Category Archives: NFC

Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

Today our worship gathering finished our focused study on the book of Ephesians.  We’ve been soaking in it for over eight months.  Wow.

I sat in the balcony, feeling released from that anxiousness that generally plagues me, looking for the I-Spy hunt that God has been leading me on as of late. So much fun!

The message this morning: reflecting on Ephesians. I had an inkling in my mind.  I had put a book in my bag before running out the door for service: it seemed to need to come along.  The title: “The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation” by Watchman Nee.

“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1.17).

“Paul prayed in his day for the saints in Ephesus that they might see the exceeding greatness of the power which God had already given them. Now if we today do not see that the power in us and the power in Christ is on and the same power, we too must pray for seeing. If the power manifested in us is less than the power that was manifested in Christ, we should acknowledge that there are still many things which we have not seen. Let us humbly confess and pray to God to make us see. Yet whether we see or not, the fact remains that the power which God works in those who believe is according to the working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ.  Hallelujah! This the spiritual fact. Let us ask God to open our eyes that we may truly perceive and understand. We will not ask His to pour upon us more power from outside; no, we will only ask Him to cause us to discover and to see m ore that is in us already. And when God opens our eyes to see, we shall praise Him more and more for what we have been given” (23).

This I prayed, for my self and my worship family as we shared some of our reflections, struggles, challenges, and encouragements from spending time in (and out) of Ephesians.

“Paul prayed ‘that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation.’ Without the Holy Spirit, what profit is there in clearness of teaching? It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes and causes us to see. When He truly opens our eyes we will immediately be able to say: ‘Thank God, the work is done.’ We are not to expect the Lord to give us greater power: we are simply to perceive how great is the power which He has already given us. The spirit of wisdom will  make us understand and the spirit of revelation will make us see; wisdom will make things clear and revelation will bring them to us” (33).

All this I prayed while I casually waved my son’s palm frond in a passive aggressive way in attempting to show some passion. 🙂 And I smiled as my children proclaimed their hosannas all the way to the car, with construction paper leaves and a paper windsock. Just like in Bible times. 🙂

Wisdom and revelation: be here. We anticipate you with fear and trembling. Hosanna in the highest!

Ps.  The topic of the sermon I listened to on Tuesday night when I felt like God took me on an audio Hide & Seek game (my own personal bazinga!): wisdom and revelation, freedom and joy! Nevertheless!

Ritual, Respect, and the Light of “Instead”

After a hearty recommendation from a friend, I recently purchased a book: “To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration”. The author discusses the importance of ritual in our family and worship lives through following the liturgical year, giving ideas for families to enter in without engaging in superficial piety. Due to the length of the title, my friend calls the book by the author’s first name: Gertrud. I think Gertrud would be okay with that.

So Gertrud arrived at my house, and I skimmed ahead to the section on Holy Week and Easter to get a sense if there was anything I might incorporate into our upcoming celebration. Gertrud is very holistic in her life, because instead of simply listing off craft projects and foods that could be enjoyed, she talks about an event and weaves in psychological, community, and personal implications.

Gertrud starts off talking about the procession of Palm Sunday with ideas of making bread dough chicks, gathering branches, displaying banners, and then so slyly delves into a discussion on feeling and passion in the corporate gathering. “The powerful liturgy of these holy days must tap also our deepest and most human place, the feelings of the human heart.” (157)  I remember loving to tear through the sanctuary as a kid: to be as loud as I wanted to be, especially without any adults to tell me to “quiet down, now” (as I do to my kids in the social hall – sigh). Part of that was the rambunctiousness that comes with being a kid, but I also think it’s something more.

Then Gertrud hit me, lovingly:

Indeed, in many cases it takes some educating and coaxing of priests and leaders of public worship not to stand at such a distance from the passions of what makes us human. That education and leadership, in turn, directed to the community assembled, can release a richness and a power, which can only be called a religious experience. Yes, we risk putting ourselves out. But to hold back or deny out of fear is to deny people a form to contain their human expression; it is to rob people of a religious life. (157)

Pow.

In one of his talks Graham Cooke talked about the relationship between worship leaders and the “rest” of the gathering. He said something to the effect that we’re called not to judge how worship is going or meeting our needs, but rather to intercede for the worship leaders that they may create an atmosphere of deeper breakthrough of the Holy Spirit.

My natural inclination is to sit back and point out things that I perceive are wrong or lacking, and then feel justified in disengaging. What if that negative revelation has a place, but rather calling for deeper engagement? What if that message is for me so I know how better to intercede for our worship facilitators? What would it look like to lift up rather than tear down? And what if lifted up, the facilitators can better “release a richness and a power, which can only be called a religious experience”?

One of my dearest friends facilitates worship both on Sunday morning and at our bible study on Thursdays. This past Thursday the songs she chose reflected the themes and fingerprints of God that we’ve talked about lately at our Tuesday night “crafty” gatherings. I don’t know that she did it intentionally or subconsciously, but I did grin as each song was displayed on the projector. I pray for her, respect that she’s been gifted for this task, believe she is equipped, want to acknowledge her blessings and intercede in her places of lack. I see richness and power released into our Thursday morning experience: hosanna!

I’ve been convinced I don’t carry the same posture on Sunday mornings, and this post is an attempt at repentance.

I am sorry for the times I have judged or been critical – that was not, nor ever will be, my place.

I believe God is the God of “insteads”:  Isaiah proclaims God wants to give beauty instead of ashes, abundance instead of deprivation. Instead of judging, I want to respect and honor those who have been chosen to facilitate our worship times. Instead of having a spirit of introspection, I want to have a spirit of communal adoration. I want to honor my leaders’ giftings, respect their leadings, and “coax” them into a deeper engagement and passion through a pouring out of prayer. I want to see us in the light of “instead”.

Then perhaps I, and we, will enter in more deeply to what God is already doing:

“11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58

All glory laud and honor, to you Redeemer King! Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David!

From the Heights to the Depths You’re There

A few months ago I had a chuckle. During our worship gathering one of my boys was sitting in the sound booth, “helping” with his favorite sound technician.  He puts on headphones, watches the computer screen, and actually sits quietly until he’s dismissed to “children’s church.”

Meanwhile, my other son was stuck in the men’s bathroom stall.  A friend’s son found him; with loving concern the whole family brought him in his distress to us and stayed to make sure he was okay.

One running things in the balcony; the other stuck in the basement bathroom.  But both helped out by our extended family.

Today the eldest was back in the sound booth and the middle child was sitting with one of his best bud’s family.  Jason and I enjoyed a moment of rest. I worked to enter into worship, trying not to get stuck on the mention of the “Quaker handraising” (described as a small extension of the hands to the side, totally non-expressive. Doesn’t quite seem in line with a denomination that got its name from describing their bodily manifestations of the Spirit). I thought about how nice it would be after worship, having received an invitation to a friend’s house for a Real Sunday Dinner (with grandparents and Wii entertainment for the tykes – delightful!).

Downstairs I ran into one of the Weighty Friends in my life.  Her face lit up when our eyes connected.  We waxed poetic about people we admire in our lives and joked about how it’s good that we don’t sit together, lest we stir up “real” trouble.

Similar to the experience I earlier described with my boys, I was enjoying life in the balcony, while another was stuck in a metaphorical crapper.

It can be hard to get through service with young kids, especially when the dismissal to children’s church occurs later than usual.  Instead of experiencing the help of a friend “opening the stall door” to get through, a snarky comment about controlling kids or not having them in the sanctuary pretty much slammed that door shut.

This is not the first time it’s happened to someone I know.

What do I do with something like that? What do *WE* do with that? What does it look like to give grace (“oh, maybe they were having a hard day”) or to call into loving correction (“this is not how we treat each other”)? My fear is I will hear more excuses (“yep, that happens in churches”) rather than being heard (“that’s hard. and not okay. what does this mean, and what must we do?”).

Ultimately it’s not my choice: it didn’t happen to me. Directly. But it happened to someone in my family.

After trying on a myriad of reactions, I take the lead from today’s message on prayer: pray without ceasing, in *all* things. In the heights/balcony and the depths/basement men’s bathroom, You’re there redeeming, O Lord. You pour Your righteous love on us all – the old, the young; the movers, the sitters; the finger-extenders, the quakers.

A song that echos through my days, and ultimately I hope to be my evident in my life:

We are His portion and He is our prize.
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us, oh how He loves us. – John Mark McMillan

Spring Up, Oh Well (splish splash)

“Drench my soul with your living water.”

I attended a conference two weekends ago.  A friend caught me on Facebook in the early morning hours:  she had been praying and interceding, I had been syncing podcasts before making a slew of cheese eggs (because boy howdy, my kids can eat cheese eggs).  She told me about this conference:  The Sound of Heaven.  I knew about it but thought I was going to be out of town at my folks.  I mentioned it to my mama casually and quickly received an email from my dad saying he’d love to go with me, my mama would watch the kids, and Jason could do whatever he’d like:  win for all!

I was scared to go, honestly.  It’s a worship gathering that seems to shine Truth and Love, with a strong abiding in the prophetic, and I was a little scared that I might get scorched … or that I might not.  As we drove to the evening conference, a double rainbow blazed overhead.  No, it didn’t end on the building, but it was the most vivid rainbow I’ve seen in a long time.  Perhaps it’s brilliance was amplified in comparison to the dull grayness I’ve existed in for the past many months.

I remembered the flannel-graph story of Noah that I learned as a child and sensed a voice reminding me:  “The rainbow is a promise:  I promised never to destroy the Earth again.  And I promise not to destroy you.”  I realized I had a fear that God was going to wipe me out:  a lie.  This moment would be the first of the tears that flowed all weekend, and into the next week, and that are still present when I abide in certain moments.

During one worship session the speaker talked about God raining down and wells springing up.  Having grown up in the church, I figured I’d have a mental image of rain falling from the roof of my meeting for worship flowing out into the streets.  Instead, typical of God, it was the complete opposite.  I saw wells springing up in my neighborhood park, flooding the houses, kids playing, adults being drawn out of their closed homes to see what was going on.  I saw wells springing up in neighborhoods all over Newberg.

And I saw in particular geysers in the neighborhoods around Newberg Friends, gushing, flowing over into the streets, parks, parking lots, and into the church building.  Beginning in the social hall/kids Sunday School rooms the water rushed in, flowing upwards to the sanctuary, up past the balcony, blasting off the roof, shooting powerfully into the air and raining back down on the flooded streets.

My hope is kindled.

My family attended a worship gathering on Sunday night.  The theme of the night centered around dreaming about the future for this gathering.  One person commented that he dreamed about the gathering looking more like the people in the neighborhood:  that our physical neighbors would be drawn to participate.  I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my image because we don’t normally worship with this group:  it felt intrusive.

This picture feels like it was meant for the larger Gathering.  So I share it here (if anyone is reading this little blog still). 🙂

I’m not sure what it means:  I don’t need to know.  I get to abide, watch God work, and participate where He calls.  I want to spread the call of Love and Hope and Joy that God blesses us to live in.  Outside of the box.  Magnified in community.  Showering down love.

“Come like a flood and saturate me now:  You’re all I want.”

The Ministry of Snuggling

Worship Fully:  This evening the family was planning on attending a special seasonal worship service at our faith community.  But the kids and I napped, and I just couldn’t pull it together, so Jason went on without us (he was playing with those leading musical worship).  At first I felt profound guilt:  “You should have bucked up and gone!”  “You chose to stay home rather than worship God!”  “You are choosing comfort over worship!”  Condemnation upon condemnation.  Then I ate something, and as the blood sugar rose, a sense of normality started to return.  The kids and I had a really good evening.  Nothing out of the ordinary:  helping me make dinner, playing computer games, taking a long bath, reading Christmas stories on my bed, drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows.  But we spent time together – non-demanding, enjoying each others’ company, reading about “One Baby Jesus Sleeping Peacefully.”  And I felt that Spirit in the Every Day, and felt greatly blessed.

Spend Less:  I made laundry detergent.  Spent less money, know what’s going into my laundry, and hopefully it’s not mucking up the water system as much.

Give More:  My Sunday School is spending time exploring the concept of diversity.  I’ve heard it said that if a faith gathering is not racially and socio-economically diverse, then it’s not truly living and working in the will of God.  I’m not so sure about that statement:  I see a lot of truth in it, but there’s something else about that …. Something for me to give more attention to, as uncomfortable as it can make me.

Love All:  Today I spent most of worship making faces at my daughter.  And as she went all googoo eyed and wide-grinned and cooing, I wondered if Mary ever did the same thing at the Tabernacle.  If Christ looked half as cute as Josephine did today, it would be easy and hard to love others:  my heart was full, but if others hurt my child, I’d be that much more hurt.

The God Who Moved Into the Neighborhood

Last night I went to a meeting at church.  I had no idea why other than that I needed to go (and that it was being coordinated by two friends who I adore and love any excuse to spend time with them).

A call was put out to gather folks concerned about immigration issues taking place in our area:  what are legal ramifications, what is being done, how are we called to move?  The immigration population in my church neighborhood centers mostly around a Hispanic population (as opposed to Portland which also has a more diverse group of folks affected).

I don’t speak Spanish:  I took four years of high school French and spoke it very poorly.  I’m involved in ministries and life with Caucasian suburban working/stay-at-home moms and high school/college-age students.  But I needed to go.

Our church has a relationship with a Hispanic Friends church right across the street.  I’m not sure of the technicalities – whether we “started “the gathering, supported it monetarily, partnered with, worked alongside? ….  That’s part of the issue at hand.  The Hispanic faith community is living with these issues, but there seems to be a lack of communicating between us … at least a lack that I know about.

It’s always sketchy to talk about things I don’t know about:  I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth or cause more harm – this is simply my perception or experience.  I’m not casting blame, and if there’s a place where our faith community needs to apologize in an effort to connect and walk alongside each other, I hope we do that.

Other things I didn’t know:

  • A community garden is coming to Newberg with the hopes of helping folks in need.  It’s not necessarily in the midst of town, but it should be accessible.
  • A place called The Welcome Center at a local grade school assists immigrants with paperwork, finding ESL classes, living here, meeting needs.  They are in the midst of this.
  • Families are barely making ends meet; the immigration process contains endless loopholes; some people have the option to immigrate, but many don’t; the Hispanic culture places great important on relationships, many of which are left when upon immigration, which leaves them foundation-less – these relationships do not seem to be naturally taking place here.

I sat on a couch in the conference room next to my son munching on Teddy Grahams.  I wanted to bring him along:  didn’t know why.  Perhaps it’s a small step in helping him look beyond himself at how others live, to understand and be welcomed into our call as a family to walk alongside others and help, to get out of our comfort zones – admitting that we’re getting out of our comfort zones – and simply start with “I’m willing.”

My friend talked about “as we worship a God who moved into the neighborhood, we’re called to do the same.”  I don’t know my neighborhood, but I’m willing.

Covenants

Today a friend and I were talking about The State of Young Adults, which makes me feel so old that I actually care and talk about things like that, and retirement plans, and how much milk costs.  Soon I’ll be staying up for my Friday night viewing of Wall Street Week in Review with my high-fiber, non-fat, low-sodium rice cakes, living into the party animal that I am.

At one point my friend referred to us as “bridges” between young adults and adults – able to speak to both, existing in both worlds, trying to help understanding on both sides.  Young adults seem to want to be adults, but different than the adults who exist; existing adults want to think that they’re still “hip” with young adults, and yet they don’t “get” why young adults do what they do (or don’t do what they don’t do).  I wondered when I would move from being a bridge to being firmly planted on the adult side of the fence:  I feel I’m getting closer day by day, sometimes pushed, as I find myself saying things I *swore* I’d never say, like “use your words”, “not so fast”, and “what is that crap on the radio?”

I wondered who will be the bridge between me and my kids when they reach young adults.  Will they be segregated into a removed-from-the-larger-body youth group experience?  Will their peers and youth leaders be as influential in their spiritual formation as mine were?  Will they drift off and find Church Life irrelevant?  Or will they lead me and our family/community to a new place to experience where God is already moving?

I got a bit angry.  Many of my friends who grew up in my faith community were dedicated to Christ in that very building.  Their parents dressed them up, brought them to the congregation, and on a blessed Sunday made a commitment in front of the community to raise this child in the ways of Christ.  The family entered into a covenant with the community and with God – sacred, holy, blessed.  In return the community covenanted to walk alongside the family, to train and equip them to raise this child into the ways of Christ.  And yet my friends and the community no longer walk together.  I wondered:  how long was that covenant called to last?

Yes, we live in a transitional society.  We also live in a very nuclear-family-oriented and busy society.  It’s easy for me to lose track of others because I’m focused on a) my family and 2) the things I want to do.  I think we’re called to do things as a larger congregation, but I so often hear, “We’re already so involved doing so many good things!”  Individually.  When am I called to lay things aside, even if they’re good things, because I’ve made a covenant to the larger community?

I want the covenant that I made before God and before Newberg Friends to last as long as God will allow.  If we happen to move, I hope that interest and love will still remain, even though the day-to-day walk will be transferred to a different faith community.  I don’t want this covenant to be passed off to the middle school pastor, and then the high school pastor, and then … ?  The slow fade into nothing, that is, until my boys get married and have children of their own, maybe still being involved in a faith community and now able to reenter as an Adult Parent, the “role” that seems most functional/understood in the evangelical Christian faith community.

My friend talked about a gal she connected with, a young single mother who is simply trying to get through one day at a time.  When my friend asked what her goals or dreams or gifts were, she had no answer.  She had no one walking alongside her, speaking that into her life; she felt completely disconnected to those in the faith community, the place where she was dedicated.  How has it reached this point?  Do we need to cast blame, or simply state it for what it is and then ask, “What is God calling us to do about it?”

How long do covenants last?  Do these covenants mean anything practical, or are they simply a ritual and a Sunday morning family photo opportunity?  What covenants is God asking us to renew, reclaim?  If they are called to last, I feel anger, remorse, and motivation to *do* something about it:  I don’t want my words to be meaningless, which they are until lived out in action.  I expect the same of my faith community.

Perhaps we need to talk as a community about what that means – define expectations.  Perhaps we need to evaluate where these practicalities are to be lived out – small groups versus larger congregation, etc.  And perhaps we need to repent, to apologize, to take a posture of humility and hospitality.  Or we can just let the slow fade continue, and our words can continue to lose their power; but this Mama Bear won’t live that way with her boys (not like they’re easy to ignore anyway; just *try* and forget about them :)).

Why Do We Commune?

The weather is sunny, and I’ve found my typing fingers.  I know I should be out of doors enjoying the last of the rays for a bit, as clouds are rolling in even now, but I know the sun will return:  it *has* to.

I’ve been out and about in my neighborhood, taking walks, checking out the spring flowers, noticing which houses have sold and which one are on the market.  People are talking to each other, having barbeques, playing at the park.  I love the noises of hearing kids squeal as they slide down the corkscrew slides or get pushed just That Much Higher on the swings.  People are talking; people are communing.

My Bible study has switched topics as of last week.  We had been working through certain materials since our start in the fall, taking two weeks for each lesson to really get into the ideas presented.  Our groups was fairly large, and a number of folks were attending specifically because of the material we were using (they really enjoyed the author/presenter).  Now the attendence has changed.  True, the cold season is still upon us; work picks up; peoples’ schedules get busy.  But I also know that people aren’t present due to the topical change.  And it bothers me.

When I was in college, I had a roommate who was event-oriented.  A new movie was coming out, one that all the roommates wanted to see.  But something came up, and we had to postpone.  Except she still went:  found other people to go with.  This hurt my feelings, silly as it sounds, and as obstinate as I am, I didn’t even want to see the movie when the opportunity arose:  she already saw it and therefore ruined it.  Finally I realized why I was so cranky:  I’m *community*-oriented.  Many times I could care less about *what* we’re doing as long as we’re doing it *together*.  She’s not wired that way.  Realizing this, naming this, gave me freedom to be me and for her to be her, for my feelings not to be hurt, but to recognize that our expectations were different.  And this is something I have to remind myself of in situations like my bible study.

In Sunday School we had a new speaker (tis the season for change, apparently:  get out your white pants, your outdoor eating gear, and your new speakers) who is speaking for four weeks on the idea of Community and Spirituality:  that we often take an individualistic approach to spirituality, not a communal one.  Jesus is our personal savior.  I need to take care of my sins for my sake.  I attend which church I want to because it relates best to my needs.  He mentioned the idea of the parish church where one attended a church, or rather was *assigned*, due to location.  And you duked out all the joys and the muck that comes with community rather than leaving when things got uncomfortable or “didn’t relate.”

I’ve heard people speak on the topic at hand at Bible Study; I’ve heard it a number of times.  I’m still attending with the hopes that I’ll take away something new from this person’s individual experience in this area, but more so that I can come alongside others who haven’t heard these things, that are struggling, that need people to walk alongside them and strengthen and equip them in these areas.  This is my community, and as much as I complain about different things, I really don’t want to leave just because the topic doesn’t “totally” relate or connect with me:  I want to help, to be present, to commune because if/when the roles are reversed, I would want the same from them.  If others are called to leave, I want to have a heart that speaks peace and freedom to them as well.  Wherever we are called to be, I pray that we will simply be fully present.

Reflections on Lent: Week 1

The first week of Lenten reflection is called “Journey into the Brokenness of Our Inner Selves”.  Only by examining and naming the muck in my life can I face my False Self, turning to the Cross for transformation into my True Self.  Most people lay things down for Lent.  A friend of mine explained how she has a hard time with that concept, that she wants to pick up something (for her, intentional time to be creative).  I think this is perfectly in line with the Lenten Spirit.  Through her creativity, something God-given that is part of her True Self, she can set aside other things that might be causing more brokenness in her life.

I didn’t lay things down either, per say.  I picked up memorizing a scripture a day.  Which, to me, sounds SO DORKY.  I was on Bible Quizzing and have an association of scripture memorization and competition:  if I’m not doing it to win a prize, then I’m doing it because I’m some goody two-shoes who wants to be able to throw back Bible verses as little arrows in debates on communion or women in leadership in the church or salvation, etc.  Hmm:  broken area in my life?

So I’m setting aside my pride and I’m memorizing a verse a day.  They’re simply verses I’ve noticed from the previous day or that stand out to me.  For example, after waking up, again, in the middle of the night with nasty dreams, I found myself saying, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Wondered what the context of that verse was, so it’s my verse of the day, but more focusing on the good stuff before it:  “But He gives us more grace.  Therefore He says, ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit to God.” (James 4:6-7).

Friday night we attended a Lent Gathering at Newberg Friends.  I had wanted to go, and once the kids took really long naps (i.e. it’d be FOREVER until they fell asleep that evening), that sealed the deal.  It was good:  contemplative singing, engaging talks, stations to participate in.  One of the stations called for writing a sin or something you wanted to give up for Lent and nailing it to the cross.  My first thought:  “I’ve done this.  A thousand times.  It.Doesn’t.Work.”  DOH.  Unbelief.  And unbelief in God’s redemptive power:  sin.  Boo-yah.

So perhaps another thing I’m trying to set aside (permanently) is unbelief.  Which hopefully the scripture will equip me with the words in my head that will seep into my heart so that I might be single-minded:  my True Self.

Lent 2009

Yesterday I was scrolling through one of my favorite foodie aggregators and noticed multiple recipes for King Cake, a concoction I hadn’t heard of, which is for celebrating online canadian pharmacy Fat Tuesday.  “Really?”, I thought, “It’s Mardi Gras already?  Which means . . . oh, yes:  Lent.”

I had meant to think ahead about Lent this year.  Just as I do every year.  But instead I find myself committing to some sort of quick resolution to give up something (chocolate, caffeine, mean thoughts about others) that I rarely follow through with because, heck!  I’m a Quaker!  What am I doing practicing Lent anyway?  🙂  Yes, yes, poor excuse, especially when my faith gathering is actively participating in this liturgical season.

It takes a village to raise a kid, and it takes a community to participate in Lent is my motto this year.  That’s why I’m so appreciative of the resources I’ve found online, particularly from Mustad Seed AssociatesChristine Sine has organized a synchoblog for people to share their experiences, troubles, joys, and small steady steps as they follow through in living out Lent.  MSA has also put together a most excellent Lenten Reflection Guide complete with thematic concerns, prayers, and activities to give more structure to Lenten expressions.

One thing the Sines note is that this is not meant to be done alone:  it is meant to be lived out in community.  If others are interested, I would love to have a weekly gathering for us to share and discern this experience together – time to strengthen and equip one another as we journey with and adore our Creator who came among us at such great cost.  And for those online, if you don’t want to participate in the synchroblog, I humbly offer my blog as a place for you to comment:  it’s the best online hospitality I can offer at this point.  🙂