Getting Ready for Lent – What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?

Lent is Coming

Lent is Coming

We are rapidly moving towards Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 22nd. This is the season that most challenges us to reflect on our faith and renew our commitment to follow Jesus. Once again I want to invite you to participate with me in Lenten reflections that challenge us to take our following of Jesus more seriously.

Last year our theme was: Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make. The theme for this year is: Easter is Coming – What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? 

When reading  Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings. a couple of years ago, I came across this quote by Caesarius of Arles (470 – 543) in a reflection on Exodus 17: 1-7. It profoundly impacted. Do we really thirst for justice or are we satisfied with water? Do we hunger for righteousness or are we satisfied with bread? If we do really hunger and thirst after justice ad righteousness, how is that lived out in our lives?

For what did the people thirst?  What then does the scripture mention in what follows? “In their thirst for water the people grumbled against Moses.”  Perhaps this word that he said may seem superfluous, that the people thirsted for water. For since he said “In their thirst” what need was there to add “for water”?  Thus indeed the ancient translation has it.  Why did he add this, except because they thirsted for water when they should have thirsted for justice?  ”Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice.” and again “thirsty is my soul for the living God.”  Many people are thirsty, both the just and sinners, the former thirst after justice, the latter after dissipation  The just are thirsty for God; sinners for gold.  For this reason the people thirsted after water when they should have thirsted after justice.

The guidelines for the guest posts are simple. Please write an article of 500 – 800 words. If you have a blog, post your article there mentioning that it is part of this blog series and send me the link.  If you do not have a blog but would like to contribute please email your article. I will post a new article each day with links to the appropriate blogs.  Each couple of weeks I will post  a complete list of posts that I have received with links to the appropriate blogs. I ask that you also post this on your own blog.

With your post please include a 2-3 sentence bio and any photos that you want included. Also note that the email to respond to this year if you want to be a part of this, is not my personal email. Seattle Pacific student Lyndsay Field is assisting me this year and will coordinate the blog series through the email msaintern@gmail.com. Alternatively leave a comment at the end of this post.

 

Following Jesus What Difference Does It Make – The Complete Lenten Series

I realize that Lent is not quite over, but with Palm Sunday coming and Holy week only a few days away, as I mentioned this morning, I want to turn my focus to reflections on this last week of Jesus life.

I hope that you have enjoyed the posts during this Lenten series as much as I have.  The depth and variety of what people have written has inspired me.  It is obvious that for many of us following Jesus really does make a difference in incredible ways.  We have contributors from Ireland, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, England, the Us and Canada. We have farmers, theologians, pastors, physicians, artists, authors, photographers and musicians.

Here is the complete list of posts:

A Good Friday Prayer

Matthew Young –  Waiting For Spring 

Palm Sunday Prayer

Palm Sunday Is Coming – What Does It Mean?

John Leech –  Thin Space

Jill Aylard Young – Suffering and Hope: A Meditation on Miscarriage and Romans 5:3-5 

Dave Perry – Imagining the Lectionary – Psalms and Passion

Jon Stevens – Re-Rooting Ourselves in the Only One Who Counts 

A Prayer for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Ryan Harrison – Summer Breaking

Steve Wickham – Really What Difference Does Following Jesus Make?

Kathy Escobar – Humility

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Melanie Clark Pullen – Rest For the Soul

James Prescott What Difference Does It Make – Surrender and Control

Prayer Knocks, Fasting Obtains, Mercy Receives – A Meditation From St Peter Chrysologus

A Season For Grief and Sorrow

Tracy Dickerson Icon

Learning to Live Without Plastics

Jarred McKenna Jesus In Japan (Libyia & Bahrain) I Was Hungry & Thirsty… & You Fought Rob Bell on Twitter

Coe Hutchison Following Jesus What Difference Has It Made

John Mitchell  Followers of the Way

I Have and Always Will Belong to God

Ryan Harrison It Doesn’t But It Should

Don’t Try and Escape the Desert

Alex Tang  Following Jesus

Theresa Ip Froehlich Thank God For Lent

A prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent

Eugene Cho – Giving Up Coffee or My Life

Tim Dalton – Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make

Paula Mitchell – The Grace to Trust

Jeff Johnson – Christ Has Walked this Path A Lenten video

Where is God in the Midst of Disaster?

Keith Giles – Nobody Follows Jesus So Why Should You?

Ron Cole – Leaving to Find Church

Jon Stevens – You Do Not Need To Go To Seminary to Follow Jesus

Earthquake In Japan How Do We Pray?

John Van de Laar – Into The Desert

Lynne Baab – Freedom From Fear of Death

A Lenten Prayer by Ignatius Loyola

Another Ash Wednesday Prayer

Ash Wednesday Prayer 2011

Posts for First Week of Lent – Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make?

The posts for this Lenten Series on Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make have been both thought provoking and inspiring. and readers are loving it.  I hope that you will continue to read along with us through the following weeks.   Here is the list for those of you that have missed them.

A prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent

Eugene Cho – Giving Up Coffee or My Life

Tim Dalton – Following Jesus What Difference Does it Make

Paula Mitchell – The Grace to Trust

Jeff Johnson – Christ Has Walked this Path A Lenten video

Christine Sine – Where is God in the Midst of Disaster?

Keith Giles – Nobody Follows Jesus So Why Should You?

Ron Cole – Leaving to Find Church

Jon Stevens – You Do Not Need To Go To Seminary to Follow Jesus

Christine Sine – Earthquake In Japan How Do We Pray?

John Van de Laar – Into The Desert

Lynne Baab – Freedom From Fear of Death

A Lenten Prayer by Ignatius Loyola

Another Ash Wednesday Prayer

Ash Wednesday Prayer 2011

Leaving to Find Church – Lenten reflection by Ron Cole

Today’s post is provided by Ron Cole and can also be viewed on his blog  Faith Unleashed… Running Wild

Ron Cole and his wife Colleen are empty-nesters living on Vancouver Island off Canada’s west coast. Ron works as a health care provider as a clinical laboratory technologist in a local hospital. After 20 years working within various minitries in the church, he now finds himself on the fringe. He is a director in CARTS an non-profit organization, providing food, clothing and love to the marginalized in Victoria’s inner city. Also finds himself regularly in ” hot water ” in the dish pit of the Rainbow kitchen, a soup kitchen feeding the working poor, and street community.

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I really dedicate this post to Chris Heuertz, his writing, his passion for Jesus, and his Kingdom have really influenced me over the past few years. Thank you, for words that encouraged me to be bold, to grasp that mustard seed of faith and plant it in the brokenness of my neighborhood.

For me faith has always been a mystery, a journey over the topography of my mind, heart and soul. But, it does stay there it moves me into the broken, and shard pieces of the world around me. So this is where I am. I have left the church, to find the church. Many of my friends do not understand this. They are caught up in Sunday morning…that I have somehow forsaken the assembly of the saints, the singing of spiritual songs, and teaching. Some more critical, that I have lost my way…that I have engaged the slippery slope of losing my faith altogether.

Perhaps, it’s best if I give you a glimpse of my church. It begins somewhere around 2:00pm on Sunday afternoon. A group of 3-4 people gather in a small garage in the high Quadra area of Victoria. It’s a our warehouse where we store our supplies for CARTS. I envision it almost being a sanctuary, because in a sense, it’s here we prepare our sacraments for the journey through Victoria’s inner city streets. I like the thought of a  sacrament being religious symbol or often a offering which conveys divine grace, blessing, or sanctity upon the person who participates in it, or a tangible symbol which represents an intangible reality. Or more, it’s the radical scandalous love of God, the redemptive imagination of holiness being justice, and righteousness as God turning the table upside down putting things right in the perspective of his Kingdom.

So what are the sacraments we prepare; it’s underware, men’s and womens; it’s bags of socks; it’s personal packs; it’s touques, mitts, gloves and scarves; it’s ponchos; bibles; it’s fruit, baking, gallons of hot chocolate, sandwiches, cookies, candy.

Some may ask, how are these sacraments? I ask you to let your mind, heart and soul wander into the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25…

When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.”

Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”

Jesus will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

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Our service begins, in the vicinity of Queen’s and Douglas Street. Anywhere from 8, to 24 people gather to organize, fill and pull carts.This afternoon its about 2 degrees Celsius,the rain is a mix of snow…almost being hit by a slushy. Across the street we see our friends, our community beginning to gather. They huddle under neath the second floor balcony of Victoria’s solution to social housing, the in need of renovation, ” Traveller’s Inn.” Standing at the edge of the intersection, we wait for a gap in the traffic. They wave at us, we return the wave, making a mad dash across in the intersection…CARTS in tow. Immediately, a middle aged first nations woman embraces me, she hugs me, she kisses me on the cheek. Suddenly from now where an image floods my mind…

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

I am overwhelmed by love…am I the prodigal son, and this first nations woman, struggling with addiction, with poverty, with oppression all the injustice in her world. Is she Jesus? I look at her, she looks at me…we laugh.

We give out the clothing, the food, the hot chocolate…and the wet cold rain continues to fall. But there is warmth that is kindled in this community that seems to push away the cold. There is the constant chatter of conversation, sharing stories, smiles, and hugs. They know, and we know, our community is more than just here… that we must move to visit the rest. We say our thanks, our goodbyes and we move along Douglas into the inner city.

We move a few blocks, and underneath the cover of a run down vacant gas station a man sits on the steps working on his bike. He is wet, cold, filthy and smells…this is the fragrance of broken humanity. This is the incense that attracted jesus…the offering he found wholly acceptable. We stop to see how he’s doing, offer food, a hot drink, socks…a blessings. Our rag tag gang of ragamuffins moves on towards Centennial Square…to the epicenter of Victoria’s political power. There again our community has gathered under a covered space below the mayor’s office, and council chambers. Again, it is the simplicity of community, conversation, stories, chatter, laughter, hugs, handshakes, pats on the back…there is a profound sense of communion, man and God at table…

The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

To my pleasant surprise, giving out hot chocolate I see a friend I haven’t seen since the parking lot behind Capitol Six. He has severe health problems, a constant battle with hepatitis, and HIV. But tonight he is animated, so excited and happy to see us. Again, more hugs and stories, and catching up on all the missing spaces of life.

Just before we leave, we have a prayer circle. I think to myself…this is so ironic. Here we are with Victoria’s inner city community, the homeless, the poor, the addicts, the mentally ill. This small circle of seemingly insignificance, of the powerless and the voiceless…huddled under the political power brokers of the city. It is so…Kingdom.

Before we start there is a testimony from the inner city community…he is overwhelmed. He shares about his discovery of Jesus about a year ago. He exudes with joy…tears flow. He tells us of learning how to love people…how much he loves people. Al shares a beautiful prayer of compassion, grace, mercy, love and protection for our friends, our community. There is profound peace, and silence and we move off.

It has been busy here a contant stream of people. Once everyone has got what they need, it’s time to move again to Johnson Street to the Salvation Army Shelter. Again they are waiting for us. It is a repeat of the other stops.

Supplies are running low, and the church service is coming to an end. We have one last stop… the ” Needle Exchange Van.”

We move along Johnson, and in the distance I see a young woman standing at an intersection. The light changes a few times, she dose not cross…she does not move. She’s waiting…waiting for someone to stop. We arrive at the intersection, she smiles at me, I at her. I know her…I’ve seen her many times. Another image floods my mind…could she be the prostitute that anointed Jesus feet, and washed them with her tears. I wonder…and am filled with compassion, a profound sense of worship.

We arrive and there is two young men getting crack pipes, and soda. There eyes brighen up when they see the bananas and cookies we leave at the van. They fill there pockets and love off into the darkness of the night.

We are now back to where we started the church service is over, the van is packed up. In the distance we hear a voice, ” Carts, is that you.” We have nothing left really. She is living rough on the street…it is wet, and cold. We dig around, we find some polar fleece jackets, some rain gear. She leaves happy that she has something to keep her warm.

Following Jesus has made a profound difference in my faith. My beliefs have changed, my theology has changed. My life, my thinking orbits around the mystery the God-person, Jesus. His divine graviational pull continues to draw me in. The gospels have become a have become the map in which I navigate life. No matter how many times I read it, in the contours of its topography I am blown away by the redemptive imagination that I continue to find. As dangerous, as wild, as scandalous as the words, the life of Jesus is…if we dared embrace it, dared live it as Jesus did. I can only imagine…Father your Kingdom come; on earth as in Heaven. As Jesus lived his life, the Kingdom would be here, now.

Following Jesus has taken the leash of my faith, caused me to run wild…church will never be the same for me.

Following Jesus – What Difference Does it Make?

Lent is almost here and we are fast approaching the season that most challenges us to reflect on our faith and the real cost of following Jesus.  Once again I want to invite you to participate with me in Lenten reflections that challenge us to take the call of God on our lives more seriously.  Last year we reflected on the theme Walking With Jesus Towards the Cross How Do we Follow?

This year my question is: Following Jesus, what difference has it made? Becoming a disciple of Christ is meant to impact every area of our lives so that we are transformed into the people that God intends us to be.  This is our opportunity to share with others the changes our faith has made and why we still follow Jesus.

If you would like to participate please email me or leave a comment below.  The rules are simple.   Please write an article of 500 – 700 words.  If you have your own blog please post your article there mentioning that it is part of this blog series and send me the link.  If you do not have your own blog but would like to contribute please email me your article.  I will post a new article each day with links to the appropriate blogs.  At the end of the week I will post  a complete list of posts that I have received with links to the appropriate blogs.  I ask that you also post this on your own blog each week.

I think that reflections like this can inspire, encourage and challenge others to take their faith more seriously.

Complete Lenten Series for 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of Lent and I want to  thank all of you who have journeyed with us toward the Cross by following the reflections on my blog during this season.  I will continue to upload some new prayers in the next couple of days but I wanted to thank you too for all who have contributed either by writing reflections or by sending me links to videos, prayers and reflections that had inspired them.  this has been a very popular series.

For those that missed out here is the complete series of reflections and prayers.

Easter Sunday Prayer for 2010

Walking with Jesus to the Cross How do we follow – by Karen Anderson

Good Friday Prayer for 2010

Reflection for Monday of Holy Week

Giving Things Up Does not Imply Loss

How Has Lent Changed You?

What Is Palm Sunday?

The Story Of Two Lost Sons – Thoughts from Tim Keller & Henri Nouwen

Companions on the Journey by Stan Thornburg

Following Jesus Each Day – Lynne Baab

Prayer for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Watching Swallows Pray – music video by Jeff Johnson

Show Me the Suffering of the Most Miserable – a Lenten Prayer by Cesar Chavez

Lent – A Season of Solidarity – Wisdom From St Benedict

Don’t Curse the Darkness – Let the Son Shine Through

Are We Ready For Easter?

What You Really Need When Life Is Loud – Ann Voskamp

Lent – Honouring the Cracks – Kathy Escobar

Growing During Lent – Don’t Look Too Closely – Thule Kinnison

Lent a Season Of Solidarity – Wisdom from St Benedict – Walter Forcatto

Walking in Darkness – Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Where is Jesus in Your Neighbourhood?

Wisdom From Henri Nouwen – More Thoughts For Lent

The Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola – A Lenten Reflection

Don’t Curse the Darkness – Let The Son Shine Through

Who/What Is God

Lent – Educating Us Into Freedom

Acceptance, Acclimatisation, Activity – Steve Wickham

A Lenten Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent – What is Joy?

A Franciscan Benediction by Joshua Spiers

What do We Thirst For?

Two excellent videos from the 24/7 prayer network

A Meditation for Lent – Prayer as Justice

Community as Prayer – Another meditation for Lent

You might also enjoy these earlier posts

A Little Humour for Lent

Am I worshipping God for Only Me?

Getting Ready for Lent – What Could You Give Up For Haiti?

And for those that are still wondering what Lent is all about

Lent is Not a Ritual

Lent 2010 Resource List Updated

Also check out the Steps of Justice website which is posting daily justice focused reflections for Lent

End of the Third Week of Lent.

This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Lent.  We are now more than half way through this season and it seems like a good time to pause and reflect on what we have learned to this point.  I have particularly enjoyed hosting this series because it has encouraged me to spend time each morning reflecting on Lent and the meaning of this season.  All the reflections have been so deep and meaningful that I probably should not mention favourites.  However, for me personally the reflections that contrast light and darkness have been particularly profound as I struggle to understand the contrast between our longing for good and our daily confrontation with suffering.

Walking in Darkness by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Wisdom From Henri Nouwen – More Thoughts For Lent

Lent – A Season of Solidarity – Wisdom From St Benedict

Don’t Curse the Darkness – Let the Son Sine Through

My most popular posts over these weeks are the prayers that were posted at the beginning of Lent:

Morning and Evening Prayers for Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer

The most popular reflections have been:

Where is Jesus in Your Neighbourhood?

A Lenten Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoffer

A Meditation for Lent – Prayer as Justice

However, as I already mentioned all the posts have been so rich that I would recommend a look at all of them.  Here is the entire list.

Are We Ready For Easter?

What You Really Need When Life Is Loud – Ann Voskamp

Lent – Honouring the Cracks – Kathy Escobar

Growing During Lent – Don’t Look Too Closely – Thule Kinnison

Lent a Season Of Solidarity – Wisdom from St Benedict – Walter Forcatto

Walking in Darkness – Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Where is Jesus in Your Neighbourhood?

Wisdom From Henri Nouwen – More Thoughts For Lent

The Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola – A Lenten Reflection

Don’t Curse the Darkness – Let The Son Shine Through

Who/What Is God

Lent – Educating Us Into Freedom

Acceptance, Acclimatisation, Activity

A Lenten Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent – What is Joy?

A Franciscan Benediction by Joshua Spiers

What do We Thirst For?

Two excellent videos from the 24/7 prayer network

A Meditation for Lent – Prayer as Justice

Community as Prayer – Another meditation for Lent

You might also enjoy these earlier posts

A Little Humour for Lent

Am I worshipping God for Only Me?

Getting Ready for Lent – What Could You Give Up For Haiti?

And for those that are still wondering what Lent is all about

Lent is Not a Ritual

Lent 2010 Resource List Updated

Also check out the Steps of Justice website which is posting daily justice focused reflections for Lent