Category Archives: lent

Lent: What are you gonna do?

So often, around this time, I hear the question “so what are you going to give up for lent?”

so here’s a different question. What are you going to do for Lent?

Maybe you could do something for the first time. Or do something more.

give more…

spend more time with…

share more with…

see more of…

be more of…

Let’s not make lent a thinly veiled disguise for losing weight or feeling better about yourself.  Instead make it at a time when you seize the day and be more like Jesus to those around us.

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Good Friday

The tears of a mother who has lost her son,

Naked, bleeding in front of her.

The tears of memories, regrets, laughter and pain.

Watching the life drain from his eyes.

 

The tears of a disciple who has lost a friend.

His hope, his one, his all.

The tears of broken promises, true community and friendship.

Too afraid to stand and watch.

 

The tears of a friend who has become a traitor.

Sold it all for a bag of coins.

Tears of regret, blame and repentance.

Unable to live with what he has done.

 

The tears of a God who has done the unthinkable.

Tearing himself apart for the hope of what might be.

Tears of pain, suffering, rejection.

Broken and beaten for us.

The product or the process?

During Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) our church runs a series of evening services. I am leading the Good Friday evening service.

One  of my ideas is to put together a modern interpretation of the passion using a news report template. The news presenters will ‘break’ the story to the public and interview some of the people affected by it.

What was most important to me was that as many of the young people I work with could be involved in the service.

this morning the youth group chose their roles for the news report and started writing the script. These young people are aged between 12 and 14 years old.

Here’s the problem. I’m a perfectionist. I am a filmmaker and believe in making my movies the best that they can be.  This ethos crosses into every area of my youth work and life. I think we have a responsibility to make things great.

But in allowing the young people to write the script, I risk the end product not being as ‘technically’ good as it could be. The script won’t be as good. The acting won’t be amazing etc.

But that’s the point.

I believe, as many have stated before me, that youth work is about the process, not the product. like the faith I try to live out, youth work is a journey.

Through their involvement, the young people will learn how to put a short film together. They will learn that they are creative. They will have a sense of achievement something that they have helped make will be broadcast to the whole congregation.

Are there times when we focus more on the product than the process?

Maybe, that’s something to think about.

Stumble the Future

I stumbled across this website today that lets you send an e-mail to your email address in the future.

I immediately thought it was an interesting tool for youth work but then started to think what an interesting tool it was for anyone.

If I could send an e-mail to myself in 2037, what would I want to say? What would I want to remind myself of?

Setting aside the thought that e-mail probably will be long gone by then, what words of advice would I give?

Who knows what kind of person I will be or where I will find myself in 28 years time. I’ll be 54..I know that much. And that’s pretty scary.

At college on Thursday, a lecturer emphasised how important it is to remember the “grace moments” in your life. The times when you just knew something bigger was at work. Maybe it was God. Maybe it wasn’t but…it was something. Something bigger than you. You caught a glimpse of another world.

As a Christian, I think, it’s important to remember those “grace moments”.

When the doubts come. When you’re just not really sure anymore. When you feel lost.

Remember the times when God was with you. That’s what the Israelites did. God reminded them over and over again. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. When they were lost. When their nation had been crushed and and they were taken as exiles to Babylon. God reminded them. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.

We need those grace moments. We need to hold on to them. Remember when you felt God. When you heard him. Because sometimes that’s all we have. The memories. When science causes us to doubt. When we see oppression and poverty all around us. When we simply ask, “Why God?”. Those are the times when we need those grace moments. To get us through.

For the Jews, it was passover. For Christians it’s the Eucharist. Communion.

We remind ourselves when God showed up.

Maybe that’s what helped Jesus through his “lent” 2000 years ago. During those 40 days in the wildreness. When he was tired. Alone. Away from his family. Away from God.

Maybe he reminded himself of those grace moments. When he communed with the Father. With the Spirit.

We need those grace moments too.

Maybe that’s what I would e-mail myself. All the grace moments in my life. The times when  I came face to face with something much bigger than me.

So that I might continue on this journey. So that I might finish the race.

What are your grace moments?

Washing the dishes

Yesterday morning I was getting myself ready for college. get washed. eat breakfast. do my ‘lent’ time.

i finished my breakfast and added the bowl and empty cup to the pile of dishes that had gathered from the night before. where do they all come from?

I looked at the dishes and thought, “i’d like to do them, but I need to spend some time praying”.

As I sat down to pray something nagged at me.

the dishes.

I had fallen back into the thinking that says spending time with God and service are two separate things. In fact, I believe they are the two sides of one coin.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he states that true worship is the sacrifice of ourselves to God (12:1).

Doing the dishes so that Katie didn’t have to when she got up was worship to God.

So often I forget that. I divide my life up into little boxes and separate everything. That’s not how it was ever meant to be. My relationship with God should influence everything I do. The Jews had no term for ‘spiritual’. They believed their whole life was spiritual. Your thoughts, your actions, your feelings were all intermingled with God.

And that’s how it should be.

That’s why washing the dishes was my time with God yesterday.

one sentence

There is a great site called ‘one sentence’ that you can visit here

the point is to tell your story in one sentence. Here’s one I saw this morning.

I realized my family’s odd list of priorities when, while standing in the kitchen under the leaking roof, my father informed me he needed a ride to the Porsche dealer to pick up his new car.

What are our priorities? Are we missing the log in our own eye? What drives us?

have a think…

And the walls came tumbling down

It’s only the start of the lent but I have still managed to break my promise. We had some family staying over during the weekend and I didn’t get a chance to get up early on Friday or Saturday to continue “my lent”. Hopefully that’s the last time it will happen.

Today, I was reading the account of the Fall of Jericho in Chapter 6 of Joshua. To be honest this is a passage that I struggle with. Maybe it’s because I didn’t live in that culture or I don’t fully understand what’s going on but in my western post modern mind I cannot understand why an entire city (men, women, children and animals) had to be slaughtered. There are many accounts like this in the Old Testament and I struggle with all of them.

What did these people do that was so bad that they deserved to be butchered? Most of us when we think of the holocaust are appauled that such an atrocity could take place but yet we, as Christians, accept this story of genocide. Im sure there are scholars out there who could tell me why it was justified but right now, I can’t find any reason.

There is a clear tension then inside of me when I read of these stories. Yes I can see the applicable lessons in this story:

God is faithful

Expect the unexpected with God

Trust God that he will do what he says he will do

but there is still the bitter aftertaste of genocide.

What then can I learn from this today?

To critically assess our faith. To not just accept things. To engage our brains when we read scripture.

I think we could all do with that.

Lent, chopped willies and holy ground

Today has been a good day.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the OT and I am now at Joshua. I got up, as planned, at 7am this morning to start Lent. To give up some sleep and spend some time with God.

Those that know me, know that I’m not generally one for spiritualising scripture but Joshua 5 spoke a lot to me this morning and I wanted to share some of those thoughts.

The Israelites renew their covenant with God by getting circumcised (just the men) as no one had been circumsised since they left Egypt and all the people that had been had now died.

YHWH then says to Joshua, “Today, I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt” (5:9). God has rolled away my shame. He has “cut off” my guilt, my inadequacy, my shame. The old is gone. Today is not yesterday. Today is today. A new day. A renewed covenant.

The flip side of that is that I have to choose to live in that reality. I have to realise that it has been rolled away. I could choose to still walk in that old way. Pretending that the foreskin (pardon my vulgarity) is still there.  Living under that shame and guilt.

But I don’t have to. God has rolled it away.

Later, Joshua comes face to face with “the commander of YHWH’s army” (5:15) and is told to take off his shoes as the ground is holy. Joshua is going through the same ritual that Moses went through. The batton has been passed to him. Only when the covenant was renewed (by circumcision) was Joshua able to see this. The ground was always holy. But that only happened when Joshua committed himself back to God. We can walk around unaware that the ground is holy. We can miss the presense of God every day. I know have. Many, many times. But when we re-connect. When we renew that covenant. God will open our eyes.

That’s what he’s done for me today.  I have taken lent as a rededication to God and God has shown up. He has revealed that the ground is holy.

Roll on tomorrow.

Lent

I’ve never bothered with lent.  Never saw the point of it. I guess I focused too much on the legalistic side of ‘giving something up’. Most of the people I knew who took part chose to cut out food of some kind (and that was really just an excuse to go on a diet without saying, “i’m going on a diet”.

But you know what, I’m starting to change my mind. I’m seeing the possibilities of it. A time of re-dedication. Re-focus.

So every morning, I’m going to get up and spend some time with God. I don’t know what that will look like or what will be involved, but I’m going to do it.

And each night, I’ll try and blog about it. Let you know what went on. What I thought about. Hopefully it will inspire me. Maybe it will inspire you…

Maybe, that’s the point of Lent.