by Christine Sine
Yesterday was Easter Sunday – the central celebration of our faith and the culmination of our walk through Lent. But where fo we go from here? How do we sustain the practices that the season of Lent planted in our lives?
Surprisingly when I posed this question to a friend yesterday he responded: No one has ever asked me that before. It is as though Lent is an end in itself and once Easter is over it is back to life as usual. Yet the celebration of Easter is not for a day – it is 50 days long, longer than Lent, longer than advent and longer than Christmas. That should tell us something about how important it is for our faith. Through Christ’s resurrection, God’s new world has broken into ours. There is much to rejoice in and even more to participate in.
Living Into A Sustainable World
On Godspace our theme for the season is Living Into a Sustainable World. In a world of climate change, environmental degradation, gun violence, injustice and persecution, how do we live into and sustain the glimpses of God’s new world that are breaking into ours? There are four types of sustainability we talk about – human, economic, social and environmental. My hope is that this season will give us much to reflect on in all these areas, and bring awe inspiring glimpses of God world of justice, equality and abundance – from practical ways to reduce waste, shop more responsibly and help preserve God’s creation, to suggestions on how to become more engaged as instruments of generosity, mercy and love. Keep an eye open for the new resource lists we plan to post too.
My own celebration for this season began with the creation of a new contemplative garden. This time I didn’t dismantle my old garden, I transformed it, allowing myself to enter fully into the power of transformation that Easter represents.
As I looked at my garden this morning, I realized that over the season of Lent transformation has already occurred. I have had a grow light shining on it and as result several of the plants which once looked green are now tinged with red and yellow. The light has transformed them and their true colours have emerged. But to keep those colours the light needs to shine.
Let the Light Keep Shining
That’s it, I thought. To grow the practices I planted during Lent I need to keep shining the light of Christ on them. There are three practices I planted that this applies to – one in my personal life (to be more focused in my contemplative practices) one in my relational life (to respond with kindness rather than irritability) and one in my concern for the environment (to reduce my waste that goes into the landfill by 20%). I have written these in my Easter journal and will let you know how I grow these practices over the next few weeks.
Establish a New Altar.
The place I realized this morning that I needed to start was with redesigning my prayer altar for the season too. I took off my Lenten table cloth and replaced it with my favourite Celtic cloth. I added a new photo, one that is more celebrative than the rather somber artwork I used during Lent and pulled out some of my favourite painted rocks. I chose to do this rather than creating new ones because I wanted to emphasize my need to recycle and reuse rather than adding something more to my collection. I also set up a collage that my friend Joyce Winthrow gave me several years ago. Its joyful colours give my whole contemplative corner a wonderful Easter feel. It’s getting a little crowded but I also added a small chalice that I picked up at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago. It will serve as a gratitude jar for the season, a place for me to collect reminders of all that I have to thank God for.
Work Towards New Practices
Resurrection is about a new way of living – a transformed way of life that has the ways of God’s kingdom at the centre. So I know I need to establish some new practices, practices that help me sustain the life that God has renewed within me. For me that means evaluating my morning and evening routines, a practices I highly recommend to you
- Prayerfully consider – what would your ideal morning and evening routines look like? To do this we need to make sure we are asking the right questions. It wasn’t the empty tomb that impressed people as they listened to the reports of Jesus’ resurrection, it was the transformation they saw in his disciples’ lives. How has Jesus resurrection transformed your life? your relationships? and your responsibility to this wonderful world God has gifted us with?
- Routines need to cover all aspects of our lives. Think about how to incorporate contemplative and reflective times as well as physical and creative activities that stir your senses and draw you into God’s presence. Morning and evening might be too much for you to consider. Be realistic. Work out what time of the day you would most like to use for your intimate time with God and for other exercises that draw you close to your Creator. Then think about the ways you should be reaching out. This is probably not part of your morning or evening routine, but what you do in the morning and the evenings is the soil and the fertilizer that makes it possible for you to go out into God’s world as a servant disciple.
- Evaluate your present routines – once you know what the strengths and weaknesses of your present practices are it will make it easier to change where necessary.
- Decide on a plan – write down what you think your routines could look like and take the next month to experiment. You might find that a journal or planner will help this process and in fact assist you to map out your whole routine.
- Set some goals for the coming month. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Sustained growth is slow and incremental not all at once.
- Implement your plan. Jesus’ disciples plunged into a new way of life even though they were afraid and unsure of the consequences and we need to too. This is not a time for making excuses. Following Jesus requires commitment and discipline. Now is a good time to start.
What Is Your Response
Prayerfully consider how God would have you respond in this easter season. What seeds have been planted in your life that need to be nurtured, grow and bear fruit? May God guide you in your journey.