“What are you giving up for Lent.” There’s more to Lent than just foregoing something enjoyable for six weeks.
Several years ago I bought into the Konmari plan for decluttering. Clothes were scattered across the floor from closets and rooms all over the house. Eventually the books were in piles in the living room. And with every new task, I found that recognizing my joy was coming easier and easier.
If you are not familiar with Marie Kondo’s method of cleaning out, it is a defined process to rid your home of anything that does not “spark joy,” and thus to clear away from your life all that would suck the joy out of living. Ask me. Yep, it works!
If it is appealing to you to remove the clutter from your life, then this is your holiday season: Lent. If you are spiritual but not religious, this season is tailor-made for you!
Lent is better understood as a short time to put all your life out on the floor and take a look at it. Pick up the pieces of your life and hold them for a moment. Then ask yourself one question:
Does this part of my life and identity produce good fruit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
If you would like a day-by-day guide for this journey, you can access a “Lenten Calendar.” In our tradition this calendar is coupled with a fish bank offering for kids and the collection is offered on Easter Sunday in a special church-wide offering to help others.
Join us in sacrificing a few minutes every day to de-clutter and rediscover your joy.
Last night Rock Spring held a candlelight vigil for peace and unity. A week after the mass shooting at a church in a small community outside San Antonio Texas we opened our sanctuary doors to our Piedmont Heights community and congregation for a time of lamenting and grieving those killed through acts of violence and also a time to contemplate peace in the world and in ourselves.
Those present could light a candle for people and situations that are affected by violence. I found myself lighting candles for and thinking about and grieving for those of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and for those of Emanual AME church in Charleston, SC. I lit candles for people affected by domestic violence and targeted by sexual predators. I lit candles for those people whose stories of violence I don't know. I lit candles for those affected by violence caused by forces of nature: hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis...
We were offered a handout out to guide of meditations (see below) and it lead me to redirect my thoughts after grieving to consider the concept of peace and to inventory where I find it in myself and in my life. It challenged me to be open to how I might become more of an "instrument of peace" for myself and others.
If you missed our candlelight vigil consider having one of your own, at home. Use the rubric below.
A Vigil is a time set apart for lamenting and grief and also for watching and waiting.
In a quiet setting:
Prayer Guides for Advent
Advent is an eagerly-anticipated time of year. Well, maybe, for some of us, it is a dreaded time of year. Whatever your gut reaction to Advent may be, Advent provides us with a unique opportunity for wonder, for questions, for comfort, and for spiritual exploration. It’s also the time when it’s actually OK to hear Christmas music in stores and restaurants.
Traditionally the word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” I prefer its dynamic sense: someone is on the way; someone is moving toward us with great urgency. Someone wants passionately to be among us in the ups-and-downs of our real lives, to bring new energy to our labors, our joys, our sorrows. That someone is Christ.
There is a paradox inherent in our Advent observance. We prepare ourselves for the arrival of someone who has already come. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) That happened already. So what are we waiting for?
When we celebrate Communion, the celebrant declares, “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the death of our Lord Jesus, until he comes again.” Jesus has been here. Jesus is coming again.
In this mysterious in-between time, we have a renewed opportunity to wake up, to pay attention, to watch for the ways Christ is moving among the realities of our world. We also hear a voice calling us to do more than watch. For each of the four weeks of Advent, our worship team is providing you with a prayer guide in the hope of providing you with a few tools to enrich your Advent experience and your Christmas celebration. We also hope these guides will deepen your awareness of God’s love for you -- and your neighbor.
Together in Christ,