By Andy Wade —
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? … Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. — Jesus
Matthew 6:25-34 NLT
Look at the field lilies. Stop, really look at them. Do you see them in their beauty? Can you see beyond their beauty? Like us, they are conceived in darkness. A bulb divided, nurtured by the rich humus of earth. Before their radiant display of beauty and life, they grow, underground, hidden from our eyes.
Consider the lilies. We are not so different.
As their supple green shoots pierce the dark womb of their birth, they are freely nurtured by sun and soil as they drink deeply of refreshing rains. Although now visible, their color and expression are still mostly hidden from our eyes. But the lily knows and in its own time will unfold its full beauty for all to see. And when that happens, ah, this is what we’ve waited for. This, we think, is the point of the lily.
As the first colorful petals arch back, we begin to see the outward expression of the lily’s inward beauty. Those delicate flowers remind us of both the Creator’s complexity and simplicity as the artist extraordinaire. This simple flower nurtures joy in those captivated by its radiance as they are dazzled by fragrance and foliage.
Consider the lilies. We are not so different.
Tempted to capture the lily’s allure, we may want to pluck it, take it home and put it in a vase. Yet taking the lily bloom hostage will only hasten its death. This beauty is nurtured and sustained by all that surrounds it. Isolated from its community, the blossom will not last long. Even more, isolated from creation the lily is cut off from its gift to community. Its beauty has a purpose beyond aesthetics. Nurtured by its surroundings, the lily offers its nectar to bees and bugs. Even under earth’s surface, her roots reach out and mingle with the roots of neighboring plants. A rich network of mushroom mycelium intertwines, exchanging nutrients for sugar. The lily is so much more than just a blossom.
Consider the lilies. We are not so different.
And what about death? It’s tempting to consider the lily’s end to be when it begins to fade and its fragrance and color cease to tickle our senses. It’s easy to define the life of the lily by the characteristics we prize most from it. But the life of the lily is not simply one thing. As we’ve commodified nature’s beauty, we’ve robbed it of life’s fullness. As its leaves wrinkle and brown and begin to drop to the forest floor, the lily continues to nurture the lives around it. There is richness in the experience of those aging leaves. Perhaps not as young and vibrant as they once were, they are still rich with nourishing goodness. Too quickly we devalue and toss aside as irrelevant those that still have so much to offer.
Consider the lilies. We are not so different.
Neither sowing or reaping, they are still so crucial to the balance of life around them. Created and placed in community for community, rooted in rich, abundant soil teeming with life, they have all that they need to flourish. Whether encased in earth-embryo, emerging into a new expression of life, standing tall and radiant for eyes to behold, or fading and falling to re-enrich the soil from which they came – all things in their season and each season a holy gift.
Consider the lilies. We are not so different.
Can we not anticipate Creator’s same love and attention to each season of our lives?
Have we not also been nurtured in the rich soil of community and creation?
Is not our value far greater than one single season of life?
Consider the lilies of the field. Stop. Take time. Allow the wonders of the lily to fully bloom in your imagination. Let the lily take root and grow.
by Christine Sine
It is Ash Wednesday. Tonight Tom and I will attend our church’s Ash Wednesday service and have our foreheads marked with an ash cross. However my Ash Wednesday service has already begun. As I have done for the last few years, this morning I have gathered my Palm Sunday crosses from last year, added a few post it notes on which I have written what I hope to see transformed during Lent and then burnt them.
This year I chose to burn them in my Australian themed contemplative garden which I created earlier in the year when the Australian bushfires were at their height. It was a powerful reflective ritual as I not only remembered my own need for transformation but was reminded once again of the devastation done by the fires and the need for renewal in the bush of Australia
Tomorrow I plan to sprinkle some seeds over the rest of the garden. Hopefully by Easter they will have sprouted and in the summer my garden could be alive with greenery and even flowers. However in anticipation of this new growth and a symbol of hope that the planting of seeds gives me, I have added a few seed pods to my garden. I love looking at them and thinking of what could be sprouting in all the barren and hurting places of our world and lives during this season.
I am also pleased to be starting For the Beauty of The Earth: A Lenten Devotional by Leah Schade but have also been sent a link to a free devotional by Randy Woodley entitled Drawing Closer to Creation and Creator: An Indigenous Journey Through Lent that I highly recommend to you as well.
Last but not least I have written a prayer for Ash Wednesday I hope you enjoy it.
Jesus come and save us.
We are marked with ashes,
We are but dust,
Only you can change our unclean souls.
Bring us to repentance,
Wash away the scars,
Plant seeds in the desert,
Bring life where death once reigned.
Cleanse us with the water of life.
Transform us God of all.
Restore our sight,
Renew our planet,
Teach us truth.
Speak words that bring wholeness,
To our communities,
To the earth our island home.
By Barbie Perks —
At our home church, a Methodist church, someone introduced the idea of pancake Tuesday as a fund-raising community event which proved immensely popular and successful. The funds raised go towards the feeding scheme which provides nearly 200 food parcels to HIV-AIDS affected families, and the church community has a wonderful time eating and working together – it takes a lot of work to make, fill and sell over 5,000 pancakes in one evening.
This year I will be introducing a similar event to our local international Christian fellowship, but obviously on a much smaller scale! I was asked to prepare a short devotion on the meaning of Lent, so I have been researching, reading, meditating and in general, just thinking about exactly what this activity means to me.
Lent has always been a time where folks have chosen something to ‘give up’, where they talk a lot about what they have given up, and how good they are at not eating that chocolate, drinking that soda, going on Facebook, etc. It would seem that we are in danger of making Lent into a ‘works’ activity and looking to God for approval for how good we are at disciplining ourselves!
In actual fact, Lent is a 40 day period of preparation for Easter, in the same way as Advent is a 40 day period of preparation for the birth of Christ. Traditionally, we remember the 40 days Christ spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying in preparation for his ministry on earth.
Shrove comes from the word “shrive”, which means to repent of sin, confess that sin and receive absolution. The ashes used in Ash Wednesday services are Old Testament symbols of repentance (sackcloth and ashes), as well as a reminder of our own mortality. Entering into this Lent period by becoming aware of our own sinful shortcomings, repenting and asking forgiveness, helps us to prepare for the reality of the great sacrifice Jesus made and enables us to celebrate anew the wonderful gift of resurrection, the amazing gift of eternal life.
The recently released Kendrick Brothers film, “Overcomer”, has a very strong Christian theme about realising one’s identity in Christ – based on Ephesians 1-2. We are using the accompanying Bible study notes in our weekly fellowship group, and it is proving to be a very insightful study. Looking deeply into how we form our identity, and how it can sometimes become an idol is a very sobering process. Working through realising, repenting, confessing and seeking new ways to live for Christ is a huge challenge. This period before Easter will be a very opportune time to examine ways in which I can truly become a new creation in Christ, as I give up that identity which I have come to see has such a strong hold on me.
John Ortberg’s book, “Overcoming Your Shadow Mission”, is also an excellent book to help you see how Satan can take a perfectly good mission (even identity!) and subvert it, and derail it, so that God is no longer glorified.
If you want to hear his talk, visit here.
The trailer for Overcome is here:
Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. What a wonderful verse to meditate on during the Lenten period.
The first John O’Donohue’s book I read was The Four Elements. From the beginning I was riveted by his fresh approach to life and faith. In one of the blessings, In Praise of Air, which he wrote not long before he died, he says:
In the name of the air,
And the wind,
May our souls
Stay in rhythm
With eternal Breath.
It was this blessing that inspired my prayer above and has often formed the focus for my prayers and meditations over the last week. It also provided the inspiration for the set of breath cards that we have recently created.
What does it mean to live a life in rhythm with Eternal Breath?
I have always loved writing and using breathing prayers, even more so since I listened to Richard Rohr talk about the name of God being breathed rather than spoken. The breath of God sustains us, yet we rarely acknowledge or live in the awareness of it. We are often unaware of our physical breath too unless it is interrupted by allergies, pollution or illness.
Becoming aware of our breathing can have a huge impact on our lives. Doctors recommend that we deliberately take deep breaths at regular intervals throughout the day to aerate our lungs. It relieves tension, rids our body of toxins, boosts our energy and strengthens our immune systems.
It requires intentionality.
As any experienced hiker or runner knows, we move more easily when we synchronize our steps to our breathing. Again this is often a deliberate action, especially when we are just learning to pace ourselves. We consciously take our steps in rhythm with our breaths. Living in synch with the Eternal Breath is just as intentional. We must regularly remind ourselves to breathe deeply of the presence of God and that necessitates learning to pace ourselves. We must pause from our busy lives, centering ourselves on the eternal presence and attending to the rhythm of our breathing.
Question: How much attention do you give your spiritual breathing? What do you do on a regular basis to make sure it is in synch with the Eternal Breath?
It means slowing down.
When we walk up a hill, we know how out of condition we are if our breathing comes in short, painful gasps. Healthy hill climbing breathing is slow and regular.
I wonder at the spiritual analogy here. There is a tendency for us to grab for God when we are on an uphill climb, facing pressures, challenges and anxieties in our life and faith. Unless we have been doing regular spiritual exercises, keeping our breath in synch with the Eternal Breath we find ourselves unprepared, gasping for the holy air that seems thinner and less life giving than it should be. We know we are in synch with the Eternal Breath when we are able to breathe in and out of the presence of God at all times, with long, slow breaths that nourish us deep within our souls.
Question: How healthy is your spiritual breathing? Think back to the last life stress you faced. What was the rhythm of your spiritual breathing like during that time?
It requires deep breathing exercises.
I have talked before about the fact that as we grow older we breathe more shallowly and need to learn to take deep breaths that fully aerate our lungs and provide the health benefits that only deep breathing provides.
I wonder if our spiritual lives follow the same pattern. The longer we follow Christ, the easier it is for us to take our spiritual practices for granted. They become stale, rote, unproductive of the spiritual depths that connect to the heart of God. We need to take time to breathe deeply, to replenish our resources and renew our spirits.
Tom and I will shortly go on one of our quarterly prayer retreats, powerful deep breathing tools that help keep us in touch with God in a more intimate way. They enable us to restructure our lives and keep on focus with both our physical and spiritual disciplines.
Question: What are the deep breathing exercises your perform regularly to strengthen your spiritual muscles and maintain your life rhythm in synch with the Eternal Breath?
Listen to this beautiful poem by John O’Donohue. Allow it to enter your spirit and fill you with the Eternal Breath
NOTE: As an Amazon Affiliate, I receive small amount for purchases made through appropriate links.
Also, don’t forget that many of my breathing cards are now available for purchase.
Today, with permission from Paul Neeley I am reposting this from the blog Global Christian Worship. Paul reminded me that we need some musical versions of the Lord’s Prayer and has provided several of these (plus his own version) that I will post over the next few weeks. The popularity of this and the posts that are being suggested to me make this into a very rewarding and enriching series. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am.
by Paul Neeley
I’m really enjoying the album by Karin Simmons, titled ‘Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.’ Karin has been involved with leading worship since she was 8 years old, and has been leading worship at Nashville-area churches since 2000.
She co-wrote this musical arrangement in 2014 with Jennifer Martin, my favorite priest, preacher, composer, and worship leader – also in Nashville.
Here’s their recently-composed version of ‘The Lord’s Prayer ‘ on Karin’s album, complete with soaring strings.
Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be Your name
Your kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive our sins as we forgive
The ones who sin against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
For-ever, Amen, Amen, Amen.
Setting: Karin Simmons, Jennifer Martin; Copyright © 2012 Hannahbear Music, SESAC/Spring At Last Music, ASCAP
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Get the lead sheet at
Get Karin’s marvelous album through her website at
and follow her music and worship ministries at
Karin published a terrific article on embracing the arts in the church from a liturgical perspective; see it at
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
We can only pray this prayer for the church if we are prepared to mean:
make us Kingdom-bearers!
Make us a community of healed healers;
make us a retuned orchestra to play the Kingdom-music
until the world takes up the song.
Make us, in turn, servants of the Lord,
the few with the message for the many.
– N.T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer
The season of Lent begins next week…as Christine says, Lent is the time we get to prepare our hearts for Easter and the Resurrection. As Father Ed Hays says, it’s the opportunity to fall more in love with Jesus over the next forty plus days. The Season of Lent has three traditional areas of focus: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving or Prayer, Fasting and Acts of Service and Justice.
How can we put these three areas into practice between now and Easter?
Too often we think only of fasting from foods…but food is just one thing we can fast. I have low blood sugar, so I’m not a good food faster. My plan is to FAST from the news again this year. I can read the headlines once a day, but not listen to it! I get too caught up in all the political drama and it distracts me from being present to my neighborhood and loving other people right where I am. I’m also going to fast from busyness, and I’ll be adding in more rest and practicing sabbath. These might be a great choice for many of us!
May it Be So Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer: It’s a great way to engage God each day with a short prayer by Justin, and a beautiful visual created by Scott helping us engage the Lord’s Prayer in a new way. Justin says “When I pray “Our Father,” I join countless family members who share the same entanglements, frustrations, joys, dreams, and hopes that often lead me to pray. I am not alone. Neither are you.”
They have another book on prayer that would also be a great devotion to use during Lent, called Prayer: Forty Days of Practice. Both of these books can help us to be present with Jesus and grow closer to him between now and Easter. And all ages will enjoy them.
These books might even inspire you to create your own visual prayers or seek other art to pray with during Lent. You might also check out the Lenten Photo a day challenge by Rethinkchurch as another way to practice prayer visually.
Pope Francis says,
“Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.”
Take some time to consider what practice you might ADD or what things you might need to subtract from your life in order to grow closer to Jesus between now an Easter. Ask Jesus to show you and allow this to blossom and grow!
Check out Scott Erickson’s Stations in the Street for more inspiration for prayer this season. you might want to download them for your entire church community to experience visual liturgy and prayer!
Are you in the Seattle area or know of friends and family who are? Would you like a fresh perspective as we enter into the Lent and Easter seasons? We would love to have you join us on March 28th, 2020 at the Mustard Seed House in Seattle, WA for the Gift of Wonder workshop led by Christine Sine! This interactive workshop is full of creative opportunities to reawaken your inner child with fun exercises. Click on the workshop page below for more information and to register. We are offering students a discount for this workshop as well!
Want to help us spread the word? If you have a blog, go to church in or near Seattle, or just want to share our flyer with others, please download our Gift of Wonder flyer.