Christian Discipleship: Lent Is A Time To Receive – By Theresa Froehlich

This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? is by Theresa Froehlich. She is a life coach, writer, speaker, and ordained minister. Theresa is a native of Hong Kong. She and her husband, Hervey, have been married since 1983. They have two grown children.

 

Christians think of Lent as a time of giving up something for Jesus. But God intends this to be a time for us to receive from his Son.

On that fateful Friday two thousand years ago, Jesus had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and tried before the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews. They spit in his face, struck him, mocked and taunted him (Mt. 26:67-68). While the high priest and the officials were subjecting the Savior of the world to humiliation and physical abuse, Simon Peter was warming himself by the fire in the courtyard along with other servants of the high priest. This Simon Peter was the same disciple who not long ago had pledged unwavering loyalty to the point of death (Lk 22:33).

We approach Lent with the same kind of self-confidence: we give up sweets, ice cream, football, TV. video gaming, or pornography. This kind of self-denial arrests our appetites for excesses for a short time, only for them to re-surface after Easter with roaring vigor. And so each Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday come and go without any fundamental transformation. We “spend money on what is not bread, and [our] labor on what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). When the weather is right, we gather around the fire to warm ourselves, with more sweets, ice cream, football, TV, video gaming, or pornography.

On each Ash Wednesday, the priest in the liturgical churches uses the ashes, made by burning the palm branches of the previous year, to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the believers. This sign is a call to fasting, repentance, and mourning; it is also a symbol that reminds us we are dust and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19).

Giving up something is an expression of fasting, but to divorce fasting from mourning is to miss the first Beatitude in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3) Perhaps the place to begin isn’t what creature comforts, addictive appetites, or innocuous idolatries we choose to abstain from for a limited period of time. Perhaps the place to begin is to take to heart our spiritual bankruptcy, our propensity to love the little idols more than we love God, and our unbelief about the transformative power of God’s Spirit. When we begin with this, our hands will be pried open to receive what God has to give us. We will no longer approach God as the resourceful givers who bring the gift of abstinence. Instead we will approach him as beggars. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Mt. 5:4)

 

This above article was first posted on Theresa Froelich’s blog

Do It Anyway – A Prayer by Mother Theresa

This prayer is usually accredited to Mother Theresa though it was probably written by Keith Kent.I t was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.  It seemed appropriate for this season of Lent

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa of Calcutta


              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

-this version is credited to Mother Teresa


A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent 2012

Second Sunday of Lent

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent

I am posting this early because Tom & I are heading out of town tomorrow. The readings for Sunday are: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8: 31-38 or Mark 9:2-9

Righteous God, compassionate and generous one,

Who forgives our sins and always has mercy.

Shine your light on our faces,

Fill our hidden darkness with your healing light,

Breathe on us afresh and grant us life.

God you are always ready to forgive,

Bend down and hear our prayers.

Respond to our repentant cries,

Purify our hearts and cleanse our souls, 

That we may honour and serve you in all our ways.

God you are a covenant making God,

Who gives assurance of salvation and faithfulness.

May we see your signs in the wilderness,

Believe your promises in the midst of temptation,

And willingly follow your call into the kingdom.

Lord of life, touch and transfigure us,

Let your love grow strong and deep within us.

May your compassion bloom in us,

Your righteousness bear fruit,

Your generosity encourage us to share.

Amen

Locked In, But Not Locked Out — By Joy Wilson

This morning’s post in the the series Easter is Coming: What Do we Hunger and Thirst For? is by Joy Wilson.

Joy Wilson is the author of Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling with God. She has a passion for prison ministry, and is an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression. You can visit Joy’s website and contact her at joyleewilson@gmail.com.
Locked In, But Not Locked Out

I work as a volunteer at Mark Luttrell Correctional Center, a state penitentiary for women in Memphis, TN.  One of my favorite opportunities to serve is with Grace Place Ministries, a United Methodist congregation planted in the prison. Grace Place Ministries empowers incarcerated women to become disciples of Jesus Christ and experience what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ not only through worship, but service to people in the free world.

Here are women with almost non-existent control over their environment or lives.  Those who have jobs make no more than thirty cents an hour, out of which they have to purchase their own toiletries, snacks, stamps, and stationery.  The institution tells them when and what to eat, dictates their clothing, options for free time, and access to their families.  What can they do to help someone outside the barbed wire fences, and why would they even want to?  You might be surprised.

Some of the most humble, committed Jesus-followers I know have life sentences with no parole, but God has transformed their lives, giving them joy and purpose that no prison can take away.  They also take Christ’s command seriously:

Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”

And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)

Wait a minute, that mandate is for people like me, who can decide what to do and where to go, isn’t it?  Why would the members of Grace Place think this call to action applies to them?  Because they know there are people less fortunate than they are who have no certainty of shelter, food, clothing, or medical treatment:  the homeless. These incarcerated women have no money to share, but are rich in time and creativity, so that’s what they give.  For example, those who can crochet make warm hats and shawls with yarn supplied by other churches.  They also crochet waterproof sleeping mats using “plarn”, which is yarn made from strips of plastic bags looped together.

These inmates may be locked in, but they aren’t locked out of ways to follow Jesus, “who came not to serve, but to serve others” Mark 10:45 (NLT).  Their actions show the love of Christ to homeless people who, just like them, have no voice in society.  Both long for justice:  being treated with the respect and dignity they are often denied.  And I’m a part in this chain of compassion as a prison ministry volunteer, sharing the love of Jesus that dominoed down to me.

Each of us has a unique place in God’s universe.  We are made in His/Her image to fulfill a special part for the redemption of us all.  God loved us into being, and when we pass that love along to someone else, we are literally the hands, feet and heart of Jesus and have the transformational power to change someone’s life for the better.  Just like God did for us.  Just like someone in our lifetime did for us.

Does what we do make any real difference when we act with kindness, giving what we want for ourselves?

Ask the women of Grace Place and people who sleep under a bridge.

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This Post was first published on Joy’s wordpress.

Connecting People Who Care With Causes That Matter

Ron Sims Speaks at Camano/Stanwood Philanthropist breakfast

Ron Sims Speaks at Camano/Stanwood Philanthropist breakfast

Last Friday Tom and I had the privilege of attending the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation Philanthropist Awards breakfast. It was a very moving experience. I was amazed at the mustard seeds that are already being planted in this community in which the Mustard Seed Village will be established, and felt proud to be a part of it even if only on the margins. This is obviously a community in which people care for each other and for the sustainability of their community.

This year there were four nominees for philanthropist of the year all of whom demonstrate how mustard seeds can make a difference in any community. The judges found it impossible to choose one recipient for the award and presented it to all four nominees instead. As you read about the nominees you will see why.

Don Hernan started a firewood ministry on his own – just to make a difference in the lives of single women families for the community who couldn’t afford to keep their homes heated. He spearheaded a community campaign to ensure local families received firewood to heat their homes and began leading teams to cut stack and distribute wood to needy families. The fire ministry now has nine distribution centers located throughout Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties. Last year his teams made over 400 deliveries of free wood.

Vivian Henderson has championed the cause of farming and farmers in the area for many years. is the co-founder of Harvest Jubilee and on the steering committees of Slow Food Port Susan and Port Susan Food and Farming Center. She is also working closely with Bastyr University to develop medicinal gardens.

Camano Island Builders Association is a dedicated group of individuals who donate time, talents and treasures to the community. They have built an adventure playground and renovated a dilapidated building that has become a vibrant center that provides clothes, toys and much needed items to families and individuals in need. it is a wonderful example of giving what you can and inspiring neighbours to do the same.

Dr James Grierson, inspired by the vision of establishing a free medical walk-in clinic in Stanwood, organized a dedicated group of local leaders who worked to establish the Safe Harbour Free Clinic. The clinic has provided comprehensive health care services to nearly 2,000 underinsured and uninsured patients since opening its doors in June 2009.

It’s Not What We Give-Up, But What We Get – By Dr. John C. O’Keefe

Today’s contribution to the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger & Thirst For is by Dr. John C. O’Keefe. His dynamic blog can be found here. This post is a several-part series he is writing on Lent.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.[1]

We think of Lent as a time of giving something up – of fasting – of removing something from our lives, something we see as “sinful.” But I am not sure we should be focusing on what we are giving-up, but rather we should be focusing on that we get. Lent is a time of reflection, a time when we look deep into who we are as Followers of Christ and how we look at others.

What I find interesting is that when people share with me what they are “giving-up” during Lent, it is always something that will make us look better to others – we give-up TV, sugar, smoking, eating meat, chocolate, coffee (not all coffee, just that fifth cup), or bread – but the funny this is that we almost always just given them up for Lent. As soon as Lent is over, we find ourselves sitting around the living room watching all the shows we tevo’d during Lent, smoking a 55 gage Dominican Murdoro cigar while chopping on our chocolate covered meat sandwiches and washing it down with a gallon of espresso. In reality, after Lent nothing changes. Why? Because we hate giving things up.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians we see something very different way of dealing with Lent – one that tells us that it is our change on the inside that matters, not what we show the world we gave-up. While we are impressed with people who wear their Lenten Give-Ups as a red badge of courage, we should be more impressed with those who say, “For Lent, I am inviting God, through Christ, to change my heart’ to change who I am as a person and make me a better follower.”

It is not what we give-up during Lent that matters, but what we get from Lent that counts the most. Lent is not a time to change from the outside, but embrace Paul’s words, “that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.”

 

Over this Lenten season I will be posting different reflections-keep checking back.

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 The Message (MSG)

Prayers for the Journey

This week’s prayers have focused on the season of Lent. You may also like to check out this prayer that I wrote for the first Sunday of Lent

God you are always ready to forgive,

Bend down and hear us,

Respond to our repentant cries,

Purify our hearts and cleanse our souls,

That we may honour and serve you.

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God may I seek your light that only shines in darkness,

May I seek you truth only unveiled in the wilderness,

May I seek your reality only revealed in the struggles of life.

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May we put on ashes

And mourn the death sin has caused in our lives

May we seek God’s pardon and embrace God’s salvation

May we journey beyond the Cross and find new life

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Let us put on ashes and mourn,

Let us fast and weep,

Let us tear our hearts and repent,

So that we can return to the Lord our God,

Who is compassionate and merciful.

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Jesus may we journey with you into the wilderness,

And move beyond the ordinary,

May we discover your unexpected sacred places,

That reveal you in a new light and make for us all things new.

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May we follow Jesus on the pilgrim way of Lent,

May we journey with him beyond the cross to new light,

Until the One who transfigures the world with the spirit of life shines in our faces.