Hiking Through Lent

Today marks the first Sunday of Lent, a time of self-reflection and lament. It is often considered a season of darkness. Something I am all too familiar with. The season of Lent reminds me of walking a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a path that requires you to go in and come out the same way in which you entered. It is a journey towards the center, then back out again, into the world to which you came. You cannot skip the part you did not like, or go around a difficult feeling, you must return the exact way you entered. But, even though the path does not change, you have, and in this we find new life.

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The Unbearable Whiteness of American Lent

By Anita Little

  During one of the airless afternoons I spent in St. Rita Sunday school, our teacher gave us the exercise of drawing the indulgences that we would give up for the upcoming Lenten season. Peering at the …

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What a Joke: These Stories Never Actually Happened! – a sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11

Each year as Lent approaches, I find myself flirting with the idea of giving up Lent for Lent. Lent is just too much work. For centuries, during Lent the church has emphasized so many concepts that seem alien to the 21st century mind. Each year during Lent preachers are required to undertake the unenviable task of unpacking unpopular, seemingly antiquated concepts in an effort to encourage the contemporary churchgoer to entertain the equally antiquated rituals of Lent. I mean Christmas and Easter might attract a few more people to our sanctuary, but how do you attract people with talk about repentance or fasting? Just look at our readings for this morning. Temptation is the order for toady. Eve and Adam succumbing to temptation, the Apostle Paul prattling on, heaping condemnation upon the first parents for having given in to temptation, and then Jesus himself resisting temptation from non-other than the Devil. Not exactly cheery stuff designed to bring comfort on a cold damp winter morning, where apart from the time change, there are very few signs of a longed for spring.

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What do you make of the Season of Lent? How should the Christian Church observe it?

The season of Lent is traditionally understood to be a time for reflection, contrition, and consideration of the sacrifice Jesus undertook for our sins. It has been, as you know, traditionally recognized for the forty days leading up to Easter. Preceded by Shrove Tuesday, upon which Christians are to prepare to confess their sins, Lent is entered into as a holy season of penitence.

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Mindful Christianity: A Practice for Lent – 2017

Lent is a kind of sabbatical: a break from the usual routines of our lives, over the forty-day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter. On the Sabbath, in the Jewish tradition, the prohibition from work is more precisely a break from doing things that interfere with Nature’s processes. According to the Torah, on the Sabbath you can pick up an apple that naturally falls from a tree onto the ground, but you can’t pick it from the tree. Mindful Christian meditative prayer practice is very similar. In it, we take time to see things as they are, without interfering with them or trying to fix or change them. Once we know what is, we can then think and act wisely on what ought to be.

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Round Dance of the Cross: A Maundy Thursday Service

Written by Rev. Irene Laudeman

This service is appropriate for a small congregation of 20-60 people. The service is conducted in two settings:

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Stations of the Cross

The practice of creating Stations of the Cross for meditative reflection on the final hours of Jesus’ life is a very old one. To this day, many Catholic and other churches have gardens or sanctuaries in which the stations are situated.

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A Word to the Spiritual Seekers

In the larger scheme of life, I believe that the great challenge of western culture is to connect with our souls, our inner being, the “still small voice” that urges us to be this or do that. In the busyness and challenges of life it is easy to push aside that inner light and get on with the demands of work, family, and all the responsibilities life brings. The temptation is to live on the surface of life and neglect its depths.

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Listening for Lent

Lent has come again (quite early this year!), and we should use it to start developing some of our atrophied spiritual muscles, like practicing solidarity. At its best, Lent is an opportunity to take up a spiritual practice, as opposed to superficially avoiding sweets. Learning how to listen for the sake of building solidarity is an essential practice for progressive Christians. Doing so is necessary if we are to break out of the mold we so often find ourselves caught in when it comes to relating to the suffering of others.

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In the Brilliant Sunshine

Hymn lyrics by Rev. Jim Gertmenian

In the brilliant sunshine, in the city street,
Hear the bright hosannas, hear the marching feet;
While in nearby shadows, down an alleyway,
Hear the hammer pounding as a cross is made.

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Strong Love

Look at Jesus; hear the story;
Probe the purpose of his life;
See the struggle and the glory,
All the conflict, all the strife.

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Marcus Borg: “Why Jesus Matters”

“Jesus matters for Christians because he was for us the decisive disclosure of God.” | “The notion of Jesus’ death as a substitute for our sins was not found in the first 1000 years of Christianity.” Just two quotes from an extraordinary “Lent Event” Forum with Jesus scholar Marcus Borg.

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A Joyful Path, Children’s Curriculum Year Two – Full PDF

In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focus on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world. It has stories and affirmations written to help children clarify their own personal beliefs while staying open to the wisdom of other traditions.

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Mindfulness: a short course

(This is adapted from emails I sent to students, faculty, and staff in the course on mindfulness I’m teaching at the USC Keck School of Medicine, through our Mindful.USC.edu initiative:) Mindfulness: A short course Mindfulness is “paying …

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Worship Materials: Holy Saturday

From the Festive Worship collection

THEME Life-giving Sabbath – Time of Silent Wrestling
Despite the fact that Holy Saturday is not a major Christian festival it is included here because psychologically there is no Easter without making one’s peace with the dead and with the forces of destruction that lurk within the human psyche, our inner “Hades”, our inner “hell”.

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Worship Materials: Good Friday

From the Festive Worship collection

THEME The mystery of suffering

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION
1. When love and hatred engage in mortal conflict it is love which suffers most; but love has the final victory.

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Worship Materials: Palm Sunday

From the Festive Worship collection

The events of Holy Week reveal the complexity of human nature – of how loyalty and treachery, callousness and tenderness can live side by side in people’s hearts.

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Waking to the Light

“… remain here, and stay awake with me.” Jesus, Matthew 26: 38 One night of our dog’s life lasted for just a few minutes. Our yellow Labrador, Kai, was playing in our front yard on a sunny …

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