We live in a culture bent on definitions of a good life as continuous upward mobility–climbing ladders of prosperity with increasingly fabulous experiences that we can post to ever-more-likable social media accounts. We may comb the shelves of the self-help section in search of just the right formula to gain success. Perhaps we even gravitate towards spiritual leaders who promise great rewards if we only do “the right thing.” But life happens, right? Most times we are not moving upward but trying to repair the rung we’ve just slipped from. So what if we stopped climbing and started fertilizing, watering, and blooming right where we find ourselves? Welcome to a Lent of affirming a faith in which we are blessed, regardless, and where we can lean into embracing our “good enough” lives.
A Note from Dr. Marcia McFee, WDS Creator and Visionary:
We are all still in the midst of a great disturbance from “the way we imagined life to be" (pandemic and more). My prayer is that this resource–both the worship series and the book–will be salve for our frustrated selves, inviting us to embrace the imperfections of life and faith, knowing that we are never alone.
I love the wit and humor in these devotions–deep truths that hit home for me around my own struggles with living this “good enough” life and the overwhelming grace at not being perfect. Kate and Jessica’s faith shine through in these pages. They allow us to see their own misgivings and imperfect spiritual practices and in doing so, invite us to honesty and compassion for ourselves and others. What a gift. Your individuals and small groups will love it (bulk order pricing available from the publisher). Click the image of the book to find out more about it and read on to see more about the worship series I've created in collaboration with Kate and "Team Everything Happens."
Blessing for a Joyfully Mediocre Journey
"Blessed are you who realize there is simply not enough–time, money, resources.
Blessed are you who are tired of pretending that raw effort is the secret to perfection.
It's not. And you know that now.
Blessed are you that need a gentle reminder that, even now, even today,
God is here, and somehow, that is good enough."
- from Good Enough: 40’ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie. Pre-order this book for your small groups and individuals now as an accompaniment to this worship series at www.katebowler.com/goodenough.
Materials Included in the Series
Here's what comes with the purchase of the "Good Enough" worship series:
Scriptures and Synopses for Each Week
Based on RCL, Year C
Thank you - Marcia McFee, Worship Design Studio
Ash Wednesday: "Perfectionism is impossible. Transformation isn't."
Jesus used the word “hypocrite” to describe those who put on airs in public to make people believe that they were holy, that their religious practice was… well… perfect. But their hearts were actually not in the practice, rather in the rewards that public approval could bring them–which is here today, often gone tomorrow. Sometimes it is life itself that robs us of the shiny, perfect life that we had planned for ourselves. A diagnosis. A broken heart. A lost opportunity. This Lent, rather than change for “the best,” we’ll seek to gain momentum one day at a time, “to reach for a faith that is never perfect, but good enough” (Bowler/Richie).
- Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 (Jesus' Do's and Don'ts for Fasting and Prayer)
Lent 1: "Ordinary lives can be holy."
We find ourselves hungry for many things that we believe will bring us satisfaction. The devil lays a bet that Jesus will jump at the chance for glory, fame, and the quick fix. Who wouldn’t? But Jesus keeps up the pithy one-liners long enough that the Tempster just has to slink away. What are the temptations that catch your ear, singing out promises that your life should be more special than it is? What if ordinary life is already holy–as is?
- Luke 4: 1-13 (Jesus is Tempted in the Wilderness)
Lent 2: "So much is out of our control."
Even Jesus got dang frustrated when folks didn’t behave as he would have liked. We probably aren’t receiving death threats from Herod as Jesus was, but our wellbeing could be threatened by the idea that if we just try hard enough, are nice enough, say just the right thing, life will always go our way. We run around in so many directions, trying to herd the chicks into some imagined semblance of perfect formation (have you ever tried to herd chicks?). What if we could let go of needing all things and all people to be “just so” and instead learn to dance with the unfolding of that which is not ours to control?
- Luke 13: 31-35 (Jesus Mourns over Jerusalem)
Lent 3: "Lots of things can be medicine."
Oh, the shame of the unproductive fig tree. Cut it down! Make room for a more dedicated and hard-working fig tree! Who among us is living up to our fullest potential? The productivity experts these days can diagnose what’s wrong and sell us the antidote in 3 amazing sessions for a low-low price that is guaranteed to turn our lives around. But the gardener offers an alternative medicine–nurture it slowly, letting it soak in the manure all around until it can get the good stuff out of it. Lying fallow and getting fertilized with laughter and tears at the crappy stuff of life can help heal what ails us and that is sometimes productive enough.
- Luke 13: 1-9 (The Parable of the Fig Tree)
Lent 4: "We often believe we are the problem."
The Prodigal Son lives high on the hog and then famine strikes in the land of his dream vacation. And so he heads home, tail between his legs, expecting that he has lost it all. To his surprise, his extravagant failure is met with extravagant love and grace. We can be pretty hard on ourselves when things don’t go as planned. Guilt, shame, and fear of being seen as a failure can leave us wallowing in the pig pen. Our delusions of a perfectible life keep us disappointed in ourselves. Truth is, life is a big ole risk every single day and facing whatever each day holds is not only good enough, but worthy of love and grace.
- Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32 (The Parable of the Prodigal Son)
Lent 5: "We are fragile."
Jesus speaks the words no one wanted to admit: he was not always going to be around. “Oh, don’t say that,” so many of us have said to a loved one who speaks the truth about the fragility of life. Perhaps we get uncomfortable because it reveals the precious nature of the present moment, laying bare the beauty and horror of it all. The indescribable pain we know we will one day face invades our senses like a pervasive perfume, inescapable. What if we stopped denying the limited nature of our lives and breathed in deeply the fragrance of vulnerability?
- John 12: 1-8 (Mary Anoints Jesus with Costly Perfume)
Lent 6: "You are a group project."
Jesus orchestrated a low-budget parade into a city where he knew his days were numbered. “Get me a colt,” he said. Not a steed. Not a float. A young, green donkey (not the color, that’s horse-speak for not-ridden-alot-yet). And folks gathered and his friends started some liturgical shouting that ticked off the local priests. Life is hard and we all need friends and sometimes big, loud, praying that will not be messed with. We are created for interdependence. So all our hiding and pretending that we are “perfectly fine” all on our own just won’t work. Get on the donkey when you need to and let people lay down their cloaks for you and make some noise for you. ‘Cause you know you’ll do it for them too when the chips are down.
- Luke 19: 28-40 (Jesus Enters Jerusalem)
Maundy Thursday: "We are blessed, regardless."
The mid-20th century brought a particular shift as televangelists began to speak of blessing as a “pact” with God in which our good works (mostly our good wallets) would multiply the prosperity in our lives. But for Jesus, this moment in the Upper Room was full of trouble, danger, deception, and uncertainty. Surely Jesus, Son of God, had enough blessing capital to out-maneuver this set of circumstances! In the midst of the pain of his moment, Jesus defines the real blessing pact–washing feet, breaking the bread, lifting the cup, sharing even with those who are about to betray him. Love that cannot be quantified reminds us that each and every person is blessed, always, regardless of who we are, how we’ve failed, or what we’ve accomplished.
- John 13: 1-17, 31b-35 (The Last Supper)
Good Friday: "Even today, God is here and somehow, that is good enough."
Some days are just lousy and that doesn’t even begin to cover it. The first recorded use of "guode friday” was in the South English Legendary, a text from 1290. Calling a day “good” was a way to denote a time of holy observance, not judge it as a pretty solid “8” on the scale of fabulousness. What if even our lousiest days could be experienced as a holy observance of the reality that this is life? Perhaps the “good news” in the midst of the devastation is that God is buried with us in our deepest pain, wrapping us, holding us until we can move through that birth canal once again into renewed life.
- John 18: 1-19;42 (The Death of Jesus)
Easter: "A Good Enough Faith"
Easter is tricky when it comes to faith. We come for the happy ending–the “and then they lived happily ever after.” The resurrection story proclaims hope over despair and life over death, yet we know that life continued, and continues for us, as a story of spiking heartbreak moments that are not forever fixed. The nature of being created for love is that we will always hunger for more, that there is never enough life and love to satisfy. And endings are often too soon. But perhaps a good enough faith is one that moves through the chronic nature of being incurably human with an eye for resurrection moments that assure us that this good enough life is worthy of our amazement.
- John 20: 1-18 (The Resurrection of Jesus)
Watch the Get-Ready Webinar!
Wondering if this series is right for your community and want to "see" what's in it?
Watch the recording of our get-ready webinar all about "Good Enough"! This is a great opportunity to get a birds-eye view of all the materials included in the package, and tune into the flow of the order of worship as designed in the scripts. Of course you will be able to tweak the materials as needed for your church's individual context.
Anchor Image: Repurposed Ladders
As described in the series synopsis, we are focusing on easing our obsession with the incessant need in our society to always be achieving "more, higher, and better" as a measure of worthiness. So we are drawing on some wonderful visual ideas for turning "ladder-climbing" into "garden-nurturing!" This will be a fun and provocative project for offering this visual narrative in your worship spaces, outside the church for the public, and perhaps even in your homes! See our Pinterest board HERE.
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