Posts Tagged 'Lent'

Ash Wednesday meditation – Shane Claiborne


Just home from leading an Ash Wednesday service at our church. A meaningful time of reflective worship and, following the prompting of a Thom Shuman service, nice to insert three Taize’ pieces.  After the readings, I shared a really succinct and helpful Shane Claiborne piece of meditation:

Becoming like a flute: meditations on Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

To quote some of Claiborne’s wording from the beginning and end of the shane claibornereflection:

“What’s the difference between a flute and a stick in the mud?” our priest asked on Sunday.  He then went on, “The stick in the mud is full of itself.  The flute has been emptied of itself so it can make music.”  That’s a good image for Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

… So whether it is giving up an old bad habit or take on a new holy habit… May we each use this Lenten season as an excuse to do something that empties us of ourselves so that our lives make better music.

Worth a read.

I wrote a musical setting of text from Psalm 51 a few years back. We used that again. Dale does a great vocal interpretation of the lyrics.  I’m unashamedly biased!

Create in me a clean heart
music score

Blessings of this Lenten season,


“mudhouse sabbath” … highly recommended

“Mudhouse” is a coffee shop in Charlottsville, Virginia.  Sabbath – the Jewish day of complete rest. I’ve just finished reading a delightful, encouraging and thought-provoking book by Lauren Winner – Mudhouse Sabbath. It’s subtitled “An invitation to a life of spiritual discipline”.  Just a little paperback, but what makes the book so interesting is that Winner (now on the teaching staff of Duke University) converted from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity as a young adult.

Says Brian McLaren –

Lauren Winner explores simple, do-able ways of keeping company with God in the ordinary, day-to-day world of eating, working, resting, romancing, aging, earning, grieving, and celebrating. Her rich identity as a Jewish/Christian/scholar/writer informs every sentence.’

A great read … and a great invitation during Lent.  Highly recommended!


bagpipes and Johnny at Easter

cross2749bI’m reflecting on two conflicting pieces of music heard nearby – one at church, the other this morning: Good Friday from our patio.

Wednesday night, as my colleague Josie leads our church’s Holy Wednesday service – a quite, reflective one … what should waft through from the property next door, but the shrill and piercing sounds of bagpipes … above the sound of busy Station Road traffic and late-night shopping centre hustle/bustle across the road. It was hard to not be distracted by the music of this piper.  What’s he doing playing exactly at the time of our worship service?!

And then today – as Dale and I share our customary hot cross buns and brewed coffee for morning tea – after leading a Last Words of Jesus Good Friday service – from our usually very quite next-door neighbours – what seemed like Johnny Cash’s greatest hits!  Yes – not only do we reflect on When I survey the wondrous cross, O sacred head sore wounded and Here hangs a man discarded (we sang my setting) on Good Friday; we also ponder I walk the line, Folsom City Blues, Jackson and A boy named sue.

Once again I was reminded, as I was repeatedly through our weekly Lent bible studies, that we who are Christian find ourselves as a somewhat curious minority in the bigger picture of Australian society.  The issue is not that we are necessarily lampooned or disrespected – we can so easily become in irrelevance, a grouping far off the radar of most people.  No big deal for an Aussie to play their bagpipes or crank up the Johnny Cash during this most holy weeks.

In this week – the central week in the narrative of salvation history – did bagpipes and “the Man in Black” win out?  That’s not what my faith tells me.  That’s not what the life, death and rising of Jesus tells me.  Amid moving Jesus (so they thought) so off their radar to the point of relegating him to the cruelty and scandal of  a cross – Jesus has the final word – the final victory. Despite the horror and the sacrifice, Jesus wins out.  Love and forgiveness win out over the sin of our human condition, life wins out over death.

Amid the bagpipes … and a dose of Johnny … just part of the world Jesus comes into to redeem, reform and offer life forever.

Losing my grip

YOUNG WOMAN RECEIVES MARK OF ASHESThis morning, I shared in our church’s Ash Wednesday service.  It’s only in recent years that I’ve come to appreciate its value.  It’s become more than that service when we paste ash crosses on each other, though we do – Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  In “Sojourners” I’ve just read a reflection from Michaela Bruzzese, called “Losing Our Grip.”

We live in an addictive society, and we need to allow the spirit of freedom to pry us free from its grip. We all long for security and happiness, and we need to free ourselves from the idols that promise both but can deliver neither.” Jesuit Dean Brackley sums up the work of Lent: prying ourselves free from the false idols around us – or perhaps prying the false idols out of our hands! In the next four weeks, we will enter a process of cleansing; we will learn how to recognize and reject our false gods so that we will know Christ resurrected

Lent – and this article helps, directs me to discern where my true priorities are in life.  Who am I serving?  Who is God for me?   Who … what must I lose my grip on?  Folks like me are most comfortable when they are in control; my hands tight on the wheel … or is that the wheels that I steer in life.

Lent calls me to lose my grip … to open my hands … to bare myself before God … with the prayer as from Psalm 51: Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Lent … and especially this Ash Wednesday assures me, once again from Psalm 51: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Phewww!!!

Lent calls me further; having loosened that grip, to reach out with open hands, open heart and open mind to – in a sense – grip my hands afresh around the all-giving love that is Jesus. Continue reading ‘Losing my grip’

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