Lent 1: Yield.

13 02 2013

Ash Wednesday. The word for the day is “yield”, as in… yielding our lives to God. Yielding the things/situations/people/etc that we hold onto… that divert us away from God. And yield them instead TO God, giving them up. In other words, our sin.


Lent 1: Yield

I don’t mind yielding when I’m driving. Usually. The alternative would often be to get in an accident. So that’s a fairly easy decision. But the decision isn’t so easy in daily life, outside of the obvious-consequences-decisions. So yielding is a bit harder. To not yield some things to God seems so harmless… a little here, a little there… it’s not really a huge deal, is it?

Maybe not. But whether or not it’s a big deal isn’t the point. The point is, am I living my life in a way that is faithful to my God, yielding my will and self and life to God… Hard as it might be, at times, to yield my day, my time, my chaotic schedule, my free time, my attitudes towards certain things, my etc… hard as it might be… I think it’s worth the effort.

Day 1: not in front of others?

9 03 2011

not in front of others?

Matthew 6:1 talks about “not doing ‘acts of righteousness’ in front of others… to be seen by them.”
Ironically, Ash Wednesday’s tradition is the imposition of ashes… a very public display of one’s faith. How does one reconcile this? And just how does one define ‘acts of righteousness’ in this case? how does ‘to be seen by them’ play into this?

What are the motivations behind our traditions and faith practices?

Messy Lent.

9 03 2010

Lent is the messiest liturgical season for me. There are the obvious reasons, like mixing ashes for Ash Wednesday, getting ashes on my fingers and forehead, (the fingers is because of putting ashes on others), washing rocks in our yard, and getting lily pollen stains on Easter clothes. Those are the obvious messes that result from Lent. But Lent is the messiest season because if I let it do its work, it changes me. That may not sound messy to you, but trust me: it is. It’s messy because I expect change from Lent… I expect that God’s going to do great work in me, God’s child… along with all the other children God’s going to do great work in. The “wow, changing that one simple thing solved so many of life’s problems” kind of work. Nope, that doesn’t happen. At least not to me. Instead, God works in me a little change at a time.

Lent is messy because little changes tease me. I think I’ve changed in a specific area, and then bam! Oops.. not so fast.

Mon., March 8th.. Messy, mixed colors while painting...

Turns out, I only thought I had changed. Really, I’m right back where I was the day before Lent started. That would be Shrove/Fat Tuesday, when I was eating fattening stuff. Which, by the way, I’m still doing. No, little changes don’t ease life as much as one might hope. They make me pay more attention to God’s work in and around me…. not the giant neon sign works, but the garbage by the side of the road type of noticing, the oops, I shouldn’t have said that noticing, and the yep, now let’s change that instead of just realizing that we shouldn’t do that. The little changes that make me reflect more on Sunday’s scriptures even when I’m not preaching. And that takes time which means the rest of my life stays messier–the house, the organization efforts, the unpacking.

Lent is messy because it inspires creativity in me. Which sounds great until you start trying to blog everyday, or wash rocks, or find a good oil to anoint with for an upcoming worship service. And it’s still great, because in spite of these minor hurdles I love the creativity Lent inspires, and I love who God made me to be when I feel creative. And part of a creative team. Lent is messy because I think that I’m going to be better at reading my Bible and praying–both the talking and the listening part of praying…. but I end up playing Hide and Seek, and finding Waldo for the fifth time in 2 hours, and cleaning up messy paint projects, and picking up puzzle pieces and Hotwheels and stray crayons… and then I’m so tired, I just don’t want to do any of the spiritual stuff. So then I feel guilty, which can get messy.

It’s messy. And sometimes it’s pretty hard. But this year, this season, I’m able to enjoy the messy Lent… so far. Stay tuned.

Re-THINK-ing Lent

18 02 2010

It’s Lent—perhaps my favorite liturgical season. There’s so much possibility with Lent… so much that could happen, spiritually speaking. At least there are a lot of intentions, on my part. I won’t bore you with my list of intentions for the season… or even for the past week. Suffice it to say, it’s tempting to already give up, knowing that it’s not possible for me to fulfil all my intentions. And yet I’m going to try to figure out ways to make Lent a bit more meaningful this year. 

At Christ Covenant Church, we have a theme for Lent: Re-THINK Lent. The purpose is to help make Lent more meaningful for all of us—spiritually. To Re-THNK the ways we do things, the habits we have, the ways our Christian faith makes a difference in our daily lives. Today, Ash Wednesday, we start with our intentions…

And so I’m thinking about my intentions. My intentions for my relationship with God and others. And my intentions to live as though Jesus Christ makes a difference in my life. I’m pretty much convinced that today’s best wishes will not amount to much. And yet that’s part of what I like about Lent—there’s still the possibility.

So I’m going to try. I’m going to try to take a photo a day that makes me think about Lent…. I’m going to try and spend some good time each day focusing on prayer—the talking to God and the listening to God.  And I’m going to try to live into the season.  Whatever that means.

So, my first photo is a blurry photo of the stained glass window in the church sanctuary… blurry because it reflects my intentions… wanting to focus on the cross and on my faith, but not always happening that way.

Ashes, ashes… we all fall down

25 02 2009

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Some years I embrace Lent, because I’m feeling solemn enough and ready for the rest of the world to engage such solemness.. (not the purpose of Lent, I realize.) And I like ashes on my forehead. I like to reflect on how Christ is challenging me to change. To follow him. And some years I am so not ready for Lent, because I feel “Lented” out. Lent has not felt like a liturgical season in my life as much as a pattern for many years. Somber, sadness, darkness, dust to dust, ashes… enough. I’m ready for a year of Easters. Of rejoicing because of Good News.

This year it’s a bit of both. I’m embracing Lent, ready for its challenge. I want to realign my priorities, and Lent seems to be a natural place to make time for that process. I’m excited and feeling spiritually challenged by the Photo Group this Lent. We are reflecting–through photography–on the Gospel lessons from the lectionary each week. (So starting today through Saturday, my photos will be my photographic reflections of the Ash Wednesday text. Then starting Sunday, the text for the first week in Lent.) I like the Lent Prayer site I found a couple of years ago, and am eager to visit it everyday. There are many reasons I embrace this season this year.

But I’m also feeling a bit Lented out. I feel as though we have all fallen down so much lately, that we are merely ashes, and we are stuck on the ground. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down… that familiar phrase from “Ring around the rosy” runs through my head each Lent.  And this year, though I have much to celebrate (i.e. Kajsa!), I’m wrestling with  much as well: the friend/parishioner who is still in ICU after a skating accident; others who are sick; the loss of some dreams this year; God’s purposes/plan for my infertile/single/job-frustrated friends, and some broken relationships.

I’m Lented out. I’ve lived it enough. Or so I feel and think. My loved ones have lived it enough. Enough, God, enough! How long? And yet, I have to remind myself that Lent isn’t about me–at least not in that way. Lent is about traveling to the cross with Jesus… and Christ’s sacrifice for us.

I used the “Ring around the rosy” phrase several years ago in an Ash Wednesday sermon. One of the things that stuck with me (and my own sermons do not always stick with me!) was that we tend to get back up… Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! But then as children playing this game, we get back up and start again. That’s what I’m hoping to do this Lent. Get back up and start again. Start up my efforts at being more faithful to God. The God I don’t always understand. The God I cry out to in anger. The God I lean on when I need strength. Get back up when I feel down, like dust-with-no-theological purpose…. and work again at realigning my priorities. Get back up and try to be faithful to the God who does provide me with countless blessings, even in the most dark Lenten seasons.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s ashes. I need that reminder of who I am. And I love reflecting on that in the context of a worship service with beautiful music and visual elements. But tomorrow I need to get back up, as a reminder of who God has called me to be.

Blessed Ash Wednesday…. and all of Lent.