Saturday, March 15, 2014

A little meandering for the last day of the first week of Lent

Meandering as I prepare my sermon for tomorrow, this blog (The Induced Meandering of the Lenten Season) from the On Being website (a thought-provokng weekly podcast) was a fine place to stop and take a contemplative moment.

 Meandering through my back yard after taking out the trash, I rested a bit with bluebonnets transplanted from my mother's yard, and wood violets that pepper my yard with Lenten color, tucked into hidden and unexpected places, always a surprise that brings a smile.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday in Lent at New Hope

Springing forward, up for blueberry pecan pancakes, locally raised and cured  bacon, and locally roasted coffee. Even better than all that was eating it with my son, his wife, and my two grand boys.

Then, having lost an hour of morning because of daylight savings time, as I always do when I'm with my family in Bend, I have a fresh appreciation for the challenge it is to get a family, particularly with a toddler and a preschooler, off to church on a Sunday.

My family has been visiting a church close by, New Hope Church.  With welcoming nursery and preschool for the grand boys to be during church, we three adults went down the hall to worship.  We started with good praise music, reminiscent of the music we used to sing at St. Cuthbert, the church where my son was baptized and our family worshipped before I was ordained.  The pastor did a fine Bible teaching from James with a fresh reminder of the power of the words that come out of our mouths.  A final song and prayer, and we were home for a family lunch of delicious leftovers.

It was an amazing gift this first Sunday of Lent morning to be with my Oregon family for breakfast and worship.  We pray for the best things for our children and grandchildren, and to know that they have a wonderful place to come together with the people of God each week is the very best "yes" to a prayer.  I have to admit to being teary more than a few times with joy and thanksgiving to the God of good and prefect gifts.

Now the boys are napping, and maybe Grandma Texas, too.  Hoping that the sun will keep shining so we can have some outside adventures later this afternoon before a delicious steak dinner tonight.  Tomorrow is a very early flight home to Texas, my heart full precious memories that will carry me home.

On Ash Wednesday, Katie+, our curate, prayed an eloquent blessing on this trip.  Once again, glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Great praying, Katie+!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A lenten rhythm

And so it begins yet again.  Ash Wednesday.  Lent.

Our theme at St. Mary's this year is Love All, and we have a variety of resources from which people can pick and choose to enrich the forty days of Lent.

The parish has been invited to be watch a video each day from the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and we've printed a workbook for folks to write their daily reflections on the video.  On Wednesday evenings we'll have some small groups and watch a video or two and talk about our reflections.

We're also encouraging folks to take time during Lent to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation of a Penitent.  SSJE has provided a wonderful booklet that our adults are using for their time of reflection, and our Children Formation Minister, Cindy, has prepared a small refection based on the Lord's Prayer that our younger Christians can use in preparations.

Many of our Daughters of the King have subscribed to a daily email series created by Jan Richardson called "Beloved: An online journey into Lent an Easter."  The Daughters are sponsoring a Quiet Day for men and women this Saturday at St. Mary's.

The monastery of which I'm an Oblate has a practice of Bona Opera ("good work"): submitting your spiritual practice in writing to be placed on the altar of the monastery and blessed on Ash Wednesday. I have made a daily commitment of lectio divina, almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.

Having disciplines, spiritual practices for Lent, are an important way of reshaping our lives so that our hearts become more transformed into the place where God alone dwells.  It's doing what Jesus says each year in our Gospel for Ash Wednesday; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6.21).

I have my daily Lenten disciplines which I submitted to Sister Antoinette that sit on the altar of Our Lady of Grace.  But at our Vestry/Ministry Council retreat on Saturday, one of our lay folk mentioned that her spiritual director years ago had encouraged her to have a spiritual rhythm.  That resonates with me.  

There are little things that when I do them I feel centered in who God has created me to be.  Drink a cup of tea.  Eat an apple.  Talk a walk.  Sit in silence.  Tidy as I go.  Pray a daily cycle of prayer for the parish.  Write a note of love.  Feed the birds. Quotidian actions that feed my soul that are easy to be too busy to do--triaged away until it's bedtime and they don't happen. 

So for Lent this year, my Bona Opera that 
will sit on the altar at St. Mary's will be a commitment to a daily Lenten rhythm.

I reminded myself in my sermon today that these good things we do are not so that we can have a personal self-improvement plan for Lent but so that we can become more completely God's and can more fully serve God's people. 

And now I'm off to love all--particularly those two grandboys who live in Bend. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ceasing to work...with the workers of the church

It’s the last day of my retreat.  After I pray Evening Prayer in the Chapel tonight, I’ll return to Houston and a full day of work tomorrow.

On this final day, I’ve invited the lay leaders of the parish, the Vestry and the Ministry Council, to join me for the day.  I made scones and served them with fruit, yogurt, and an assortment of beverages.

We began the day chatting and eating, then prayed together.

A collect for Saturdays collecting us in community.

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:  Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary , and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

We prayed Lectio Divina using the Gospel for tomorrow.  We shared a bit, and then we moved to silence.  Free until gathering at noon at the chapel for prayers.  The only rule:  Don’t talk.  Don’t work.

Napping, reading, sitting, bike riding, walking, knitting, drawing, doing a crossroad puzzle, outside and inside.

We ended our silence with Noonday Prayers in the Chapel, followed with lively conversation during lunch in the Conference Center.  More fellowship, and then we closed with Communion back in the cabin.  Our Prayers of the People were for the people of St. Mary's,
praying for each member of the parish by name.

It was Sabbath.