Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lenten Giving Up or Giving To?

“You who dwell in the shelter of our God, who abide in this shadow for life,
 say to the Lord, My refuge, my Rock in whom I trust”
Psalm 91

            As we enter our Lenten journey it is important to remember why we do the things we do. Why does Tim Horton’s “Roll up the Rim” contest take place during Lent every year? Over twenty years ago sales for sweets from their bakery line went down during the month of February and March because of Lent and to get people to buy during this time they started the contest. People gave up something they enjoyed and it affected business.  

Yet what is involved in our observance of Lent may not be regarded as giving up something, but giving to others in new ways. During Lent we are called to look at ourselves in light of God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God. Lent is a time to acknowledge and respond to God’s offer to dwell in our hearts. It is a time to pour energy into increasing our awareness of God’s presence with us, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.  

What is your prayer as we begin Lent? It could be to ask God to open your hearts and increase your awareness of the Holy Spirit. This might even mean to ask God to increase our courage as we respond to the needs of others . But we must learn to listen for GOd’s voice as our relationships unfold. We need to seek and expect God’s presence, guidance and protection, while being continually grateful for the work of God in our lives. Are we willing and committed to doing this during this Lenten season?
God help each of us to experience your protection and enable us to be more aware of your Spirit. Show us your grace in the words and wonder of all that we see and experience. Let our Lenten journey bring us closer to knowing Jesus as human and as your Son. Amen.      

BLOG QUESTION: How have you experienced the Holy Spirit in recent days? How confident are you that the Spirit is with you in your daily journey? Does having and knowing that the Spirit is with you help or hinder your life? click on comments to add your own comment.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dust and Ashes-Ash Wednesday

Create in me a pure heart,  O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Psalm 51           

“Ash Wednesday is a day of penitence marking the beginning of Lent. It is a day to embark on new beginnings in the faith and a time for returning to the Lord. On this day, we recall our mortality and wait upon the Lord for a renewing Spirit. This is a time for putting aside the sins and failures of the past in the light of who we are yet to become by the grace of God. It is a time to reflect upon our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.”

This is from the liturgy for Ash Wednesday as we prepare for the season of Lent.  Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Pancake and Pacski Day are different names for the day before this as a preparation for Lent. Shrove Tuesday is the day set aside to ensure that all the heavier oil and egg products would be eaten prior to experiencing the ashes upon one’s head marking the beginning of Lent on Wednesday. During Lent many people choose not to eat the heavier foods as we remember the time of Jesus preparation for ministry in the wilderness and eat less or no meat, fish on Fridays and on Sundays have a festival day. This routine for the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter enables people to reflect upon who they are as they walk with Jesus. It is also a time to renew one’s faith and to focus on spiritual growth.

What does Ash Wednesday remind us of? We are reminded that we were each created from God and  our life’s journey will end in our bodies dying and being returned to the ground. The ashes placed on foreheads by some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are the burned palm branches from last year’s palm branches and they remind us of Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna and how these shouts changed to crucify in just a few short days.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are to be humble before God and that we will one day die and need to be ready to see Jesus. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this Lenten season of self learning sharing and wonder. What is it that you are seeking in this Lenten journey?  

PRAYER: Loving God ashes remind us of destruction after fire and remnants of what was once alive. Help us this day to know who you are as we are reminded that one day we shall die and at that time of death we will be called to account for our lives.
During this season of Lent help us to draw closer to you, to seek your love and to grow with you as we walk together in faith and with hope. Be with us in the wilderness walk of faith. Amen.

BLOG QUESTION: One tradition for Lent is to give up something. A challenge is to do something different by giving to others. What will you give up or how will you give? And why is this important for you during this Lenten season.  

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

What Matters Most?”

“For God so Loved the world that He gave His only Son..”
John 3:16-17           

            Sometimes we get bogged down in details and forget why the details are called this. Think about a wedding celebration. It is not the actual words that are exchanged that cause so much anxiety for a couple or their families but what flowers should be on the round tables and who is to sit where. Yes the details make things a little cheerier, but what is important is what is celebrated, honoured and even the focus.
            God saw that the people he created were not listening to him. This was not something new because if you review biblical history and God’s relationship with people, this occurs over and over again. There are times when the people live according to his laws and then they turn away for whatever reason. They live their own lives which to some may seem more exciting but what is unfortunate, is that God still watches and eventually God intervenes in some way.
God then told the prophets about the messiah who would come and enable all to be reconciled with Him always. This was because God loved his world. He wanted to keep people serving him and loving him. No matter what else we learn about God, Jesus and the Bible this is most important--God loves us so much that He gave us Jesus to live, die and rise again for our sakes. If believe in Jesus’ resurrection, we have the gift and hope of eternal life. This is God’s gift to us. This is the essence of a Christ-filled life. But in order to grow in our faith it is essential to pay attention to the details of why God sent us Jesus and this is found in the Bible, The details of how we are to live for Jesus are also described in the Bible. But what is essential is to believe in Jesus. Discovering the details of the Bible have lead men and women in life-long journeys of faith since the Bible came into the hands of people. Yet for many the details only are important when they effect them. How much detail do you need to realize that you are growing in faith in Christ? How much detail do you understand about Jesus?
Knowing and accepting Christ is essential, but understanding and growing in wisdom is important to your faithful witness to others. Diving into the Bible enables one to bring new thoughts and clearer understanding of what is important in knowing who God is and can be in one’s life.
God knows you and you are wonderfully made. He knows all the details about you. How much do you know about him? 

PRAYER: Holy God we praise you for your gift to us in Jesus Christ through faith. Help us to remember him as we share with others and as we strive to grow in our faith of you. Enable us to hear the stories of other people and how their struggles are like ours and yet we may continue to grow as we understand our lives today. Amen.


BLOG QUESTION: What is most important to you in your life? Is it family, work, church, fun, traveling? What is what drives you to do what you do? What is most important about your relationship with God, Jesus and the Spirit? Do you intentionally seek out ways to grow spiritually? How?
Post your response and enter into the great debate......