the blog

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The Gift of Lent


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The other day I had the privilege of writing a blog for my friends over at The Youth Cartel. They are the good folks who have published my books and continue to get the word out on them. I wrote this post as a way to encourage folks to participate in the great journey of Lent. I thought it might encourage you as well.

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The Gift of Lent

My sons and I like to build Lego projects together. My 7-year-old is into big projects that are intricate and involved—the more pieces, the bigger the accomplishment. My 2-year-old is more into abstract Lego art—a few blocks here and a few there, and boom, it’s a lion, a sword, or whatever you can imagine. But one thing they both enjoy is building a tower, and seeing how high it can get before all the pieces crash to the floor. And inevitably, they do crash. They might not even get the chance to topple on their own because my 2-year-old Soren really enjoys playing the part of a human wrecking ball!

We all spend time constructing lives that are precarious at times. Learning to balance all the layers we pile up throughout the year is like another job. Lent is a season, as I like to say, for addition, subtraction, and introspection. At first glance, Lent seems dark and depressing but I would like to suggest that Lent is a gift, a gift from God to his Church. It’s a gift because it’s a designated time for us to reflect on our lives, giving us space and time to deconstruct the towers we have built, because we all know that if we just keep piling on the layers, they’re bound to crumble, we are bound to crumble.

As we inspect our lives, we give up some of those layers that are distracting us. We might fast from things like meat or sweets, so that in our hunger we will remember we were created to hunger for God. In our desire, we remember that our only satisfaction is found in God. I always hope that some of what I give up will be gone for good, while others things will return and, with God’s grace, be rightly ordered in my life.

While it’s a time of subtraction, Lent is also a time for addition. It’s common to add things like extra time in prayer and scripture study, extra time serving the poor and financially giving to those in need. These additional spiritual disciplines are not supposed to be just another Lego on the every growing tower of our lives. Rather, they are the very things that free us to be with God and not so consumed with ourselves. Adding disciplines during Lent allows God to mold and shape us further into the likeness of his Son.

His son, Jesus. Ever hear that you must begin with the end in mind? I guess there is something to it. Lent is, maybe most importantly, 40 days of preparation for Easter. So yea, Lent is all about Jesus. We start our Lenten journeys with the story of entering into the wilderness with Jesus (Mark 1:12) and end it by participating in his resurrection (Philippians 3:10-11). We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our utter dependence upon him. After all, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, reminds us we are dust and to dust we shall return.

During Lent, then, all we do is a reminder that Jesus is our only hope for the abundant life. He is the one who has entered into our desperate situation and become our hope. That hope of the resurrection is a foundational part of the Christian life. Lent culminates with Easter Sunday, the feast of all feasts for the Christian, and on that day, we celebrate the saving work of Jesus, who has risen, conquering sin and death. Ultimately, the season of Lent is the gift we have been given so that our hearts and minds might be ready to participate in this feast.

Life is hard; it’s full of distractions and busyness, difficulty and temptation. Those of us in ministry know this personally. And we all know students and families who we are keenly aware of this as well. What I’ve found to be one of the most powerful parts of Lent is the space it creates to slow down, evaluate life, confess that it’s hard and full of temptation, subtract some layers that are draining and distracting from Jesus, then add some things that will connect and cultivate my relationship with Jesus and the abundant life he so wants to give. Lent is a gift. This year, I hope we will all take advantage of this gift for ourselves and for our ministries, I hope we will journey together into a Holy Lent.

Grace and Peace
Erik

PS: Be sure to check out the Lent Web Guide in the next few days. I have a beautiful new site that’s just about ready for you!

PSS: If you don’t have a copy of my Lent Devotional book you can pick it up here: Lent Devo Store Envy – It’s also on Amazon if you’re into that sort of thing!  😉

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A Christmas Blessing…


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We shot this out in an email but I really liked it. Thought I would post it incase anyone wants to grab it for later.

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas From The Willits Family


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Here is the Christmas Card we sent out to friends and family.
If you didn’t get one it’s probably just because we didn’t have your address. You can sign up for our Christmas card mailing list here. You can also ask to get our ministry support letters. We are always looking for partners in the gospel!

Grace, peace, and Merry Christmas!

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A New Website…


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This site has been live for at least 5 or 6 years I think. I can’t even remember, it’s been awhile. So, I believe it’s time for a new website!

I’m gonna try and do this myself. Dangerous I know. I have the summer off, for the most part, and I’m obviously not an avid blogger (though I want to be a bit more active) so I am hoping I’ll have a little time to do this.

I also am hoping that this will bring inline the web guides to my books with the context and function of my website and blog. Also, some kind of connection with the family website I’ve set up, sharing our family journey and our plan for the future. I will probably need some help integrating my blog and website and all that good stuff but the goal is to do this by the end of the summer. We shall see.

If you happen to read this and have any ideas, helpful suggestions, or expertise to offer let me know. I would be grateful for any of the above!

Grace and peace

 

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Holy Week


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I was talking with Andrea the other day and she said, “Holy week at Nashotah is like boot camp.” TRUE THAT! It’s pretty intense around here this week. A lot is going on, for sure!

Last night was our Tenebrae service. A beautiful service of shadows. The light is gradually extinguished and darkness is slowly entered into. The service was pretty intense here at the House, it was long and very still with only the choir singing, chanting and speaking while everyone else was just taking it in. I’ve been to Tenebrae services before that were a bit different, more artistic and more participatory but the drama of the story, the story of Christ’s decent and our participation in that, in all the good and horrific ways, was truly on display last night.

And then the Triduum.
The three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil leading into Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday! Three days that are central to our salvation and life of faith. I’m thankful for a tradition that enables me to enter into this most holy of times in profound ways.

holythursday_15c_rusTonight I will be the thurifer in our Maundy Thursday service. Swinging incense like it’s my job!
Having rehearsed the service I anticipate it being intense and powerful.Having rehearsed the service I anticipate it being intense and powerful.

During the service, we will have foot washings, altar-stripping and we will participate in the Eucharist as a community. There will be extra sacrament consecrated and put on a side altar. This symbolized Christ’s time in the garden and the eventual abandonment by all his friends.  We were asked to sign up for an hour to sit and watch and pray with Jesus, with the blessed sacrament. “Could you not wait with me one hour,” Jesus asks his disciples and so too are we asked to sit and wait with Christ on the night before he is handed over to death for our salvation.

I signed up for a slot and am anticipating this hour of prayer. I’m not sure what it will be like but I trust it will be a significant part of my Holy Week experience.

You can read some great words on this by a fellow from my church. He writes about the great watch and then he writes here about the other services of Holy Week.

We’ll have a Good Friday service here at the House.
Then the weekend culminates with the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, which will be a festive celebration as we proclaim Christ crucified and risen! Then we get to say the “A” word again. I can’t wait!

Our family will also attend the Easter service on Sunday morning with our church community, Christ Redeemer. Excited to be with those fine folks for Easter Sunday!!!

(You can read more about these different services and their significance over at this Blog… christredeemermke.org)

I hope your Holy Week is a deep and sacred time for you. That you experience Christ in his death so that you can experience his resurrection!

Grace and peace
Erik

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March Madness :: Everybody’s Favorite Time of Year


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Well, it’s everybody’s Favorite Time of Year! MARCH MADNESS!!!

I’ll be playing in a few pools and will have a handful of different brackets filled out! LOVE IT!!!
Just made this little image to invite some Nashotah House folks to play along.

The theme for our league is: Canistriludium Ludus Canistri
Seemed fitting to include some fancy latin… now I just have to figure out what it means!  😉

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PS: My best translation of Canistriludium Ludus Canistri is Basketball, The Sport.
I kinda made it up… Clever right!
Or Something.

Enjoy your March!

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Lent :: A Reminder


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Lent :: A Reminder

I’ve felt it in my bones and have been reminded, both in the sermon yesterday and in the homily today during morning prayer that we are about half way through the season of Lent.

There are reminders all around.

For instance, I read this Psalm in morning prayer today…

Psalm 119:25-32
ד Daleth

25 My soul clings to the dust;
revive me according to your word.
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes.
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Put false ways far from me;
and graciously teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to your decrees, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame.
32 I run the way of your commandments,
for you enlarge my understanding.

“My soul clings to the dust…”

I want that to be true of my Lenten experience. Really, I want that to be true of my life. To always keep my humanity and mortality before me, knowing that my every breath is a gift of God.

We are halfway through Lent but far from eternity. It is with this in mind that we let our lenten disciplines begin to shape our heart and mind and our desire toward life that is most truly situated in the reality of the Kingdom of God. This reality that we will someday day live fully.

So this day, right now, we live like we will fully live someday. Lent is God’s gift to us, helping us have space and practice to do this very thing in intentional, practical and communal ways. Hopefully we are learning to live during Lent, a little more like we should live all the time and will fully live in the time to come.

Hang in there. Cling to the dust. Resurrection is around the corner!
Grace and peace
Erik

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Lent Week #4 :: Music Monday(ish)


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Well, Lent is supposed to remind you that you’re a dirtbag right? [ from dust we have come, right…] Or least it’s supposed to remind you of your humanity and need for Christ. I’m reminded of that every time I think about my blog, or more accurately, my non-blog. I would love to blog more but I just don’t make the time for it. I have pages of blog ideas but haven’t taken the time to flesh them out. Someday I hope to blog once a week, for now… it will be what it will be.

Anyway, here is another addition of my Lenten music playlist. If you want to just get direct access to this, follow the playlist on Spotify. I’ll be adding to the same playlist every week.

This week I’m adding a little All Sons and Daughters action. Great stuff…
and this week as week focus on being aware of God, even in the midst of our lenten deserts, I would recommend their songs Christ  Be All Around Me and God With Us as well.

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Lent Week #3 :: Music Monday


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Continuing the theme of temptation this week as we read about Jesus being temp tempted by the evil one.

And here is another song from the 1st Enter the Worship Circle album. An oldie but a goodie! and there are a few great songs on this album that would be good to listen to this Lent.

Save Me | Enter the Worship Circle

and check out the whole album as well.

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Lent Week 2 :: Music Monday


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For week #2  of Lent we lean into temptation and our constant need for Jesus to lead us through, as only he can.

 

This bonus song has been on my mind since lent begun and I thought I would share.
Lent is all about rending your heart and not your garment! (Joel 2:13)
Remember that as you practice your lenten disciplines.

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