body of toxic elements, things that are making us feel bad, things that are unhealthy and uncomfortable to and for our bodies. It is a process that is essential for maintaining health. We know that the urinary process rids our body of toxins through urination and the GI elimination process is through the excretion of feces.

I remember growing up and the purging element for that day was castor oil. Man and we know that it was nasty and bitter,and still is, and even though people try to mix it with honey or other things to make it taste a little more pleasant it is still very hard stuff to swallow. There have been many variations that have tried to make it more palatable. One being a Hungarian immigrant druggist, Max Kiss, in 1905, who created the chocolate flavored medicine that we call Ex Lax, which a lot of people still use today, as well as, the tried and true remedy, castor oil.

Because to be authentic, fruitful and sustaining, Lenten purging of negative habits and addictive behavior can and will be so distasteful, that we often seek easy Ex Lax solutions such as; abstaining from meat on Fridays, not eating pork, fasting from sweets or some other pious practice. To give up cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs, lying, stealing, gossiping, being judgmental or a bevy of other waste products from our lives is difficult.

Pharmacist Jesus, however, after emerging from his desert Lent, was well aware that there was no easy to swallow chocolate covered conversion and so Rx'd the bitter medication of "Reform your lives". He could have added "just as I have reformed my life". Remember after returning to Nazareth from his baptism by John the Baptist and his desert retreat Jesus was a changed man. No longer the quiet village carpenter, he became a Prophet.. powerful in word and deed.

Good physicians take their own medicine!  So what was it that Jesus administered to himself that so radically altered his life? The scriptures are silent. Yet the wilderness may hold the answer to this mystery, for Mark 1:11-12,tells us that in the desert Jesus was with the wild beasts.  He was not in a directed retreat or a targeted therapy session, he read no scriptures or any spiritual books. He didn't listen to gospel music or listen to taped sermons of rabbis. It was just him, solitude and the wild beasts.  Did the silence of solitude purge  him of the continuous noise and idle babbling of his village life? Isn't that what made it possible for him to hear the tiny quiet voice of God speaking within him? And did the abyss of his solitude open his eyes to the presence of the inner beast that he was forced to confront? Being fully human God had to wrestle with human impatience, anger, pride and the hunger for fame or power. Yet wild beasts can be tamed with patience and love, and once they're tame, they can become our powerful allies.

Think about it, sometimes our pets are our best friends.

We would like to avoid this distasteful Lenten laxative of solitude because of what questions and wild beasts we like Jesus may have to confront.

We always, as humans, seek an easy ExLax fix or "purging". Jesus, the pharmacist from Galilee says "Do not be afraid to take this powerful and ancient medicine. I assure you from personal experience that it is a truly excellent cure."

So today we start to behave as our physical elimination systems and mentally and emotionally "take a dump" to purge ourselves of negative thoughts,wild beasts and  internal demons(sin), emptying ourselves, to make room for the new infilling of God's Spirit and Healing virtue.

Day 5

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture references:
  • Mark 1 12-15
  • Luke 4:23
  • Luke 4 1-11

In today's Gospel reading Jesus, led by the  Spirit of God,walks away from his work and responsibilities to take the "desert" cure in Mark 1.

A Palestine proverbs references the scripture in Luke 4:23 where Jesus stated"…Physician heal thyself" then, as on several different occasions, withdrawing into the wilderness we might wonder if Jesus is seeking a healing of desert medicine.

Alone in the desolate and empty wilderness, inhabited by evil spirits, (because remember Satan met him there once) and wild beast, without food and water and stripped of the security of his home, his  mother Mary, his family, the disciples and other companions, God alone became his sustenance!  It appears. that the desert purges Jesus from the infection of self-sufficiency, because from that  time on, God is the sole source of his strength. For Jesus, desert isolation is a pharmacon,there's that word again, remember it means "purification through purging".. as it forces him to confront his utter dependency on God.        

Independence comes only with adulthood and wisdom, and it's a goal we work hard to reach. Young people through the ages have thought or even blurted out "Ican't wait to get grown" or hurry to become adults." We can't wait to be on our own .

Yeah,  independence can be like an eye infection, blinding us to the reality that even our very breath is dependent upon God, the source of all life. Trying controlling and altering your breathing, is doable for a small amount of time, but surely nothing you can consistently regulate to properly sustain your life. God forbid you get busy and forget to take a breath on time!!

 Jesus began his teaching by saying the time is  fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news Mark 1:15. Good doctors take their own medicine and follow their own advice and plan of care. By going into the wilderness and purging himself of his family and village support system, Jesus learned to trust in God as a continually caring, protective and loving parent. We proudly independent people find ourselves purging ourselves of independence painfully difficult and logically ask "isn't there easier way". The answer comes in the words of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher whose favorite response to her objectors was the acronym "Tina" which stood for "There Is No Alternative."

Lent is a "Tina" time. There is no alternative to Jesus's requirements to repent, to turn around and believe in the Good News….that is, if you wish to be his Disciple. Conversion is no 40-day it's exercise.it is a lifetime practice a returning to God / repenting of sin sickness and dis ease that requires an ongoing bit by bit purging of anything else that isn't Godly.

On Ash Friday you were invited to make a list of your pet faults.  Now on this first Sunday of Lent make a list of three self set limitations. These growth  boundaries will illustrate how you've embraced or settled for who you are.. instead of seeking who you can become. Lent is the season of "becoming" and of removing the restrictive boundaries that seriously limit our growth, the fullness of life, the health of our bodies, and the depth of our souls.
On this desert Sunday, we begin purging our faults and limitations as well as those self placed boundaries we have placed on our prayer, our patience, forgiveness, generosity and our care for and love of the poor and disenfranchised. To care for those with spiritual and mental sicknesses as compassionately as we care for those with physical conditions or diseases. We purpose to be healthy, so we call on the Great Healer and follow his  prescribed course of treatment.

Day 4

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scrip. Ref:
  • 58: 13-14

Take this medicine;

Today's message of clarity that I am trying to convey includes a topic that I always make mention of when talking about health, being healthy and taking care of our Temple, is one of DIS  EASE versus DISEASE. This is the precursor of the manifestation of disease processes that happen in our body. So today the "sign" or direction is :
"Take this medicine on Sunday."

Now we know that any prescription that you receive from a doctor has a label that tells you when and how to take the medicine for maximum effect and efficacy. The bitter medicine for today Lenten prescription can be summed up in one simple word. SABBATH. The Sabbath which God created as the day of relaxation and leisure as God intended, but lowly understood by many, Sabbath in the original form of God's intention ranked as one of the most superior medicines of the ancient world and still is. But in the day that we live in now and this hurried hectic flurry of activity that we call living, where the work schedules and the social obligations and the various church  activities and athletic events, our schedules and planners and reminders create vacuums of unfinished tasks that often make our Sundays into work days so that we can try to accomplish all that we think is necessary and has to be done.

It has been shown in numerous studies that Americans work many more hours per year than the average person of many other countries and communities. We also suffer significantly more from cardiac arrest cancers, mental health and stress related issues than do other people in those communities.

In the time of the Israelites the Sabbath was celebrated by a sort of weekly 4th of July holiday type event that reminded them that before their Exodus they had been Egyptian slaves, forced to hard labor endlessly 7 days a week. No, if we're looking for a good Lenten Rx here are the directions.. every tomorrow and every Lenten Sunday will be a real Sabbath, prescribed to do nothing practical or non God driven tasking. The unrelenting stress and tension that causes many of our psychological and physical sicknesses could find a cure in a weekly holiday free from work, a true Sabbath day of rest. Today's reading Isaiah quotes "God if you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holiday, if you call the Sabbath a delight then you shall take delight in the Lord.( Isaiah 58 13- 14).

We also know in scripture in Psalm 37 that the Lord says.. delight yourself in him and he will give us the desires of our hearts,  and I believe we all truly desire to be whole and  healthy. And those that delight God by sharing bread with the hungry and observing a Sabbath are promised the following medicinal cures; Isaiah 58:11," the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your need in parched places and make your bones strong and you shall be like a water garden, like a spring of water who's waters never fail."

In America we have the FDA who  regulates and governs medicines and has control over substances that big pharma introduces to us for health, Rx'd  actively and proactively, and they may question with their capitalism the claim that a Sabbath can truly bring health, but we know that this prescription bears the gold seal of a Divine guarantee because it was given by the Healer himself God.    

A symptom of Sabbath dis ease is  that restlessness,  always having to be productive or doing busy work will catch up and you'll find your wellsprings bone dry, and finding yourself not able to accomplish what you want, as hard as you try.. and becoming drained and having the relentless pressure of constantly working, whether you're at home at your job or just finding something to keep your time occupied. All that siphons away Life giving resilience and creates a joyless desert in life and in love making and love sharing. Healing is found in a weekly vacation day of leisure. Still, while clearly medicinal, many will find a weekly day of leisure to be more of a curse than a blessing and most would say that it is impossible. Yet some healing is better than no healing, so seriously considered taking this Lenten Rx…

Take at least a half a dose of Sabbath once a week and begin this healing medicine tomorrow!

Day 3

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture references
  • Mark 2:17
  • Isaiah 58 6- 87
  • Habbuk 2:2-3
  • Matthew 5:14


As a healthcare provider and nurse for over 40 years one of the things that I always say to my patients when they come in for an appointment, arrive at  the ER,whatever situation they're in.." you have to tell us what's wrong with you". You have to let us know your symptoms. Your body lets us know when something is out of whack, when things are not in alignment. If that is not conveyed to the doctor or the "Healer", then how to best treat you and tailor the best or correct treatment., one that will facilitate healing, with be diminished and likely less effective. Like untreated symptoms that almost always sneak up on you and we're always totally unprepared for the culmination of these things. Dis Ease or diseases sneak up on us as our lives are crowded with work, social activity, social media and are cluttered with commitments, and as a result we're usually unprepared for the soul work of these 40 days.

So like a doctor would when writing you a physical prescription for medication or a remedy..on this first Friday of Lent let's take a paper and pen and make a list of your "symptoms" or faults/vices. We can coin it a "spiritual health" self-examination… to list those personal faults or symptoms that you treat with affection or complacency or comfortability instead of with discipline, chastisement, fortitude and steadfastness.

Jesus had said " those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do " (Mark 2:17).

If you're not sick you don't need the Healer and you don't need Lent! This year instead of simply falling back on the usual Lenten act of fasting or attending services or devotions, decide to treat yourself with healing discipline of your pampered faults / symptoms. Turn every pet vice inside out and upside down, treat your illness by doing the opposite of what the flesh cries out to do. If you're so cautious with your money as to be stingy and be proud of it, then your healing prescription is to exercise large doses of generosity as a Lenten work. If you enjoyed yourself pamper yourself and protect yourself from the outcast, the hungry, and the homeless and downtrodden, you might volunteer to serve a meal at a soup kitchen.

Just like a hospital or nursing care center Lent is only for the sick! So if your paper of symptoms is empty, ask someone with whom you live or work to help you name your symptoms since sometimes there eyesight is better than ours. As we examine our thoughts and symptoms and reflect on possible prescriptions and medication choices, include the five famous works of God's scripture reading today from Isaiah 56: 8- 87 and partly it reads…" is this not the fast that I choose to lose the bounds of Injustice to undo the thongs of the yoke to let the press Go free and to break every yoke is it not to share your bread with the hungry and to bring the homeless poor into your house?" Now Isaiah ended that scripture with what would constitutes the type of fasting that God truly desires by speaking like a doctor. He says that when you care for the poor, the hungry and the needy, that your light will break forth like the dawn and your wound will be quickly healed.    
The mysterious wound of which Isaiah speaks is that what's most cries out to be healed in each of us. Time release medicine is often prescribed today. It may be that Jesus the mystic Physician, The Honorable Healer performs the time release healing of our mysterious wounds,  a cure that we only become aware of after we die and glorification. But even if we are not fully aware of our healing until heaven, let us practice faithfully our Lenten prescriptions so that the hidden light breaking forth within all of us will heal our wounds.

Remember the scripture, Matt. 5:14,  that says let our light be like a city on the hill …so that our healing start to bring forth and manifest the healing of the wounds of others, so that we can become truly healthy, saved and the glorious family (Church) that God designed us to be;  Healthy and Whole + Wholly Healthy = Holy.

Day 2

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Scripture references
  • Mark 8:34
  • Ezekiel 9:4

Yesterday we explored the symbolism of ashes as the start of the Lenten season. But the real sign or significance of Lent is not the ashes, but the cross. The cross that is symbolized as Jesus' last place or space occupied physically before the conclusion of his crucifixion.

The Roman soldiers had constructed  and reserved the wooden cross, an instrument of horrible and unbearable pain and shame, as capital punishment for the lowest criminals, revolutionaries, and terrorists.  

However,  one of the things that Jesus has echoed as a challenge to each of us is that" if any man wants to follow me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8: 34). As a matter of record, it is at five different times in the Bible that Jesus tells us, his followers to "take up our crosses". Now it's hard to imagine that he would have had more than a mere handful of followers back in that time if they actually thought that he was referring to the Roman cross that symbolized excruciating pain.

In research and studying for this, it is thought that through scripture, scholars believed that Jesus was speaking of a cross other than the Roman cross. There is mention of a curative property of the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Tau , a letter shaped like our English letter T.

 Jewish tradition points to that at The Exodus, the Israelites traced the sign of the Tau or letter T in lambs blood on their door post as a symbol of God's protection and life. We remember that, in Exodus, where the death angel flew over those homes that were marked with the Lamb's blood in that manner.

The prophet Ezekiel said that those whose foreheads were marked with the Tau will be strengthened to remain faithful through the harsh difficulties of the end times. Those who protectively signed themselves with the Tau cross were already prophetically living in the New Reign of God.

But Jesus later transformed the Roman cross, the wooden cross he carried and upon which he hung, bled and died into a Tau cross, a cross of blessing, healing,  protection, salvation and opportunity for eternal life and fellowship with God. Today when Jesus invites us to take up our crosses and follow him… when we are asked to embrace some painful personal difficulty in our lives, we can do so in a radically new and pharmaceutical way.

The Tau cross was a powerful healing sign of God and liberated us from bondage of sin into the grace of endurance, and from the difficult End times, and into the glorious freedom of those already living in the Reign of God.

We use the proverbial Tau as we worship, as we pray, Bishop Bryant performs the Tau cross on our foreheads every Sunday to bring us together and into worship, in Christ, on one Accord. We trace the sign in a difficult situation, sometimes when we feel like throwing in a towel or we're just making a statement. During this Lenten season, let us use this potent, virulent and healing sign of the cross whenever we're tempted to abandon our Lenten resolutions because they seem too different or difficult…or to help keep us focused on the ones that we are creating to make us more Spiritually fit.

For today and the rest of our Lenten season, let us use this prescription of making a Tau cross as a full body ritual. Let's begin at the point not on your forehead, but at the top of your chest near your heart, then move down to your waist, then from shoulder to shoulder. All of us probably have a cross in our home or prayer space, let's let our cross remind us daily of Ezekiel's prophecy, that those who wore the sign were living ahead of their time.

Let's let our cross challenge us to live fearlessly with the uncommon and Blessed awareness of one for whom the radical new age the Kingdom of God has already arrived

Day 1

By Rev. LaDonna Cartwright
Today your Lenten pharmacy offers the remedial application of inert grade ashes. Although we here at, and in the Church, are very familiar with them and the annual administration of ashes applied to our foreheads in the  sign of the Cross,  we know that ashes are not normally used as a medicine, the seemingly useless residue of a fire warrant a closer look as a possible pharmaceutical treatment.

For the ancients, ashes symbolize what results when the life - fire has departed from the body. This dark image of death was reflected in the ritual words used Upon administering blessed ashes in ages past:
"pulvis es, in pulverem reverteris" - dust thou art, and  into dust thou shall return.
Lent itself was originally a penitential season of reconciliation with the church - ashes and sackcloth being the visible signs of repentant centers who were seeking public reunion with the church. Along with fasting, ashes were sign of mourning and grief at times of death. In times of disaster, they served as physical offerings of supplication to God. Christian ascetics used to sprinkle ashes on their food to indicate their total disdain for the pleasures of the body. The ancient Mayans of Central America used ashes as an inoculation against disease, much like a flu shot. In planting corn, they mixed in ashes to protect their seeds from blight and rotting.
Now, you are not such a sinner seeking public reconciliation and hopefully, Prayerfully not, but quite possibly you are not in mourning for  the death of a loved one, so how can today's ashes be your medicine for you? You can start by letting today's ashes vaccinate your seeds of reform against the maggots of "" tomorrowitis", that procrastination fungus that proposed a reform of life until next year's LENTEN season, New Year's resolution or even until your deathbed. The pharmacist healer, Jesus says to all those suffering from lethargic encephalitis, the deadening inflammation of the brain that is so common in our culture: "stay awake". Seek healing this very day, for you do not know if you will be alive tomorrow. Now is the hour to awaken.

Ashes are also an ageless remedy for sickly prayer. Abraham, of old practice this prayer remedy when he said " let me take it upon myself to speak to my lord, I who am but dust and ashes", Genesis 18:27. When daring to beg favors from the undying fountain of Mercy, Abraham laced his humble prayer with the ashes of his own grave. Lying in the dust of one's death-rest is an antidote to the hubris and hyperactivity that mark our contemporary and chaotic way of life. Praying from such a position of humility deals with the soul with true justification,- just as it  did for the tax collector praised by Jesus in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:13,... the tax collector, standing afar off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

Here is a good Ash Wednesday prescription slowly read aloud this parable of Jesus found in Luke 18:9-14. Because of infirmity, family obligations or work related responsibilities, you may not be able to go to church today and be marked with ashes. But do not let that prevent you from being touched by this powerful ancient medicine. All the Earth is Holy Land and it's soil is blessed. So place a small pinch of dust or dirt in the palm of your hand and use it to trace upon yourself the sign of the cross, a sign of death that leads to new life, as you prayerfully ask God to heal you.

Let us pray…

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