Lent Services and Devotions


As we journey through Lent together, we can take comfort and draw hope from  Lamentations 3:25-26:

‘The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.’ As we reflect and repent, may we find solace in patiently seeking God’s goodness and salvation.


Join us for Lent as we gather for meaningful worship and reflection. Each week, we invite you to participate in our Lenten services at Wall Street Church and delve deeper into the Lenten experience.  Follow the weekly Lent devotions on our Posts, in Wall Street Church News , or on Facebook


During Lenten services, we come together to contemplate the significance of Lent, to acknowledge our humanity, and to seek God’s grace and mercy. Through prayer, scripture, and fellowship, we are reminded of the profound sacrifice of Jesus  and the opportunity for renewal that Lent presents.



Our Lenten devotions, written by Catherine Cavanagh, D.Min D, offer a guiding light throughout the week, providing scriptures, reflections, and prayers to accompany you on your spiritual journey. Whether you’re seeking solace, seeking guidance, or seeking connection, you’re invited to join us as we walk this path together.


Wall Street Church Lent Devotional Series

Reflection for Holy Week


March 27 2024, C Cavanagh, D. Min


In the summer of 2012, on my first day in Israel and Palestine I struggle to follow my group through the heat and jet lag out the Lion’s Gate in the ancient wall of Jerusalem, then down the steep sunbaked road and finally across the valley to Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives.

Stepping into the olive grove, I am hit by a sense of coolness and shelter. The peace emanates from the olive trees themselves, wafts around tall evergreens, and wraps itself around me in this sacred place. After two thousand years, the Mount of Olives still provides a quiet counterpoint to the sandstorm of Jerusalem’s history. I sink down at the foot of a tree, drinking it in. 

Gethsemane is where Jesus came to pray and seek strength just before his arrest, just before the end.  He spends his last free moments not with people but with trees and rocks and earth.

Humans can be fickle after all.  It is in Gethsemane that Jesus asks his friends to stay awake and they cannot.  It is here that he prays until the sweat falls like blood to the ground.  It is here that he resolves one last time to continue on the path of love that he has chosen, and here that he tells his followers to put down their swords rather than abandon the principles of compassion he taught them. 

Mostly humanity fails Jesus over and over again during Holy Week.  Not just the Roman occupiers who say they have the right to kill him as occupiers always do, but everyone.  Judas betrays him, Peter abandons him, Pilate condemns him, the crowd calls mindlessly for his death and the soldiers just follow orders. Humanity still often fails God.  In our conflicts, wars, environmental destruction, greed, complacency and fear we betray a God who calls us to love, welcome, protect, and speak for truth and peace not just for each other but for the wider world as well.  

But humanity does not entirely fail Jesus on Holy Week.  Veronica washes Jesus’ face.  Simon carries the cross.  And Mary and John stand together at its foot right until the end.  The question Holy Week leaves us with then is whether we too will have the courage to step into the maelstrom and witness to God’s love, peace and justice in a conflicted but still beautiful and sacred world. 


On Friendship

Week 6, March 20 2024, C Cavanagh, D. Min


Slowly now, we approach Jerusalem, following Jesus in our journey through Lent.  Next weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, the remembrance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, hailed and adored by crowds so glad to see him that they line the path before him with palms.  Crowds that will nevertheless desert him once he is arrested. 


How steadfast are we to our friends?  How far will we go to support them?  Are we there only for the celebrations, or will we stay nearby when challenges arise?  When Jesus says to his disciples to pray that they not be tested, he speaks words of profound wisdom. 


Palm Sunday reminds me that friendships are covenants not to be easily discarded.  We revel in our friendships at weddings, baptisms, parties, celebrations.  We lean on our friends at funerals, during job losses, through heartbreaks, and in ill health.  While friendships may stumble at times, if we persevere, seeking to emulate Jesus’ steadfast and persistent love for us, we reap the benefits of enduring affection, support, laughter and honesty.  Friendship expands and solidifies through the threads of old conversations, new memories, fresh wit, and faithful companionship.

In the presence of a good friend, we find the God within, the Spirit that binds humanity to each other.  This treasure, beyond what the eye can see or the ear can hear, deep within our hearts, gives interest and meaning to our lives.  Friends help us unravel the complicated textures of our lives to find the worthwhile, the essential, the true.

In the coming week, we will reflect on Christ’s friendship with us, built on a love that goes deeper and farther than any we can imagine.  It’s a love we try to emulate in our human relationships.  And while we may falter in our friendships at times, we know that Christ’s love goes all the way to the cross for us, every time, for all time. 


Examination of Conscience

Week 5, March 13 2024, C Cavanagh, D. Min


The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities. 

Psalm 103: 8-10


The part I find most trying during Lent is not giving something up.  It’s not spending more time in reflection and prayer.  It’s the examination of conscience, dragging up from the depths the things I’ve done that I’m ashamed of and would rather forget.


Regret for past mistakes can be one of the most challenging emotions to deal with.  Guilt often pairs with grief, trampling the soul at unexpected moments and refusing to give way to peace. But if we are to settle our hearts and minds then instead of either looking away from our errors or wallowing in them or rationalizing them, Lent invites us to set aside some time to prayerfully seek them out, knowing that there is nothing we can have done that can’t be forgiven.

You may have read some version of the following before, but it does help to remember that the people in the bible were sinners like we are, and yet each of them was beloved of God:

  • Noah was a drunk
  • Abraham was a polygamist
  • Jacob was a liar
  • Moses was a murderer
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • David was an adulterer and a murderer
  • Paul was a bystander
  • Peter denied Jesus

We can only go forward when we know where we’ve gone wrong.  After a quiet examination of our conscience we can ask ourselves what actions could be taken to repair any harm we may have caused.  We might try to reconcile with those with whom a relationship has been broken.  We might think about how we can change whatever behavior needs changing with the help of others.  And then we can pray for forgiveness knowing that God will never withhold it from us. 


Then let it all go. If you can’t, speak to a pastor or counselor to help you on your way.   It’s important to know that whatever regrets weigh you down, you are forgiven.  You are loved.  You are a child of God.  



The Other Forty Days

Week 4, March 6, 2024, C Cavanagh, D. Min


Jesus’s forty days in the desert faces some competition for the title of best known ‘forty days’ scripture story.  Chief among the challengers is of course the story of Noah’s Ark.  (To be clear, there are two intertwined stories of Noah’s Ark in Genesis – the other describes a mind boggling 150 days and nights of rain.  But I digress.)

The journey of Noah’s Ark must have been terrifying.  The animal smells.  The tossing waves.  The endless rain.  The sense of claustrophobia. The question about when if ever it would all get better.  And perhaps somewhere, deep down, the question of whether God had forgotten them.

In our moments of struggle, when our own life journey gets challenging, we may find ourselves asking that last question too.  We may even feel sometimes that instead of being on an ark, we’re one of the unlucky ones treading water.

Did God really want to wipe out most of the world as the story of Noah’s ark proclaims?  No, not if we believe in the God of Jesus Christ, of compassion and love.  But a flood did occur in ancient times, and scripture stories often tried to explain natural phenomenon in theistic terms.

Whether or not the story of Noah’s ark is entirely historical, it does contain deep and important truths. One is that God’s heart was broken by the evil God saw in the world.  Another is that God calls us to save our world – to build arks, to gather with family, to care for animals and to have faith. 

God never abandons us.  In Lent we choose to set aside the normal to go into the deep.  We choose to take time to focus on our spiritual journey.  But whether we choose to board the ark of our own free will or find ourselves thrust onto tossing waves against it, one thing is for sure. 

God is on the ark with us, and rainbows are coming.



Week 3, February 28 2024, C Cavanagh, D. Min

The story of Jesus in the wilderness hammers us with reminders to hold fast to our values and our faith in God, turning our heads away from the winds of temptation.  For humans, power and greed seem to be the tempest we can rarely resist.

In Luke’s version of the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Satan says to Jesus, “I shall give to you all this power and glory (of all the kingdoms of the world), for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish”. 

Has God really handed over all power and glory to Satan??  Whether you read this passage allegorically or literally, the fundamental message remains the same, that God associates worldly power and greed with evil.  And God will have none of it.  Not here, and not at the cross.  Nor should we.

What then belongs to God and God’s followers if God has relinquished power?   

Only one thing.  A love so strong, so divine, so nourishing, that its embrace is eternal, bringing hope into darkness and life where there is death. 

The fact that God has walked away from power means only that God has walked towards us.  The love of God swirls within communities, relationships, and individuals as gift, offering and call.  Born in the image of God let us also turn to each other and spread that love in solidarity, justice and compassion.


 Into the Desert 

Week 2, February 21, 2024, C Cavanagh, D.Min

There’s something about the desert.  It calls you to notice the trivial and immediate – a grain of sand, a single drift. And it calls you to notice the huge and everlasting – the horizon and the endless sky.  Maybe that’s why Jesus went there.  Not just for the challenges but also for the clarity and the gifts the desert offers.

Many years ago, I backpacked across the Kalahari Desert in Botswana with two friends.  We had spent Christmas in the Okavango Delta, poling through wetlands in dugout canoes with the help of local guides.  It had been a tremendous experience, an overload of sensation, with abundant heat, greenery, water and wildlife. 

Emerging from the Okavango, the desert assaulted us with its aridity and hostility.  We found a lift on the back of an open-backed truck from Maun, at the edge of the Delta, down to Francistown near the border of Zimbabwe.  From there we could catch a train back east toward Malawi where we were all working as volunteer teachers.

Between delays and breakdowns the trip took all day, starting at 4:00am.  Sitting with my head covered by my African cloth (chitenge) against sun and wind, I peered out at what seemed like an unchanging landscape of grey sand.  A scraggly tree or some bushes would break the monotony here and there, but my first impressions were mainly of endless emptiness.

Speech was impossible on the back of the truck as the wind whipped our words away.  All we could do was gaze out at the infinite world.  I don’t know at what point the emptiness shifted, but I do remember finding myself slowly captivated by both the stillness before me and the stillness within me.  The desert became a meditation, a place to empty my heart into earth and sky.

And then I saw it.  Against the horizon at the edge of a silvery salt pan, a creature stood – watchful, waiting – an ostrich.  The magnificent bird turned its head sideways to observe our rumbling truck. I remember the simple sensation of awe.  The vision of the ostrich filled me, showed me the wonder of all creation, of life against the starkness of empty world, empty sky.


I felt like I could hardly breathe from the beauty of it, wished I could share it, then turned and looked at my two companions.  And they were smiling too. 

I don’t know what Jesus found in his forty days in the desert but it gave him the strength to withstand temptation, to live a life of purpose and love, and take every step to the cross.  It’s worth joining him there.   During this Lenten journey, may we each find the beautiful detail of the sand crystals in our lives, and the expansive and endless horizon of the love of our God.

By C Cavanagh, D.Min



Ash Wednesday

Week 1, February 14 2024,  C Cavanagh, D.Min

On Ash Wednesday we place ashes on our foreheads in a sign of remembrance of our own mortality, and perhaps more deeply of the movement of time and of God’s steadfast presence with us in all the tumult of daily life.

The ashes are created by burning the palms from the previous year’s palm Sunday.  Those palms, lifted in joy once, continue to serve a purpose even after they are long dead.  The burnt palms connect us to the seasons of our life with God. 

Within us, too, there’s a burning for God that consumes the heart and opens the spirit.  The burning bush is no metaphor, nor the flames of the upper room.  The energy of the universe exists in a God that fills us, heats us, and burns away our pain and sorrow, leaving only ashes behind. 

I think of the ashes in my life, the mistakes made, the friendships lost.  Call it sin, call it human failure, the truth is if we dare to live, we will err sometimes, miss the mark, and hurt others as well as ourselves.  But ashes are the price of living. 

We light our little fires here on earth, in our hearts and in our lives, reaching out for an eternal God who can open our eyes to invisible truths, and forgive us when we stumble. God burns in us as we strive to live for peace, justice, compassion and truth. 

In our friendships and our care we start small flames of possibility and hope.  Only this can strip away the trivial and hurtful – greed, arrogance, fear, jealousy, war, injustice, hate – and so open our hearts to the most profound, the most real energy of the universe. Call it love.  Call it God. 

Welcome to Lent

By Dr Catherine Cavanagh