How quiet contemplation revealed a hidden need?

purple paramentsWith the start of the season of Lent, a sharp-eyed churchgoer will spot changes in the Sanctuary. Ask your family members what they notice.

First up, the colors have switched! The purple paraments are back. (Paraments are the hangings that adorn the pulpit, or the stoles the clergy wear. Did you know that each season of the Church Year has a different color?)

Wonder with your family: why purple for Lent?

cross in the sanctuary on Ash WednesdayAnd secondly, the empty, “old rugged cross” is back… watch it progress slowly – week to week – on it’s Lenten journey from the back of the church all the way to the front.

Do you wonder if you will find it blocking “your spot” in church?

Discuss with your family what the recurrence of this on-the-move cross says to you.

Both of these alterations are relatively innocuous.

Or are they signals of something bigger? Something like…

Hey, it’s Lent! It’s time to intentionally put God at the center of your life.

But how is that suppose to happen?

Going into Lent I was conflicted. I knew that I needed/wanted to “do” something specific to mark my travel through Lent, to turn my thoughts toward the reason why Easter is important… but I wasn’t sure what to do. Give something up? Take something on? Then I got my answer at last night’s Ash Wednesday worship service.

It was a Taizé style service, consisting of meditative, repeated songs and scripture interspersed with periods of silent contemplation.

And in that quiet… I found peace.

Ah ha! I needed an injection of sacred time.

I needed to pull back from my day-to-day stuff and experience the divine.

imparting ashes on Ash WednesdayAt this service there were the sacred rituals of the sharing of bread and juice in Holy Communion, and the imposition of ashes – the part where dust gets etched onto our foreheads with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe.”

Lent begins with this sign – ashes. The ashes are symbolic of death. I need to let my old ways die. I need to try something new.

So I went home and created an “altar.” On an old board I placed a few “special” rocks, a sprig of fake flowers, a pinch pot made by my son when he was 5 years old… It is a place for me to linger, to allow my soul to be in quiet contemplation.

I plan to add and subtract from my holy space as I feel the whim. I plan to “visit” every day.

Lenten altar

How will you create your sacred Lenten space?

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Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

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A challenge: What does your Advent look like?

Advent Collage for #pictureAdvent

Advent is here!

Rather than posting weekly on the blog, I’m participating in a photo-a-day challenge based on Advent themes. For example, today is “Prepare” and tomorrow is “Abound.” This has been fun!

Take a look at my photos so far. (If you click on a photo you can read my thoughts that go with each theme.)

Join in if you’d like, just tag your photos with #pictureAdvent. Or have your kids draw a picture that represents the day’s theme. You may also choose to read the short Bible passages that go along with each day’s word.

Days of Picture Advent 2015Here are the daily Advent words.

 

One of the best distinctions of Advent? There is no reason why you can’t talk about Jesus every day!

Use some of these family-friendly Advent ideas to help out.
    Wandering wise men

  • Follow along with the antics of these guys on a whimsical quest to find the infant king — the Wandering Wisemen Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar along with their faithful camel, Hezekiah. (You don’t need to be a Facebook user to see these daily posts.)

    Why not make use of the characters in your manger scene/crèche? Take turns moving them (not just the magi!) around your home on their way to the stable. What adventures will they experience?

  • A grazing sheep made out of LegosThere are a multitude of ideas here, for LEGO®-maniacs, bookworms, and “RACK”-makers! (RACK stands for “Random Acts of Caring Kindness.) Oldies but goodies.
  • More ideas including ways to find peace amongst all of the frantic-ness. Yes, I need this!
  • Live Nativity

  • Plan on attending the comedic drama performed by our youth at 5pm on Sunday, December 20, 2015, in the downtown Sanctuary of FUMC.

    Afterwards there is a live nativity and Christmas caroling. Carlos the donkey will be there.

What is your Advent looking like?


Photo credits:
Photos in collage are from my archives. Challenge list from pictureAdvent.com. Wandering wisemen borrowed from the creator of the series. Sheep from LEGO® bricks, by Leo Dorst. Reproduced by permission.

a blue line

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