Sacred Spaces 521 – A little bit of LENT

We are a school (college) of 51 students. ONLY one of knew what  lent / ash Wednesday  was about.

I was shocked!

But i am aware that all these students come from very different  Christian upbringings.

And it was suggested to me too that  perhaps in some of the Afrikaans churches LENT is not a big thing…

Regardless, this afternoon i had an awesome moment. 8 students and i sat in a circle  under the shade of a tree in a quieter part of campus… we had a little Ash Wednesday  service.

There was something authentic about that gathering… like a glimpse of heaven touching earth.

My simple  prayer: God, stir something in the depths of us all as we approach Easter with conviction.

The church calendar has a profound candence to it.

I believe when a believer follows these little “cairns” in the calendar that  they begin to tune into a deeper rhythm of what  God is doing…

There is longetivity  of belief in those who listen to the seasons that God has put in place…

“Rend your heart, not your garments” Joel 2:13

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Sacred Spaces 453– of Isaiah 55

Sacred Spaces 453– of Isaiah 55
18 February 2015

Each week, I wonder where these words fall.
(If they in fact make an impact, of some sort…)
I find myself in these lines of scripture this week:

1 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.
9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Pieces from Isaiah 55)

There is something alluring about God.  Dive in!
This section is entitled: Invitation to the Thirsty.  Isn’t that intriguing?  You’re longing for something more.  That can be found in God.
Verse 8 and 9 remind us that we cannot put God in a box.  We cannot put nice little edges to Him…

God has purposes and plans.  He will always prevail.  Despite the bleak circumstances we see around us.
Have you ever seen the snow and rain miss the ground?  Never!  (Basic law of gravity)
God’s word never misses.

Whether it be these words
Or a conversation with a friend or colleague or stranger…
Or a lyric from a song you hear on the radio…

Today we are on the verge of the Lenten journey.
It’s Ash Wednesday
Some churches will meet for a special service later where people are marked with ash in the shape of the cross on their foreheads.

Symbolising a death unto ourselves because of Jesus death.
We use the time of Lent to give up (or take on) something.
Don’t let LENT slip by?

Why do we give up something?  Simply when we crave that thing we “miss” (the thing we’ve given up… we turn that craving to attention on God.)
I’m not giving up anything.
But I will be taking on something.

I will be reading two Psalms every day.  From no 1 forwards in the morning.  (And from 150 backwards in the evening.)

You are invited… God is calling.  Will you listen?

Isaiah55-New

Quoted:

“Meditate on the words from the King’s lips.  Mark my words!” P.O.D

Sacred Spaces 417– Ashes to Ashes (Ash Wednesday)

 

5 March 2014

 He asked him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37: 3)

As Ezekiel stood staring over the valley of dry bones.  He wondered.

 

As I stand at the back of this memorial service and I hear the man in front leads us in a familiar rite of passage “dust to dust, ashes to ashes.”

Ah the finality of those words.

 large

Death excludes no one.  I wonder is there more.

 A long time ago, before Ezekiel and I were alive;

The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2: 7)

 

Is there life after death?

Does death have the final say?

 I, like you, am in need of hope.

 A wise man named Solomon ponders the beautiful fragility of life:

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. (Ecclesiastes 3: 20)

 

Now on Ash Wednesday the minister in front of the church marks us with ash.  A solemn sign.  It represents our mourning and repentance to God.

We had gone our own way.

We almost believed that death had the final say.

We had thought; that those dry bones cannot live…

 

THEN;

There is a rumble among the bones.  I feel a breath rush past me.  I see God putting His very breath (the source of life) into those bones.  Where there was despair; hope comes as skin covering bones.    

I then smile.  It makes sense now.

In autumn (fall); I see those leaves fall to the ground.  I thought that death was an end.  But I learnt that those leaves bring nutrients to the soul.  Bringing life.

 

Death to life

Despair to hope

As we go on this Lenten journey.  The one where we begin to focus on God’s place in our live.  His power.  Less of us, more of Him.

Will you relent your lack of trust, your despair to our Father?

 

During Lent people give up something.

I have decided over the next 40 days; I will be giving up blogging (including these Sacred Spaces) of all sorts.

I just felt God ask that of me.

So I will be back after Easter.

Have a good one.

 

Quoted:

“Oh God, I’m sorry I placed those marks on You…

And I hear You say back to me:

“Mark My words, child you are mine.” (From my poem: Mark my Words)

 See it here: http://darrelhoff.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/mark-my-words-ash-wednesday-i-wrote-this-4-years-ago/

 

Sacred Spaces 326 – Jesus in the Desert (Have a good Lenten journey)


Sacred Spaces 326 – Jesus in the Desert (Have a good Lenten journey)
21 February 2012

Hey all; thanks for taking part and (hopefully learning) something from this journey: Looking at Jesus. I strategically ended in the beginning of Jesus ministry and in time for the approach to Easter: Lent. We meet up with Jesus in His literal desert experience… and as we approach our “metaphorical desert” (LENT), I will be giving up FACEBOOK and BLOGGING (Sacred Spaces and Where thoughts fall into pictures and pieces) to simply hear Him. I find I have been selfish, distracted and unfocussed lately and am very excited for this Christian discipline of giving up something in order to gain more of Him.
Happy Lenten journey to you

————–

Last topic of the series “Looking at Jesus” we find ourselves standing with sand between our toes in the scorching heat:

Matthew 4 – Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

In looking through the gospels and witnessing the life of Jesus we see all the incredible miracles, healings and things He taught and how He just gave His love away, setting people free.

Yet all that began in a ‘SILENCE’, in a desert.
Before He began His public ministry and being bombarded each day with the demands of people, He went away to be disciplined and focused and strengthen in a desert.

Can you imagine a FAST for 40 days in the scorching desert?
Really TOUGH!

Why was it necessary for Jesus? And why would such a thing be necessary for us?
For Jesus: He became “Like us” – fully human (yet also fully God).
He had to learn discipline and utter reliance on God.

How did that reliance of God, come about?
Through LISTENING and KNOWING the WORD of God.
See how Jesus “took on the temptation” of the devil with KNOWING scripture.
He found strength in the WORD of life.
WE too can have that strength.

We learn from this passage:
i) That the devil is real (how foolish are people to do disbelieve the reality of the devil.)
ii) That God is about our “character development too”
iii) NOTE: God was with Jesus all the time, yet only at the end of that time with the devil did the angels come and tend to Jesus.
Was God absent? NO!!
He was present YET He is about character development. Jesus in the desert, in that time of FASTING became strong in His Spirit.

For the next 3 years of His life He would go up against severe OPPOSITION

And so too; with us facing LENT (tomorrow till Easter) we go into a METAPHORICAL desert.

What will become of that time?
(How could a FAST be useful to you?)

i) Character Development – God wants to strengthen you as His disciple
ii) Knowing the Word – God wants to reveal and teach you new things from Scripture.
iii) Reliance on God – God wants you to rely on Him
iv) Listening – in that place away from distractions God wants you to LISTEN.

(The idea of LENT is for one to FOCUS on God. So whenever you “crave” what you have “given up” you use that craving sense as a reminder to focus and pray to God.)

Knowing that leaves me with this heart-warming thought (well, my heart warms at least).

Yes, the desert was scorching.
YET in those 40 days, how QUIET must it have been.
(The devil wasn’t around all the time)

Oh how we all NEED some QUIET.
To get rid of DISTRACTIONS
And just HEAR Him.

I pray this LENT, that both you and I, would HEAR Him more and draw a whole lot closer.
Jesus, I am stepping into the desert, meet me there please.

TWITTURGY

Among the sand and shine
Things are stripped away
In this silence let me hear You
Keep me from the mirages
And fill my soul to overflowing
With your Water of Life
I’m thirsty