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by Susan Russell

Episcopal Relief and Development, our great global partners in ministry, publish a book of Lenten Meditations every year and I was honored to be asked to contribute one for this year’s edition. Sharing it here today as we prepare to gather as God’s beloved on this Maundy Thursday — the feast of the new commandment of love for the whole human family. 

A world in need now summons us
to labor, love, and give;
to make our life an offering
that others too may live.

This quote from the hymn we frequently use as the Presentation Hymn always takes on a deeper meaning for me during Holy Week. For as we journey with Jesus toward Jerusalem, we know it is a journey that leads to a cross on a hill and to the ultimate self-offering of the One who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to love one another.

And as we consider that cross, that self-offering and our response to it, I hear Sister Joan Chittister’s challenge to “go through life reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again.” None of us can do it all. But every single one of us can do an inch.

For the world in need that summons us – yearning for hope, for peace, for justice, for healing – is the garden God charges us to tend as stewards of creation; as beacons of God’s love and compassion. It is where we are called to make our lives offerings that others too may not just live but live abundantly. It is where we are challenged to work together to heal a hurting world.

Because the second half of the hymn verse is this: “the Church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come true: a world redeemed by Christ-like love, all life in Christ made new.” A hurting world healed: an offering at a time; an inch at a time.

As we journey with Jesus toward Jerusalem, what inch can you reclaim today?