My 2015 Lenten Practice

lent2013It’s the beginning of February and I’ve been compiling lists of resources for Lent to be used by individuals or congregations. There are many I have ‘followed’ in recent years: Lent Madness, Episcopal Relief and Development’s Lenten devotional, the annual CPI “pick” of a book that offers a study guide alongside a calendar and/or app. But this year none of them are appealing to me.

Several years ago my mother-in-law was placed in hospice during Lent. She died during Holy Week. Lent took on a whole new meaning for me that year. This year I suspect Lent will take on quite the opposite meaning for me. See . . . my Lenten practice will be getting ready to be a grandmother.

My first grandchild is due April 13th. (“Awfully close to tax day,” says my CPA/Financial Planner husband.) So I am in the midst of planning a baby shower, figuring out what kinds of baby paraphernalia I’ll need to have around the house and other deliberations, such as “How will I be able to fit a car seat in the back of my 2005 Mustang convertible?” (You can’t.) Continue reading My 2015 Lenten Practice

More Links for Lent

Time_Badge_720x300There are plenty of great ideas created by others for delving deeper into the meaning of Lent and making a space at home and church for reflecting on this penitential season. Here are some of my favorites!

Lent in a Bag by Shawn Schreiner and Vicki Garvey involves distributing small bags (cloth, paper, or ziplock bags) with symbols of the season to assist individuals and families in practicing Lent at home. In addition to the items, you can include instructions, and reflections (on purple paper of course) to go with each item.

Lenten Giving Calendar for 2015 from Jenifer Gamber offers a colorful poster to download and print (free!). Jenifer shares, this Lenten Giving Calendar is an opportunity to practice the act of giving. Each day the calendar invites you to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s abundance in your life and return that abundance in gratitude as a gift of pennies, nickels, and quarters to others. This Lent, let’s clean house, replacing habits that keep us from new life in Christ to a practice of gratitude and giving. Continue reading More Links for Lent

The Art of Forming Faithful People: Forma 2015

Unknown-3I spent the last few days of January in Houston, Texas attending Forma‘s 18th Annual Conference. It was a jam-packed few days filled with excellent workshops, outstanding speakers, and (most importantly for me) a chance to network and learn from colleagues from across the United States (and beyond) about new ideas, joys, and struggles in the world of lifelong Christian formation in the Episcopal Church.

There have been several Forma members who have shared their perspective of the event that you can read, including Kyle Oliver of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Seminary who wrote about keynoter Brene Brown’s keynote. For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Brown, it’s best to view her TED Talk regarding vulnerability. The best summary I can give of her amazing talk was what I put out on Twitter during the presentation (@rowsofsharonp). All her quotes:

  • I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for Christian formation.
  • If you want to form people with god you need to inspire them
  • fear + anxiety + shame = scarcity
  • The casualty of fear and scarcity is faith
  • We can be a place that doesn’t offer certainty but that offers love
  • Leading from scarcity moves people away.
  • How many of you have a gratitude practice?
  • how many of you incorporate gratitude practices into your ministry?
  • Knowledge is only rumor until you live it in your bones
  • Children need a place of belonging that is not school
  • It is our job – formation folk – is to accept ppl for who they are and offer a space to belong
  • I’ve never been asked to choose intellect over faith in the Episcopal Church
  • Shame only works when you feel you’re alone. Embrace empathy.
  • Our kids are desperate for boundaries.
  • Difference between entitlement and privilege is gratitude
  • Hopelessness + shame = violence. We need to cultivate hope and offer an alternative.

Continue reading The Art of Forming Faithful People: Forma 2015

Resources for Lent in 2015

I’m always being asked for my “Top Ten List” on a variety of topics. Since Lent is just two short weeks away, hopefully you’ve already made your plans and spread the word to those in your congregation. But just in case, these are my top picks (a mix of perennial favorites alongside some new offerings) for a variety of ages and stages to take along on the Lenten journey. Download Church Publishing’s Lent 2015 catalog for more ideas.

For children:

KitchLentWhat We Do in Lent: A Child’s Activity Book. Designed for children four to seven years old, Anne Kitch’s gentle text explains the seasons of Lent and Easter through 41 pages of coloring and solving puzzles as the reader builds their vocabulary and walks with Jesus to Jerusalem. Perfect for home use (it has a parent guide) or to place in children’s worship bags with a box of crayons. Continue reading Resources for Lent in 2015

Life as an Acolyte

AcolyteRobesI’ve been an acolyte since I was sixteen-years-old. I wanted to become one sooner, but being a girl, I had to wait until a priest would allow anyone of the female persuasion to serve behind the altar rail, in the holy of holies. I was trained, and overly trained, as my mentor (who became a bishop) wanted to make sure I knew EVERYTHING so as not to give anyone an inch of an excuse to say a girl couldn’t perform this ministry. So I can tell you the difference between the gospel and epistle side, what candles are lit first (and in what order) and what candles get extinguished first. I know what a credence table is, the different between a flagon and a cruet, and the use (and meaning) of a lavabo bowl and towel.

I eventually ‘graduated’ to serving as a minister of communion, aka LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister), but find my training as an acolyte has informed every ministry I have had on the altar – preacher, bishop’s chaplain, and LEM, including taking on the role of crucifer, torchbearer, or altar preparer. And now I and my husband are privileged to train a whole new generation of acolytes. Continue reading Life as an Acolyte