Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 6

Change - this is something that happens, one person at a time.  But, as the video for today tells us, that change has to begin with ourselves.  One of the concepts in Lent is that of repentance, but often what people forget is that after asking for forgiveness for past actions, we must then change the behavior or attitude for which we had to ask forgiveness for in the first place.  We have to choose to make better choices, and as Christ explained to the adulterous woman, "Go and sin no more."

So what does change look like for you?  Could it begin with something as easy - and difficult - as speaking kindly to yourself?  You are also a child of God - is it not rude to speak poorly to one of God's own?

Could it begin with speaking up when you see someone saying or doing an act of unkindness in your presence - whether the person to whom the unkindness is done is present or not?

Could it begin with finding a way of replacing a bad habit with a good one - consciously making the choice to change?

How can you make a difference in your own and the lives of others today?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 5

The Kingdom of God is both within us and among us.  Fr. Bartoli speaks in today's video about the things that we need to let go of, to foster the Kingdom of God within us.  So let's take 3 minutes (you can start the video) and sit in stillness.  Each time something comes up in your mind - take note of it, but set it aside.

Each of those things that comes up are impediments to the Kingdom, the ability you have to reflect the Kingdom of God to everyone around you - to tell them in actions rather than words how special and joy-filled it can be.  Be still enough that you can hear the voice of God.

In the meantime, the activity for the week is something you can start on today:  Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.  There's a video at the link, along with a .pdf, and a sample of the exercise for you to explore.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 4

Wow!  Today's video from SSJE carries a huge impact.  Please make sure you watch it.  Then, if you like the idea, decide how you're going to remember:

  • For what am I most thankful today?  
  • When was I most fully alive today?  
  • How have I received love today?
Br. Ditewig gives some great ideas of how you can track your own stories that will help you proclaim the good news to someone else.  Some ideas include:

  • Take a photograph
  • Collect a stone
  • Paint a picture or symbol (maybe even on the stone)
  • Write a blog
  • Write it onto a piece of paper and put it into a jar to review at the end of the year
  • Make a Jar of Remembrance
Or be creative and do some combination of those.  Feel free to share them here, or share your blog.  All of these ways are both ways to help remind you, and to help you tell someone about your own experience of God in your life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 3

Evangelism - telling the good news.  And as Br. Woodrum points out in today's video, when we hear good news, we want to spread the news, tell someone about it.  Below is SheDaisy's method of sharing in their version of "How Can I Keep From Singing".

So put yourself in Mary's place:  the Angel of the Lord has just told her the good news - a young, teenage, unwed mother.  Or put yourself in Joseph's place when the dream comes to him to reassure him that not only has Mary not betrayed him, but God has a very special job for him to do.

Now think about your job in this dispensation of Christ:  what good news has God shared with you?  And what form will your telling, sharing, evangelizing take?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Days 1 and 2

Extra!  Extra!  We've got the Good News right here!
Surprise for me!  SSJE is apparently doing videos on Sundays, so you'll find Day 1 of Week 2 and Day 2 of Week 2 at these links.  No worries - the two videos are less than 5 minutes on their own.

In this week, the overarching theme is to tell, or in the language of the church, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  This is actually part of the mission of the Episcopal Church.  And within the first video, we learn that this was Jesus' mission on earth.  His quoting of Isaiah made it quite clear.

So today, think about the first time someone proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ to you.  What did you think?  What did you do?  Who did you talk to about it?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 7

Lent is 40 days, but in our church, it excludes Sundays (perhaps to give the pastor time to prepare their sermon).  So this blog will skip Sundays and resume again on Monday.

Today is the day you actually bring everything you've been thinking about this past week to fruition. Today, you sit down and actually write your Letter to God.  The video today is a bit different, as Hannah Tadros describes her experience with the exercise.  She's a brave woman to share that experience, and maybe it will help you be a little more comfortable with the fact that this is not a comfortable exercise.  It's a challenge!

To give you some of the help that Hannah talks about, you can find Br. Mark Brown's article in Cowley Magazine, "Beloved, Marks of Mission, Marks of Love".

The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran is famous the world over, and you can find the book itself on Amazon or a variety of other bookstores.  But, there's a great poem on love by him that can be found at that link, with many links to other portions of his work.

You are welcome to post your letters on here.  You're also welcome to post them at SSJE, where you'll likely get more feedback, if you're looking for that.  Some will burn their letter to let the wind take the essence of our response to "You are my beloved" to God.  And some will save it away, knowing that God knows their heart, and the struggle that went into writing a letter to Him.

Pray first.  Pray after.  Pray always.  You'll find help with the Holy Spirit.  Just ask.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 6

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.  Br. Koester of SSJE likes to emphasize the word "go" as he explains in the video for today.

And this song, by Sam Baker, talks about "go in peace" and "arriving safely home."

So, here is where we'll ask you to think about what happens between those two things:  How are you going to be God's hands today?  What will you do between leaving formal worship, and lying down to sleep, knowing that you have made a difference in the world today?

The other thing to think about before our exercise tomorrow (writing a letter to God...), is how you feel when you go to worship; how you feel when you're there; and how you feel when you are told, "Go in peace."  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 5

There is a striking statement in today's video from SSJE.
And we as Christians believe that God actually entered into our human condition in the person of Jesus Christ to heal all that has separated us from God and each other.
 All those years ago, we were one people, children of God.  And since then, we have been finding ways of differentiating, of being different from others and emphasizing those differences as being negative, rather than appreciating them as being special in the sight of God.

There are two things I've noticed in recent years - people are either working to categorize everyone into boxes that are labeled "different than me" or "different from society" and considered "special".  Or, they are labeled "different" and therefore, "wrong".  The thing is, God doesn't make mistakes.  Now, we do - we make plenty of them.  But if God created us all, I don't think we can label people as anything other than a child of God.

Judgment for actions and choices - that's well above our pay grade.  Christ told us the way forward.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
So today (don't forget to say your prayer this morning), find the connections, the commonalities, the differences you can cherish in another - simply because they are a child of God.  Just like you.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent: Ash Wednesday

From the Episcopal Church website:  "The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast in the church year of the Episcopal Church. The Ash Wednesday service is one of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days in the BCP (p. 264). Imposition of ashes at the Ash Wednesday service is optional."  Holy Trinity's service will take place at 5:30 p.m.

The video today from SSJE gives a fascinating exercise that we'll give you some tools to experiment with should you so choose.  Br. Nelson talks about the 5 Wounds of Christ, and the representation of that made through a Coat of Arms.

Much information about the meaning of heraldry and coats of arms:

 And if you'd like to get some ideas, or create a computerized Coat of Arms for the Mark of Love that catches your attention most, just click on the link.

And if you enjoy drawing your own, try this page.