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?

a blue line


Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

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Why did Jesus have to die?

Palms waving on Palm Sunday

Did you see the parade on Sunday? Such a celebration!

 

Lots of waving palms!

And there it was… Sure enough… Joy was in the air!

Palm waving with a focus on joy

And next Sunday is Easter!

More Joy!

Oh, but what about the in-between days?

Can we leave out this?

draped cross

Do you say, “I don’t know how to explain why they killed Jesus, so I’ll just hurry over that part.

Or

“Let’s just skip the bad parts and progress right to the Easter Joy.”

Granted, it takes delicate talk to explain why Jesus had to die. Start off by asking your child why they think Jesus had to die. It is important to ponder and wonder around this question with our kids.

Make sure that they understand that is was not God who put Jesus to death but other people; people who did not like Jesus. They did not like the things that Jesus said and did. It might even be helpful to talk about why people might not like what Jesus had to say about how to treat others (Matthew 7:12), or about loving your enemies (Matthew 5:43-44), or about sharing your resources (Matthew 19:21).

How about some elaboration on why Jesus had to die:

This part of Easter is hard to understand. This part shows us how much God loves us and wants to be able to be connected with us.

No matter how hard we try, we still sin — we do stuff that separates us from God and from other people; things that push God away. There is nothing we can do to make up for our sins; we deserve to be punished.

Jesus took that punishment for us. He died so that our sins could be forgiven!

It seems harsh, but it’s not the end of the story because Jesus came back to life! Jesus had been killed on a cross but on the third day, women found his tomb (the place where he had been buried) empty! The tomb was empty because Jesus was alive! God’s power brought Jesus back to life again. He was resurrected. This means that God’s love is more powerful than death!

Jesus’ death and resurrection show us that we are fully forgiven. God’s love is more powerful than anything and is still there, even when we sin!

Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

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