[caption id="attachment_5011" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The garden is growing"][/caption] It is garden season here in Seattle. The front porch of the Mustard Seed House here in Seattle is already bulging with plants - some germinating on heat mats, some under grow lights, others outside in our green house. Last year we sold over 100 vegetable starts - tomatoes, squash, basil and greens. Friends told me that our tomato plants were the best they have ever grown. This year we hope to double our sales. We will also have a selection of other plants available for purchase when you pick up your vegetable starts at the end of April or beginning of May. Plants are all grown using organic soil and fertilizer. They come in 4" coir fiber pots that are biodegradable. Proceeds from plant sales will help us establish the Mustard Seed Village. Please download the order form, fill it in and return it to us as soon as possible so that we can get your plants started. Garden Seminar is Coming This year's Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House will be held May 5th. This year we have special discounts for students and alumni wanting to gain new spiritual insights and share gardening advice. It would be a great opportunity to check out the Mustard Seed garden, interact with our growing garden community and pick up your plants. Register HERE today before all the spots are filled! If you can't attend you may like to follow along with the reflections from To Garden With God And if you live in the Pacific NW and are just trying to work out what you should be doing in the garden check To Do In the Northwest Edibles
This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? is by Kathy Escobar. Kathy Escobar co-pastors The Refuge, an eclectic faith community dedicated to those on the margins of life and faith. She has written several books, including the most recent, Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus. She lives in Arvada, Colorado with her husband and five children and blogs regularly about life and faith.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied." - Matthew 5:6, NLT
"Justice is what love looks like in public" - Cornel WestWhen I was in high school and college, I was an activist. I cared about causes, paid dues to organizations that advocated for equal rights and social change. I was passionate and idealistic. In my early married years, a few years out of college, I started to lose some of that passion. I was the first in the my family to ever switch political parties from Democrat to Republican (yeah, I've since switched to Independent). I became increasingly more secure in my Christian bubble and began to pay less attention to wider issues. I instead began to focus on issues that the people around me were spending energy on--the erosion of the morality of America, the horrors of public education, and making sure tax money wasn't spent on things I disagreed with. Even though they looked like worthy causes at the moment, the truth is that my support for them had nothing to do with anyone else. They were all about me. My protection. My kids' protection. My Christian-world's protection. I laugh when I look back at that season in my life, not to mock it but just to acknowledge that as different-as-it-from-where-I-am-now, it was part of my spiritual journey, and I'm really glad I'm not there anymore. Then, I was not hungering and thirsting for justice. I was hungering and thirsting for a false feeling of safety and protection that I felt entitled to as a Christ-follower. And it didn't satisfy. It actually only made me feel more afraid. Deeply embedded in my thinking was "I must protect us from them." It was for more focused on being "right" than being kind, on distrust than love, on self than others, on division than unity. That was many years ago, and as I've grown up, my passion for justice--a more others-centered kind--has increased exponentially. I love what Cornel West says--"Justice is what love looks like in public." What does love look like in public? I think it looks like all of Beatitudes, not just one. Humility & radical dependence on God. The ability to mourn and grieve for ourselves, others, the world.. Mercy. Gentleness. Meekness, power under control instead of passivity. Purity of heart. Justice and the pursuit of righteousness and goodness. A willingness to be persecuted for love. Yeah, love in public looks like sacrifice. It looks like restoring dignity where it's been lost. It looks like humility and gentleness. It looks like unity instead of homogeneity. It looks like caring when no one else cares. It looks like advocating. It looks like diffusing our power and resources on behalf of others. It looks like practicing equality across gender, race, socioeconomics, and host of other things that keep people over or under others. All of these things are the Beatitudes-in-spirit-and-in-action. They look like Jesus. Reflected in the here and now. In all my efforts to protect myself, I was not reflecting Jesus. I was reflecting Christian culture. This Lent, as I reflect what I'm hungering and thirsting for, I am reminded of how easy it is to seek safety, comfort, and protection instead of brave Jesus-centered love in public. How easy it is to get sucked into power games, division, and building walls between "us and them" instead of opening our tables and discovering what we have in common. How much more familiar self-centeredness is than others- centeredness. Self-protection, culture-protection will never satisfy, will never quench our thirst. The scriptures say, "Why spend money on what is not bread and labor on what does not satisfy. Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55:2). The Beatitudes are the food I want to eat not just for Lent, but for every season of the year. They're what love looks like in public.
I know that I am posting this a little late in the day, but I just came across this beautiful prayer written by Deborah Hirt, Intern at Franciscans International. Lord, make me an instrument of peace: Bless all women who daily strive to bring peace to their communities, their homes and their hearts. Give them strength to continue to turn swords into plowshares. Where there is hatred, let me sow love: We pray for all women who face prejudice, inequality and gender disparities. Help us seeand to face the discrimination against women inall the many forms it may take. Where there is injury, pardon: Comfort all women who suffer from the pain of war, violence, and abuse. Help them to become instruments of their own reconciliation and peace. Where there is division, unity: Forgive all women and men who let differences breed hate and discrimination. Let your example of valuing all of creation help us to see that we are equal partners in the stewardship of your world. Where there is darkness, light; where there is untruth, truth: Comfort all women who struggle in the darkness of abuse, poverty, and loneliness. May we stand with them in light to acknowledge their suffering and strive to remove the burdens of shame or embarrassment. Where there is doubt, true faith: We pray for all women who live in fear of their husbands, fathers, and forces that control their lives. Help them to be empowered to be their true selves through your everlasting love and faith. Where there is despair, hope: We pray for all women who live in the despair of poverty, violence, trafficking, slavery,and abuse. May the light of your love bring them hope. Where there is sadness, new joy: Help us to see the strength and goodness in all women and men. Transform our hearts to celebrate the love and grace of all people. And may we be blessed with the courage of St. Clare of Assisi to follow our own path of love for you and all sisters and brothers.
[caption id="attachment_6421" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Prayer cave - photo by Mark Pierson"][/caption] The invitation of the second week of Lent is the call to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. The question is where are we following him to?
This week's Lenten readings remind us of the toughest part of responding to the call of Jesus. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "When Jesus calls a person to follow him, he calls that person to come and die." The paradox of the Gospel that is highlighted this week, though, is that it is in dying that we find life. (from Sacredise.com)It is easy for us to focus on death during the season of Lent and to see the end of our cross carrying journey as the crucifixion. Not surprisingly at the moment, many worship leaders are focused on getting ready for Good Friday services and the Stations of the Cross and this tends to intensify this feeling. It seems to me that our thirsting after righteousness and hungering after justice have dissolved (if they ever existed at all). Most of us want to escape the desert before our time but that doesn't mean that we want to hang on the cross either. But the crucifixion really isn't the goal of our cross carrying, it is the pathway. Our journey with Jesus at this season is, as Bonhoeffer recognized, a journey beyond death to new life. It is a journey that takes us deep into the loving heart of God. The dying we must do is to those things that separate us from God. Jesus travelled to the cross to break down the barriers that separated all of us from God. Our own individual journeys should break down our own personal barriers. Journeying beyond death to resurrection was not easy for Jesus and it will not be easy for us either. That after all was one of the reasons the children of Israel wandered so long in the desert - they focused on the giants they needed to conquer rather than the abundance of the promised land. That is why we, like Jesus, also need constantly to remind ourselves of "the joy that is set before us", the wonder of a transformed life that lives now and forever in God's kingdom.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="199"] Father Pedro Arrupe via jesuit.org[/caption] The following prayer is attributed to Father Pedro Arrupe (1903- 1991) from the Basque region of Spain who became the 28th Superior General of the Society of Jesus. I was first given this prayer on a card several years ago but have recently also come across it on Ignatian Spirituality.com It may seem like an unusual one to publish as a Lenten prayer but Lent is meant to be about re-evaluating our life focus. Finding and falling in love with God really does change everything in a way that is totally transformative of our lives. Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekend, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? is by Dave Perry: Dave Perry is a Methodist Minister who blogs at www.visualtheology.blogspot.com. A passionate photographer, he is keen to use visual imagery as a way of bringing the faith alive. Dave is currently Superintendent of the Hull (West) Circuit in East Yorkshire.
An experience both wild and unrelenting: this is not your typical 'giving up chocolate' appreciation of Lent, but it is the uncomfortable and inconvenient gospel truth out of which our largely neutered and neutralised present day observance has arisen. As surely as night follows day the cherishing embrace of divine grace becomes the point of departure for a unrelenting personal journey deep into the wild topography of the soul and psyche. The Spirit which empowers and affirms Jesus compels and forces him into an experience which is authentically wild and unrelenting. The sparse prose of St.Mark distils the spiritual dynamics into a crystal clear clarity of meaning which is meant to be taken neat and undiluted. At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:9-15) Mark invites us to down in one the spiritual truth he sees, to taste its breathtaking intensity and experience its unique potency, and to share it wholeheartedly and unreservedly. If we could but grasp it, here is the unchanging basis for our Christian faith. The encounter with the Holy Spirit confirms the beloved in God's amazing grace and takes them deep within their being to that place wherein the transforming power of God is manifest so undeniably that they emerge filled with utter enthusiasm for God's love at work in the world. Cherishing, transforming, liberating: these are the three movements of the Spirit which shape our understanding of Christian discipleship and which Lent compels us to reconsider. Held secure and safe within the Spirit's embrace, we are brought face to face with the truth of our broken and distorted views of ourselves and others. The first image portrays this visually: we see a landscape that is fragmented, disjointed, unreal. Some aspects are out of proportion, others are incomplete or false representations of what is actually there. And the whole vista is viewed through an impenetrable fence which blocks our progress. This is how it is and we are stuck with it. This is our wilderness prospect, and God wants to confront us with it and get us to the point at which we can see the true picture. In its wild and unrelenting character the story of the temptation shows us a home truth we would rather ignore. Even when we have reassembled the disparate pieces of our self-understanding and worldview into something recognisable which makes sense, we discover that the work of transformation isn't finished. The picture is whole but still not right. And we realise that we remain captive behind the fence of our desires, defence mechanisms and self-serving intentions. The wild and unrelenting work of transformation goes on until the true picture emerges, the one in which we see from a godly point of view, at last unhindered and unfettered by all that was unhealed, unresolved and unreconciled within us before the journey began.
This is the kingdom outlook of Jesus. It is the Spirit's gift. It is why God compels us into the wild and unrelenting experience of Lent in the first place. Because God loves us so much that God just can't leave us stuck where we are. Once transformed so that we see the true picture, we become part of God's liberating purpose in the world. For now in us and through us the Kingdom of God is clear and comes near.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="250" caption="St Augustine by Philille de Champaigne via Wikipedia"][/caption] I have come across two prayers this last week that are Lenten prayers written by St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) which I wanted to share this afternoon. Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy. — Augustine of Hippo (from Huffington Post ) The following confessional prayer of St. Augustine, is also very much in the spirit of Lent. O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases your sight. I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare your servant from strange sins. You may also like to read this sermon on Lent that Augustine wrote.
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