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Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 19

Sunday, March 7 – Written by Rev. Maya Landell

Your Secret Life Matthew 6:1-18

Photo credit: Dale Kucharczyk

I wonder who you follow online, whose life you have a window into through Facebook or Instagram. I have spent the past year offering daily messages online through the Islington Facebook Page — a moment of offering honesty, hope and encouragement. Viewers also get a glimpse into our life as a family, the thoughts and feelings that are a part of each day, and the cross-section of my roles as Lead Minister at Islington United Church: pastor, preacher, teacher, caregiver, worship coordinator, and staff team leader.

Whether or not you have an online presence, we all have a public face we show others, and one we may keep to ourselves — an inner world of thoughts, feelings and experiences. You can make a list of similar things in your own life: what people might know and what they might not know. I wonder what we would leave off our lists — our spiritual practices, the things we do when other people aren’t around, the parts of who we are that we don’t talk about.

Jesus calls us to reflect on our actions of giving, fasting and praying — practices of faith that we don’t have to “post, tweet, share or compare.” These practices of faith and prayer sustain us through the ups and downs of each day, each season, each life experience.

It was helpful for me to reflect on how paying attention to this allows us to be the change we want to see in the world. I spend a lot of time wanting things to be changed, but not as much time embodying it. Brian D. McLaren writes, “If you want to see change in the outside world, the first step is to withdraw into your inner world. Connect with God in secret, and the results will occur ‘openly.'” (pg. 136, We Make the Road by Walking).

That sounds like a great challenge for a Sunday, for Sabbath. Let’s pause and reflect on this call to practices of faith that lead to the integrity and congruency of our secret lives.

I invite you to pray this prayer with Christians around the world, in the language of your heart, to the one who loves us like a mother and walks with us like a brother:

Our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kin-dom,
the power and the glory,
forever and ever,