Tag Archives: Ash Wednesday

Lessons from the Passion

Matthew 26:30-39

When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

“I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

The last hours of Jesus’ life bear powerful truths for our daily living.  Lessons and principles for following Christ are to be learned in almost every event of those last hours.

Watch and learn…

  • On Thursday night, Jesus ate the traditional Passover meal with His disciples.  That night, He performed an act of great humility.  The Messiah washed the feet of His apostles.  He taught them that to be great, you must be small.  The way to lead is to serve.  Remember Jesus washing the disciples’ dirty feet if you feel unimportant, un-empowered or small.
  • Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.  He declared his loyalty, even to the death.  But Jesus sadly informed him that he would vehemently deny knowing the Savior three times before the rooster would crow in the morning.  Remember Peter as he heard the rooster crow early Friday morning if you feel self-sufficient or confident in your own resources alone.
  • After the meal, Jesus went to the garden to pray.  His followers chose sleep, not prayer.  In the loneliness of those hours, Jesus’ heart was in great agony as He accepted death for our salvation.  Remember Jesus kneeling alone in the garden if you find it hard to do the right thing.
  • Then came the trials.  First, Christ stood before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin; then, the Roman governor, Pilate; next, Herod, the Jewish puppet king; and finally back to Pilate again.  In cowardice, Pilate let the people choose; Jesus or Barabbas, a convicted criminal.  Remember Jesus as he heard the crowd shout, “Crucify him!  Give us Barabbas!” If you feel wrongfully accused.
  • The Roman soldiers beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, mocked Him and made Him carry His cross.  Remember the humiliation of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa if you feel rejected or excluded.
  • Jesus was nailed to the cross with huge spikes. In the midst of His torture, He prayed for His executioners.  Remember Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them,” if you find it hard to forgive.
  • Those same soldiers gambled for His clothes.  Remember how Jesus must have felt as the soldiers played games at the foot of the cross if you feel discouraged by power struggles, feel used or feel misunderstood.
  • There are lessons to be learned from all suffering but the passion of Christ shows us the true heart of God.  The Lenten season gives us 40 days to ponder Christ’s passion and learn from it.

Monica Boudreaux


PRAYER

Father – Give me the wisdom to learn lessons of service and humility as I consider Christ’s passion.

Amen.

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Fasting, A Lenten Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent. The Lenten season of the Christian Year when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. I share with you today a way of fasting during Lent.

John-Wesleys-Fast

THE JOHN WESLEY FAST – A LENTEN DISCIPLINE

What is the “John Wesley Fast?”

Each Thursday evening, after the evening meal, until mid-afternoon on each Friday, Methodist people are invited to follow Wesley’s example of fasting and prayer. During this time he did not take solid food but fasted and focused much of his time in prayer.

What is a fast?

Normally persons do not use solid food, but continue with liquids during such a short but regular fast.

Who is invited to participate in the “John Wesley Fast?”

John Wesley expected the “preachers” to participate, and he wanted all of the John-Wesley-whoMethodist leaders and people to follow this discipline.

Why this pattern?

Methodist people are invited to discover the power in this regular pattern and discipline that John Wesley followed for a half a century. For Wesley, the more important reason for fasting was that fasting is a help to prayer.

As one of John Wesley’s “preachers,” I would like to suggest that this Lenten you observe the “John Wesley Fast” as a Lenten discipline.

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Come Away

 

Prayer Retreat

 

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

—Jesus

As we continue our Lenten journey there is no better time to heed the call of Jesus to “come away to a deserted place” than the Lenten season. All of us need these times of solitude to take stock of ourselves. The world in which we live is so hectic and busy that it generates precious little time for soul care. Jesus understood that He and the disciples were going about doing many great things and yet, going to a deserted place was a matter of necessity. Lent is the season of deserted places.

As we steer our lives in the other worldly path of self- denial, we automatically find that it is a less traveled road. Perhaps we can take advantage of that reality and spend some quality time with God. After all, practices of self-denial are designed to make us keenly aware of our need for God. Instead of counting the minutes or seconds of silent prayer relish the time. Conceivably your time of fasting can be used to take a quiet walk and experience God’s creation in a special way. When you give offerings to the needy, pause a moment to take yourself to a quiet place and see the person you are helping through the eyes of their Creator. These can be simple ways of coming away to a quiet place without ever traveling.

The whole concept of Lent is one of coming away to the quiet place of your soul. I hope you are having a Holy Lent and traveling towards a joyous Easter.

As we continue our Lenten journey there is no better time to heed the call of Jesus to “come away to a deserted place” than the Lenten season. All of us need these times of solitude to take stock of ourselves. The world in which we live is so hectic and busy that it generates precious little time for soul care. Jesus understood that He and the disciples were going about doing many great things and yet, going to a deserted place was a matter of necessity. Lent is the season of deserted places.

As we steer our lives in the other worldly path of self- denial, we automatically find that it is a less traveled road. Perhaps we can take advantage of that reality and spend some quality time with God. After all, practices of self-denial are designed to make us keenly aware of our need for God. Instead of counting the minutes or seconds of silent prayer relish the time. Conceivably your time of fasting can be used to take a quiet walk and experience God’s creation in a special way. When you give offerings to the needy, pause a moment to take yourself to a quiet place and see the person you are helping through the eyes of their Creator. These can be simple ways of coming away to a quiet place without ever traveling.

The whole concept of Lent is one of coming away to the quiet place of your soul. I hope you are having a Holy Lent and traveling towards a joyous Easter.

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Day 12–March 3

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 6:1-29

Prayer Thought

Lord there are times that things just don’t work out in the way we had planned. Those times are sometimes difficult, but allow them to be fruitful. Amen

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Day 10–February 28

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 5:1-20

Prayer Thought

Lord all that is evil knows you and fears your power. Help me to have the wisdom to call on you as I enter into the evil of this day. Amen

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Day 8–February 26

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 4:1-20

Prayer Thought

Lord give me the wisdom and discernment to know where to place good seed. Allow me to live a life of discipline and blessing. Amen

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RULE OF LIFE

Note: I am not sure where I got this document, but it has been in my files for a long tome. I’ve taken the liberty to make a few changes from the original. This rule would make for a good way to observe Lent.

This Rule of Life is based Wesley’s General Rules, the membership vows of the United Methodist Church and St. Benedict’s Rule. We believe this rule opens our eyes to God’s grace, balances life and enables us to pursue holiness in all aspects of daily living.  IB

A RULE OF LIFE

PRAYERS

· We will pray daily

· We will use a variety of forms of prayer such as the reflective reading of Scripture and other spiritual texts, confession, the prayer of Examen, intercession, journaling, and contemplation.

· We will fast from food once a week (either a full or partial fast)

PRESENCE

· We will practice a contemplative stance in order to be present to God, the world, and ourselves

· We will be hospitable to our neighbors in our families, neighborhoods and workplaces

· We will be hospitable to our faith community through participation in our worship, fellowship and mission

GIFTS

· We will honor and care for the gift of the earth and its resources, practicing ecologically responsible living, striving for simplicity rather than excessive consumption

· We will practice generosity in sharing our material resources, including money, within and beyond this community

SERVICE

· We will serve God and neighbor out of gratitude for the love of God

· We will practice mutual accountability with a covenant group within the community, for how we serve God and neighbor

· We will practice regular Sabbath as a means of renewal so that we can lovingly serve God and neighbor

WITNESS

· We will practice racial and gender reconciliation

· We will resist evil and injustice

· We will pursue peace with justice

· We will share the redeeming, healing, creative love of God in word, deed and presence as an invitation to others to experience the transforming love of God.

I commit to this rule of life and to the well-being of this community, out of gratitude to God who forgives, heals, and makes all things new. May my life be a blessing within and beyond God’s church, for the transformation of the world.

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Ash Wednesday and Lent

Lent is about mortality and transformation. We begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross smeared on our foreheads with ashes as the words are spoken over us, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou wilt return.” We begin this season of Lent not only reminded of our death, but also marked for death.

ash_wednesday picThe Lenten journey, with its climax in Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter, is about participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Put somewhat abstractly, this means dying to an old identity—the identity conferred by culture, by tradition, by parents, perhaps—and being born into a new identity—an identity centered in the Spirit of God. It means dying to an old way of being, and being born into a new way of being, a way of being centered once again in God.

Put slightly more concretely, this path of death and resurrection, of radical centering in God, may mean for some of us that we need to die to specific things in our lives—perhaps to a behavior or a pattern of behavior that has become destructive or dysfunctional; perhaps to a relationship that has ended or gone bad; perhaps to an unresolved grief that needs to be let go of; perhaps to a career or job that has either been taken from us or that no longer nourishes us; or perhaps even we need to die to a deadness in our lives.

You can even die to deadness, and this dying is also oftentimes a daily rhythm in our lives—that daily occurrence that happens to some of us as we remind ourselves of the reality of God in our relationship to God; that reminder that can take us out of ourselves, lift us out of our confinement, take away our feeling of being burdened and weighed down.

That’s the first focal point of a life that takes Jesus seriously: that radical centering in the Spirit of God that is at the very center of the Christian life.

—Dr. Marcus Borg

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The Lenten Observance

The 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday, going through Holy Week, and ending on the Saturday before Easter is the season of Lent. The six Sundays occurring during Lent are not counted as the 40 days since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Originating in the 4thLent 2015 century of the Church, the season is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter. Many biblical events are associated with the number 40, but Lent is most commonly connected to the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry as he faced the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission.

Christians today use this period of time for meditation, introspection, and repentance. The Church usually marks the season by prayer, fasting, and charitable giving. It is a time for the Church to focus on prayer, penance, and repentance as we acknowledge our need for God’s grace. All of this is a preparation to celebrate Christ’s atonement and resurrection of Easter.

The last week of Lent is Holy Week. During this holiest time of the liturgical year, the Church relives the final week of Christ’s life. On Palm Sunday, believers celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we revisit the Last Supper, while on Good Friday we recall the passion and crucifixion of the Lord.

Lent is about what Christ gave the world – salvation. The observation of Lent is a way to place ourselves humbly before God as we confess our inadequacies, strip ourselves of pretense, and open our souls before God to receive His grace.

We are part of a continuous line of Christians who have celebrated for 2000 years the One who was born in poverty, lived sinlessly, died on a cross, and rose from the dead. Jesus secured us a place in the Kingdom of God – here and now, and eternally in heaven. He opened wide the doors of kingdom – living in today’s world. He offers peace beyond our dreams, joy beyond our expressions, wisdom beyond our understanding and accomplishments beyond our abilities.

Lent gives us 40 days to prepare for a joyous Easter response to grace.

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The King Cake

One of the many traditions of New Orleans Louisiana is the King Cake. I thought that I would share the meaning of the King Cake with you.

Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. One of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious, is the King Cake.

kingCake1On the Christian calendar, the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated as the date that the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus. This day, January 6, is known by several names, including “Epiphany”, “Twelfth Night”, or “Kings Day”. The celebration of this event has evolved over the centuries, with each culture adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition, borrowing heavily from European influences, is believed to have begun in the 1870’s. As part of this celebration, it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings – the King Cake. King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.

In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season. In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the Biblical story, the “search for the baby” adds excitement, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who “finds” the baby will be rewarded with “good luck”, that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.

Just thought you might want to know.

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