We Offer Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies

The season of Lent is under way.   Our worship shifts to the Penitential Order during which we begin by recalling God’s mercy, saying or singing the Ten Commandments [Decalogue], and confessing our sins together.   Lent is a time of self-examination when we look at ourselves in the entirety of our emotions and actions, even the parts we prefer not to acknowledge.   

For the first three weeks of Lent we shall use Eucharistic Prayer 1, a Rite 1 option for Holy Communion.   Rite 1 does more than include “thee’s” and “thy’s” and “eths,” as in “Bless the Lord who forgiveth all our sins.”   It is more than comforting language for those who grew up with it, though admittedly that may be a key reason the Worship Team loves Rite 1. The music is great, too.  Rite 1 provides a perspective on our lives with God. 

For the next three Sundays if participating in a Rite 1 service, I invite us all to listen for a few sentences in the Eucharistic Prayer itself. 

— “And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee;”

At Holy Communion we bring our entire selves and offer our entire selves to God.  The path to Life is giving our lives to God, letting go, releasing any bit we may want to hold on to.  This offering brings perfect freedom and peace as worry for self vanishes.  Rarely does this happen all at once, but coming forward with the intention of this offering week-to-week, we draw closer to Christ.

— “And we humbly beseech [ask earnestly] thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in;”

What a beautiful prayer after Holy Communion.  We have offered up our selves, we have been nourished and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and now we return to the world to undertake what God has in mind for each of us unique beings.  We each have good works God has prepared for us to walk in.  Walking on the journey toward fullest Life, God provides opportunities for service, offerings we give to one another and to creation.  

— “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Finally, there is the blessing which reinforces the peace of God we find when our hearts and minds know God’s love and walk in God’s ways.   Having offered our entire selves, asked for grace to do the service God has prepared for us, we are blessed by the peace that passeth all understanding.

May it be so. 

Creating Space for God – A Lenten Journey

Lent is a time to make room for new life.

“Lent’s great gift to us is this activation of our God-given resources, as we conduct our work within ourselves, making room for new life.” *

* Patric and Marsha Dawe, article in The Episcopal Network for Stewardship

For most of us who consider Lent it becomes a time to give something up. Giving up can be to take on a discipline that might also help us lose some extra winter weight, it could be seen as a punishment for our lack of restraint, but rarely is giving up something for Lent meant to prepare us for the work God has given us to do.  

This Lenten season I invite us all to enter a time of making space for God to enter more deeply into our hearts and lives.  I invite us to draw closer to God and discover the strength and love of God within us and in the world around us.  

“The soul thrives on slowness, spaciousness, and stillness,” write Christine Paintner in The Wisdom of the Body.

First this Lent, let us consider spaciousness.   As a first step to creating space for our soul and God to live closely together, we begin the process of unveiling unveil ourselves to God and to ourselves.  How many of us have parts of ourselves we would rather not acknowledge and perhaps wish we had given up for Lent?  [note: twice I gave up yelling at my children for Lent and noticed positive if not fully lasting change.]

During the coming six weeks, may we try spending time welcoming all the parts of ourselves to full view.   One good method is the Welcoming Prayer developed by Mary Mrozowski.

  1. Focus on one’s body.  Note aches, pains, both physical and emotional.  Let these sink in and breath.  Simply accept them.
  2. Intentionally invite feelings such as sorrow or anger without any resistance to the emotion.  Often we want to push these away from us. 
  3. Let go perhaps saying, “I offer up my [anger, sorrow] and give it to God. 

Another option for making space is literally to clear out clothing and other items from our homes.   Starting this Sunday we will have black trash bags available.  Please take one after worship and consider placing an item of clothing or no longer needed household item in the bag.  Bring it in for our Clothing Closet or Rummage Sale (sale dates April 5-7).   

This Lent may we make space to allow God to enter more deeply into our hearts, our homes and our lives and be strengthened to love and serve God, opening ourselves and drawing closer to the heart of Jesus Christ