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SMC Women's Ministry

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Posts tagged Lent
Lenten Baggage
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This Lent, I thought I was going to skate through it, my bag was packed with all the necessary stuff I thought I would need, but I emotionally packed for a different Lenten trip.

I packed compassion, love, concern, a focus for the hurting ones in my life.

I knew I was going to meet grief head-on, and for the first weeks of Lent I did, I met grief head on, but not my grief.

I was prepared to go into spiritual battle for the hearts of my “people” that had been crushed into a million pieces by death, diagnosis, abandonment, unbelief, major loss of hope.

I packed my Lenten suitcase with God’s love to pour out over everyone in my life that needed to be reminded that He never lets them go.

I didn’t pack my bag to be ambushed by God who scheduled a deep cleansing, a scrubbing away of that sore in my heart, a spring cleaning of my heart.

I hadn’t packed all the armor that was needed to soothe my wounded places.

I had forgotten to remember….

I had learned that Lent was not about giving up watermelon (which was my standard answer when asked “what are you giving up”).

It was a time of preparation and repentance, but what was I suppose to prepare for and was I suppose to repent for all my daily sins or just the BIG ones?

It became very confusing, so this year I was giving up ME, and focusing on everyone else.

I was going to dwell in the country of their grief, not my own, but the space that my dearest and best have been inhabiting.

Lent 2019 has seemed to be a slow heavy walk through sadness, hopelessness, and grief.  Too many close to me were slogging down that dark trail into a darker valley and I was their companion.

I was caught unaware when God gave me a HARD STOP, and forced me to look at my losses, grief that has been grieved well, but then stored in the deepest part of my heart.

It was time to scrape the scab off, expose the ugly to the life giving, healing light of God’s love.

It was time to allow God to pour over my heart His love and mercy and fill it with His peace

And it hurt.  The scab was deep, rooted in avoidance, denial, and too much pain, but it was necessary.

Kate Bowler wrote in her blog that, ‘To observe Lent is to prepare for loss.  We will hear in Scripture the story of a man, once active and strong enough to stride the length of the Holy Land, suddenly deprived of his freedom and friends and now rejected and despised, esteemed not.  We embark on a walk for this holy season that will end on Golgotha, where an innocent man in the midst of his agony will cry because he believes his Father has forgotten him.”

We prepare for the loss, we know that Sunday is coming!  And we know the end of the story.

So I continue towards Jerusalem, reminding myself not to forget to remember.

There are many walking beside me, some limping along, some struggling to keep up, some striding in great confidence, but we all need help carrying our burdens.

I am walking hesitantly with Jesus holding my heart tenderly as he applies the healing balm of his grace, but I am walking.

As we approached Jerusalem the crowd stood at the gate and cried in tear-choked voice: “ We are lost in his death.”  Upon the hill the angels sang:” We are found in his rising!”  Ann Weems “Lost and Found”

 Walking towards Jerusalem, my baggage adjusted, my load lightened, facing the rising Son!

 Susan Disher

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Will You Practice With Me?

IMG_1079 It’s the first day of Lent.  Ash Wednesday.

For Christians, Lent is the 40 days before Easter Sunday.  It was originally designed to be an act of fasting, repentance, and spiritual discipline like Jesus did in the wilderness, while also reflecting on the suffering and sacrifice Jesus did on the cross for our salvation and the eternal joy of resurrection to new life.

It’s a holy experience where we choose to deliberately reflect on all that Jesus did for you and for me.  A way to reflect is to take part in the life, heart and soul of Jesus and practice the way He lived.  And maybe when we practice for 40 days it becomes a habit.

So, the next 40 days will you practice with me?

Practice sacred time with Father God like Jesus did in the late and early dark mornings and night hours

Practice not giving in to temptations like Jesus did in the wilderness for 40 days.

Practice simplicity like homeless Jesus did as he trusted God to provide.

Practice kindness like Jesus did when he looked people in the eye and listened to their story.

Practice generosity like Jesus did when he gave all he had.

Practice intentionality like Jesus did when he spent time, conversations, laughs and cries with his disciples.

Practice suffering like Jesus did when he saw others suffering.

Practice desire like Jesus did when he longed for everyone to have a personal relationship with God…and did something about it.

Practice grief like Jesus did when he was deeply troubled and cried to Abba to taken away the awful hours ahead as he foreknew he’d be in extreme pain and dying on a cross.

Practice sacrifice like Jesus did giving himself as an offering to God for the sake of others.

The next six weeks, may you practice Lent in a way that can become a habit or rhythm so you can experience God in a resurrected way.

Beth 

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A Person Of The Cross

On the Wednesday before the Thursday where the bread was broken and the wine sipped, before the Friday when the world collapsed, before the Saturday when the world stayed still, before the Sunday when the world broke through, on that Wednesday, we do not have a record of what Jesus and his disciples did.

I have a feeling that Jesus was regrouping and gathering strength to complete this long arduous journey that had begun with a conversation between a young girl and an angel messenger in the hills outside of Bethlehem.

Wednesday, the day that Jesus may have been resting, praying, gathering himself in preparation of what he knew would take place.

And that is where I find myself in the year 2017. The Wednesday before Easter.

The journey began 6 weeks ago when many had a sooty cross of ashes drawn on their foreheads to remind them of their sinfulness and mortality and their need to repent.

This year I was in need to be reminded, daily, hourly, of my need for Christ in my life, so I added something.

When I saw the crosses drawn on Ash Wednesday, I saw it as a way of proclaiming themselves to be “people of the cross”. They were branding themselves, if only until they washed their face, that they belonged to Jesus.

I inked a cross on the inside of my arm. It isn’t permanent. I have to reapply the ink every few days as it is washed off, and every time I am brought back to my initial thought, “I am a person of the cross”.

I told no one and on one asked me about it.

Lent has been described as a journey to Jerusalem.

As I continue to walk that journey through the 40 days I find myself forgetting still, forgetting the degree of the sacrifice Christ made in the days preceding his crucifixion.

Forgetting that every day of this last week He was leading his disciples, as well as us, His followers, toward the cross.

Jesus was deliberately guiding the 12, and us, to understand the “why” of his last days.

I do not believe they understood, or if they caught a glimpse of where the journey would end, they could not believe that He would submit.

And I discovered that I am truly crucified with Christ, daily crucified.

And as I forget His crucifixion I also forget that I have been raised to resurrection life!

Resurrection life is what should be at the center of my life, but my human frailty keeps me living in the world.

2 Cor 4:8-10 speaks of crumbling when the walls of my little life come tumbling in, hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down BUT NOT in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed.

The words remind me that I always carry in my body the death of Christ, and in doing so, the life of Christ will be revealed.

I thought that observing Lent meant to give up something in order to create space for Jesus in my ordinary days, but this year I added something, a visual symbol of the death and the resurrection of Christ.

Gal 2:20 says to help me to remember that if I am truly crucified with Christ, I am also raised to resurrection life!

Help me Lord, to never forget that the purpose of crucified life is to walk in the power of Your resurrection with your life revealed in mine.

Amen and amen and amen.

Lovingyougood…sd