LENT I - The Week of February 14, 2016
So, how does one "connect" with the Spirit?
 

The Spirit is the voice within that tells us the RIGHT thing to do, that uses our eyes to SHOW us the faces of those for whom we are responsible.  And the Spirit is the one who softens our hearts, by showing us how to feel someone else's joy and pain as if it were our own.

Re-connecting requires a PRACTICE of LISTENING.
This week...find some time EVERY DAY (if it's a priority, you will FIND time) to do this exercise.

FIRST - Focus your mind (shut down other thoughts) by perhaps closing your eyes and listening to the words of a favorite verse or song, (As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee...as an example).  It's not a "mantra", rather it is a way to calm and focus yourself.

SECOND - As a reminder of the breath of God (ruach) concentrate on your breathing.

THIRD - Listen, and with your eyes closed, watch.  After you've "cleaned" your mind...what thoughts, what words, what sights do you see.  It might be nothing, don't worry...it could be Jesus just wants you to "be" for a moment.

FOURTH - Trust yourself.  Use your faith.  Follow the Spirit's clues.


LENT II - The Week of February 21, 2016
JUMP-STARTING the NUTRITION CONNECTION


Jesus was clever and wise, as a teacher, when He used the common, the ordinary and the mundane things to illustrate and teach about the sacred connection we have with our Father.

FOOD was, and still is, an event that brought people together within a community or family (for a Jew, eating with someone else is a mitzvah (a good deed, a connection to God) and performed The practical function of providing the individual with the fuel needed to live.

Those ideas live on in the Spiritual Kingdom as well...food/nutrition from Jesus provides a way to connect with each other AND gives the individual the fuel needed to function
within the Kingdom.
Sometimes to "jumpstart"our thoughts and help us re-discover our connection to Him, we need something drastic to cause us to think.  Let's try this this week"

 FIRST - At EVERY meal, alone or with friends, "remember" Jesus.  This may mean a different thing for every person.  For some, this will mean a prayer of thanks before the meal, for others it will be discussion about spiritual things during the meal.  But I think that foremost it should accomplish what Jesus asked: "When you gather together for a meal, remember me and I'll join you."  However is best for you...it needs to be done at every meal. 

SECOND - Skip one meal each day this week and when you're hungry, think about what that means.  Replace your meal with some introspective prayer; have the Spirit help you realize what food does for your body.  If you're missing a meal "out", put that money aside for now...we're going to collect/raise some LENT LOOT during LENT (more about THAT later).



LENT III - The Week of February 28, 2016
IMMUNITY

There are two things, two ingredients, in the recipe for FREEDOM in the Kingdom of God.  They are the same ingredients that are required for any kind of physical healing or reprieve.  And since this LENTEN SEASON is all about us recognizing what Jesus has already put into place for our benefit (by virtue of the Spiritual Umbilical Cord) this week is about recognizing ourselves and reaching out to each other. 
A) We need to realize the NEED for immunity.
A sick person cannot get well if they don't acknowledge the illness they carry...and yet, we sometimes see ourselves as saints before we see ourselves as sinners. 
B) We need to realize the EFFECTS of immunity.
A criminal who is jailed, needs to SEE AND EXPERIENCE the jail cell to appreciate the key...and the one who provides it. 

THIS WEEK:

FIRST - The discipline of "confession" is a detailed and practiced one.  It is difficult for many.  Start simply. This exercise works best with a chalkboard or dry erase board, but can be done with paper (and a match).
During the "listening time" (which you are already doing weekly) begin, for your eyes only, to WRITE simple statements of confession and be specific! (don't just write, I had a bad attitude on Tuesday...write specifics about what you did). Ask forgiveness and erase the sentence.  This is a much better exercise if you are confessing to a person, with spoken word, but again this is difficult and you'll need a close, trusted friend.  Recognizing something that needs to change is a giant step to freedom.

SECOND - Forgive.  On another paper, chalkboard, dry erase...write the names of specific people who have hurt you...and forgive them. This is for YOU, primarily.  This doesn't mean you endorse their behavior...it means that you recognize yourself in them...as someone who has also either purposely or innocently hurt another person.  Treat them as you would want to be treated had you done the same.  Erase the board after you've forgiven.



LENT IV - The Week of March 6, 2016
LETTING GOD TAKE IT AWAY

When we think of the "umbilical cord" that connects us to God the obvious picture is one of God providing for us, giving us what we need for life: OXYGEN, NUTRIENTS and IMMUNITIES.  But one thing the physical umbilical cord supplies, from mother to unborn child, is also the ability to take away not only what is un-needed by the child, but what is harmful TO the child.

Sometimes connection to God is about God removing what we don't need or shouldn't have...and taking it on Himself, and turning it to something someone else MAY need.

THIS WEEK 

FIRST - Remove and donate.  Have you ever thought of SPRING CLEANING as a sacred action?  It can be.  Go through the house, through the closet, through the garage.  Pick out things that you don't need...ask yourself, why do I have this?  Is it necessary to ME?  Would it, might it, be useful to someone else.  Gather it all up and donate what you can.

 SECOND - "lent loot".  Take the money you saved during your WEEK TWO fast, combine it with the value of your donated items (if you wish) and take the cash to the store and purchase SOCKS FOR LENT (see article in Bulletin). Bring them to Central.

THIRD - Personal Inventory.  What do you hold on to?  What attitudes, what grudges, what memories.  Maybe it's time to give those to Jesus...it's amazing what we don't need, and even things like grudges can be turned to gold, miraculously, by just handing them over to Him.