Tag: Ruth Haley Barton

The Discomfort of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, and as evidenced by my “Spring it Up” post on Monday, I’d really prefer to focus on the positive than face my sin and Jesus’ sacrifice.

I’ve shared before and before that I’m pretty much a failure at Lent. Like John says, I’m more of a Christmas than Easter girl. Could we skip over the Lent chapter please?  But there’s no rebirth without death, no salvation without facing my sin, so I continue to try to enter in, to talk to God. This is a repost from a few years ago…

As I mentioned the other day, we’re on vacation in Florida and the other morning we decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service at a lovely little Episcopal Chapel near where we’re staying.

I was on high alert from the moment we entered because I’m not Episcopalian and I was sure I was going to mess up and kneel at the wrong time, or not know the secret handshake that would get me communion, or ask forgiveness for my “debts” instead of my “trespasses”.

I took my cues from a girl across the aisle who clearly knew the liturgical ropes, bowing to the Bible when it went by and making the sign of the cross on her forehead, lips, and heart.  I was fascinated.

Like I said, I’m not Episcopalian and I’m not Catholic either, but by turns throughout my life I have been disdainful towards, curious about, and, in the past five years, enriched by many of  their practices.

When I was growing up all I knew was that the Catholic kids went to St. Petronille for church (named after a guy who must have been on the JV team of saints because I’ve never heard of him since and neither has my husband who did grow up Catholic).  They got to get out of school early on Wednesday to go to Catechism and got to eat fish on Friday.  We never had fish in my family.  So they were special and kind of mysterious to me.

On Wednesday, while I still struggled to own the words of liturgy in a way that was meaningful, I deeply appreciated the silence, the reverence, and the simplicity of a worship gathering full of Scripture.  These guys really do repentance big time!

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about Lent and the question many people ask, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Confession:  As far as I can remember I’ve never given up anything for Lent.

It’s just not been a part of my spiritual tradition.  And frankly, when I have considered it I’ve always thought “Well I could give up Starbucks if I wanted to, but I don’t have to so I won’t.”  I am so not into sacrifice.  I realize this exposes one of the idols I daily pray to relinquish – the idol of comfort.  Ugh!

I know it’s easy to abuse this practice…make it a badge of honor, a “work of righteousness”, an end instead of a means.  But, I’ve been reading about it and I’m wondering if it might be a good spiritual practice for me, identifying with Jesus in some small way, this voluntary sacrifice stuff.  I’m cringing even as I write this.  I find myself thinking, “Could I pick something I like, but don’t like too much?  Kind of ease into this maybe?”

I want to know… What is experience with giving up something for Lent?  Does it help you to see your sin and become more like Jesus?

If you’re reading this on email or on your phone and want to comment, just click on the title and then scroll down!

Couple quotes on Lent…

“Lenten disciplines help us to abstain from the daily distractions that prevent us from seeing and naming reality correctly. As we allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away, we can return to a truer sense of ourselves and a deeper pursuit of God.” Ruth Haley Barton

“Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy.  Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”  Ann Voskamp

 Check out another great article on Lent by Ruth Haley Barton here! 

Soul Food for the Week After Easter

On Fridays I try to post just a few of the things that have delighted or inspired me, and resources you might like – the “soul food” from my week.

I would love to hear about your “soul food” in the comments too! Just remember, if you’re posting for the first or second time it won’t appear immediately, but it WILL show up eventually 🙂

Monday I wrote a hard post that many of you resonated with. On Tuesday, Ruth Haley Barton posted an eReflection from her excellent book, Life Together in Christ. that is a great follow-up to my post. You can read her thoughts here: Continue reading

When You’re Heavy with Too Much to Pray About

“I look at God, I look at you, and I keep looking at God.” —Julian of Norwich

I’m in the ministry so I naturally get a lot of prayer requests.  People figure it’s in my job description.

But lately it seems like there are so many more prayers than ever. So much pain, so much heaviness.

There’s all the cancer (which, let’s face it, could fill a prayer book alone), and infertility and loneliness, and job-searching, and broken relationships, not to mention that world-going-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket stuff.

I go to sleep praying and when I wake in the middle of the night I figure it’s God poking me and it’s time to pray again.  I get a note or a phone call or I see someone and I try to pray in the moment. But sometimes it just feels soooo heavy.  Like too much.

But here’s what I think we get wrong. Continue reading

When is Your Zero Dark Thirty?

This morning I walked outside in the winter cold at zero dark thirty and looked up to see a partial moon and a few fragile stars clinging to the night.  It struck me that looking up is always the holiest part of my day.  I spend so much time looking down, mired in the minutia, pondering problems without the perspective of Power.  Looking up reminds me to bow down.  It made me think of this post from last year…

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding? Continue reading

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