READ THIS!!!! Bishop Mark Lawrence on Lent – the problem of sin in our heart

March 5, 2014

MUST READING.  Truly.

Mice in the Palace — Sin in the Heart

An excerpt:

The thing we need to remem­ber as we try to get at this prob­lem of sin is that it is very hard to get at it at all.  There is so much that pro­tects it from our inner eyes. The axiom of the Reform­ers is apro­pos here:  “What the heart desires, the will chooses, and the mind jus­ti­fies.” When we try to get at the motives of the heart, the mind and will are for­ever get­ting in the way jus­ti­fy­ing our­selves.  These are like lay­ers of gar­ments swirling around the heart of our sin.  But in Christ we can pray that through the work of the Holy Spirit, who con­victs our hearts of sin; the liturgy’s use of Psalm 51 and the Litany of Penitence’s bru­tal nam­ing of sins; and with the Scripture’s con­stant entreat­ing us to turn to God’s mercy and for­give­ness; these will rend or tear through the lay­ers and lay­ers of these gar­ments even­tu­ally leav­ing the sin­ful heart revealed that we might by grace turn and look to Jesus Christ—to his cross and death.

[…]  Begin with the Lenten dis­ci­plines and we will go awry every time […]  Begin and remain in a grace-filled repen­tance that yields a torn and con­trite heart and God’s grace shall abound.  Then we may seek God’s guid­ance about self-denials and devo­tion­als and what­ever else we find to mark our mor­tal nature in grace.  Yet we dare not side step the word of apos­tolic procla­ma­tion—“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be rec­on­ciled to God.” (2 Corinthi­ans 5:20)

The full text is here.

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Barnstorming blog – Listening to Lent

March 5, 2014

Dr. Emily at Barnstorming has got her first post up for Lent.

Listening to Lent – Have Mercy   featuring a beautiful short original poem, and a hymn (Trisagion) by Fernando Ortega.

Emily’s blog is such a gift.  Don’t miss this.  Here’s the link to the Lent category at Barnstorming.

 


Lent Quotes: Ann Voskamp – the ONE big question to ask in Lent

March 5, 2014

I enjoyed Ann Voskamp’s Advent Devotional “The Greatest Gift”, so I went to her blog, A Holy Experience, today to see what she might be posting for Lent.   She’s got a devotional post today from John 4:13-14 (part of a year-long Scripture memory project of passages from John’s Gospel).

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

In reflecting on that passage, she identifies a key question to be asking on Ash Wednesday, and throughout the 40 days of Lent:

Maybe the one big  question to be asking myself on Ash Wednesday is:

Give up something or don’t — the point is:

How am I giving more of myself to Jesus?

Great question!

Here’s more from Ann Voskamp on Lent, including information on how to download her free short Lent / Easter family devotional “Trail to the Tree.”


First Things: two Ash Wednesday meditations on the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Christina Rossetti

March 5, 2014

Go to First Things – NOW!  Two fantastic Ash Wednesday reflections.  I particularly appreciated the entry about Christina Rossetti and her Ash Wednesday poems.  I’d never known the history…

Christina Rossetti’s Lenten Life,a season of penitence, a season of preparation—and a season of hope

These Bones Shall Live, The Hope of T. S. Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday


A Classic Ash Wednesday Post from our Archives #2: Seek the Lord and Live

March 5, 2014

Back in 2006 at the original site for Lent & Beyond, we hosted a Lent “blog carnival” with daily entries for Lent from various Anglican bloggers.  It was a great series.   I had the joy of penning the Ash Wednesday devotional for that series.  While clicking through some of our Lent links compilations the other day to make sure the links were still working, I happened to reread my post from 8 years ago, and I found the Lord using what I’d written then to  challenge me afresh.

So here’s an excerpt and the link to that Ash Wednesday devotional from 2006.

Seek the LORD and live…

Those are the opening words of the OT daily office reading from Amos for today, Ash Wednesday (ECUSA 1979 lectionary). I find it interesting that we have a call to choose life on a day when the liturgy during the imposition of ashes reminds us of our mortality:

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

and: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

The theme of finding life through submission and obedience to in the Lord continues in the NT lesson from Hebrews 12, in verse 9:

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

Do we truly believe that in Christ is life, and that to live we must submit to our heavenly Father?

I don’t just mean this in terms of salvation and eternal life and the debates about apologetics, and the uniqueness of Christ in which we so often get caught up. I am asking myself this question today and challenging each of us to ask it of ourselves daily throughout Lent. Is Christ our life? Are we willing to submit our wills and desires to God? To choose to do what pleases Him? Do we believe that the joy, life and freedom He offers, that we find in yielding to and obeying Him is better, more satisfying than the empty pleasures of this world?

You can read the whole entry here.


A Classic Ash Wednesday Post from our Archives #1: Matt Kennedy on Lenten Disciplines

March 5, 2014

Back in 2005, the Rev. Matt Kennedy, an Anglican rector in Binghamton NY wrote a short article about Lent for his parish newsletter, which we posted on the original site for Lent & Beyond.  I think it’s one of the best pieces for Lent I’ve ever read in terms of really solid practical advice (for believers AND non-believers) about how to choose a Lenten discipline…

This year (2014) Fr. Matt has produced a short video (7 minutes) about Lent which covers some of the same ideas, which is highly recommended.  But I wanted to repost Fr. Matt’s original 2005 article as well, since it’s one of my favorite entries from the last 10 years.  Who can forget the memorable line: “if you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate”?!

Here’s an excerpt from Fr. Matt’s 2005 article:

For believers, Lent can be a time when you actively work to rid yourself of sins that have grown into habits and/or addictions (yes, this should be something we do all year round but it’s helpful to have a time like Lent set aside for that very purpose).

So, rather than thinking about what vice to give up or what discipline to add, a better place to start is prayer. Ask God to search your heart and bring to your mind those habits of thought, word, and/or deed that displease him most. (Sometimes what is displeasing in your life will be so obvious that you won’t even need to pray, you’ll just know. The Holy Spirit living inside you will have made it abundantly clear already). When you ask this in sincerity you can be sure that God will provide you with an answer.

This answer will tell you whether you need to add a discipline or be rid of a behavior or attitude. If, for example you believe that God wants you to be more committed to studying scripture, then you should probably consider adding personal or group bible study to your routine. If on the other hand you believe God is displeased with the amount of time you spend on the internet or the kinds of things you look at on-line, then you should probably consider cutting out or down on your computer usage or installing some parental control program to keep you accountable (even if, especially if, you’re a parent).

In other words, your Lenten discipline should not be arbitrary. If you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate. Give up whatever it is that leads you into lustful behavior. And don’t just give it up for Lent, use Lent to give it up forever. Let the Lord know that you are committed to turning from the sin he has shown you and then ask him to help you in your task though the power of his Holy Spirit.

If you are not a believer then you don’t just need to turn around a habit or an attitude. God is calling you to turn your life around. He loves you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die in your place. Through Jesus, God is offering you the opportunity to be forgiven and made clean. No more guilt, no more burden, no more despair. In Jesus Christ you will have life and have it abundantly. It’s your choice. If you’re tired of living life apart from God, then let him know. You can say it like this:

“Lord Jesus I am a sinner. I’m lost and on my own I can’t find my way home. But you died on the cross to save me from the eternal consequences of my sins and today, this very moment, I repent and I put my life in your hands. I want to be with you forever. Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make your home there. I give my life to you. I pray this in your holy Name. Amen.”

You can read the full entry here.


An overview of traditional Lenten observances

March 5, 2014

The blog Piety Hill Musings, by the rector of St. John’s church in Detroit, has an excellent short overview of 12 traditional Lenten observances. It’s a great resource for those who want to learn more about Lent, and as you consider and pray about what spiritual disciplines to focus on in this season of the church year.

Here are a few excerpts:

1. Fasting – The weekdays of Lent are fast days, meaning that the amount of food is reduced. A good (if modern) suggestion is no snacks, no seconds, no desserts, and no alcohol. If you don’t normally eat snacks or drink, you may consider giving up some favorite food. The idea is to undertake something sacrificial, yet not overwhelming. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are strict fast days: one full meal in the evening, a very light one in the afternoon and for some nothing before 3pm. Those who are ill, elderly, pregnant or nursing are excused from this discipline. (Page li, 1928 B.C.P.)  […]

4. Daily Office  – If you do not now read Morning and/or Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book, Lent is a good time to begin doing so.  It takes some effort and discipline to get the habit established, but once accomplished, it can bear great fruit in your spiritual life.  Each Office takes 10-15 minutes a day.   Ask the Clergy if you need help in how to do it.

5. Spiritual Reading  – An ancient custom is to take a spiritual book for regular reading during Lent.  This can be a book on the Scriptures, or one of the spiritual classics.   Many are available in the parish library, and the clergy would be happy to make suggestions as well.

Check it out.

You might be VERY SURPRISED by #12 on the list….!

I don’t think too many people usually include evangelism in their list of Lenten disciplines.  What a great reminder!


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