things are (not) as they should be


Lent is a season that invites us to reflect, for forty days, on the truth of our broken world and our sinful lives so that we can enter into honest and full repentance. It is a journey we take BOTH individually and collectively. Lent invites us to a reflect on our world and on ourselves in a way that is not always easy or pleasant, but when done honestly, allows us to a more complete understanding of Easter joy.

This year at Good Shepherd our Lenten theme is “things are (not) as they should be”. This truth is something we experience throughout our lives in variety of ways. It can be true of a particular situation – a broken relationship, a wounded body, an inflicted injustice, a hard circumstance.

Things are not as they should be - we know that in our mind and feel it in our hearts.  Despite the beauty and the blessedness in our lives and in this world, things are not fully as they should be. God’s good intention for creation has been disrupted and the results of that disruption occur within and around us.

During this Lenten season we will reflect, pray, study, and worship as people who are well aware and unflinchingly engaged with this reality. Our weekly Bible readings will guide our understanding of what our response is when “things are not as they should be.”

Worship Opportunities


Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m.

Holden Prayer

During Lent, we will once again offer a midweek worship service. This contemplative worship service will feature Marty Haugen’s “Holden Evening Prayer” while we continue to explore our theme: “Things are not as they are supposed to be” through music, scripture, reflections and prayer. Join us Wednesdays at noon at the Madison Campus for in-person worship or join us online at 6:30 p.m. (broadcasting the noon service). March 9, 16, 23, 30 and April 6.

Lenten Devotionals

Speaking of Lent

By Eric Holmer | April 7, 2022

Earlier this week, Good Shepherd members gathered in person and online for a meditative reflection on our shared journey through Lent. Using the Lenten lectionary readings as our guide, we…

Lent and letting go of loss

By Emma Conway | March 30, 2022

It had been a weekend. One of those weekends that were incredible, empowering, life-giving and exhausting all at the same time. After falling asleep at 7 p.m. the night before,…

Even in darkness

By Communications Team | March 24, 2022

Not all is as it seems. When you think about it, that is what living a life with faith is all about. So many of us struggle with this every…

Be willing to wait

By Communications Team | March 15, 2022

I’m not particularly good at waiting. And I know I’m not the only one. The pace of our digital age makes waiting all the more difficult. With lightning-fast internet and…

Celebrating Life

By Communications Team | March 9, 2022

Greg Meyer shares part of his story to kick off our Lent Devotionals for 2022, which focus on how things are (not) as they should be.

Weekly Themes & Readings

Week One
Jesus is tempted
in the wilderness

We go to Scripture

Luke 4:1-13

Temptation (and evil) lurks in this world asking us to surrender our identity, our relationships, our core beliefs in order to gain power, security, glory.

This is not as it should be – so we go to scripture to remind us, to recover us, to strengthen us.

This is not as it should be – God’s power is found in God’s word! God’s promises are true!

Week TWO
Jesus weeps
for Jerusalem

We lament. We do not despair.

Luke 13:31-35

People. Place. Worship. Structure. All of this is a part of God’s interaction with God’s people…and it is corrupted and twisted. The desire to gather and love has been spurned. God’s people have behaved badly towards God’s message and messengers…and so Jesus.

This is not as it should be – Jerusalem was meant to be a holy city. A holy people.

This is not as it should be – and yet, Jesus doesn’t despair, he laments and he moves forward in his restoration.

The Parable of
the Fig Tree

We wait.

Luke 13:1-9

There is bad fruit in the world. We seek to understand our world on false and easy understandings of good and bad – assigning God to our own goods and blaming/dismissing others.

This is not as it should be – we wait. We spread agents of growth and goodness and we see if what appears bad or dead cannot once again bring life.

This is not as it should be – God bring life from death and in unexpected places.

The Return of
the Prodigal Son

We turn around.

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Our own choices set us off on journeys of separation, violation, hedonism. Our own choices also keep us from entering into joy, from receiving what is offered us, from knowing our own value.

This is not as it should be – we turn around. And in turning around we meet the God who is already on his way to us.

This is not as it should be – God is already on the way to us – with open arms.

Jesus is Anointed
by Mary

We participate extravagantly 

John 12:1-8

At the banquet, Mary follows her knowing and understanding of what Jesus has been saying about himself and spends extravagantly and behaves shockingly by washing Jesus feet with her hair and expensive oil.

This is not as it should be – it would look wrong, it would look ridiculous, it was coming from a woman (and there’s a lot to unpack there).

This is not as it should be – Death is coming to the one who is expected to the be the Messiah.

This is not as it should be – Jesus acknowledges her gift, honors her knowing, surrenders again to his mission.

This is not as it should be – we give. We  love extravagantly. We bet it all on the one who gave it all.

Holy Week

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