Blogging for Lent – More Reflections

Here is the latest collection of reflections on the beginning of Lent from my fellow bloggers.

Jeff Greer:  The Frailty of Life

Michael Winter: Fat Thursday

Michael Wallenmeyer: Lent and Hell

You can check out the blogs of other participants here

For this next week I have asked people to focus their reflection and their activities on the brokenness of our inner selves.  Here are the suggested activities from the Lenten Guide

They are based on a series of reflections Seeds For Lent produced by Mark Pierson in 2007.

Reflecting on the Water (c) Christine Sine

Reflecting on the Water (c) Christine Sine

“Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.”(Ps 51:10)

Read Psalm 51 in unison and then spend time in silence meditating on its implications for your life

  1. Get each person to look into a mirror, and using a felt-tip marker or soap, write or draw onto your reflection words and symbols that represent your anxieties and fears. When you are ready, spray glass cleaner onto the mirror and wipe it clean
  2. Pray together for God’s cleansing in your hearts.Reflect on those things in your life that focus you on yourself rather than on God. Discuss the following question
  3. What is one thing you struggle with that distracts you from a whole-hearted commitment to Christ? Write down your areas of struggle on a piece of paper
  4. How could you use this first week of Lent to initiate a new spiritual discipline that would bring reconciliation and healing in your place of struggle? Some possibilities you might like to consider are:
  5. Free up an extra fifteen minutes each day to pray and read the Scripture
  6. Memorize one new scripture verse each day.
  7. Take time each day to read a chapter from a book on spiritual disciplines, such as Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. In what way could you help each other maintain this discipline?
  8. Choose a day during this first week of Lent to fast. Use meal times for special prayers. Focus specifically on your failures and broken places, seeking repentance and asking God for forgiveness.
  9. Seek out one person that you have held a grudge against or treated unjustly and seek forgiveness. Is there restitution necessary?


Join Eugene Cho and the Global Poverty Innitiative

Here at the Mustard Seed House we are getting ready to participate in the Mutunga $2 challenge starting on Sunday.  We are doing this a week earlier than suggested in the Lenten guide because Ricci and Eliacin will become parents again in just over a week.  It has made me think again about what changes we could make in our diet over the long term in order to free up more money to give to the fight against global poverty.

No one I know is more committed to this fight than our friend Eugene Cho who has started the Global Poverty initiative as a way to reach out to those in extreme poverty.  Eugene has committed far more than a week’s savings on groceries to the cause of overcoming poverty and his story seemed a very appropriate one to share as we look towards this coming week.

I have some both good and bad news to share during this Feb/March update.   As I shared in the December ‘08 update, this has been one of the most humbling seasons of our life. When we went public with our vision to give our year’s salary to start this poverty initiative, we had absolutely no idea what was in store with the financial crisis and meltdown. Our convictions have been tested but each time we think about how “bad” we have it, we’re reminded of the grave situation for the poorest of the poor – those affected by “extreme global poverty” – some of whom I saw with my own eyes during a recent trip to South Africa.  Read more

Blogging for Lent – Various Reflections on Ash Wednesday

Here are today’s contributions from those participating in the Lenten synchroblog

From Tom Grosh: Do Lenten practices or conversations regarding them give you the feeling that Big Brother is Watching, Read more

From Beth Stedman: Lent begins with Listening to where God is leading.  Read more

From Banu Moore: Akouete… Keep on Listening to Jesus.  Read more

From Aj Schwanz: Lent 2009

From Jeff Greer:Ash Wednesday Reflections. Read more

From Ecoquaker: Lent is not about chocolate.  Read more

Thomas Turner: Rethinking Lent.  Read more

Bob Fisher: Ash Wednesday tweets:  Read more

You can check out all the participants in the synchroblog here

Finally reflections from Thule Kinnison who with a guest post about Ash Wednesday and also the day before Lent – often called pancake or fat Tuesday because this was traditionally the day on which people finished off any dairy products or other perishable food items that they would not eat during Lent.

o here’s our experience thus far. Last night, Fat Tuesday, we met at The Gladdings house for pancakes; yummy way to end my indulgence for some time. It was wonderful. Maggie, Seth and Amber all made masks and Rebecca, Erin and I made pancakes, enjoyed the spicy flowers that Maggie and Seth graciously fed us (yummy as well!) from the garden and we all enjoyed the wonderful smell of the blooming jasmine which is very soothing to the senses. Afterwards we read books to Maggie and Seth, one that was about little mice and Fat Tuesday.

Today, Ash Wednesday started off wonderful. I began studying and meditating on scripture from the daily lectionary. It seems like a lot of reading and I’m praying that what I study and read, I do deeply so I’ll have to get use to reading more and I’ll begin to wake up an hour earlier to dedicate time with God alone.

Me, Mandi, Erin, Jennifer, Amber and Tomato met up at Jennifer’s house and made and ate spring rolls and off to church we went. We all attend a church named Ecclesia. The service started at 7pm and ended at 8pm. It was deep, and my first realization about myself on this journey is that I DO already live each day, dying with and for Jesus. I am one that is aware that everything I do is for Him and I don’t live this way just during Lent. I was happy to realize that and know that my journey with God is deepening and I’m growing in His love by living this way. I struggle, boy do I struggle but I live in freedom like never before~ I’m hopeful to be broken and rebuilt during this season and am willing to connect with my brokenness and that of the world to reveal my truth that God has for me.

More WILL be revealed… I believe. And I have to say that music will be a huge part of my experience as well. I’m connected there and find freedom and release in it.


Should You Give Up Toilet Paper for Lent?

For those of you who have not yet decided what you are giving up for Lent here is something from the NY Times that you might like to consider

When Sheryl Crow said that people should use only one sheet of toilet paper, she was lampooned by everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Jon Stewart.

More recently, the issue of toilet paper has become less of a joke (except when celebrities express an opinion) and more of a cause: since the fluffy kind cannot be made from recycled paper, conservationists argue, consumers can do their part to protect the environment by buying the rougher stuff.

read more

What Is Lent Preparing Us For?

Ash Wednesday - photo by Thule Kinnison

Ash Wednesday - photo by Thule Kinnison

Last night like many of you, Tom and I attended Ash Wednesday service at our church.  I returned home my forehead embellishd with a black cross and my heart very aware of my own sinfulness and need for repentance.  It seems to me that Lent this year is very much on people’s minds as they continue to grapple with the crisis in our world economy and the underlying corruption that has created it.  It makes us aware not only of our personal need for repentance but of our societal need for repentance too.

This morning however  I am working on the Easter portion of A Journey into Wholeness which I should have ready to download at the beginning of next week.  As a result I have been reflecting on”what is Lent preparing for?”  It seems to me that for many of us Lent has become an end in itself and there is very little sense of what we celebrate it for.  First I want to emphasize that Lent is not about preparation for the celebration of Stations of the Cross much as I enjoy participating in that experience.  Nor is it even primarily a preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, even though this is the pivotal celebration of our faith.

Lent is primarily about preparing us to live in the world that Christ’s resurrection brought into being – the kingdom of God world – what I like to call God’s resurrection created world. it is about preparing us to follow the one who “transfigured the world with the Spirit of life.”

The Christ that early disciples experienced was the incarnate, risen Christ who made life flourish in the midst of a violent and oppressive empire by feeding the hungry, healing the sick and bringing the hope of freedom and new life for all creation.  The God they experienced was a God whose very essence was love and who calls us to live in a world in which love of God and love of neighbour is both the meaning for all we do and the purpose of all we are and do.  The disciplines that we establish during this season are for that purpose.  They are intended to break down the barriers that inhibit us from dwelling fully in this world. It is intended as a time to put to death those parts of our lives that are not centered on God and God’s pruposes.

Imagine how our world could be transformed this Easter season if we took this preparation of Lent seriously for all of life and became the people that God intended us to be – resurrection life people who are committed to seeing the life of God’s kingdom flourish in every aspect of our world.

Things that clutter and consume

We lay them down

Attitudes that separate and divide

We lay them down

Thoughts that confuse and disrupt

We lay them down

Into the cycle of living and dying and rising again

We lay them down

Synchroblog Participants

Here is a list of all those that have told me they intend to participate in the synchroblog.  If you do not see your name on the list but would like to be a part of this please let me know.  There is still time to be involved and as you can see this is quite a long and impressive list.

Julie Clawson
Rev Cheryl A Durham
Henriet Schapelhouman
Greta Berquist
Rebecca Gagne
Leena Prindle .com
Michael Wallenmeyer
carol collins
Tim Mathis
Barbara buckham
Gilbert Purtee
Monica- Paper Bridges
Steve Fouch
Carolynn J. Scully
Todd Hiestand
Steve Lewis
Luis batista
Renovatio café
Joan  Ball
Banu Moore
Aj Schwanz
Randy Siever
Makeesha Fisher
Bethany Stedman
Rose Swetman
Doug Jones
Taeler Morgan
Thomas Turner
Chris Olson – Earth Ministry
JR Woodward
Tom Grosh
Karen B.
Bob Fisher
Michael Morrell
Jeff Greer
Marcus Goodyear
Matt Scott
Eliacin Rosario Cruz
Ricci Kilmer
Mustard Seed Associates blog

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Today is Ash Wednesday and this evening, like many others I will be heading to church to be inscribed with a cross of ashes which I will try not to wash off for a day or too as a symbol that I carry Christ’s cross out into the world.  It seems to me that the hard economic times in which we live have made people more aware of this season of Lent and of our need for repentance.  Here are some reflection that you might find helpful for this day.

Some of the participants in our Lenten synchroblog have already started blogging as an introduction to Lent.  I will publish the full list of participants this afternoon (about 45 people) but you  can check out their reflections here:

Doug Jones

Tom Grosh

Bob Fisher


Banu Moore

There are a number of other good posts out there that I would recommend too.  Especially check out Marcus Goodyear He posts a poem from TS Eliot that is a wonderful reflection for this season. I also recommend Mark Powell

And if you have not seen it yet, I have another meditation video for Lent that you might like to check out too

Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday the official beginning of Lent.  It gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of worshippers as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned and are imprinted as a sign of the cross by the priest who presides at the service. As he does so, he recites the words: “Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The ashes of Lent are the sign of our mortal bodies and the reminder that God has turned death to ashes.  They are the memorial of our sin and the proof that Christ has beaten down Satan under his feet.  They are the evidence of our dying and the hope of our living in him.” (From The Ashes of Lent by Dorsey McConnell)

I think that this year for many of us who are Australian the imagery of ashes has much deeper significance than usual.  At least 209 died in the recent bushfires which were the worst in living history, though the exact number is not known yet because some of the bodies were literally burnt to ashes.  This, coupled with the memories of the 1983 bushfires which actually swept through Victoria and South Australia on Ash Wednesday destroying 2500 homes have made us very aware of our own mortality and of the brokenness of our world in which such devastation could be caused deliberately by arsonists.

As you watch this video may it remind you of your own mortality.  All of us will one day return to the dust and ashes of death, and as we watch the fires that took so many lives we are reminded of our own need for the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn through our lives and destroy everything that would turn us to ashes too.  Remember not just your own brokenness and your need for repentance but all those who are broken and in need of refining fire of God’s spirit in order to find repentance.

Synchroblog Under Way

Lent officially begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday when I will post a list of those who are participating in the Lenten/Easter journey with us this year.  However as people are already beginning to post about Lent I thought that we would get a head start.

Tom Grosh has given us a good start with a post on The Emerging Shcolar’s blog with some more great resources to add to my growing list.  I particularly love the way that he has involved his children in the process.  Thanks Tom.

Lots of Good Lenten Resources

It is great to see the good Lenten resources that are now appearing that could make this the best Lent ever for any of us that want to take this season seriously.

Bread for the World has produced an excellent “Prayers for Hungry People” guide

Bob Hyatt has produced this comprehensive Lent prayer guide for reflection

And if you have not discovered it The Text This Week has great resources including links to the scriptures, movies and art that is relevant to the theme of each of the seasons of the Christian calendar.

Lent and Beyond – An Anglican prayer blog has links to lots of good resources for Lent. One of their links to Per Christum has particularly good links to other resources. including some for celebrating with children.   Another essential site to visit is Church which has lots of good resources for all seasons of the liturgical year.

Another great website is Love Life Live Lent – good resources for churches and families

Last but not least – are you practicing Lent with children.  Julie Clawson at Emerging Parents is looking for contributions of ideas that parents would like to share.