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The Star Within

An Alternative Ash Wednesday Ritual

Leader: The season of Lent calls us to journey along the edge, to anticipate that final trip to Jerusalem.
Group response: Lent call us to the cutting edge, when the wheat falls to the ground and new life comes forth.

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Facing a Barren Desert

Today, like Jesus, we may be facing a barren desert
We may be tempted to do the wrong thing
To do something selfish
To do something hurtful.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Eight points and Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: Ash Wednesday. Resource Types: Affirmations and Readings.

Do I Know Jesus?

About the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Bible records some of the story
A man who walked on Earth, helping us seek the God of eternal glory

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Thank You God

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

Thank you God for this beautiful Earth.
Thank you God for the wonder of life.
Thank you God for the blessing of love.

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Social and Spiritual Capital

I have witnessed the remarkable power of religious communities to bring social capital to bear on behalf of their members. Some congregations are particularly good at bringing low-income, isolated people into a milieu in which they benefit tremendously from contact with fellow congregants who have the connections they need to get ahead. It is as if they’ve stepped into an updraft as they enter the door of the church or temple or mosque, and find themselves swept up toward job contacts, vital information about services and resources, and good role models to follow toward creating better lives.

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Know You’re Not Alone

Community can’t make your problems go away, but it can remind you that you don’t have to face them alone.

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The Call

One of the first questions asked of a person planning on becoming clergy is, “tell me about your call to ministry.” God seems to have a wide variety of ways to make “that voice” heard. Some can tell you the day, the hour, and the place when “the unmistakable event” occurred. Others seem to become more and more aware over a long period of time that ordained leadership is what they were meant to be. Even then “the call” can be something grasped and lost.

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Can We Raise the Bar On Church “Community”?

Let’s stop assuming that a collection of individuals constitutes community. It doesn’t. In fact, it usually makes for disaster, as evidenced by the number of conflict resolution experts who are making their living off congregational members who are at each other’s throats. It’s not the fault of congregational members. We need to be teaching what it means to be in community, and that includes practices that are going to make us fit for community. Most of us got our training for community life in dysfunctional families. The moment anything approximating intimacy breaks out in congregations most people simply re-enact largely the unexamined history of our family of origin.

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Body of Christ: Body of Life

The church sign can be easily read by anyone driving by: “You can’t be a devoted follower of Jesus unless you are part of a local church.” Does the church that posts this sign not trust the people with Jesus’s message? What is the meaning of “incarnation” if not “embodiment” by individual persons of the spirit of the Christ? Is the “Body of Christ” for members only?

The Apostle Paul created the metaphor of the “Body of Christ” as the community of followers. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, he explains the meaning of the ritually-shared meal: “The cup of God’s gracious benefits that we consecrate means that we are involved in the blood of the Anointed, doesn’t it? The bread that we break means that we are involved in the body of the Anointed, doesn’t it? That there is one loaf means that we who are many constitute one body, because we all partake of the one loaf.” In Romans 12:5 he says, “Just as each of us has one body with many parts that do not all have the same function, so although there are many of us, we are the Anointed’s body, interrelated with one another.”

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Spiritual Community

Church is not for everyone. Even for those who like it, there are as many distractions as attractions to the spiritual life there. I thought of entitling this “spirituality for loners” because I want to suggest eight ways of experiencing spiritual community outside of church!

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