Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lenten Fast - Week Three

Suggested Fast – Fossil Fuel
One of the foundations of our faith is that we worship the Creator-God. We also celebrate that we are created in His image. As image bearers of the Creator, our rule and dominion over the earth is that of a steward or a caretaker, not a reckless exploiter. God intended us to live in harmony with nature, and yet, we have more often than not been at odds with nature.

Throughout Scripture we see God’s high regard for His creation. One of the principles of His kingdom is that creation needs periods of rest. This week, remembering our role as stewards of creation – and honoring this principle of giving creation a rest, consider fasting from fossil fuels. You may want to walk or ride a bike to work. You may consider a day where you deny yourself the comfort of heating your home, or a meal where you don’t cook. As with the other fasts, you decide how extensive and how long your fast will be.

As you are “inconvenienced” by this fast, remember that part of our goal in the fast is to experience death – death to our wants, death to personal comfort at the expense of creation. Direct you worship to the Creator and look for ways to honor His creation. Consider other ways in which you can worship Him by being a good caretaker of our temporary home on this planet.

(begin by reading Psalm 104 out loud, then continue with the prayer)

O God, Creator of all, I praise You for the beauty of Your creation. King of the universe, You have made all this for Your own glory. I am reminded that when I am careless with Your creation, I sin. I confess my complicity in failing to be a good steward of Your Creation. I have not been attentive to Your kingdom principles that require seasons of rest for all creation, and for this I ask Your forgiveness. As Your image bearer, I ask for Your help as I seek to walk gently on Your earth, looking for ways to replenish what I have taken away, and to heal what I have damaged. -Amen

Gen 1:28-31; Leviticus 25:1-7; Ps 104; Romans 8:19-22

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lenten Fast - Week Two

Suggested Fast – Technology

We live in the “Silicon Forest”, surrounded by technology. We may believe that technology makes our lives easier, but in many ways it complicates life too. At times our use of technology can be a replacement for real conversation (blogs, myspace, etc.) or a pipeline to sin (internet porn, gambling, etc.) At the very least, our use of technology can divert our attention away from relational time with people (TV, computers, etc.)

Even worse, our 24/7 availability to everyone else has made us unavailable to God. Finding uninterrupted “alone time” with God is rare.

This week, consider fasting from the use of technology (your work may require this to be a one day fast, or a portion of each day.) Consider how you might simplify your life. Redirect your attention to having real, face to face time with others, and more importantly, with God. If the use of technology has been an area of sin for you, confess it and consider how you can become pure in this area of your life.

Lord, forgive me. The technology that was designed to make my life easier has become my master. I confess to You that I have become too dependant on – even enslaved to – my computer, cell phone, iPod, or PDA. I pretend that these things help me to connect with people, when in reality they have become an escape from authentic relationships. It grieves me Lord, to think that these things have made me unavailable to You, who offer to me the most intimate and satisfying relationship of all.

Lord, help me this week to “unplug” from technology and instead “plug in” to authentic relationships. Relationships with others – and most importantly, with You. As I simplify my life this week, may I discover a new intimacy with You that leaves me longing for more. I welcome you to speak to me, uninterrupted, in Spirit language that my spirit understands. Out of those times with You, may I then look for opportunities to enjoy relationship with others you put in my path.

Help me in those times, full of Your Spirit, to be a minister of Your grace & peace. – Amen

1 Samuel 3:1-10; Psalm 119:9-24; Acts 2:42-46

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lenten Fast - Week One

Over the next 6 weeks, I'll be posting a series of fasts that our church is going through together. If you find them helpful in your observance of Lent, feel free to join us.

The Lenten Journey

Lent is a season where we are reminded of our mortality and our sin. It is a 40 day journey to Good Friday (the Cross), and then to Easter (our Great Hope – The Resurrection.) It is an intentional journey that calls us to repent of sins that we have grown accustomed to and to turn our attentions and affections toward Christ, where they belong.

To aid in this journey, we will be sending out six emails, one each week, that are designed to help you focus on God. Each week we are suggesting a fast that we hope will deepen that experience. Don’t mistake this for some legalistic set of rules that you must keep to please God. It is simply a way for you to discipline your thoughts and prayers during this season as we journey together toward Easter.

Fasting – What & Why
Christian fasting is more than denying ourselves food or something else of the flesh - it's a sacrificial lifestyle before God. In Isaiah 58, we learn what a "true fast" is. It's not just a one-time act of humility and denial before God, it's a lifestyle of servant ministry to others. As Isaiah tells us, fasting encourages humility, loosens the chains of injustice, unties the cords of the yoke, frees the oppressed, feeds the hungry, provides for the poor, and clothes the naked. This concept of fasting underscores that fasting is not simply “going without” but should be accompanied by the twin practices of generosity and solidarity.

Each of the suggested fasts are just that—suggested. What degree you take the fast, and how long you decide to do it are entirely up to you. We hope that this will truly enhance your journey toward the celebration of Easter.

Week One
Suggested Fast – Consumerism
We live in a culture defined by what we can buy next. It feeds our selfishness and tells us we need more, more, more. In this first week of the Lenten journey, consider fasting from consumerism by refraining from buying goods of any kind. You may want to do this for one day, or the entire week.

As you deny yourself of those selfish desires; as you die to power of consumerism, redirect your efforts to selfless giving to others– just as Christ gave of himself.

We live in Your world, O God, and for this, we praise and thank You. Among Your treasures we creatures have fashioned many things to make our lives easier, healthier, and freer. But we have also created more things than we need, more than we can ever use. When these things distract us from our purpose in this life, we are misusing the world You have created. When these things prevent others from having their basic needs met, Your creation is corrupted. Help us to keep our eyes open to this temptation of consumerism. Help us to be followers of Jesus who are focused on the important and simple things in life – Christians who care for others and are willing to share our riches with those who have unmet needs. Give us the courage to go against our culture when it confuses wants and needs. Remind us that when the journey of life in this world is complete, we take with us only our relationships – with You and with the people You have given to us to love.

We pray for these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Suggested Scripture Readings
Isaiah 58:6-12; Psalm 52; Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 13