Preparing for Lent

The season of Lent is considered a time of preparation and discipline.  While advent prepares us for the birth of Christ, Lent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

In the early church, the 40 day period of Lent was a time when new converts to Christianity would prepare themselves for their baptism.  This period of preparation was marked by: taking vows of abstinence (choosing not to do something for a period of time) in order to physically discipline the body; devotion to prayer in order to spiritually align oneself with God; and almsgiving, performing acts of charity to demonstrate ones love for God through service.

Over time the tradition evolved to include old converts who would use the celebration of Lent as a means of remembering their own baptism, and re-dedicating themselves to Christ.

Today many Christians continue to observe lent as a way of spiritually realigning themselves by focussing on disciplines of reflection and repentance; and by making ‘vows’ which represent their resolve to live their lives differently.

When setting Lent goals the first thing many people often think of is:  What is something that I can handle giving up for 40 days?  While this can be valuable, it doesn’t quite get to the heart of what celebrating Lent is all about.  While giving things up can be an important part of the process, the real goal is seeing our lives transformed into a greater likeness of Christ.

If you’re considering setting your own goals for Lent, here are some questions that might help guide your process:

What area/aspect of my lifestyle/character do I most want to see change occur in?

What are some steps that I need to take in order to reach this goal?  (These could be things you need to do or things you need to stop doing.)

Which step could I action over the 40 day period of Lent to help me start moving closer to my goal?

How am I going to put this step into action?

Who are the people I need to talk to about my Lent goals so that they are able to help support me and keep me accountable to the decisions I have made?

*This post contains material originally published in the cession|community Lent Preparation Pack.  It is re-published here with the Author’s permission.

A prayer for the faithful observance of the Treaty of Waitangi

Though Te Tititi O Waitangi was signed on 6th February 1840, it was not until almost 100 years later, in 1934 that Waitangi day was first celebrated.  On that day the Bishop of Aotearoa – Lord Bledisloe, prayed this prayer, expressing his hope for peace between Maori and Pakeha and that the covenant made between Maori and the British crown would be honoured.

For the faithful observance of the Treaty of Waitangi

O God, who in Thy beneficent wisdom 94 years ago ordained that strife and bloodshed between races and tribes in this territory should cease, and that the inhabitants of these islands should thenceforward be knit together as one people under the British Crown, grant that the sacred compact then made in these waters may be faithfully and honourably kept for all time to come, to the glory of Thy Holy Name, and the peace, contentment and ordered progress of a united nation, for the sake of Him Who brought peace and goodwill upon earth, Jesus Christ our Lord.

[pause] exploring examen

At [pause] last week we spent some time exploring the ‘Daily Examen’ or ‘Prayer of Examen’, a form of contemplative prayer which has grown out of the writings of Ignatius of Loyola.  If you’re curious to know more about its development and history, you can find some great info here.

There is a great ‘short form’ of the five steps of Examen over at gravity |center for contemplative activism

Below you’ll find a short video featuring Chris Heuertz co-founder of gravity speaking about the practice of Examen.  His explanation fleshes it out beautifully.

If you have your own thoughts and reflections about your journey with Examen, or if you’ve found any other helpful resources we’d love to hear about it.  Feel free to respond in the comments.

[pause] for a bite

Don’t forget [pause] for a bite will be happening this Sunday 12pm at the Powell’s.  We will be roasting the ‘fatted pig’ so to speak.  Come along, bring a friend, we look forward to seeing you!

(You can find more info on our facebook events page or contact us by emailing : admin@taongawesleyan.org.nz )

Typhoon Haiyan: Responding to Crises

When we find ourselves faced with crises like typhoon Haiyan which recently devastated the Philippines, we can easily feel overwhelmed by both the magnitude of the destruction and our own inability to contribute meaningfully to the problem.  The news on our screens, in our Twitter and Facebook feeds, brings us face to face with the realities of disaster.  And yet for most of us our hands & feet are left unable to touch the lands or faces we see before us, to bring the healing and hope we wish we could dispense in an instant.

It can leave us feeling lost, debilitated.

Here are some ways you can mobilize your ‘body’ to reach out in a very real way to those in need.

Pray

Take some time to pray for those affected by, and those responding to this crisis.  If you are unsure where to start and need some help we’ve put together a prayer resource here:  10 for 10,000: A Prayer for the Philippines

Give

There is an old Whakatauki which says,

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi‘         ‘With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.’

With a disaster of this size, it may seem like you don’t have anything significant to give.  But if each of us shares the little we have, it becomes a whole lot.  Please consider giving to one of the many organisations who are working to provide emergency services and aid to the region over the coming months.  Even a very little can go a long way.

Here are some links to local organisations who are responding to this crisis:

TEAR Fund Christian Action

OXFAM New Zealand

 New Zealand Red Cross

unicef New Zealand

 

 

 

10 for 10,000: a prayer for the Philippines

 

Praying through the aftermath of a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan can leave us feeling unsure how to pray or what to pray for.  Below we have suggested ten different areas to help you focus.  You can use them in a variety of ways:

∞  Use the headings as a starting point for your own words of prayer

∞  Pray using the more detailed description below the heading.

∞  Using the single words as a point of focus spend 1 minute in silent prayer offering that area wholly to God

If it helps you to focus, set up 10 candles and light one candle as you move through each of the different prayer points.

Before you begin, find yourself a comfortable place to pray.

Food

(The rapid and continued distribution of food supplies to those who need it)

Water

(Access to clean safe drinking water)

Shelter

(Safe, secure shelter for those who have lost their homes or are unable to get back to their homes)

Loss

(For all those who lost their lives, and their family, friends and loved ones)

First Response Teams

(Wisdom and insight for those doing needs assessment; strength and courage to deal with the immensity of the task)

Hospitals and Emergency Clinics

(That emergency centres and hospitals would be adequately resourced with staff and supplies to provide the care needed by those injured.  Rest for staff as they deal with the continued strain of providing care in difficult conditions)

The Displaced

(For those who have lost their homes and livelihoods; the thousands now housed in emergency shelters.  For their physical and emotional recovery)

Police and Armed Forces

(As they deal with looting/looters and as they continue to support and enable rescue efforts & emergency services)

Generosity

(For soft hearts across the globe, that people would give generously to organisations working to provide needed services and care to the area)

Rebuilding

(For the long decades of rebuilding that will lie ahead for the people of the Philippines.)

 

[pause] in the park

On Saturday 2nd of November we are going to be taking some time out in God’s good creation to recognize God’s presence.  We will be taking a prayer walk in a local park and finishing with a Eucharist ‘picnic’.

 

[pause] for a cuppa

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us today to [pause] for a cuppa and share communion together.  It was great to reconnect with you all.  We look forward to journeying with you over the next few months as we seek direction for the future.