Tag Archives: i am

Lent Has Brought Us To This Maundy Thursday Prayer

Maundy Thursday Chalkboard Prayer Vigil

Every year, on this day, Maundy Thursday, we come to the Lord in prayer, as Jesus did with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. On that night, Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray… because our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak (Matthew 26:36-46), and then Jesus was betrayed by one of his own inner circle friends. Every year at our church is slightly different, but each year, this evening is set aside for prayer, the Lord’s supper, and meditation on what our Lord went through on Good Friday. I love that image above from last year (see also Messages from the Heart to God in Chalk Board Prayers :: Photos) where everyone wrote their prayers in chalk as they moved through the night.

I looked back over and read some of my journal entries from that night a few years ago, and it’s amazing what that great spiritual discipline of meditation can do for the soul.  In my entry from 2009 I wrote this sentence after being there for an hour or so.

It is almost impossible to wrap your mind around what everything here tonight represents in history. I understand nothing, but I love what I don’t understand.

There are only a few more days of Lent for 2012, today being Day 44 (if you count Sunday’s), and our reading today came from the Book of Common Prayer (only $2.99 on Kindle by the way). Something I don’t get a chance to read all that often, but love its wisdom.

Almighty God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May that be the prayer for today.

The Cornerstone Maundy Thursday Pray Vigil 2011 :: Photos

Last night from 8pm to 8am (that’s Maundy Thursday from 8pm until today, Good Friday at 8am) our church, Cornerstone, had its annual observation of what Jesus and his disciples did on that Thursday night as explained in the Gospels. Our observations follow that tradition with communion, feet washing, and then an open area for prayer and Christian meditation similar to what Jesus and his disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane.

It is actually hard to explain. I was trying to find words, and obviously some photos, to explain the night to someone who wasn’t able to be there in person, but nothing I can think of gives an adequate representation of the night, and the experience I believe is different for each individual who moves through the worship setting. Each year I come expecting, expecting something specific, some preconceived notions of what the night will bring, and each year those are basically thrown out the window by the time I get in the car to come home. Last night was no different. While I didn’t spend as much time in the “garden” area last night, I did experience something new as a believe, and I had the privilege of helping others come into the worship experience who had never been here before.

Something interesting happens when we as believers take a moment to set aside time to spend with God without distractions, without cell phones beeping, without people running about. Our lives are so busy, so hurried from one thing to another that we rarely have time realistically observe Psalm 46:10, to just “be still and know He is God”. That is what last night typically tries to achieve. It isn’t something that just pops out of the air, it takes a lot of preparation, and a willing spirit.

Below are a few photos of what was the main part of the room. The photo above is Rusty preparing to serve communion and out of the photo behind me is a foot washing station. After communion people were able to proceed into the main area through the garden around the “I AM” statements of Christ where they could read scripture, contemplate on information about each area, write on an adjacent board with chalk, feel the grass of the garden, or just sit and pray.

Tonight, on Good Friday, we turn our eyes towards the cross and the amazing sacrifice Jesus made by dying for the sins of the world. It’s all connected, all part of the same story, part of my story.

I AM Lenten Reader, Journaling :: Lent Day 4

Day 4 :: Friday, March 11, 2011, Journaling

Journaling has been a practice throughout the history of the church. Prophets, philosophers, theologians wrote down their thoughts as they sought to understand God and grow in their relationship with Him. Throughout scripture, God commanded people to write things down and keep a record of what He had done so that the coming generations would know what He had done.

Psalm 119:15-16 says, I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Journaling is active meditation on the Word of God and what He is doing in your life.

When we make a practice of journaling, it not only allows us to remember what God has done in our life, but also gives us the opportunity to reflect upon what He has done. It reminds us of His faithfulness throughout our life and serves as a tool in the growth of our relationship with Him.

Journaling is a discipline, and it may take some time to get into a good habit. This reader is a tool for you to develop the practice of journaling. There is space throughout this book for you to write your thoughts, prayers, confessions and ideas.

Take time now to begin the practice of journaling.

Contemplation Over Day 4

Journaling is something I have tried to do for many years now, but it’s also something that takes effort, time, and discipline. Journaling is quite close to blogging so it’s something I talk about with people all the time and the biggest reason I hear why people don’t do this is (1) I have nothing to say anyone would want to read (or I just have nothing to say), and (2) I don’t have time to just sit and write. Both of those reasons are quite valid but I could probably make a pretty strong argument that neither of those reasons should keep you, or myself, from writing.

The first point is a misconception about journaling or blogging, and really the only difference between journaling and blogging is one is private and one is public. Even the most mundane points or details can and do become very interesting months down the road. One reason to write down your thoughts is to specifically go back after some time has passed and reflect on your own thoughts. You will be amazed at what details you found to be important enough to write down at the time. The only regret I have in my own journaling process (and it is a process to get into the habit of writing) is not writing more, and more often.

Besides the two points listed above, the words of the Lenten Reader today couldn’t be more accurate. For me, gradually over the years, writing down my questions and thoughts about my faith have become a wonderful way to better understand my own faith, and what God’s word has to say directly to me at any given point in time. Jonathan Edwards was a master at this, and I have learned quite a bit from Edwards on how to journal, but you don’t have to be Edwards to write.

Some suggestions I might make for getting started would be:

  • Start off slow, try to write a little each day
  • Write down raw thoughts and questions
  • Use whatever format is easiest and fastest (pen and paper or digital)
  • Don’t worry about grammar or spelling
  • Write for yourself, not filtered for what others might think

Journaling is certainly a slow, long, continuous process that takes effort to develop, but is so well worth the time it takes. I have been working on this habit for years and feel like I have only scratched the surface.

The "I AM" Lenten Reader During This Season of Lent

My last blog post, What is Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent?, I wrote an explanation of what Ash Wednesday and the Lent season is all about, so this post I’m giving a more concrete action step of what some do to observe the season of Lent, but more specifically what our church is doing this year. We decided as a church to put together the Lenten Reader pictured above that includes a short daily reading and reflection or journal writing, which walks through the “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John.

I AM the Bread of Life.
I AM the Gate.
I AM the Light of the World.
I AM the Way, the Truth, & the Life.
I AM the Good Shepherd.
I AM the True Vine.
I AM.

Each day I am going to attempt (time willing) to post the text from each day’s reading, and the response as I contemplate the message. I am not going to post every single day but will be actively posting from this Lenten Reader as the season moves ahead. I will probably include the entire Lenten Reader PDF here for download shortly but for now you can read the introduction pages, page 1 and page 2, the text is also written below.

The I AM Lenten Reader Introduction

Each week is anchored in the “I AM” statement taught on Sunday, and every week there will be challenges for confession, repentance, and worship. Some days you will be led to a blog post and asked to read and reflect upon it. Other days you will be challenged to meditate on scripture or celebrate what God has done in your own life.

Throughout this reader, you will also be challenged to journal consistently. There will be questions on some days, and other days there won’t be. We intentionally left space for you to write your own thoughts and seek what God is teaching you on a personal spiritual level.

Lent is more than a season of self-denial; it is a wake up call from our day-to-day lives to the life we have in Christ. Lent breaks us from the every day pattern and refocuses us on Christ and His sacrifice. Our hope is that the reader will break you from your patterns and draw you into a journey with Christ. Dig deep into these scriptures. Be actively present in the practices of worship, confession, meditation, fasting, and journaling.

Seek to know Christ and the power of His sacrifice.