Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Lent Journal 18

It's not Easter yet, but I feel like I've risen from the dead! =P

I've been pondering (I've had a lot of time to think & freak) about what certain aspects of the celebration of the Lent that I would like to talk about. As a good individualistic evangelical protestant Christian, I've focused the first posts on my personal experiences & life. But Lent is more about a corporative celebration (I prefer the word "communitarian", but this second word is not so much used).

In the Anglican & Lutheran churches we use different colours for different liturgical seasons. The colours are one of the symbols that help you understand the message of the Bible for that time of the year - and also helps you to focus on the message.

This is how a church might look with the purple hangings. In the church I attend, the priests wear a white or unbleached dress with a purple stole. In the Lutheran church, the priests wear all black most of the year, and there isn't much variation.


Here are the Reading for today. I 

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Lent Journal 17

Since Lent have started, I've been thinking a bit more about almsgiving. In Brazil, I would never stop by and drop a coin to a beggar. And mostly certainly never to a child. The rationale for this is very simple: begging is a short cut, that will avoid people in need to look for actual solutions. And it it quite certain that a child is begging on behalf of parents, that won't use the money in benefit of the child. This child should most probably be in school. Money dropped by is easily converted into cigarettes, alcohol, drugs.  Many of us had the experience of offering food instead of money and being... shouted at by an angry beggar who wants money instead of food.

Now, I know that all these considerations are easily dismissed when confronted to the cruel reality of many that don't have anything. Or many that don't have hope. Or who were robbed of their dignity. So many realities, experiences, perceptions of life.

I've been well trained by my parents though, to support organizations that would really benefit those in need. Where I live now, even though my country is the Kingdom of the Discrepancy, with so many absurd contrasts, the situation is even worse.  

Now, what do you do when a work fellow's apartment collapsed? No like the ones on the photo: you can see his apartment on the photo. Or what remained of it.  

How Jesus calls us to help those in need? 

The reading for today is Luke 12: 13 - 31 (The Message): 

Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.”

He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?”

Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”

Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’

“Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’

“That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”

The Lent Journal 16


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Lent Journal 15

Still not feeling well. So let the Greats speak on my behalf.

This is by Emily Dickinson:

I should have been too glad, I see,
Too lifted for the scant degree
Of life’s penurious round;
My little circuit would have shamed
This new circumference, have blamed
The homelier time behind.

I should have been too saved, I see,
Too rescued; fear too dim to me
That I could spell the prayer
I knew so perfect yesterday, –
That scalding one, “Sabachthani,”
Recited fluent here.

Earth would have been too much, I see,
And heaven not enough for me;
I should have had the joy
Without the fear to justify, –
The palm without the Calvary;
So, Saviour, crucify.

Defeat whets victory, they say;
The reefs in old Gethsemane
Endear the shore beyond.
‘Tis beggars banquets best define;
‘Tis thirsting vitalizes wine, –
Faith faints to understand.

And the reading for today is Luke 10: 25 - 37 (The Message):

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan travelling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Lent Journal 13

This is an invitation. No more words are needed. =) 

And the reading for today is... Luke 15: 28 - 43 (The Message): 

About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.

While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.”

When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.

When they came down off the mountain the next day, a big crowd was there to meet them. A man called from out of the crowd, “Please, please, Teacher, take a look at my son. He’s my only child. Often a spirit seizes him. Suddenly he’s screaming, thrown into convulsions, his mouth foaming. And then it beats him black-and-blue before it leaves. I asked your disciples to deliver him but they couldn’t.”

Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring your son here.”

While he was coming, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into convulsions. Jesus stepped in, ordered the vile spirit gone, healed the boy, and handed him back to his father. They all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Lent Journal 12

Today we've heard a sermon, in which the preacher talked about the spiritual discipline of detachment. This would be to give up something that you really like in order to focus on Jesus. To use his own illustration, Lent is an opportunity to throw away "garbage" that we accumulate and keep only the essential. (Yeah, detachment is fasting in good ol' English, but speaking to a primarily evangelical audience, coming from non-liturgical traditions, he made a point without the constraints of vocabulary).

The preacher also highlighted that we have 33 days to Good Friday, when we celebrate the death of Christ on the cross. Music comes to my mind.

Stabat mater dolorosa...There was the mother in pain... at the foot of the cross.

The reading for today is Luke 9: 18 - 27 (The Message):

One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?”

They said, “John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back.”

He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said.

He went on, “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the religious leaders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and on the third day be raised up alive.”

Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God.”