Just a reminder… Journey to the Cross
Today is Ash Wednesday; not a date most Protestants celebrate much. But I feel more of a leaning towards taking the time of preparation for Easter that Lent is more seriously. I need to prepare.
I came across a meditation at Northumbria that spoke to me. This is prehaps the fast we should all be called to observe – not some small token of repentance like giving up Big Macs for 40 days.
Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
to loose the bonds of wickedness?
to undo the heavy burden?
and to let the oppressed go free?
that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?
that you bring to your house those who are cast down?
when you see the naked person that you cover them?
and not hide yourself from your own flesh and blood?
Read the rest of the meditation here
We have been looking at our claims that God exists and that Jesus is God. Today we began to talk about the beliefs of some of the different faiths – specifically “Does it matter what you believe as long as you are sincere/”
Came across this link today – it looks like it might be a good resource. Maybe a good place for those who want to dig deeper.
We had guests with a fantastic story tonight over at the church. Hearing the stories of people who have been faithful to God – that seems to be a good way for me to experience some of the presence of God too.
I always used to think of missions evenings as a bit of a drag – and that sounds terrible since I have been the speaker at too many of such evenings. Maybe part of that feeling came from going to tell a story about a place and a work, being somehow encouraged to tell what the mission was doing more than my story of how God was working out his will using my life and work. I know God was at work and maybe used my attempts to relate this to others but somehow things have changed around now. Maybe it is partly just becoming more mature in my faith to where whatever I do for God is less about the work I am doing (although, in fact, it may be exactly what God wants me to be doing) and more about what God is doing through me in the relationships I have with people. So no matter where I find myself – here or in the Congo – God can use me somehow.
That statement is pretty convoluted! In any case, something has changed in me to where I find it really good to hear the stories of other people’s faith. And this evening was good. Hearing not so much about what God was doing in this couple’s “work” in Pakistan but hearing how God worked in their own lives and hearing how God used them to affect others around them.
So I guess I would say about future missions speakers – forget the artifacts and such and speak about how God is working both in your own lives and in the lives of those you were called to serve. Although as a kid the artifacts and the whole exotic different world that missions speakers explored was fascinating to me and God probably used that stuff too as he was calling me.
Tonight instead of practicing we just sat around at a friends home and talked. We were asked to tell about a significant worship event.
It is hard to think of any very significant events way back in my childhood or young adulthood that were in any way significant in terms of worship as I know it to be today. I can think of significant events but in terms of worship – I’m a bit foggy. I can think of “worship” services and remember a few vividly – including the one where my sisters and I began to giggle during our special number. Not what I would want to happen to bring me into the presence of God himself. But maybe he had a good chuckle at us.
Most of the times when I felt as if I was worshipping god were quiet times – often alone in nature – when I was awed at the wonder of God’s creation and its vastness and complexity and was compelled to worship; as if there is no other response possible.
And now I worship with a lot more involvement. Maybe as being part of the worship team this is a special privilege. We are to lead others into worship but maybe we can’t do that if we ourselves are not worshipping with as much of our hearts as we can. So part of my worship has become spending time in prayer. If I don’t, I find that I am unprepared to make music. So I sneak in even a few minutes of sitting in his presence feeding, as it were, like a butterfly sucking up nectar. Sometimes even the practice itself is like a prayer offered to him. A lot of my praying is “don’t let my fingers stumble too much” since I feel rather unaccomplished as a musician.
This summer there were more than one significant worship experience in the Congo. The first one is the one that really was most significant to me though. I went with Jacques to early morning mass over to the Catholic mission at Bodenge. He goes there because I think he trusts those priests to be honest in their faith. And they are his friends. The mass was in Ngbaka and Lingala so there were parts I didn’t understand. There was a lot of ritual and much incense and sprinkling of water – customs not unfamiliar to me but not my normal routine. But that didn’t matter. The Spirit of God was there in a very real way for me that morning as I worshipped again for the first time in thirteen years on Congolese soil, sitting beside a man that I know to be a fellow believer and friend.
Got to thinking – I don’t know that the form of worship has as much to do with worshipping as my desire to be in God’s presence. Granted that some surroundings and circumstances seem to provoke worship as a response. I realize my dependance on God’s grace and the reality of his love more than I used to. Worship seems the only thing to do at times.
Pentecost Sunday is not far behind us. Trinity Sunday was another reminder of the part of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead. Maggie Dawn linked to emergent kiwi who sounds like he had a real fire blazing down in NZ on Pentecost Evening. Aside from the neat pyrotechnics which he devised, I really liked his story of Pentecost and what it needs to mean to us. How we all have the Spirit available to us and need to be empowered by Him.
And Randall wonders if part of the discontent of “postmodern” with the “moderns” is the lack of believing in a God of power. I think that there is a lot to that idea. There was a lot of emphasis on knowing a rational God, proving his existence by all sorts of wonderful archeological discoveries and using mathematical probabilities(which to an anti- mathematician don’t come across as impressive, just confusing). We didn’t speak much of God really moving among us in power. We were above all not “fanatics”. We were reasonable people with a rational faith.
So those of us growing up in these kinds of churches did not learn a lot about the power of the Spirit of God that was available to us. When we saw glimpses of His power we were awed but I think we were also taught to be cautious and sceptical( I guess this fits rational people) so we did not dare presume that this power was something that God might want us to experience. So we did not ask. And of course if you do not ask …
So if postmoderns are opening us up to the realization that our God is a God of power, if we are beginning to talk about and experience the power of the Holy Spirit and if ordinary people like me are beginning to ask… Jesus said that if we ask we will be given, so if the church is beginning to ask – who knows what the future will have in store for it. I think that as we experience God’s power through the Holy Spirit then we can begin to witness – can’t tell much about what we don’t know; can’t show much on the outside if we don’t have anything on the inside.