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Category Archives: lent

Journey 3 Day 17 – Good, Bad, Ugly Friday

“Here I Stand, Humbled by your Majesty” – Martin Smith, Delirious

You are God in Heaven and Hear am I on Earth. So I’ll let my word be few. I stand In awe of you. Matt Redman

Easter, The Cross, Jesus, all so profound and all so humbling. We have come to know it as Good Friday, but as many have said and many have questioned, would it not be better to call it bad Friday? Or perhaps even more so, ugly Friday. Especially if we view Mel Gibson’s depiction of the passion.

The humanity, humility and integrity of Jesus in Gethsemane, Before Pilate, At the Cross is inspiring and inspires awe, wonder, worship and a profound sense of wanting to follow him, discover, explore and be incredibly thankful.

I’m lost in wonder, lost for words, profoundly impacted by the story and how it plays out, I simply turn to the Gospel accounts, read, reflect and acknowledge the incredible humbling, sacrificial act of the cross.

Besides many people have reflected on this so well including this helpful post by Danny Webster called The Killing of a King.

Jesus, Thank you for the Cross, Thank you also for the life that you lived, so fully, so fully humanly, before this bad, ugly day in history.

Today I read scripture

Today I watch the Preston Passion

Today I pray and reflect

Saviour of the world, save us from our sin, our sadness, and our self-deception. Give us courage to live in a world we cannot fix with hope that it has already been redeemed. Amen Taken from Common Prayer a new and creative book on prayer. 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Humility, Journey 3, lent

 

Journey 2 Day 39 – Journeys End Pt 1

And so my journey of simplicity is now almost at its end. Its been a challenging, humbling, eye opening, helpful experience overall and I am thankful for what I have learn’t and experienced. I’ve been made very aware of just how much I love good food, how much of a ‘consumer’ I normally am in terms of food and other things. I will be reflecting more on the simplicity journey in my final post of this journey tomorrow.

At the beginning of this journey I set out my simplicity charter to give me a very practical outworking of the Journey. Food, Time and Money. 3 key areas in seeking to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, a whole life as a disciple of Christ. So how have I done?

Food: Overall pretty well. I’ve certainly been aware of just how much good food I have had to turn down and abstain from. I’ve also been aware that its not in my nature to take small portions and eat meals days on end without meat. I am glad for the opportunity quite soon after the rice and beans challenge to eat more simply and save money and also weight gain!! I count it as an achievement turning down so many of Hazel’s cakes, lots of nice stuff when on holiday and also some fine cakes and snacks after church on several occasions.

Time: I’ve found this the hardest. I think in all honesty the word is ‘epic fail’. There have been some moments of great balance, being present in the moment, having fun, resting, rediscovering the joy and need of comedy, which have been brilliant. But I have overall failed to stop cramming to much in and also wasting a lot of time.

Money: I have abstained from purchasing my usual favourites on many occasions. However In have not always succeeded and so with moments here and there, coffees bought and even occasional lunches etc, my ‘glitch tax’ stands at £28.50.

Overall its been a rewarding experience but overall if I am honest I am not sure how deep rooted these changes will be. I am so aware of how easy it will be to slip back into my more usual way of life and living. As Consumer Detox has taught me, consumption is inescapable, and in many ways is a natural and vital part of life. Good Consumption is vital to bringing hope, justice and transformation in numerous ways.

However Consumer Detox and this journey are also teaching me that consumption must be thought through, challenged, questioned and reflected upon more. Contentment, being more thankful and stopping are all vital and possible and can be more deeply ingrained into our lives and lifestyles.

I am also aware that the key to a lot of this is grace, patience and building in good rhythms which make contentment and simplicity seem more natural and a joy rather than a challenge that could turn nastily legalistic! Thanks Mark Powley for this traffic light guide and these thoughts on Rhythms of life to create a more meaningful and sustainable simplicity.

Some friends at Tearfund are also about to embark upon a major new project called Rhythms. Rhythms is a brand new website and app that will help you follow Jesus. It’s all about taking actions to change the way you live so that together we can change the world.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Food, Journey 2, lent, Money, Play, Work

 

Journey 2 Day 24 – Gratitude Pt 2

Having found it hard to make my list of all the things I own, I am actually really glad that I did. It has enabled me to think more widely than just ‘stuff’ and think about all of the things that I don’t own but are in my life as a gift and a great blessing.

Contentment is a hard thing. I sometimes feel I am to content and that leads me to being to complacent and comfortable. I am also aware how I can move to the other extreme of losing sight of what I can be thankful for and content for. So this weekend has been good. I have stopped and intentionally been thankful for not only what I have in terms of what I own but more importantly, the people and many other things in my life that I don’t own but who I feel very thankful for.

The challenging part of the ‘list’ cranks up this week in exploring Mark Powley’s other questions.

How can I use what I ‘have’ to make a contribution to the Kingdom of God?

Do I need what I have and could/should I consider selling/giving away anything I own?

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Journey 2, lent

 

Journey 2 Day 20 – Occupy Debate

Ok, I’m massively late to this thing! Last week I made my first and,  in light of yesterday’s events,only visit to St Paul’s during the time that the Occupy movement has been based there. My impressions were of a real sense of community, a buzz of conversations, unity, purpose and a good atmosphere. There was plenty of space to walk around and access everything in the area with ease, including the Cathedral.

Its fair to say that when the camp was initially started through a failed attempt to occupy the stock exchange and found itself in the ‘grounds’ of St Paul’s that The Church was slow to respond and genuinely did not quite know how to respond to the complexity of resonating with aspects of what the camp stood for and its own Mission and role in light of its new neighbours. That’s a fact. I’m not saying I could have done any better or would not have faced the same tension, but I did find myself agreeing with Giles Fraser and his more proactive, welcoming and engaging response.

A Statement from St Paul’s in response to the end of the occupy camp perhaps offers some hope

We wish to acknowledge fully that the Occupy movement is helping to raise issues of social justice in the national and international consciousness…St Paul’s Cathedral is fully committed to promoting issues of social and economic justice with renewed energy through our worship, teaching and the work of St Paul’s Institute. In the past months we have been made to re-examine our values and the role of St Paul’s. We’ll continue to do this and we look forward to welcoming a new Dean alongside us as we work together to shape our future mission.

The current debate for me highlights the complexity of this issue. Money and our relationship with it is complex. And yet I find myself agreeing and resonating with a lot of what the occupy movement and the critique of the capitalist system is offering. Just as Jesus and Paul brought great challenges about how we should use and value money, so today the Occupy movement challenges a system and in particular the financial sector within the global economy for misusing and abusing money. The Love of Money in the past few decades has brought with it terrible things and that has to be named and acknowledged. Change is needed and movements like Occupy have done a brilliant job to enable debate and provoke more thinking on our relationship with money and the economy.

Money, wealth creation, consuming and all that’s linked to it are complex. But they are also important and vital, but perhaps more than ever, vital to imagine a new, different and better way.

Movements like Occupy. Organisations like the New Economics Foundation, Movements like the Fair Trade (Its also Fair Trade Fortnight, and the great debate goes on) and Investment opportunities like Kiva, do show us how a different and better way can be created.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Journey 2, lent

 

Journey 2 Day 19 – Thorns

Less Stuff, More Life is the ‘strapline’ of the Breathe Network. Its also the series title for a set of 5 talks being given by Mark Powley (Author of Consumer Detox) over Lent to link up with the Consumer Detox course running over lent.

The First Talk is titled ‘Thorns’ and can be heard here.

Just like the I am a Consumer Confession I made a week ago, The subject and title is equally inspiring and daunting. The first talk is based on Mark Ch 4 v 1-20. The Parable of the Sower.

What is our biggest Danger? Is it the Thorns? Do we live in an age of Thorns? If we do then how can we ‘breakout’ of that, especially in thinking about Consumerism. Verses 18-19 is quite key here. Do the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth prevent us from living a truly radical life of faith and dependence on God?

The talk explores these themes and gives us some things to think, and act upon. I really appreciated the honesty with which Mark talks, making me realise just how often I am to reluctant to embrace the honesty and mundane aspects of life. I’m feeling challenged by this talk to become a more honest person. I admit that I far to often live in the ‘cycle of anxiety’ rather than the ‘cycle of trust’ and far to often compare myself and my situation with others rather than cherishing what I do have in terms of family, work, church, wealth and opportunities.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money, theology

 

Journey 2 Day 18 – Small Steps

Over the weekend I was reminded of the value and significance of taking small steps and actions to enable kindness, love, justice and compassion to be lived out and made meaningful in everyday life.

The Consumer Detox Blog, reminds us of this today.  Buying Fair Trade, Taking the time to stop and thank someone, helping someone carry a buggy up some stairs, giving time or money to something, all quite small things but they can be so easily forgotten and are essential and ‘do able’ without much effort.

Small steps can then of course lead to bigger one’s, but just like riding a bike or learning to walk, its best to start small and start with something that can be achieved and work up, rather than overstretch or just find the big step to daunting and end up doing nothing.

My small steps today – Eat fair trade and local food, take time to stop and chat and think about how we can save money over Lent to give a bit more away.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Journey 2, lent, Money

 

Journey 2 Day 13 – Sticks and Flutes

I Came across this simply brilliant reflection on Lent yesterday by Shane Claiborne.

“What’s the difference between a flute and a stick in the mud?” our priest asked on Sunday. He then went on, “The stick in the mud is full of itself. The flute has been emptied of itself so it can make music.” That’s a good image for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

The origins of Fat Tuesday have everything to do with what happens on day after. Christians around the world celebrate “Ash Wednesday” which kicks off the 40 days before Easter (what we call “Lent”). Traditionally Lent is a season of fasting (giving up food or luxuries or vices) and repentance (which means “to re-think” things), and we put ashes on our heads made from Palm branches from the previous Easter season as a sign of our mortality (i.e. “from dust we came and to dust we shall return”). So before the fasting there was feasting. Ages ago, folks would spend Tuesday eating up all the grub (and drinks) that would go bad during the season of fasting, especially in the days before refrigeration.

But the question surfaces, what relevance does any of that have for us?

Our priest did an incredible job reminding us that in a world where many of us are “full of ourselves” we need to be emptied of ourselves – so that our lives can make better music.

All the major world religions have an element of self-denial at their core. Jews have Yom Kippur. Muslims have Ramadan. Christians have Lent.

In a world filled with clutter, noise, and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to step back and rethink how we think and live. In a world of instant gratification, it’s a chance to practice delayed gratification – to fast — so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have. In a world where virtual friends are replacing real ones, it is an invitation to turn off TV and computer screens so we can spend time with real people again.

It’s an opportunity to give up something that is sucking the life out of us so that we can be filled with God, with life, with love again.

So consider taking the invitation this Lent to “repent” – to rethink how we think and live. I had one friend tell me his Lenten commitment was not to spend a single dollar these 40 days. Another woman said she was giving up gasoline, only driving one day a week. Others of us may take up smaller commitments – giving up sweets or alcohol or meat.

One of my friends who talks a lot decided to spend time in disciplined silence. Another friend of mine who is a hermit committed to get out a little more and be social. So there isn’t an anecdote, but there is an invitation — an excuse – to try something new. Some folks may choose, not just to give up something, but to take on something new – to exercise, read, learn a new craft, or pray. So whether it is giving up an old bad habit or take on a new holy habit… May we each use this Lenten season as an excuse to do something that empties us of ourselves so that our lives make better music.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Journey 2, lent