Formation Fridays: The Joy of Lent

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Formation Fridays: The Joy of Lent

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

When we think of the Lenten season, it is common to think of fasting and discipline. But joy? Where does joy fit into Lent?

Two of the common traditions of Lent is to give something up and to take something on. Many give something up by fasting from chocolate, sugar, coffee, or another food item or activity that is enjoyable. Some choose to take something on by committing to do good, opening their home to others, or offering to do a certain chore in the family.

In the early Christian church, the act of fasting was meant to encourage a remembrance that we are spiritual, not just material beings. By giving something material up, one’s time and money would be saved and be given as alms to the poor. 

By giving, we experience more freedom and joy. When I hold tightly to my material life out of fear, I am bound to those things, I become hurried, living above means and place. When I let go and trust God’s faithfulness and goodness, I enter into the joy of kingdom living, I begin to live within means and place — creating more, not less — space, time, and resources to share as God guides me. 

As we enter into these 40 days of Lent together, may our lives become opened more to God and others as we experience the true meaning and joy of the season.

In Freedom and Joy,

Pastor Becky

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Formation Fridays: Love Never Fails

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Formation Fridays: Love Never Fails

Two weeks ago, Pastor Becky wrote a phenomenal post about practicing Lectio Divina (link to the post). This week, as we conclude our reflections on love and transition to a series on joy, I would like for us to participate in this practice together.

I have selected a passage for us to meditate on together. I pray that the Lord will speak to you through these words:

But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

Romans 8:37-39

Remember the steps are simple:

  • Relax and refocus (silencio)
  • Read (lectio)
  • Reflect (meditatio)
  • Respond (oratio)
  • Rest (contemplatio)
  • Trying it on (incarnatio)

Also, remember that this isn’t something to achieve, something to check off your list, or something to win at. Contemplative practice is about showing up and collaborating with God. Be present with yourself and with God as you reflect on the passage. Listen to what God is saying to you through these words.

May you hear God’s voice and act according to God’s great love for you,

Pastor Todd King

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Formation Fridays: Whole Humans

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Formation Fridays: Whole Humans

It’s February and we are well on our way into the new year. This is about the time when my resolves to being healthier begin to fall back into the old groove. I have done juice fasts, Whole 30s, and Daniel plans only to find myself back down an old familiar road crashing off the wagon, thinking “Well, that didn’t work! Now what?!”

I have come to believe part of my problem is that I have seen myself as a divided human: body vs. mind, flesh vs. spirit, will vs. behavior. I tend toward compartmentalizing my life. I tell myself, if I just did or didn’t do A,B, or C, then D, E, and F would be different. I would look thinner, have more energy, be smarter, be better at relationships, etc. The list is endless. However, I forget to address my motivations, look holistically at my whole being, or want to be disciplined (yes, I am often stubborn and rebellious).  

So, I am on a journey. One that sees and loves myself as whole human, as God sees me. All parts synergistically working together as one. All spirit, emotional/mental, and physical. A tri-part being. The Creator made all of me for carrying out God’s mission on this earth. That means all of me needs healing. To work toward a healthier way of living, means I see my whole self through the eyes of my Creator, my Sustainer, and Life-giver. Not just in January, but… Every. Single. Day. 

The Shema, an ancient Israelite prayer, was part of a daily prayer practice, spoken morning and night. Each day was bookended with the declaration, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5) This prayer brings all me of to all of God every day.

God does not want us to be bystanders in our healing and wholeness. God desires us to be participants. Yes, God does work miracles. Even the miracle of working through our stubborn selves and being in relationship with each other in our communities to keep us on the path of wellness, wholeness, and healing.

Wholly in Christ,

Pastor Becky

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Formation Fridays: Loveable

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Formation Fridays: Loveable

Off to the left of my apartment there is a plum tree. I love that tree in the spring. For a week, its blooms are a beautiful pink hue that stands so vividly that it is breathtaking. I don’t usually pay it much attention in the winter though; It’s branches are bare and skeletal. Not much to look at, if you ask me.

However, the other day I was walking back into my apartment after coming home from the gym. I looked up at those stark branches and there were two birds flitting about. To my eyes, it looked like they were playing together. It brought a moment of joy and I said a quick prayer of thanks for God sharing in the play of these creatures with me. But something deeper was revealed to me as I thought about that moment of joy around those birds.

They were just simply being what they are, and God shared with me the joy that comes from appreciating things for what they are. It made me think about myself and my constant reach for self-improvement. I had just come from the gym, where I work my body until it cannot take it anymore to improve myself. I have shelves of books filled with knowledge to improve myself. I am constantly working at improving myself.

We all do this. We all try and try and try to be better people, in one way or another. And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. The problem is our motivation, because deep down, maybe even on a subconscious level, we think that someone won’t love us if we don’t lose those 5 pounds, articulate ourselves well enough, have a nice enough car, or have a big enough house, or what-have-you. 

What I find so striking is that God doesn’t care about any of that. Sometimes I forget that God is happy with me just because I am me. I forget that a tree gives glory to God just by being a tree. A bird gives glory to God by simply being a bird. But people try to give glory to God by building things, by improving themselves, by conquering, by subduing, by mastering. Somehow we feel like we have to earn it. 

St. Irenaeus once said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” Me simply being me, being present in my strengths and in my flaws, is being fully alive. Me giving my all is fully alive. Sharing in life with others is fully alive.

I have something to learn from those birds.

Peace and love,

Todd 

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