Corinthians 9.8-9 (RSV)
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever."
Every day when I wake up, I make my way into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. I check to see if the kids are up and return to my room to get ready to walk the dog on her morning excursion. I then return home to check my email, fix my lunch, and watch the kids get on the bus. Then I get myself prepared for the coming day and make the short commute to the church. Pretty much, I do the same things in the same order each and every morning.
While the predictability is comforting as I can plan and dream in my “usual” times, the times that I break from this routine can invite some new insights as well. Last week, I was at the TCU/Brite Minister’s Week in Fort Worth. “The Power to Bless” was a theme that carried out in our learning opportunities and lectures, as well as small group encounters and our communal worship. During all of these, I was reminded that to bless is done in and through me. I have been blessed in common and ordinary ways. The question and challenge is: “how might I imagine inviting people to be blessed as I have been.”
Lent offers a time like this as well, a disruption from the ordinary allowing us to look carefully at our lives and ask ourselves: Where am I blessed? How might I share it with others? As I saw in a movie recently a minister asks a guy “Waiting for someone?” The guy responds, “Yeah, you could say that. It looks like he's out at the moment.” And the minister says, “Well, maybe that's why he sent me.”
Grace and peace,
Genesis 2.7 (NRSV) then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
Lent is a time in the church when we focus on our need for God. It is truly one of the most vulnerable seasons in the Church calendar. Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday actually invites us to wear ashes on our heads to remind us that we have been created by God.
There is something very earthy and bodily about ashes and God breathing life into each of us. Much like Advent and the birth of the Christ child, we remind ourselves the body is important. From being a baby, Jesus grew to maturity and became the way that we are reconciled to God and one another. In Jesus’ life, he showed us, taught us, and loved us, and became the embodiment of what it means to be fully human and fully alive. Jesus’ life has always been a radical way of being. So much so that Jesus was taken to the cross and his body was broken for us all and his life blood shed. “God identifies [God’s self] with the suffering Jesus, God takes the guilt and penalty for sin into [God’s self].”* And remember that all this is done to and in Jesus’ own body.
Each Sunday in Lent, the elders and I are going to make the Lord's Supper part of our worship. First Sundays will remain the same with passed trays. On the following Sundays, we will be practicing intinction where we come to the front, tear off a piece of the bread, dip into the cup of grape juice, and then return to our seats. In doing so, we acknowledge the body and its importance to life and faith.
Grace and peace,
*Boring, M. Eugene., and Fred B. Craddock. The People's New Testament Commentary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004. Pg. 560.
I Corinthians 14.26 (The Message) So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight.
I did not come from a cooking family. There are very few recipes that have been or will be passed on. Still homemade food was important to my up-bringing. Even today, a meal made at home that brings us to a dinner table is important. We each pitch in (as we are able) to bring the food to the table-some set the table, some put food on plates, and some clean up after.
Liturgy is the twenty-five cent word that is used to describe an order of our worship. It is sometimes understood as “the work of the people” to which I wholeheartedly agree. Every congregation that I have been part of has its own unique ordering and way of worship. It becomes the work of the people as you and I move through it in our time of worship. Each of us is integral to how liturgy shapes our lives of faith.
Over the next several months, we will be looking at our worship together. As always we will praise God with our lives. And much like a family recipe, we will add our own variations to see how it turns out in the end. Letting the Holy Spirit be our guide, we will flavor our worship together.
Grace and peace,
Husband, father, minister, child of God, follower of Jesus Christ writing in the context of La Porte Community Church