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Lent 2016


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It’s Ash Wednesday

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 12.04.13 PMI read from Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s book Great Lent every year. It is amazing. I read the following passage this morning at morning prayer / Ash Wednesday liturgy. It’s just about perfect!

“For many, if not for the majority of Orthodox Christians, Lent consists of a limited number of formal, predominantly negative, rules and prescriptions: abstention from certain food, dancing, perhaps movies. Such is the degree of our alienation from the real spirit of the Church that is is almost impossible for us to understand that there is “something else” in Lent—something without which all these prescriptions lose much of their meaning. This “something” can best be described as an “atmosphere,” a “climate” into which one enters, as first of all a state of mind, soul, and spirit which for seven weeks permeates our entire life. Let us stress once more that the purpose of lent is not to force on us a few formal obligations, but to “soften” our heart so that it may open itself to the realities of the spirit, to experience the hidden “thirst and hunger” for communion with God.

This lenten “atmosphere,” this unique “state of mind,” is brought about mainly by means of worship, by the various changes introduced during that season into the liturgical life. Consider separately, these changes may appear as incomprehensible “rubrics,” as formal prescriptions to be formally adhered to; but understood as a whole, they reveal and communicate the spirit of Lent, they make us see, feel, and experience that bright sadness which is the true message and gift of Lent. …”

From Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

He goes on to talk about the art of repentance among other things. As The Book of Common Prayer states; “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer…”

May you enter into the bright sadness and the observance of a Holy Lent.

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LENT


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Christmastide | 12 Days of living Into Joy


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(this is coming a bit early [usually I do this on Monday] but I want you to be able to enjoy all 12 days!)

Nativity Cosmic IconCollect (Prayer)
The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day December 25

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

(Click here to see a couple more Icons)

The Songs
12 Song, plus a bonus track for dancing purposes!

The Scripture
A Chronological Reading of the Christmas Story
Matt 1:18aLuke 1:26-40Luke 1:56Matt 1:18b Luke 2:1-38Matt 2:1-23Luke 2:39-40

 

Some More Advent and Christmas music for your listening pleasure.
And I’d love for you to add your favorite Christmas song to the list! Let me know if you do!

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Christmastide is here…


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Welcome to Christmastide! Yes, it’s a thing! It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized there were actually 12 days of Christmas on the liturgical calendar. It’s not just the lyrics to a kids’ song.

This is what Joan Chittister, in her book The Liturgical Year says,

“The Christmas season, if we see it as a whole rather than as an isolated event (and, in our age, a totally distorted and even misleading conception of the feast), it can ignite the spark that will lead through the darkness of our own lives every day of the year. It is the light of Christmas within us that will take us, if we have the insight to cling to it, beyond a fairytale rendering of the great truths of the faith to an understanding of what all the dark days of life are about. … Christmas is larger than a baby in a manger. Christmas is the coming of a whole new world. More than that, it is what makes that world possible.”

Merry Christmas!

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ADVENT WEEK #4 | Leaping with excitement & magnifying the Lord


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credit as "Photography: Philip Fortune" Fortune Works Photo 5 Saint Andrews Road, Bloomfield CT 06002 860-724-0170 pf@fortuneworks.com http://www.fortuneworks.com

Collect (Prayer)
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

The Song

The Scripture | Read It

Luke 1:39-55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

[And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”]

 

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Advent Week #3 | The Right Questions -R- Filled with Expectation


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Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.30.22 AMCollect (Prayer)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

 

The Song(s)

 

The Scripture | Read it

Luke 3:7-18

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

The First Song of Isaiah — Ecco Deus
Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

 

And in case you want to watch. The Brilliance are always worth watching!

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Advent Week #2 | Out of the Woods “Salvation is on the Way”


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The Collect (PRAYER)
Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.46.53 AMMerciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

The Song


The Scripture | Read it

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, 
make his paths straight. 
Every valley shall be filled, 
and every mountain and hill shall be made low, 
and the crooked shall be made straight, 
and the rough ways made smooth; 
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
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Advent Week #1 | The Darkness is in Trouble


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My hope is to post a little Advent ditty every Monday (I’m already late). This monk seminary life has proven to make blogging even more challenging than it usually is for me. But I’ll do it!
And the plan is to give the week a theme and to post a collect (a prayer), a song, and a scripture for the week!

Advent is upon!
May we wait, watch, and long for the salvation born unto us, flesh and blood, water and bone—Jesus, the infant King!

ADVENT WEEK #1 | The Darkness is in Trouble

The Collect (PRAYER) 
Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.30.12 AMAlmighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

The Song | Watch it

 

The Scripture | Read it
Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

 

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Today & St. Martin, Bishop of Tours


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tumblr_mdt8114ntB1rz3pvdIn morning prayer today the homily shared connected our lectionary passage and the story of St. Martin of Tours (read a bit more about it). The story was about him cutting of a piece of him military cape and giving it to a homeless beggar. He had a dream that night of a Jesus wearing half of his cape and awoke realizing what he should have done. Essentially to give everything to Jesus and to his neighbor!

It’s veterans day. I really appreciate the lectionary passage from Matthew 25:34-40 (the I was sick, I was in prison, I was a stranger, I was naked… and you took care of me passage). That connected to the commemoration of St. Marin of Tours, a military general who encountered Christ, gave his all to Jesus and became a force for peace and charity in the world, eventually being elected bishop. A great way to frame the day I do believe.

I’m seen by some as disrespectful of veterans and a poor excuse for an American or something like that. This is mainly because I hold to convictions of non-violence and am skeptical of political systems and violent means of progress. I rather seek to pledge my allegiance to God and God’s kingdom, making Jesus my King and his teachings my rule of life and the constitution of my home.

But with all sincerity, I don’t want to be disrespectful to veterans and those who have served and sacrificed for this country and other countries. As a friend and mentor once said to my wife and I, “honor what is honorable.” I want to do that. So thank you women and men who have served and sacrificed. I’m sorry you had to do that, I long for the coming of God’s kingdom, where all will be new and there will be no tears or separation, strife or death. Rather, there will be shalom—everything in it’s right place and in right relationship with all people and things. I struggle with language that gives credit for my wellbeing, safety and freedom to anyone other then my God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So I long for this, for the veteran and for the farmer, for those who might be called enemy and for those who I call friends… I long for all of creation to be at peace because of the knowledge of Jesus, sacrificed for all, for the redemption of sin and the hope of life everlasting. I pray come Lord Jesus, come. Come this day and in all days, until you come one day to make all things new.

My response is to try and live into the already of God’s kingdom rather then excepting the not yet of it. This is not without its faults because of my failure and lack of faith but don’t mistake it for non-action. Despite the sinful sloth I all to often sit in my prayer is that the video of freedom and peace we find in the scripture would lead me, would lead the church to radical action. I pray I and we would have the imagination for this Jesus kinda of action.

I pray God will give me the vision and the courage to live and a disciple of Jesus, acting for peace and reconciliation, for justice and truth, for unity and charity… all with the example of Jesus, the one I follow before me!

Just some thoughts.

12232839_972607742778353_1999867474744436856_oOur Collect for the day…

Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

PS: to my friend who my raise an eyebrow at the “Pray for us” line. Just look at it like you’re asking a brother or friend to pray for you. The idea is that all are alive in Christ, a communion of saints or a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) you might say. Alexander Schmemann explain this best for me, I can’t remember ware, maybe in his book Great Lent: Journey into Pascha book or For the Life of the World… can’t remember but he’s awesome and helped me to be a little less squeamish when it come to this aspect of the faith that has long been practiced.

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DEEP FOCUS // Music Monday


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Well, it’s Memorial Day and I’m at Starbucks reading. Bummer I know but they call it seminary. And man, I’ve got A LOT of reading to do.

But since it is Monday I thought I would share this Spotify playlist I am have been listening to.

The title is DEEP FOCUS (which I need) and it’s brilliant!

Enjoy!

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What’s Next


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91fMDDmbJPLFirst, I’d just like to say THANK YOU for joining me on this “ordinary” journey. It’s such a privilege to be able to journey with folks through the calendar, this amazing and beautiful way of living the story of Jesus and living into the life of Jesus and the life of the church—the Gospel.

I’ve found the liturgical calendar to be extraordinarily life giving for me and my life with God. It’s why I have written these books and shared them with you as a resource and devotional help. I hope, I pray that this has been helpful, instructive and inspiring in your pursuit of Jesus and the Kingdom that is always and already near.

As I mentioned in the book, the season of Ordinary Time is only half way through. We’ve still got 13 more weeks! For me that is good news. I need all the time I can get to follow Jesus in my everyday, ordinary life.

I wanted to give a few resource here that might help you over this second half of Ordinary Time to stay on point while you make this journey. Then after these resources I’ll tell you a bit more about this project I am working on and how you can keep going!

Some Resources for Ordinary Time
(some of these you may have picked up on as you read the OT book)

The Lectionary Page :: This is a really simple way to get the Sunday lectionary scripture reading and to follow the calendar of feasts and fasts and things like that. It’s simple but helpful.

The ESV Bible Webpage has a great little site and if you click on PLAN and then on DAILY OFFICE LECTIONARY it will take you to daily readings, all of which come from the Book of Common Prayer and church calendar.

Pray As You Go is a great resource, I use it regularly. A brief audio guided prayer to get your day started.

The Trinity Mission is a great resource for daily prayer. On the site you can follow along with morning, mid-day and evening prayers (as found in The Book of Common Prayer). You can even listen to an audio version or just read along. Again, this site follows the lectionary, the church calendar readings. You can click on their daily scripture readings and get easy access to the daily office scripture readings, also found in The Book of Common Prayer .

And here are a couple books I would recommend if you want to follow along that way.

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God :: Bobby Gross

Journey into the Heart of God: Living the Liturgical Year :: Philip H. Pfatteicher

Following Jesus: Biblical Reflection on Discipleship  :: NT Wright
Mark for Everyone :: NT Wright

To be honest, there are not a ton of devotional resources on Ordinary Time. Even some of the books above aren’t specifically on Ordinary Time or might not be exactly a devotional on this time of the year. Your best bet might be to grab some kind of book or devotional on discipleship or on Christian living. Anything that will take you deeper into one of the these themes of this time of the year.

Here are a few recommendations

The Cost of Discipleship * The Divine Conspiracy * Simply Christian * One Life * The King Jesus Gospel * A Long Obedience in the Same Direction * Mere Discipleship 

AS FOR THIS PROJECT

This project through the liturgical year is really meant to be a resource and a help to church communities, youth groups, families and individuals. It’s an introduction and devotional resource for folks, leading them into the beauty and depth of the Christian Year.

So far I’ve written three books in this series; AdventLent and now Ordinary Time. These three books make up approximately half the calendared liturgical year. My hope would be that people grab these and journey along with their community and with their families. I also hope this wets your appetite for this sort of thing and that in a year of so you’re ready for the rest of it!

Over the next year I hope to be writing the remainder of the years daily devotionals and meditations. The hope would be to compile all the content of the three books already written and the new content I will be writing, creating one book to rule them all (or something like that). One book to lead you and your community through the entire year of the church calendar.

What I need / How you can help

I need your input, your feedback and your participation. The more feedback we get, the more sales of the existing books and the more demand we have for this entire projects completion the faster it will all get done and the more incentive my publisher will have to get it out there. 😉

I would love to hear from you!
email me: erik@erikwillits.com
email my publisher: The Youth Cartel

And do all the tweeting, facebooking, instagramming, yelping, woofing or whatever clever social media platforms you have to spread the word of the books and share your thoughts.

Amazon is also a really big deal! If you’ve read any of the books and want to leave your feedback on Amazon, that would be incredibly helpful!

Thanks friends! I look forward to continuing this journey with you and with Jesus, our risen and reigning Lord!

Grace and peace
Erik

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