Category Archives: Lent

The Model Prayer

Lord’s PrayerAuthor Michael Kelley in the book Holy Vocabulary: Rescuing the Language of Faith, takes a good, hard look at how we approach the Lord’s Prayer.

“in modern usage,” he says, “the prayer has become something of an incantation, recited laboriously before a sports event or a civic meeting. It’s become a tool we use in an attempt to guarantee God’s endorsement of whatever we’re about to do” (p. 30).

Sounds somewhat harsh at first reading, but the more I think about it, the more he is right about how I personally approach the Lord’s Prayer from time to time: something to just say, get through and check off to say I talked to God today.

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Honesty

honestyAt a recent Lent seminar I attended, one of those present said, “Lent is about honesty.” That is a good message for us to remember on this Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

First and foremost in Lent, we must be honest with God about our sins. We should not sugar-coat it or make excuses or trivialize it. We have sinned. We are at fault. We have not obeyed the will of our God. There is no denying it anymore. We must confess sincerely what we have done.

And we must be honest with ourselves and say that we would not be here at all were it not for God. He is the one who created us. He is the one who gave us breath. He is the one who guides and protects us. Everything about who we are is a miracle from him and he deserves all the credit for that.

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Are You Facing Out?

crossOn this Good Friday, when we focus on the cross, I would like to share with you a devotion I wrote a while back for one of our past periodicals Living the Gospel Life. May your observance of this day be faith-strengthening.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified. 1 Cor 1:22-23

When my father graduated from the seminary, my mother gave him a ring with a cross at the center. But in his first weeks as a new pastor in Odell, Nebraska, a farmer observed, “You’re wearing that Continue reading →

Foot-Washing Phobia

footwashing

Many churches include footwashing as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

On this Maundy Thursday, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, I am posting a devotion I wrote for a previous publication of ours, Living the Gospel Life, on an experience I had with foot-washing:

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. John 13:14

At a recent event at my church the group leader (me!?) was supposed to wash the feet of the members of my group. The prospect of washing these people’s feet did not thrill me, and all of the adults in the group declined to participate. Only one 8-year-old boy named Colin was game. I found Continue reading →

Palms to Passion

I consider Palm Sunday to be one of the most bipolar days of the Church Year. In fact it is given two titles on the liturgical calendar: Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion.

It begins with a parade of people waving palm branches joyfully praising God for Jesus as he enters Jerusalem. Children and adults alike enjoy re-enacting this scene in our churches on this day. I know I enjoy waving a palm frond my church provides each parishioner as I sing “All Glory, Laud and Honor” as much as the next guy. There are usually little kids laughing and people smiling as we do this sort of playful activity as worship leaders process in.

palm branch

Parishioners wave palm branches like these at the start of Palm Sunday worship.

But eventually the tone of the service shifts abruptly (by design) as we turn our faces to the cross that looms before our Savior as he fulfills the purpose for which he came: releasing us from sin, death and the devil through his suffering, death and resurrection.

The church I attend often has various readers speak portions of the passion narratives as parishioners go to Communion toward the close of the service. The mood is somber and reflective and evokes a sense of dread.

As I think about the effect such a shift in tone has on me, it reminds me of how shocking and disconcerting this must have been for the disciples. Here Continue reading →

Centered

labyrinth

This is what a typical labyrinth looks like.

During Lent this year, I am reading the book Walking the Labyrinth by my good friend Travis Scholl. In it he tells of a Lent several years ago in which he walked the winding path of a labyrinth in a churchyard near his home every day of the sacred season.

Scholl describes how the weather, the surroundings, his mood changed each time he walked the labyrinth reflecting and praying. I imagine in my mind’s eye a kind of movie montage of different scenes behind Scholl as he makes his same labyrinth walk each day.

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Ashes to Ashes

ashesWelcome to the first post of the Creative Christian Perspectives blog. Thank you for coming on this journey of faith with me as we dialogue about what it means to be a Christian in our world today. I begin the discussion using my perspective as a senior product developer at a Christian publishing company, Creative Communications for the Parish.

We start this blog very appropriately, I think, on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the season in which we meditate and reflect on the life, suffering and death of our Savior for our salvation. It is a time to look closely at ourselves and our own faith life in light of the overarching message of Lent, which is “Repent and believe!” Continue reading →