Lent with Fulcrum

Please us this thread to post reflections, prayers, poems as we journey through Lent together

18 thoughts on “Lent with Fulcrum”

  1. when the obvious, is not so obvious.
    In confusion I went through lent.
    I knew it was happening,
    but I did not know
    where the routine went.
    they changed the order,
    and the date.
    I had not got a clue
    so I was late.
    I what year is the lectionary in
    Is it A , B or C?
    they keep on reading ,
    just looking at me.
    so when is the first Sunday and why?
    I just thought, Go to church
    You can learn about Jesus,
    It does not matter why.
    They didn’t tell me ,
    I had to remember all these dates,
    No wonder I am always late.
    Anyway having established
    all kinds of things
    and extras too
    Now it means I can share it with you
    I will lose my keys and my phone
    but I never forget the route
    that Jesus has shown
    I forget the dates
    and I am sometimes late
    but I never forget to remember the day
    I need to answer the question
    what did Jesus say?
    From the world of memory loss
    and confusion,
    mixed up theories
    and endless queries.
    I learn something New everyday
    and I can share it
    in my own way.
    Quite by accident I often find,
    Of biblical time
    Jesus was Baptized on January 6th
    Spain celebrates the 3 Kings on that day
    They celebrated Jesus on Heaven and Earth
    In Jesus Spiritual Re-birth
    We often debate
    time and dates
    we also forget
    Jesus Invite
    and we are late,
    We often forget to share
    To remind people
    Jesus is there.
    Every day.

  2. Is it possible to be a Christian and live an Hedonistic lifestyle? Following through one of the links which bowman posted, I came across John Piper. My first though as usual was I don’t actually know this name in Theology so after finding him and researching him , that led me intriguingly to Christians and the Hedonistic lifestyle. First I had to be clear of what that actually was, so being clear on that now , I ask the question how is it possible to be a Christian and live an hedonistic lifestyle ? Can sacrifice and the indulgence of personal human pleasure really be altruistic? My way of thinking tells me that there is a difference between seeking personal pleasure as the ultimate and first aim to gaining pleasure from seeking pleasure for others as a by-product. . Is Praise sacrificial praise if the ultimate aim is for pleasure. Is there a difference between going to god as a sinner and experiencing forgiveness through repentance and therefore receiving Peace and worshipping in order to feel happy in the moment?. It seems crucial to me that the distinction is clear .

    I have a good reason for saying that, and that is that building faith on emotion is not a good place to be , where as if faith is built on the inspiration of the word it carries you through the darkest moments. I do not see it as a choice ie Christianity or pleasure, but I do see it as a challenge of balance. That balance has to be achieved inside and outside of the church walls and also in our spiritual lives and our actions. we can do nice things with a begrudging spirit which rather defeats the object really. But it all seems to spring from this word Hedonistic. At the same time we don’t want to be miserable in worship either, sometimes churches stir up so many emotions it becomes a thoroughly miserable experience so the sacrifice of fellowship is worth it just so as not to feel miserable all the time. So we get to the one persons pleasure is another persons nightmare.

    The only way of neutralising that is to be a traveller visiting many churches and catching the sermon as a consequence of a visit without “want it all” is it hedonistic to want a fellowship, a church ,to be valued to feel happy and safe and to be a Christian. I guess if you want it and you get it by hurting others it is( but that would not be possible once your conscience was tweaked) , but otherwise I don’t think so.

  3. Providentially, the imperfections in a process can become the way that it works in the end.

    In this diocese, a new bishop must be elected by a majority in each ‘house.’ Seven candidates having been qualified for nomination and properly vetted, the electors gathered in the cathedral and the balloting began, After a few ballots, the candidate receiving the smallest number of votes on each successive ballot was eliminated to narrow the field. Despite a few such eliminations, the votes remained evenly distributed, so that no candidate had clear momentum.

    Then it was noticed that the reported totals of all lay votes for each ballot had exceeded the number of lay electors. A recess was ordered, so that the cause of the counting error could be discovered. When that mystery was solved, it was clear that the balloting had to begin again from the beginning with all seven candidates.

    The electors were summoned from recess to resume voting on all seven candidates. In the meantime, however, the ice had thawed, so that on the next ballot a frontrunner emerged, who shortly thereafter received the required clerical and lay majorities. Interestingly, he was the only outsider on the ballot, and the least liberal in a quite liberal field.

    The bishop-elect’s dossier will be forwarded to the bishops and standing committees of the other dioceses for approval. Three quarters of them must consent to his consecration.

  4. http://www.lentmadness.org/bracket/

    Today, a choice of two real saints who transcended their times– Phillips Brooks, Catherine of Siena.

    What I love about both of them: their inner convictions of God’s reality so directly shaped their dealings with others that their gifts became contagious, enabling them to move their wider worlds in ways otherwise impossible.

    What I enjoy about the choice is the contrast of piety and scale. Phillips Brooks’s encounters with the God who spoke to him in scripture grounded the assurance of God’s love that made him a ‘little christ’ (Luther’s phrase) in a definite place– his parish in Boston’s Back Bay, his diocese of Massachusetts,* and their wider connections. His sermons leave no doubt of his love for the voice that he heard in the Word. In him as in other pastor-saints, we see the intensive cultivation of a small garden.

    St Catherine’s capacity for framing her life as participation in Christ is what drives all the rest– her refusal of marriage, her vocation as a lay associate of the Dominicans, her theologically rich visions, her counsel to others, her interventions in papal politics. She was an authentic ascetic cultivating an interior life, though not shy about wielding the power that this could bring in the middle ages.

    There is nothing wrong with susceptibility to either contagion.


    * Prayer request– The Diocese of Massachusetts is electing a successor to Phillips Brooks, a new diocesan bishop, this Saturday.

  5. An overview of the song of songs is that it is a very small contribution to the bible as a whole. Although it is as much inspired as the rest of the bible the allegories make it more difficult to define. It is certainly a celebration of Human Love rather than Spiritual love though a person needs to have a good spirit to be able to love in a healthy way. The 3 main players in the book are the Lover the beloved and the friends. There are one or two disturbing aspects to this book not least that women are advised to follow a track to the tents of men, it put me in mind of the Bedouin villages on the road to and within mount Sinai. We know that these are closed communities, and we see the friends on the outside of this relationship actually trafficking his sister. This being accepted practice at the time. The friends appear to voyeuristically watch over the couple who are starting out on a relationship. This of course fits in with the Bedouin way of life even today in some parts of the Sinai community. In the earlier days children would be betrothed and then they were sold, each couple would only get one half hour meeting before they were then married apparently it was all done over a cup of tea and if the proposed wife did not drink the tea after she had met the suitor that was the sign that she would not marry him . that end it was the only choice that the bride had. Fact and Fiction in the form of a dream/nightmare blurr the edges. but the friends in attendance are the chaperones as they are not allowed to be alone until they are actually married, so actually a lot of this book is based on imagination of the writer because the couple would not have been together long enough to be saying such things.
    In the context of the current situation in the C/E and other churches in relation to same sex unions
    there is at this point no reference to it. The song of Songs is a celebration of the human form and the sharing of it, but it is not for the promotion of say promiscuity rather for the promotion of beauty and creationism.

  6. Bowman

    The wisdom writings make sense to me, it also makes sense to me that different human qualities might be attributed to different human beings. However I don’t think that those qualities are Gender Specific . I think they are individual and person specific , we are indeed made in the image of God who had both qualities, the outer expression of God on earth was that of a Male and the inner expression of Christ on earth was that of LOVE which is an attribute of both male and female, in both form and spirit.

    I really don’t think it is helpful to concentrate our thoughts on Male and Female rather it is Wise to concentrate on the spiritual qualities we posses. Transformation is Union with Christ so to me that suggest we step out of ourselves and take all obstructions out of the way , and see the world through Christ eyes, which was to make judgements in love.

    • Angela, I am pleasantly surprised by how much we agree on all this, and look forward to reading the Song of Songs with you, Roger, et al even more than before.

      “However I don’t think that those qualities are Gender Specific.”

      “I really don’t think it is helpful to concentrate our thoughts on Male and Female.”

      Concerning the two lines above, I tender only the qualification that it is not inconceivable that some biblical authors may have cast their best thinking about virtue in terms of gender. Where that is the case, we have to play along to get to their basic sense.

      In this instance, St Mark does portray Jesus’s male disciples as less courageous than the women who watched his crucifixion and burial “from a distance,” so it is not unthinkable that he was reflecting on gender in other ways as well. Marie Noonan Sabin thinks that St Mark’s portrait of Jesus has emphasised qualities usually classed as feminine when they are grouped together. Maybe…

  7. Thankyou Bowman for the link

    I did like the way in which Curtis Alquist wrote this, but this is the bit which I have always found most difficult

    “You will be changed by love, and in the most wondrous, sometimes ecstatic ways. And you will be changed by love in the most devastating ways, suffering with someone whom you love, and suffering because of someone whom you love. ”

    It was not part of Gods creative plan , that we should suffer with or because of anyone, yet we do. All of us suffer in someway for Loving someone else. It is a juxtaposition that confuses the best of us.

    It is the bit where “spirit” and “emotion” separate. It is the bit where human control and Gods control separate. I struggle to explain clearly in a way that can be interpreted correctly the point I am making. one way of putting it is that “we can do things in Gods strength that we cannot do in our own” That would be when God is the “reason we endure” in the “hope” The hope is fulfilled when spirit and emotion sit comfortably alongside one another.

    Sitting with God Be still and Know.

    “There is a Peace in Understanding that we cannot get in any other way. Yet Rowan Williams for instance might argue that we can never fully understand. I recall him writing that somewhere. I think it was on the C/E site when promoting the King James Bible.

    I hate with a passion the thought of anyone suffering because of me, I am not particularly fond of suffering myself .I certainly find it extremely uncomfortable to equate suffering with love. Yet I have read the suffering servant (don’t ask me to recall because I cant remember) but I have read it. I have read a lot of what might be described as Monastic writings I have also of course read many Healing books and Inspirational books and Contemplative books. As well Is the informative ones. We follow the journey through the year and we emphasize it through lent, it rather reminds me of my stepson who for a while repetitively watched the Titanic and we used to say to him “it sinks everytime Matthew”.

    Every time we get to Lent it always ends with the Ascension yet it is always just the beginning of the Journey of the Unifying of Spirit and emotion.

    • “I struggle to explain clearly in a way that can be interpreted correctly the point I am making.”

      Angela, we discussed this sermon over soup (actually, New England clam chowder, and New Mexico vegetarian chile, with five grain bread and butter) in the undercroft, and everyone commented on the extraordinary difficulty of talking about love once we get past the cliches. It reminded me of a study of John Wesley that shows that part of his method was to encourage his followers to cultivate the capability of using language to express subtle thoughts and intuitions. Here in the village, I admire your example of persevering, painstaking emotional accuracy. Thank you for that.

      I shall read this again in a day or so.

  8. Roger, Angela, Jane:

    Does this make sense to you?–

    “In the Wisdom writings, Wisdom is personified as a woman– inclusively nurturing, attractive and elusive, ceaselessly restoring order and attentive to whatever is life-giving. Mark portrays Jesus as a person with these very qualities of being. In so doing, he also portrays him as the opposite of the typical male hero of ancient writings– who is conventionally royal, rational, and powerful… Mark not only attributes to Jesus the strong feminine aspects of Hebrew Wisdom but the very qualities that the contemporary Gentile culture ascribed pejoratively to women– irrationality; vulnerability; susceptibility to suffering and shame; lifestyle of lowly service. In short, while Mark speaks about Jesus as a historical male, he characterizes him in female terms. These dual aspects taken together present Jesus as an undivided, androgynous human being– suggestively like the first human made ‘in the image and likeness of God.”’

    So says Marie Noonan Sabin (2002) in ‘Reopening the Word: Reading Mark as Theology in the Context of Early Judaism.’ pp 162-163. In this book, Sabin, a sometime student of Ellen Davis, re-situates St Mark’s gospel among the Jewish scriptures with readings indebted to the traditions of midrash. Pages 147-148 give Sabin’s interpretation of the Hebrew text of Genesis 2.

    Lent is a time of transformation in union with Christ, and it makes sense that gender should be engaged in that transformation. The model disciples that St Mark gives us are often women (eg 15:40-41, 47). However, womanliness has not been my first impression of Jesus himself in the second gospel, and so I am testing the strength of this assertion before following it deeper into the Old Testament.

  9. In disquiet, dishevelment
    we walk through lent
    confused and disorganised
    asking where the Lord went
    we repent and we seek
    In our strength we are weak
    There is a unity of Old and New,
    We find it Jesus
    When we find you
    We do not know
    What we have found
    It is to great for us to grasp
    It transcends our thoughts ,
    Yet clarifies them
    All at the same time
    The empty space
    filled with what we need
    So vast is the empty space
    The vacuum
    Yet so full
    As the spirit finds room.
    quietly working
    Like the flowers in spring
    from Genesis to Revelation
    The Old and New
    The vacuum if filled
    With thoughts of ??

  10. Yes Bowman I have always loved poetry, whilst finding the literary skills of interpretation sometimes difficult. I like the fact that with poetry one can write from the heart and make serious issues a little more palatable

    The great thing about poetry though is that although it may be factual for the writer, it can also be factual for the reader, and yet be interpreted completely differently. The value of poetry is “its” ability to “enable” a deeper understanding of both circumstance and self and a sense of “the gaps” can say more than the words, because the “gap ” is our interpretation.

    Sometimes in theology we struggle more with the gaps than we do with the “word” because the word appears to expose the gaps.

  11. The ‘great fast’ in the weeks before Easter– a catechumen’s last preparation for her baptismal exodus from death in the old Adam to life in the new One; a logical conclusion to ancient penances that lasted as long or longer than the catechumenate itself; a season of penitence, or at least asceticism, for everyone. And today– http://www.lentmadness.org/bracket/

  12. This year, I am exploring Lent as an anticipation, not just of Easter, but of Easter-Ascension-Pentecost-Trinity. And all of this will probably precede a third summer of reading OT ‘wisdom,’ now in a way that includes some historical, prophetic, and apocalyptic texts not usually in the category.

  13. The edges are blurred Lord,
    through the haze of sacrifice;
    of bloodied tears.
    My friend is carried.
    Sacrifice sacrifice,
    what more is there to give.
    For nothing more precious ,
    than the life you gave .
    nothing more precious ,
    than to live.
    The edges are blurred ,
    for what is life in thee?.
    Rejection, Abandonment
    or anything for a fee.
    Silver and Gold earh wind and fire.
    Floods round the world
    The edges are blurred.
    In a sacrificial Haze
    For we are broken
    We cannot see your ways
    The waiting , reflecting and pondering too
    Celebration can only be for you
    Through the haze of confusion
    The calm steady spirit, leads the way
    It is so silent, so calm
    For we are broken
    we cannot see your ways
    we are quietly carried
    through the haze
    The edges are blurred
    There is no Church
    There is no Alter
    There is nowhere to kneel
    There is nothing to see
    There is no understanding
    Yet we are free
    Free to worship
    wherever .

Leave a comment