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Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Discussion: How Goes Lent?

It's a mid-Lent Monday, and over on Twitter I spy a discussion between various RevGals about taking time off, and how impossible it feels at this time of year. We have extra programs and ecumenical services or concerts and additional responsibilities that may or may not include getting a none-too-interested congregation to feel the purpose of a season of penitence or preparation or ...

I've been attempting to ramp up toward Easter by trying some variations in worship, which got me teased yesterday: "When are the flying acrobats coming?"

So how's it going, Gals and Pals? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Well, I've been building a worship center that now contains a dish with the ashes from Ash Wednesday, a cloth that reminds us of the sandy desert wilderness, stones around the dish to suggest the same. That's the centerpiece.
    To the left is a cairn representing the mountain of the Transfiguration story, with a white stone at the top (we did that text on Lent 2). This week I added something that was the closest I could come to a water jug, and we had three people read the text, from three different locations, to break up the story and keep people's attention, which I guess it did. I've been writing Calls to Worship that set up the story and locate us with it, so that we are invited to come and see, or come and drink.
    Next Sunday's plan is a choral reading for the whole congregation of the story of the Man Born Blind. I've done this stuff before, some of it, but it feels out of the box in my new setting.

  2. Songbird, I would take that to mean they are asking for flying acrobats!

    I am attempting to guard my day off (Mondays) but I am someone who doesn't pull the "day off" card if I get a death or near-death call, which is what happened last Monday. We have some very sick people right now.

    I didn't really come up with any other kind of spiritual discipline for Lent, except to more intentionally behave myself in a manner fitting for a pastor (difficult for me, it seems). For April, though, I'm going to join Sojourners, and Bread for the World in a month-long fasting / prayer / action discipline to address the budget cuts that are hurting the vulnerable. For the fast, I am not going without food, but will go totally vegetarian for the month. The actions they will suggest each week, like writing letters, etc. The prayer focus will be welcome. I am going to try writing prayers for this month to help me focus.

    Hoping to hear what prompted the call for flying acrobats ...!

  3. Yes, SB - tell us about everything except the flying acrobats!!!

    I've been having fun on sundays with the Old testament, doing some all age participative worship.
    But my favourite services have been the Wednesday evenings for Lent where we use the Sunday gospel reading. On Ash Wednesday I gave everyone a plastic Easter egg that opens with a little packet of sand to illustrate the gospel for that week. Each week since, we have come up with another symbol to illustrate the gospel - but it must fit into the egg! By the time Easter comes they'll have an egg full of symbols illustrating the journey through Lent. So much fun dreaming up and sourcing the symbols! On the last week before holy Week (when we worship every night), I have some worry dolls that I bought in Cozumel. Everyone will receive one of those as a reminder that we can follow the crowd - praising or shouting crucify.
    A busy but fulfilling time. wouldn't like to be away and miss out on any of it!

  4. oops! we must have been posting at same time - thanks for telling all!

  5. Wow, Wow, Songbird! Your worship center and alternative scripture reading ways are very creative and I can see how folks would be awakened to the Word and it also sounds like they affectionately are telling you they appreciate your gifts. But, I'm afraid I just can't see that any of that is wild and crazy enough to call forth flying acrobats!

  6. we did, I guess, an "alternative Scripture reading" thing on 20/3 (Anglican liturgy doesn't allow for a LOT of creativity)(which is polite code for, "I'm not very creative"). But I chose the TFig gospel AGAIN and read it to them one line at a time and induced them to roar it back to me, one line at a time. With commentary if they desired. It's short, so it didn't Make. The. Service. Longer. (liturgical crime #1, you know).
    And I trust the HS to do a little something in the hearts and minds of people who find themselves proclaiming the Gospel, for a change, instead of resisting it!!!
    Next Sunday, hoo boy, John 9, the Gospel according to Monty Python...

  7. Personally, my discipline of regular exercise fell apart last week, which caused me to end up with a muscle spasm in my back. Nice. A reminder that disciplines are set regularly for a reason.

    And I am a bit behind on reading for the Bonhoeffer study I'm participating in. But that's okay. If I ever did Lent perfectly then I'd never have anything else to do in my whole life. :)

  8. My parish has had a lot of turmoil, and I felt the need for a bit of time to get my head back together. I mentioned this to my supervisor (I'm newly ordained - just this year!) and was told in no uncertain terms that while I could take time off during Lent, it was very strongly frowned upon (not because of things happening in the parish, but because of the nature of the season).


    So I'm holding it together and trying to muddle through 'til Easter.

    I've been preaching on the OT readings with a strong focus on change (allowing ourselves to be led into "a new land", the fear of the unknown, etc). I think it's going pretty well, though it breaks my heart to leave aside these gospel texts.

  9. I have two people dying at once. One in Hospice, who does not accept that she is close to death.
    The other a spouse of a church member who is Muslium and served under the Shah. He is now unresponsive and will be taken off life support soon.
    She asked me to do the memorial service for him. I agreeed and then later found out he is Muslium. Not that this is an issue for me, i will do a service for the wife, but still it does throw a little kink in it all, ya think?
    Not sure what I will say there.

  10. Two other clergy and I are finally going to get together this Thursday for some Lenten reflection time. We had hoped to do this weekly.

    On another note: Martha would you be willing to share the "Man Born Blind" congregational reading?

    My computer is not reading any links for "email here" from sites...etc.

    My email: purplespeaking(at)gmail(dot)com.


  11. oh, I should also say that I plan to take part in a Quiet Day offered by a local Daughters of the King chapter on April 16. A good way to prepare for Lent. Hope I actually make it.

  12. Personally, I decided that my Lenten discipline would be to attempt to reframe things in my life in a more positive manner. I've been somewhat successful, but then today happened! I met with "Pastor Smarmy" from down the street about our joint walk of the cross. I've been hearing from our folk, that they find the walk a little too much like a party, and so we were trying to find a way to make it a little more meditative. He very graciously accepted my suggestions, but I got a bit like a bulldog with a bone and couldn't leave it alone and started getting a bit overly assertive. Fortunately we were interrupted and I pulled my self together, but I really didn't feel as though I'd been very gracious. I guess the Lenten discipline is doing its job!

    For the parish, we just finished our Women's Retreat. We focused on "Finding Balance in God" and I think it went really well. Sure could have used some acrobats though! We all discovered that we were all pretty great jugglers though. I've been building a worship center as well, around the font for us. Some burlap from Ash Wednesday, a purple cloth for Lent 1, some seeds from Lent 2 (we didn't do TF) for new life, and this Sunday, a jug. As I think ahead for next week, I'm wondering about making mud pies; not really but it might be fun for the kids.
    My word is angserfa

  13. lady father, it's amazing when we get tested on the very thing we knew we needed to work on, isn't it?

    I had one of those weeks where much of what I ended up preaching was exactly what I needed to hear, which isn't bad, but I do kind of end up knocking myself up side the head!

  14. Oh, and an update, the man is still living and is somewhat improved, but not that great. he is obviously not going to get better and they have to make decisions soon.
    Had good talk with spouse and learned more of his life here. Interesting man, with interesting background.
    And the lady, is not giving up yet. The doctor explained she would not "be" here for easter this year, but she would not hear of it. Hmmm.
    Maybe she knows something.

  15. Yes, Songbird. I've often said that we're not supposed to be successful at our Lenten Disciplines, because our failure makes us aware of our need for the resurrection of Easter...phew, plagh, spit...crow feathers don't taste good at all!

  16. My personal Lenten discipline this year has been to give up...period. LOL I din't feel that I could in good conscience make a lot of commitments and then follow through, so I didn't.

    Ironically, though, at the same time I've instituted a Daily Lenten Challenge for our church members on our church Facebook page, and I was asked to write a series of handouts on the disciplines of Lent for our church bulletins each week in the season. I've enjoyed composing these, even though my own follow-through of each one has been spotty at best.


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