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Trinity Sunday / Music Monday


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The journey of Ordinary Time has kicked off!

The 1st Sunday after Pentecost / The 1st Sunday of Ordinary Time is Trinity Sunday!
Maybe you spent some time talking about that in your church on Sunday, maybe not. We’ll be spending the week in the Ordinary Time book pondering the Trinity and you can also follow along on the Ordinary Time Web Guide with a bit of that conversation.

But as I do from time to time on this blog, I shared some tunes today over on the web guide.
Thought I would share them here as well.

trinity_sessionsWell today is a music Monday!
And to make it even more awesome, the music is FREE!

If you aren’t familiar with Noisetrade, now you are and you’re welcome! It’s a site of legally free music! You can tip the band for their tunes (which is always nice to do) but really all they ask is that you spread the word. Pretty easy!

The Verses Project has a few pretty good albums out and one of them happens to be devoted to verses (Bible verses that is) that are Trinitarian in nature.

The Trinity Sessions

PERFECT!

So enjoy!

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The Ordinary Time Journey has begun…


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The Ordinary Time Journey has begun.

The posts over on the web guide (www.OrdinaryTimeWebGuide.com) have started rolling. And hopefully you have picked up your copy of the book and are reading along!

This book is created with 2 tracks in mind…

#1. Start today! Following along with the liturgical calendar and Sunday lectionary readings. Ordinary Time is pretty free flow but there are a few days that commemorate certain folks and some special days. But those things are super minimalistic and lend to a bit more liturgical freedom for this season of the year.

#2. Go with it! For those that are like, “liturgical calendar what?” or “lectionary readings who?” – YES! This book is for you! You can really jump in at any time and following along. I’m setting up the web guide so you you’ll know which posts go with which days.

This book is 13 weeks worth of devotions. Start at any time and track along! Learn the rhythms of abundant life and the ordinary ways of Jesus and his followers.

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Pentecost Sunday | We’re close


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Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, which marks the culmination of the Easter season. It’s a pretty big Sunday on the church calendar because it’s the day that marks the birth of the church. That’s a pretty big Sunday! Here are a couple images and prayers to help you think about Pentecost and what God has done through His Holy Spirit. (And click the link above to read a bit more about Pentecost. CRI is a great resource.)

Holy Spirit DoveOfPeace pentecost-icon-coptic-6

It is also the Sunday before Trinity Sunday, which is the first Sunday of Ordinary Time! 

So we’re getting close. Our journey is about to begin.  

JOIN THE JOURNEY



Ordinary Time, as you will learn if you haven’t already, is simply a counting of Sunday. We get the ordinary of Ordinary Time, not from the ordinary, boring, mundane nature of this time of year but we get it from the word ordinal. Which is a particular way of counting (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). Ordinary Time is the way we count the Sundays from Pentecost to Advent. They are ordinary Sundays, not much special goes on during this time of year but the focus is really on growth and the learning of what it means to follow Jesus each and every day. If you’ve read the intro of the book you’ve picked this up already. If you haven’t, get a copy today and join the journey, you’ll probably even get it in time for the first Sunday of Ordinary Time.

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And here are a couple prayers or Collects for your Pentecost week…

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

or this

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Good Friday & Black Saturday


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The Harrowing of HadesSome people call it Holy Saturday, I prefer Black Saturday. And for the record, one of my least favorite things that churches do these days is to have an Easter service on Saturday night. I get it, I get it. I know why you do it but that doesn’t make it any better.

As I was sitting in my churches Good Friday requiem (which might have been the most amazing music I have ever heard in a church building) I was reflecting on the weekend, I even wrote a few things down in my journal. By Friday night Jesus would have been crucified, dead and buried. His words, “it is finished” would have been said and his last breath would have been breathed. Personally I want to sit there, in the darkness. I want to take in the forsakenness of it all. I want t know that darkness, the quite, that stirring chaos. I want to sit in and become familiar with this space, to become aware of the void and the despair.

Most times we want to jump to Sunday, to resurrection. I hate even speaking the word today. It’s still Saturday. Jesus is still dead. Doing his thing in hell while I sit in my own hell. I don’t want to jump ahead I want to take in this fierce silence.

There are many time in my life and in my struggles where I wondering where God is. I wondering if he has abandoned me. I read the early parts of many of the Psalms and want to stop just before the poet gets to the “but I remember” or “but I will praise you” parts. I can relate to the nagging questions “why have you forsaken me” but in those moments I have a hard time with the remembrance and the praise parts.

You see, I want to sit in the dark silence of Good Friday evening & Black Saturday because it’s here, as I remember this story, as I reenact this narrative that I experience true abandonment. Where with Jesus I can honestly cry out, “Why have you forsaken me.”

I want to be so aware and attuned to this absence so that in all the other moments of life that feel so dry and dark I can sense God’s presence even then. And I can sense it because I know what Black Saturday is like and in all of those other moments I will be able to say, “this isn’t that.”

 

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These thoughts are inspired by Ignatian meditation that encourages us to really live into the text and put ourselves, imaginatively into the stories. This type of thoughtful, imaginative scripture engagement had greatly deepened my life. Try it!

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Maundy Thursday — Reflection


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holythursday_15c_rusToday is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. A lot goes on here but the primary scripture i’ve been thinking about is John 13:1-15, the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. Many churches will have a eucharist / communion service that will include a foot washing ceremony. When I was living in Nashville and attending Church of the Redeemer I was able to participate in a few Maundy Thursday service that included foot washing. It was uncomfortable! It was awkward! It was thought provoking. And when all was said and done it was beautiful and deeply moving.

We don’t wash peoples feet. We often don’t love people well. In our culture these things aren’t related but for Jesus he tied these 2 together. Wanting to profoundly love and serve his friends and show them how important it was going to be for them to receive that love and then go and do the same.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.45.29 AMPray As You Go engages this passage in John today and asked a few poignant questions…

“have ever known that kind of love?”

“Is there someone whose love you find difficult to accept at the moment?”

(image yourself in this story…)
“What do you want to say to Jesus, and what does he want to say to you?”

They close with these two pieces…

“‘I have set you an example’ says Jesus, ‘that you also should do as I have done.’  Speak to Jesus about what this invitation means to you, and how it might become a reality in your life?”

“We adore you o’ Christ and we praise you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

The medition today from Pray As You Go struck me and I wanted to share it. Take 12 minutes today, listen and engage, you won’t regret.

I hope you’re abel to find a good Maundy Thursday service today. Let it prepare you tomorrow, Good Friday and the darkness that follows and the light that is right around the corner!

Grace and epace
ERik

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LENT 2015 :: An Intro


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Lent has become my favorite liturgical season. Not because it’s fun and festive but because it has produced the most significant spiritual growth in my life. One of my proposals is that every liturgical season is a gift from God that enables a person to become fully human and experience spiritual growth in particular ways.

Lent is the space we are given that allows us to experience temptation, difficulty and dryness. We are reminded during Lent that God is not distant when God is quiet and that our difficulty isn’t necessarily because of a problem but rather it may be a preparation.

Either way, because you are human, because you are dust and to dust you will return, you will experience not only the good but the difficult and tempting parts of life.

Lent is God’s gift to us, creating space to experience this while affirming His love for us as He did in the life of Jesus.
So in all of this we share in His suffering and are prepared to participate in His resurrection.

There is a lot more to Lent but those are my thoughts for today. 
I wrote a little Lent devotional book if you want to read a bit more. 
Here is the intro to that book which will briefly introduce you, if you’re not familiar to some of the Lenten basics…
I also plan on blogging every Wednesday about Lent and my experience.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.25.50 AMFrom Lent…

Lent is the time in the Christian year that leads us to Easter and our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. For most of my Christian life, I was aware of Lent but didn’t engage in the creative aspects Christians have participated in for hundreds of years. However, for the past several years, my engagement in Lenten exercises has provided water for my thirsty soul. Lent is usually a period marked by prayer, penitential activities, helping those in need and radical self-denial.
I have simplified those ideas in my own life focusing on three things. With the hope and expectation of participating in the resurrection, during Lent I will:
• add something,
• subtract something, and
• spend intentional time in self examination.

And here is a prayer to begin your Lenten season
(and I hope you will find a community to experience an Ash Wednesday service today. You won’t regret it.)

From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The “Fridays” of Life….


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“On all the Fridays of our lives, when with Jesus we want to say, “God, where are you?” maybe He (Jesus) is just hanging there present and absent all at the same time, waiting for the subversion of your story and ultimately His story to be proclaimed. After all, Sunday isn’t far away.”

This is a little bit of a Good Friday reflection I gave awhile back. I put it in the Lenten Devotional I published and came across it today as I read and prepared for the current writing i’m doing. I needed to read it. Maybe you do to.
Resurrection & harrowing-of-hadesTrying not to let stress and stifles control my focus and joy.
It may feel like Friday but Sunday is coming.
(I think Tony Compolo has something to say about that as well.)

To read the rest of the reflection above pick up my Lent devotion for yourself and your community.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18th, 2015.
(If you are curious about Lent and what it’s all about check this out [ CRI Voice on Lent ] or just know this, Lent is all about getting your heart and mind ready for Easter, the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.)

 

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Epiphany — Let’s keep it going!


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Advent seemed to gain some traction this year! Guys like Louie Giglio and others spoke and wrote about Advent, even calling for people to “bring Advent back.” Which among some of my friends was a bit humors. Our thought is that Advent didn’t really go anywhere, you did. But regardless, it’s great that communities are embracing the rich resource that the church calendar offers us.

Let’s keep it going!

At the end my Advent book that was published 2 years ago I left the reader with this though on Epiphany as a springboard to continue their journey through the year with the church and her calendar.

Epiphany

epiphany_001

The Season of Epiphany begins after the Twelve Days of Christmas and continues until Lent, 40 days before Easter. What exactly is it, and how do we observe it? Well, we’ve all had an “aha” moment when the lights go on and everything makes sense. That’s an epiphany. It can happen slowly, like when the lights are gradually turned up in a room, or suddenly, when everything goes from black to full color and light in a moment.

I’ve had epiphanies take place both ways but it’s always God who turns on the light! He reveals Himself and makes it clear that life will never be the same. This experience is different for every individual, but it’s all a revelation of God’s self.

Thus, Epiphany is the season in the church calendar when we watch and listen as God is quietly—or sometimes not so quietly—revealed before us once again. Sometimes, even when we try hard to do so, we just don’t see God in our everyday lives or in the events of our world. Epiphany gives us the time and resources to watch, wait, listen, look and be open to the revelation of God. Watching and waiting are practices we can intentionally carry over from our Advent journey because Epiphany is a season that reminds us God constantly wants to reveal Himself to us. He longs to turn on the lights, connect the dots and show us the way!

The Lectionary will guide us through three key Scriptures readings during Epiphany. We traditionally focus on the Magi, who literally had the bright light of a star turned on above them to reveal what God was doing in the world. We also consider the baptism of Jesus, which more fully reveals who Jesus is, the Son of God. The season concludes with pondering the story of the Transfiguration, the scene that gives us a glimpse at the pure radiance of Jesus, the light of the world, as He reveals Himself to some of the disciples. Epiphany is a season to really explore these aspects of Jesus’ story that reveal Him in new ways.

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So there you go! I hope this could be a great springboard to guide you through this next season of the church!
If you want more reading for flection during Epiphany check out these resources. And keep an eye out toward the end of 2015 for a new resource I’m putting together. I can’t wait to share it! More on that coming soon.

The Book of Common Prayer
(Of course! The reading and prayers are all here.)

A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God
(This is a great resource that follows the liturgical calendar. It includes explanations of the seasons, daily devotional liturgy with scriptures, prayers and reading for reflection. It’s a must have!)

Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year by Robert Webber
(Webber is the forerunner for all us “Evangelicals on the Canterbury trail.” This is a really good resource on the calendar and it’s significance. Less devotional and more informational but great nonetheless.)

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross
(I haven’t fully got into this resource but it seems great and what I have read in it I really liked. Check it out!)

 

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Advent isn’t really about Jesus…


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Advent isn’t about Jesus
Advent is all about Jesus

Those statements seem contradictory don’t they. Well, they are both true. In a way…

You see Advent is more about the absence of Jesus and less about the presence of Jesus. So you might say Advent isn’t about Jesus at all, it’s about you!

Advent is about you and that hunger that lies at the core of your being. That longing that you feel deep in your bones. It’s about that edge of your seat anticipation that you just can’t shake.

Advent is best experience in all of these moments, when you roll over, gasp for air, grit your teeth, and hold your breath… when in those moments the only words you can get to slip through your angst are the words, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

This Advent cry, “Come, Lord Jesus, come” is what also makes Advent all about Jesus.

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I was doing some reading today and this was my Psalm,

Psalm 35:22-25

“Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.””

You see, this is an Advent Psalm!

AWAKE! Come, help a brother out! Nothing is going right and there are all these people about to crush me!

That’s the Psalm. And that is an Advent cry! That’s a familiar cry!

We cry out for Jesus to come in his birth.

We cry out for Jesus to come again.

We cry out for Jesus to come in all the moment in-between.

Advent is the time God gives us to remind us how to wait. How to be patient. How to be honest in those moments, like the Psalmist, when God seems absent and ruin seems immanent. We’ve all been there. We’ve all cried out, “COME LORD JESUS!” or maybe “HELP ME JESUS!” 

It’s during Advent that we, the Church, practice together the art of longing and waiting and preparing. It’s during Advent that we learn to live faithfully instead of extravagantly because we are reminded that all the toys and goods are not what we really want or need anyway.

So we learn to wait for the right thing, not just the thing I want right now.

We learn to pray, hope, want and wait faithfully. 

This is the gift of Advent. 

This is all about Jesus!

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