Every year The Commons takes time on Good Friday to reflect on the death of Jesus. This year those reflections will be focusing on how we as followers of Jesus strangely find our identity in the death of the one we follow. It is in that strange identity that we learn about Peacemaking, Servanthood, and Solidarity.
Just a reminder that Lent begins this week on Wed Feb 18th.
Lent isn’t a command found in the Bible, it is a Spiritual Practice that some followers of Jesus have found useful as part of their spiritual journey.
Some people decide to fast from something, some people decide to take something extra on, and others do a little of both.
For fasting you could decide to give something up that you like (coffee, chocolate, TV, facebook, meat, sugar, etc…). Because you have given up something that is a regular part of your life, as you miss or crave that coffee, you are reminded that Easter is coming, and are given multiple small opportunities each day to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I find it helpful to not fast on Sundays so that there is a rhythm of fasting and feasting over lent. I’m giving up coffee this year, so all week as I want my coffee, my fast is tied into thoughts of the Sacrifice on Good Friday, but on Sundays I will feast and be sure to have my coffee, and that ritual of breaking my fast will be tied into thoughts of Resurrection, Easter, the Sabbath Rest.
One last thought on fasting, I think it is healthy to only fast from something that is essentially a good thing to keep in your life long term. What I mean by this is that I don’t think it is healthy to use a Lent Fast as a way to diet, or quit smoking. Lent is a season and we are giving up something as a sacrifice, that we can then take up again in our feasting. Trying to improve your diet or stop a destructive habit are good things but I think they are something different than Lent.
For taking something extra on, there are lots of good ideas. Here are some things that I’ve heard other people have tried:
- Try a Spiritual Practice (lectio divina, sabbath, breath prayer, etc…). talk to anyone who has been part of the Supper Club for ideas.
- Set aside a time to read your Bible or another book that will help you learn something about God.
- Write Letters. I know someone who last year wrote a hand written letter and mailed it each day to a different friend or family member.
- Volunteer your time.
- Learn a skill, take a class.
What ever you decide, be intentional, anything you take on needs a plan, if you haven’t set aside a time/place for the activity you have taken on it most likely isn’t going to happen. In some ways taking something on is also a fast, you are fasting from the time you would have used to do something else.
Lastly, I think it is very important to not lose hope. If you find 2 weeks from now that things aren’t going as you planned (your fast is too hard, you haven’t been consistent with what you took on, etc…) don’t despair, use the reminder of your imperfection to think about how we need God’s grace in all things. Perhaps you need to modify your fast or you need to rearrange your time/routine to be more supportive of what you are trying to do. It is OK to acknowledge to God that something is hard. Jesus did exactly that shortly before his death when he prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.But do what you want, and not what I want.” (Matt 26:39 CEV).
All that being said, give some thought to Lent today and see if you can find a way to be in Solidarity with Jesus as we move towards the season of the Cross.
I’m not the type of guy who enjoys going to church conferences, I find it hard to relate the info to my own context and It isn’t really my thing so you won’t often hear me advertising for one. That being said I never miss the True City Conference. I make a point of going ever year and tell as many people to join me as I can. This conference is different then the rest because it is all about being the Church in Hamilton. So don’t miss out on all the fun happening Feb 27-28th. You get your tickets here: http://truecityhamilton.ca/truecity-conference/
It is also worth noting that The Common Collective is going to be helping lead worship on the Saturday Morning of the conference. Look out True City here we come!
True City is a network of churches in Hamilton that believes it is better to be working together then apart. The Commons has been journeying with True City for years but officially joined as a covenant church in Nov 2014. You can read about our covenant gathering with True City here.
Seems like no one is able to keep a regular schedule over the holidays, and that includes us at The Commons. Here is what is happening over the next few weeks with Sunday Gatherings.
Commons Holiday Gathering Schedule:
- Sun Dec 28th, 6pm Movie Night Gathering
- Sun Jan 4th, No Gathering – Instead we will be having a potluck supper at Matt & Jeanette’s place. Email thompsmr[at]gmail.com if you need direction
- Sun Jan 11th, 6pm Worship Gathering
Have a very Merry Christmas.
Mr Bean is a favourite at my house over the holidays, hope you like this classic sketch.