Prayer is a vital practice during the Lenten Season. Often, we take these weeks of Lent to revitalize and focus our discipline of prayer. Prayer is a way we open ourselves to God and respond to God's desire to be in communion with us. Most of the time when we think of prayer we think of having a conversation with God, talking with God about our life, our needs, our concerns and our hopes. I would like to encourage you to expand your practice of prayer during Lent. There are many ways we can open ourselves to God and it doesn't always have to be with words. In our former Directory for Worship in the Book of Order it describes a wonderful variety of prayer:
One may wait upon God in attentive and expectant silence.
One may meditate upon God's gifts, God's actions, God's Word, and God's character.
One may contemplate God, moving beyond words and thoughts to communion of one's spirit with the Spirit of God.
One may draw near to God in solitude.
One may pray in tongues as a personal and private discipline.
One may take on an individual discipline of enacted prayer through dance, physical exercise, music, or other expressive activity as a response to grace.
One may enact prayer as a public witness through keeping a vigil, through deeds of social responsibility or protest, or through symbolic acts of disciplined service.
One may take on the discipline of holding before God the people, transactions, and events of daily life in the world.
One may enter into prayer covenants or engage in the regular discipline of shared prayer.
The Christian is called to a life of constant prayer, of "prayer without ceasing." (Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17) There are so many ways we can connect to God. The only wrong way to pray is to not take the time to do it.
May your prayer life richly bless you this Lenten Season.
Our third communal discipline is the focus of Jesus when he states in Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up treasures on earth . . . for where your treasure is there your heart will be also,” reminding us that freedom isn’t found in what we have, but through simplicity. As we practice simplicity we learn the spiritual art of letting go, allowing us to loosen our attachment to the ideas of owning and having. Simplicity begins when we remember that all things are God’s. When we become attuned to our role as stewards of God’s resources, we may find ourselves more free and generous with those things entrusted to us. Yet it is not enough to claim our roles as stewards of things entrusted to us as individuals, but simplicity also includes our corporate role as stewards of all of creation and the hands/feet of Christ here on earth. As we unclutter our minds and our space from all the things (treasures) of the earth, we will become more aware of God moving in the world around us, both in nature and in others, and that treasure is the greatest treasure of all.
This week’s Lenten Wednesday Worship will look at Simplicity and we hope you join us for that worship, but also this Saturday as we spend time away from our personal clutter together in God’s natural beauty reflecting on the simplicity that a life in God can provide. Please join us for both these powerful times of community.
We hope that you’ll join us for a walk this Saturday, March 25th at 11:00 a.m. out at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School. Here are other ways for you to practice Simplicity this week:
Buy a potted plant or herbs and as you care for it each day, say a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s provision in your life.
Go outside to work in your yard, garden, walk, run, go for a bicycle ride, and bask in the beauty of creation!
Be waste conscious – try to bring a reusable mug or water bottle with you every day this week, or be food conscious as you try to not throw any food out this week from your refrigerator or after meals.
Select one bible verse and work on memorizing it and meditating on it for 20 minutes every day.
At first, our second communal discipline may seem out of place in Lent,
but it acts as a natural extension of our first (Confession) and
thus is essential to being a spiritual community. Both confession and
celebration are based in God’s grace. Just
as confession makes us aware of our need of grace from God and thus
others, celebration reminds us how deep and broad that grace can be
in bringing us together. Walter Bruggemann calls
living in Christ “practicing resurrection,” and there is no
greater celebration in scripture or in life than
when something seemingly gone is found. Celebration though
not just joy
the moment, it’s also remembering things that have been, both good
and not so good, that have brought us to where we are. Yet,
whether we celebrate what has been, what is, or what is to be, we
cannot celebrate alone as
parables time and again show celebration as inviting all to come and
the old lady in luke 15 “calls
together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I
have found the coin that I had lost.’”
week’s Lenten Wednesday Worship will look at Celebration, and we
ask that you come considering what in your life you have to
celebrate, in order to both
release Joy into the world. There will be a time in this worship to participate in this discipline and we hope you will join us for this
powerful service of community.
We hope that you will continue to practice the discipline of Celebration this week. Here are some ways to practice Celebration:
James 5:16 says “Confess your sins one to another.” The call to confess communally is not about receiving forgiveness but rather about recognizing ourselves of needing the forgiveness of others. The act of confession is one of humility and vulnerability, it is letting go of our pride and selfishness and entering new life. It is not enough to tell God of our faults and sins, we must seek out those whom we have hurt and become divided from and confess to them. Only when we confess and humble ourselves before one another can we find true communion with each other and with God. Diedrich Bonhoeffer when discussing confession in his book Life Together concludes by saying: “Here [at the Lord's Table] the community has reached its goal. Here joy in Christ and his community is complete. The life of Christians together under the Word has reached its perfection in the sacrament.” For him, as it should be for us, confession is something that allows us to recognize grace and God in one another, as we live into truth and liberation from the things that keep us apart.
This week’s Lenten Wednesday worship will look at Confession, and we ask that you come considering the things that you may need to confess to others in your life. There will be a time in this worship to privately, yet publicly recognize our need to participate in this discipline and we hope you will join us for this powerful service of community.
We hope that you will continue to practice the discipline of Confession
this week. Here are some creative ways and ideas to practice Confession: