Songs by Steve Bell for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Rainbow tree - posted by Micha Jazz

Song writer and musician Steve Bell has several beautiful posts for this holy weekend that I thought you might like to be aware of

This one for Good Friday features the song Gone is the Light

 

Gone is the Light  
Music and lyric by Gord Johnson
appears on Steve Bell’s Devotion album (see below)

Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light
Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light

Jesus remember me
When you enter your Kingdom
Jesus remember me
When your kingdom comes

Father forgive them
They know not what they do
Father forgive them
They know not what they do

Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light
Into the darkness we must go
Gone gone is the light

And this one for Easter Sunday features another beautiful song Was It a Morning Like This. 

Was it a Morning Like This | Jim Croegaert

Was it a morning like this
When the sun still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead

Was it a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon

chorus:
Did the grass sing
Did the earth rejoice to feel you again
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound He is risen!
Over and over like in a never ending round
He is risen! Alleluia!

Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem
And as they raced for the tomb
Beneath their feet was there a tune

A Prayer for Easter Sunday 2013

Easter Sunday pryaer 2013.003

Maundy Thursday Reflection

This morning I posted this prayer on the Light for the Journey Facebook page.

Lord Jesus Christ today we are reminded
of how you knelt to wash our feet.
In a lowly act of service you poured out love.
Leading us away from power and prestige,
You showed us what true kingship looks like.
Earth shattering, profound,
A reversal of the status quo,
That we still struggle to imitate.
May we today follow your example.
May we kneel and wash the feet of others.
And in so doing share the wonder of your love.

The radical counter cultural nature of Jesus action is almost incomprehensible to us. A God who kneels to wash our feet as a servant. This was a job not just for a servant but for the lowliest of servants.

Two phrases stood out for me as I read the account of Jesus revolutionary action in John 13 this morning. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth and now he loved them to the very end.  (v2) and I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (v15)

All that Jesus has been trying to tell his disciples is summed up in this act of servanthood which John describes as one of the final acts of love Jesus shows towards his disciples. Don’t go after power, wealth and position. Don’t expect others to kneel and wash your feet, get down on your knees and wash theirs.

No wonder the import of this story usually passes us by. It has a part of a ceremony rather than a real act of life. But this is the prelude for the Last Supper. Perhaps it is the prerequisite for us truly being able to take communion together in the way that God intended us to.

So my question for all of us as we stand in the shadow of the cross today is: How can we too kneel and wash the feet of others today? How can we become more like the servants God intends us to be and so share the wonder of Christ’s love?

A Prayer for Good Friday 2013

Good Friday prayer 2013.002

Praying the Hours Through Holy Week by Susan Forshey

Susan Forshey just sent me this beautiful reflection with a link to the Booklet of prayers for which is a simple liturgy of the hours for Holy Week that she has produced. Enjoy and thanks Susan for sharing this with us.

A Prayer Booklet for Holy Week

With Palm Sunday, we enter into the Passion week, a Holy Week, remembering the Lord’s final days and building in anticipation toward the Resurrection.

For the world, this is much like any other week, and paradoxically, for ministers and others working in Christian contexts, it can be a week with little time for prayer and reflection.

To counter-act what feels like a break-neck race to Easter, I long to pause and rest in ‘unforced rhythms of grace’; to walk with Jesus through these days and let his Spirit transform my DNA; to practice a new way of thinking by remembering my small story in the midst The Story; to be patient on the hard days before the Glory, even as I learn to be patient in the whole of an often Holy Saturday life.

We live in death. We see it all around.

We live in-between. We are residents of  the Now but Not yet of the coming Kingdom. We live in that moment of baptism, under the water, the moment between death and resurrection.

Yet we also live resurrected in promise and hope, taking in that wonderful first gasp of earthly air as we rise from the baptismal water. One day we will take in that full sweet heavenly breath as we rise with Jesus.

I’m a rushing wind through life right now, a whirlwind of activity blowing through, a Tasmanian Devil of the old cartoons, and I’m not remembering to breathe earth’s air, and even less of heaven.

Last night at 3am, I woke to blessed silence and lit a candle and made some tea and journalled the Spirit’s prayer in me: Your life is wonderful–two awesome jobs and a wonderful community–but it is not sustainable. Pray and reflect, but use your night hours to sleep and learn to pause during the day. 

Let Me be the wind and you breathe Me.

I’ve read enough books on prayer and gotten myself into this kind of pickle too many times to know that pausing in the midst of being a one-woman tornado of activity is easier said than done.

But I also know that our rich prayer tradition offers centuries of helps for just such a situation.

One way to pause, to mark the days and hours of Holy Week, or any week, is to join with the wider Church in the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. For centuries, the Office was the prayer of  Benedictine monks and sisters, but then the Office moved into the lives of laypeople.

This week I will take a couple moments to pause and pray the Hours. Would you join me?

Here is a simple Liturgy of the Hours  for Morning, Noon, and Compline prayer, starting with Palm Sunday evening.  It offers a pattern based on the full Liturgy of the Hours, some simple chants, and scripture passages from The Message translation of the Bible.

I invite you to mark this week with me as different from the world’s calendar, to enter into the Now, but Not Yet, to pause and rest, and breathe in the wind of the Spirit as we are caught up in our Savior’s story.

***

If you want to print the PDF, select the file and choose booklet settings on your printer. It should print two pages horizontally on  8.5 x 11 paper in the proper order so you can fold and staple it. Or enjoy it as a digital prayer book on your phone or tablet.

The Overflow Project by Brian Wolters

Water is life

Water is life

This morning’s post comes from Brian “Wolt” Wolters. Wolt is the executive director of the Overflow Project . The issue of access to fresh water is one that I am particularly concerned about and I think that The Overflow Project is a very creative response to this issue.


I remember a report in my church’s bulletin the week after Easter titled “Easter by the numbers” sharing the number of Easter volunteers, attendees, services, and flowers. In general, churches promote and plan well in advance for Easter by decorating sanctuaries, orientating volunteers, and expanding parking lots. This year a church even rented out the Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle for its Easter gathering. Clearly, a phenomenon exists where people attend a church service on Easter more than any other day of the year, and churches make a big deal about it.

I am fascinated with Jesus, the very one people celebrate coming back to life on Easter Sunday. Joyfully and ironically, Jesus doesn’t disappear after Easter Sunday. In fact, Jesus lives on earth after his death before he ascends. The Holy Spirit then arrives on Pentecost. Easter is a season that spans 50 days.

Why do people – including churches- typically stop celebrating the day after Easter?

An alternative exists: living a life similar to Jesus as he actually teaches by being light in this world where there is so much darkness, caring for the poor and broken, and celebrating the hope and new life of Christ that he offers to all. Enough is enough. You have all that you need in Christ. Jesus ushers a new way of living in the world post-death as a testimony to us.

What does Easter and the significance of how Christ lives after his death mean to you? What would it look like to form new habits of faith and live intentionally? Could you go beyond writing checks and instead live and give generously out of the overflow in your life?

This year a small team and I launched a new endeavor called The Overflow Project to invite individuals and communities all around the world to participate in a new kind of living. During the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost we developed resources for groups and churches to celebrate and live simply to break down the barrier that divides rich and poor and to free us from ignorance about poverty.

Providing water brings life

Providing water brings life

Currently about 1 billion people in the world live without access to clean safe drinking water –a basic human right and a fundamental need for empowerment and economic development.

On Pentecost Sunday we will receive participant’s collective contributions to support sustainable clean water projects in Uganda. This effort changes our lives by opening our eyes to a different kind of life and changes Uganda through investing in clean water solutions and hygiene training.

The Overflow Project’s 50-Day Challenge is still happening right now. Anybody can join, even for the few days that remain.

We have so much to celebrate today! Christ has risen. Remember Easter for what it is, even today, nearly 50 days later.

Brian “Wolt” Wolters

Good Seed Sunday – Celebrate with A Rocha

Today’s post comes from the A Rocha website. We are hoping to partner with them in the future in the conservation of the land where the Mustard Seed Villagewill be built on Camano Island.
Beginning in 1983 with an initial project in the Algarve region of Portugal, A Rocha has been helping to change the face of environmental stewardship–bringing to it our faith in the God who created it, called it very good, and entrusted its care to humankind. They are now at work in 19 countries on five continents. I am particularly impressed with what they are doing for Earth Day this year I particularly love  Good Seed Sunday which A Rocha is doing for Earth Day on April 22nd! Please visit the official Good Seed Sunday website for resources and more information. Below is the bulletin insert that is available on the website
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What is biblical care of creation? One of the ways to do this is to focus on our biblical call to stewarding God’s gift of the world to us. Are we careful of this beautiful world? Are we worthy of his trust?

On April 22nd, many of churches will take part in Good Seed Sunday. This initiative from the Christian environment stewardship group, A Rocha, equips the church to care for creation through a resource-based creation care website.

Over the past 5 years A Rocha has worked with over 150 churches across Canada promoting environmental stewardship. The resources for Good Seed Sunday are available with the following contact information: www.goodseedsunday.com, 604-542-9022, or goodseed@arocha.ca.

The link takes you to sections that provide you with resources in the following areas:

  • Church Service Package
  • Bible Study and Small Group Materials
  • Sunday School Teacher Kit (ages 4-11)
  • Action Projects
  • Online Community
  • Living Lighter Resources
  • Daily Reflections and Devotionals
  • Resource Library

Let us all hold this topic wisely, carefully and faithfully, not being embroiled in political issues or in indifferent camps, but rather, honestly doing each of our individual and church community parts, to be responsive and responsible to God for the beautiful world we have been given.

Living lightly reflects joyful simplicity. Be sure to take small steps and make things fun!  Change is maximized when the entire household is on board. Some suggestions for individuals and families:

1. Reduce waste. Try to recycle, compost food waste, and avoid disposables.

2. Clean with care.  Buy environmentally-friendly cleaning and body care products that are biodegradable, safe for the water, and better for your health.

3. Green your yard. Avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Try reducing the area of high-maintenance lawn in your yard and replace it with native species of trees, shrubs, or grasses, requiring less water. Choose species that attract birds and butterflies.

4. Slow the energy flow. Try hanging clothes to dry, turning off lights, and unplugging appliances and computers when not in use. Choose high-efficiency appliances when buying new.

5. Renovate sustainably. Consider recycled materials and purchase eco-products. Paint fumes, fiberglass insulation, and adhesives can be health hazards.

6. Be informed. Subscribing  to online newsletters or e-news, like A Rocha’s, can help you stay current on local, national, and international environmental concerns,  celebrate where positive change is occurring, and assist you to make choices that are better for the world community.

7. Live locally. Use public transit, walk, cycle, or carpool where possible. Consolidate trips, and when replacing an aging vehicle, look at fuel-efficiency.

8. Maximize household efficiency. Clean fridge and freezer condenser coils, fix cracks in window and door frames, wash full loads, fix leaky taps, insulate walls and ceilings, and even dust light bulbs!

9. Use “stuff” well. Try to make new things last longer by keeping them in good repair. Donate unwanted stuff to thrift stores. Have a garage sale. Swap meets and thrift stores have great bargains too.

10. Involve the kids. Give each child a special responsibility or chore so they can experience being a part of the action. Or let them inspire you–learn to see the awesomeness of creation through their eyes!


Prayers for the Journey

Easter cross - Iona

Easter cross - Iona Scotland

It is quite a while since I have posted my regular update for daily facebook prayers so I hope that you will forgive me. However the end of the first week of Easter seems a good time to do this. These prayers were posted during Holy week as well as this week. Enjoy!

Lord Jesus Christ your majestic name fills the earth

You glory is reflected in all creation

Your love is expressed in every act of caring

May we rest secure in the wonder of your risen life.

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Alleluia, the author of life is risen amongst us,

God has raised up Jesus Christ from the dead,

Through him all the families of the earth are blessed.

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Creator of the universe,

you made the world in beauty,

and restore all things in glory

through the victory of Jesus Christ.

We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured

by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,

the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,

to the glory of your name. Amen.

From – Revised Common Lectionary –  a service of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library

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Jesus may we live into your resurrection world

Seeking justice, freeing captives, healing the sick.

May newness of life break out through us

in generous sharing and compassionate caring.

May we live as Easter people and proclaim the good news of your kingdom

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May your resurrection power break forth in newness of life

May all that is broken be transformed

May all that is distorted be renewed and made whole

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Christ is risen let us rejoice

Christ is risen let us sing and shout

Christ is risen let us go out and show God’s world

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God we have all betrayed you

Turned our backs and shouted for your death.

Yet in your mercy you forgive

And pour out love in outstretched arms upon a cross

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In the midst of grief and despair

May we sense Easter springtime coming

Death’s dark and overwhelming night

Will give way to resurrection light

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God your ways are good,

Your paths are true,

Your purposes are everlasting.

May we walk with you and not stumble,

Amy we follow you and not faint.

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Why Do I Believe in the Resurrection?

From head to heart

Do you believe in your heart?

Yesterday I received an email from a friend who told me they were not sure that they believed in the physical resurrection of Jesus. I was surprised because this person has a strong Christian faith. And I know that if I scratched the surface of many of my friends I would find the same doubts and struggles. In fact I struggle with this myself sometimes.

Why then do I (at least most of the time) believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead and that because of that I want to commit my life and future to him? As a young Christian my belief in the resurrection was a purely intellectual belief. I believed because I read it in the bible and because theologians I respected told me it was true. I knew in my head that Jesus had risen from the dead, believing it in my heart was another matter.

There came a point in my life when this intellectual faith was not enough. As I struggled to make sense of my experiences in refugee camps and in communities of poverty where kids died every day from malnutrition and easily treatable diseases, I needed a dimension to my faith that intellectual knowledge just did not provide. That was when I cam across the writings of Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Richard Foster and others whose deep heart centred faith inspired and enriched mine.

Part of what they helped me see was that heart knowledge is far more profound than head knowledge. Heart knowledge comes not in the place of discourse and reason but in the place of silence and contemplation. I started to see that unless I intentionally took time to draw aside and immerse myself in the presence of God, my doubts and uncertainties would grow and my faith would eventually crumble. My confidence in the resurrection of Christ has grown over the years, not because I have immersed myself in theology but because I have learned to immerse myself in God an allowed the resurrected to Christ to take up residence in a bigger and bigger part of my heart and my life.

Something else that has rooted my faith in the resurrection of Christ in recent years is my growing connection to the story of God as it lived out in the garden. At my seminars on spirituality and gardening I always tell participants We read about the death and resurrection of Christ in the Bible, but experience it every time we plant a seed and watch it burst into life. I think that one of the reasons that God entrusted the stewardship of creation to us is because it is in tending what God has made that we most intimately connect not just to the creator but to the creator’s story.

More than that God’s story of life, death and resurrection is lived out in the very fabric of our being. Our bodies are constantly living and dying and rising again. When astronauts first went into space, one of the problems they faced was the sloughing of their skin cells as the epidermal layer of their bodies rapidly died and replaced itself.

It is good for us to doubt the foundations of our faith. These doubts however should not move us away from God but encourage us to explore those deep and inner places in which we are assured once more of God’s faithfulness and love. Trust in the story of God, though founded on intellectual knowledge will never survive on that alone – the wisdom propounded by the people of this world is totally inadequate to understand the holy creator of our universe and the story that is being lived out in our midst through the power of the risen Christ.

So my question today is: How do we move from head knowledge to heart certainty? How do we encourage each other to move our understanding of God from intellectual assent to indwelling presence?

April Synchroblog – What If Jesus Did Not Rise

resurrection of Jesus

Resurrection of Jesus

For the April 2012 Synchroblog, we are exploring the question,“What if the resurrection is a lie?”

Make no mistake, we are not challenging the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. We firmly believe in the historical reality of the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus.

But we also know that soon after the resurrection of Jesus, Christians were accused of inventing this story. Some critics claimed that Jesus never died. Others said that the apostles stole the body of Jesus from the grave. Today, there are countless millions of people who still believe that the resurrection is a hoax.

Here is a list of bloggers who contributed to this month’s Synchroblog. If you participated, please include this list of links on your blog!