Category Archives: Faith

We Don’t Need Words

worship

He turns his face toward the sun, relishing the heat. He dances in the rain with squeals of excitement. He lays facedown on the rocks, feeling the texture beneath his cheeks. He savours life. He doesn’t need words.

She belts out her very own version of the song. She sings a loud monotone, “YAAAAAAAAAH YAAAAAAYAAAAAYAAAAH!” She shimmies and boogies and wiggles her bum. She makes a joyful noise in church. She doesn’t need words.

She zooms in on details I walk by without thought. She fills up the memory card with hundreds of pictures. She notices the delicate curve of an icicle and the ray of sun on a spider web. She sees art and beauty through her lens. She doesn’t need words.

She feels the melody in her bones. She lets it flow out of her in extensions and jumps and studied movements with french names. She puts music into action. She captures emotions and meaning and spirit through dance. She doesn’t need words.

He chews on complex ideas for years. He contemplates and reads and researches and contemplates some more. He explores theological movements and concepts and arguments in his own mind. He focuses his intellect on understanding. He doesn’t need words.

I watch each of them and am amazed. I roll words and phrases and snippets of insight around in my head. I pull them out and arrange them carefully until something coherent emerges. I tell the stories. And I see You in them. And in me.

I don’t need words to worship, but it doesn’t hurt.

So here’s my Five Minute Friday contribution – WORSHIP.

5minutefridayFeel free to join this “flash mob” writing group here:

http://www.incourage.me/2013/08/a-five-minute-friday-free-write-on-the-word-worship.html

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Would You Like Cheese With That?

Yes. Yes I would.

cheeseI’ve always been cheesy kind of gal. And I’m not just talking about hamburgers and pizza.

I savour the warm, gooey embrace of a predictable chick flick, a sappy romance novel and an estrogen-fueled women’s gathering. I’m a fan of baby showers, wedding parties and craft circles. My favourite, however, is a time-honoured church tradition: The Ladies Retreat. With youth group and summer camp in my rear view mirror, this is where I go for a regular dose of silly fun.

A lot has been written online about this phenomenon, and women’s ministry in general, over the past few years. One of the bloggers I love most wrote a piece this past weekend, while I just HAPPENED to be at our church’s bi-annual Ladies Retreat. Her account was funny, honest and mostly positive, in a surprised and begrudging way. Many I’ve read are not nearly so gracious.

I get it. I do. They’ve had bad experiences. I have too. There are judgmental cows. There are sugary sweet phonies. There are women who live to make everyone miserable in the name of God.

As someone who used to organize these events, I have heard every complaint in the book. It’s impossible to please everyone… The die-hard athletes and the girlie crafters. The all-night-gigglers and the crack-of-dawn-whistlers. The girls-who-just-wanna-have-fun and the women-with-deep-thoughts-to-share. The single-and-loving-it-professionals and the babies-are-my-life-wives. Then there’s the food and the location, the uncomfortable beds and finding a speaker who is just the right mix of fun and profound.

There’s a lot that can go wrong. It’s not for everyone. My husband would rather cut off his own thumbs than attend a men’s retreat. It ranks right up there with third degree burns and eating peanut butter for him. Knowing him as I do, this is the right call. Ladies Retreat might not be for you.

But it is for me.

Every time I read the mocking posts or hear the complaints I shrink a little inside. Suddenly I’m back in Jr High and the cool kids are snickering at me. They’re too grown up to play. I wonder if it is childish and wrong.

I wonder if I am.

I’m that dork in the front row, with tears streaming down my face as the speaker shares an emotional anecdote. I’m the belly laugh during the “share an embarrassing story” activity. I’m front of the line for silly games. I’m the introvert who is comforted by schedules and ice-breaker games and name tags. I’m the lady rushing around doing Very Important Work, so I don’t have to mingle so much, but still be part of the group all the same. I’m the one taking a nap and solitary walks during free time, because this is such a luxury. I hear God in the nature and the songs and the words of the women around me.

It’s not perfect and I barely sleep and I always have a few awkward, this-isn’t-working-for-me moments. But I push through, because there’s more good stuff than bad.

I LOVE Ladies Retreat!

So to all those people rolling their eyes and folding their arms: We get it. You’re too cynical and insecure cool for this stuff. That’s your perogative.

With a critical streak a mile wide myself, not to mention a cynical husband, it’s something I understand. There may even be some truth in it. You don’t have to come to the parade, but please, try not to rain on the rest of us.

When I look at the women I admire most, they aren’t the ones on the sidelines. Last weekend I sat beside 80-something year old Gladys. She was gearing up for the Sun Run race the next day. “I take a lot of rests, mind you, dear.” She wore a grass skirt to the tropical dinner and was front and centre, neon pool noodle in hand, for the ball relay. She knows how to laugh at herself and she’s game for anything. I want to be like her when I grow up.

I’m not in Jr. High anymore. I’m learning to embrace my enthusiastically dorky side. It’s not for everyone. But I’m glad I’m me.

I’ll take EXTRA cheese, please!

So here’s me, after a totally awesome Ladies Retreat. Carolyn Arends (one of my FAVOURITE authors) was our funny and insightful speaker – and she remembered me!!! – but I was totally cool about it (sort of). It feeds my soul – the beautiful decorations, the goofy games, the Indian Head Massage (developing a slight girl-crush on Lisa), the worship time, the hanging out with friends, the path by a waterfall, and most of all, no one needing anything from me for a day and a half!

NOTE: My friend Jessica attended this retreat with me. It’s not really her thing, but she’s a good sport like that. She has plenty of good reasons to stay on the sidelines, but she doesn’t, and I respect that a lot. Her post Be Kind to the Cynics is the slap upside the head I needed, a reminder to be more patient and understanding. It had me doing some soul searching today. Not always comfortable and rarely fun, but definitely good for the soul.

I thought about ignoring it. I thought about deleting this post or parts of it. I thought about rewriting. I  thought about chocolate (cause that always helps). In the end, I decided to add this link and hope you will read it too!

cynics


The Writing on my Arm

Once upon a time, before the advent of the smart phone (gasp of shock and horror… yes kids, there was life before the iPhone), busy women, like myself, were forced to rely on their own over-burdened memory to get things done. Appointments. Phone numbers. Grocery lists.

It was all too much for this daydream-y, flustered brain to recall. Writing myself a note was only half the battle. Far too often I would proceed to misplace the paper, along with the ever-so-crucial piece of information I needed to remember. So discouraging when the worn shredded scrap was found at the bottom of a purse or pocket or diaper bag days after it was needed.

I learned to write my important notes somewhere impossible to lose: my own arm.

At the peak of busyness, my skin was a criss-cross of inky blue impressions. The tribal markings of a suburban soccer mom. Appointments. Phone numbers. Grocery lists.

I don’t write on my arm anymore.

Until this weekend.

I decided to revive my old tradition – with a twist. This important reminder is permanently inked on my left wrist… where I will see it frequently… so I will never forget.

tattoo

B’Tzelem Elohim

in Hebrew

Meaning:

Made in the Image of God

Because I forget this about myself all the time.

About my family and friends.

About the people I meet everyday.

The ones who I barely notice. The ones who cut me off in traffic. The ones who inspire me. The ones who irritate me. The ones we write songs and speeches and made-for-tv movies about. The ones in prison and rehab and reality tv. The ones who are just like me. The ones who live a world away.

Every single person is one of us. There is no them. We all have something in us that resembles the One who made us.

If I remember this… If I look for it… If I call it forward… in myself and in others. Maybe then, I will love and live the way I’m meant to.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature

 So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle,

And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

God created human beings; he created them godlike,

Reflecting God’s nature.

Genesis 1:26-27 (MSG)

So here’s me, and to preemptively answer the most frequent question about getting a tattoo: YES, it hurts, a lot. But it’s worth it to me.


Why Lent is a Good Idea for Everyone

lentIt was the pancakes. That’s what caught my attention. Shrove Tuesday – a sacred day of pancake eating. How awesome is that?

There wasn’t much talk of liturgical calanders in my Evangelical upbringing. Just cautionary tales and the whispered suggestion that they might, POSSIBLY be Real Christians, but just barely. Poor, meaningless automotans with their empty rituals. And then there’s the Catholics. A superstitious bunch, I was taught, barely discernable from the heathens; who prayed to statues, and for some reason, like to eat fish on Friday.

We weren’t very comfortable with anyone who wasn’t Us. Like the Pentecostals. And the United Church. And the Mormons. And the Agnostics. And the very scariest creatures of all: the Atheists (word is, they have an “Agenda” and we should watch out for that).

My world didn’t stay that small. Most Evangelical circles have opened up somewhat in the past decade (or two… or okay fine… three) since I was a child. The popular Mitford book series opened up the strange world of Episcopalians to many. These days, it’s not unusual to hear a discussion on Lectio Divina in a Baptist bible study. Or a more casual Stations of the Cross set up in the local community church.

As I got to know (and love and be related to) actual people who followed liturgical tradition, I began to see the unique beauty of it (and not just the pancakes). It may not be the style of worship I’m used to, but it is deeply meaningful and steeped in history. Ancient traditions so much more powerful that the latest born-again fad at the local Blessings bookstore. Maybe WE are the ones who have been missing out.

Which brings me back to the pancakes. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent. When you get your house in order both figuratively with confession and literally (by using up rich foods like sugar, dairy and eggs) before a period of fasting or plain eating. Enter: hallowed consumption of pancakes.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. These 40 days (not counting Sundays) are a time for the faithful to prepare themselves for the celebration of Easter Sunday. It is a period of fasting or self denial, prayer, contemplation, examining oneself, and starting over.

For most of us from an Evangelical tradition, or no tradition at all, it is known as: Another-Wednesday-Just-Like-Any-Other. But who’s to say we can’t make it more? Lent is a good idea for EVERYONE and here’s why:

Be part of history.

Hundreds of years ago there was a tired, middle-aged (though still hip and young-at-heart) Mom just like me, who set apart these six weeks to live simply and refocus spiritually. That I might walk alongside her and the women who came before her and women who came after and the women who will come after me is something amazing. The Church (big C) is more than the congregation of my home church or other people in my country who may check the “Christian” box of a questionnaire; it is a family of faith that encircles the globe and stretches back throughout history. When we worship through Lent, we worship together.

We have so much.

More than any people who have ever lived. More than any who celebrated Lent before us. We are a culture and a generation of so much. So much to do. So much to see. So much to know. So much to eat. So much to distract and burden and overwhelm. We need Lent more than ever.

It’s a prelude to the feast.

Lent is not about asceticism (a harsh mentality where deprivation is the ultimate spiritual virtue). It’s preperation for the ultimate celebration. For those of us who worship Jesus, Easter is more than another stat holiday. It’s more than chocolate eggs and pretty dresses and church choirs. But if we don’t put the time and effort into preparing ourselves, even an inspiring sermon and touching music will not soak soul deep.

Lent is a good idea for everyone. The Evangelicals, and the Catholics, and the Pentecostals… and the Agnostics, and even the Athiests. We could ALL use a Spiritual Detox.

Make Lent your own this year.

So here’s me, fasting every night from 7 pm until 7 am (which doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but for me it really is).

lentbookLent Resources:

This year I’ll be reading through Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen

Lent and Dying to Yourself (video with Diana Butler Bass)

Why Evangelicals Need Lent by Tim Suttle

Get Lent by Andrew Santella


V-Day Project: Looking for 9 Good Humans

waterI was 16 when I ordered my first drink in a restaurant. Not a boozie drink. Just a pop (that’s a soda for you ‘mericans).

We didn’t go out to eat very often when I was growing up. My mom put food on the table almost every night, not only for us, but also for a rotating cast of “extras” in our open-door, hospitality-to-all home. Paying someone else to make our food did not fit into the frugalness-is-next-to-godliness family doctrine. Except, of course, for the occasional outing to DQ, since ice cream supercedes dogma.

When we did find ourselves seated around the table of a moderately priced family restaurant, usually pizza or breakfast food on the menu, we followed Standard Operating Procedure. Consult the coupon/weekly special/children’s menu for the BEST DEAL (yes, the BEST DEAL must always be capitalized; it is Important). Order water all around. And extra plates, because who would order a whole plate when you can share? Whatever you don’t eat, Dad will eat, including garnish. Wasting food was a terrible sin in our family; wasting Food We Paid Good Money For was UNTHINKABLE! On the way out, dessert for everyone: a chalky mint from the communal bowl by the door.

It was still a treat! As much as I like to tease my Dad about his miserly ways, he taught us that we can do without, and barely even notice. And so can you.

This Valentine’s Day, SheLoves Magazine is raising money to build a well in Burundi for the Batwa tribe. These people live at a level of poverty which we can barely contemplate. Most eat only once every three days.

Suddenly my frugal dining history is looking pretty decadant.

Which got me thinking… the next time I go to a restaurant, I will order water. I drink water, so that somewhere on the other side of the world another tired, frazzled Mom can do the same. And the few dollars I save, I give. A few dollars that don’t really mean that much to me, but to the town of Bubanza they mean clean water and a bright future.

This Valentine’s Day I’m donating $10 to build a well. I’m asking 9 of you to join me.

That’s it. Just $10.

sheloveswell-widget2Check it out:

O, That We May Love Well

Altogether, we are asking 100 SheLoves friends—yes, you, Beautiful one—to form a giving circle with your friends. When 100 of us say yes to gathering, we become multiplied by 10, each person giving $10, we reach our goal of $10,000.

100 SheLoves friends

x 10

x $10

= $10,000.

There’s a lot that needs doing in the world. And it’s overwhelming. And exhausting.

But this is very doable.

Please read up on the project and donate here.

And let me know.

1. Christie

2. Alison

3. Viva

4. Marjolaine

5. Walker

6. Marc

7. Thérèse

8. Eric

9. Shelby

So here’s me, $10 poorer, but richer in the long run.

February 15th Update:

“We did it! The SheLoves Well is currently at $11,025. YES, there will officially be a SheLoves Well in Bubanza and our friends will drink from this Well of Love and friendship and global community.

Thank you so much to *everyone* who gathered in Circles of Grace and gave from your hearts this past week. Happy WELLentine’s Day, from the bottom of our collective hearts.”

sarahbessey.com


The Answer

It is the best, and sometimes hardest, answer to give.

As a parent. As a person of faith. As a person of science. As a human being.

Sure, there are those who use it as a cop-out. Shrugging their shoulders as they go with the flow. They hand it out liberally: a get-out-of-responsibility-free card, an excuse to stay on the sidelines, a reason to stay in lock-step with the group. Might as well leave the thinking to someone else.

But for those who honestly struggle. Those who want to know. Those who are willing to change. Those who will be inconvenienced by truth.

For those who teach. Those who inspire and motivate. Those who take responsibility to lead.

For those…

It is brave. It is sincere. It is humbling.

Sometimes it is the place where certainty and faith intersect.

Sometimes it is where Mom becomes a mere mortal.

Sometimes it is the only right answer.

Because life is full of mystery. And the Universe is infinite. And God is bigger than our minds can comprehend. And we are only human after all.

There are times when the only answer we can give is:

I don’t know.

So here’s me, grappling with questions about afterlife and how to deal with after school tantrums and whether my 12-year-old is mature enough to read Hunger Games.


Hellbound?

There of some us out here for whom “Hell” is more than just a plot point in the latest episode of Supernatural. More than a video game catchphrase: “Burn in hell, suckers!” More than a slightly-less-sinful curse word.

Whether you were raised with it or jumped in later in life, the Christian concept of hell is by turns horrific, disconcerting and yet, to some, comforting.

“The Bible is clear.” It’s something I heard all my life. From the pulpit. From Sunday School teachers. From my own parents. It’s a sentence I’ve thrown around myself in years past.

And there are topics which the bible is clear and straightforward on.

Hell is not one of them.

Today I did something different. I paid full price to see a documentary in a movie theater. I bypassed Bruce Willis’ journey back in time to kill his younger self. I forsook serious Ben Affleck. I didn’t even give the quirky teen drama a second thought.

Hellbound? explores the surprisingly vast spectrum of beliefs within Christianity about Hell. Writer and Director Kevin Miller interviews pastors, authors, scholars and even death metal musicians as he navigates us through the issues. From uber-conservative Mark Driscoll to emergent thinker Brian McClaren, from those with absolute certainty to those “living in the mystery”, everyone contributes a verse.

There are three classic positions on hell: those who believe it is a literal place of eternal conscious torment, those who believe it is simply the end of a soul’s existence (annihilationism) and those who believe that is either a temporary or metaphorical condition from which all people will ultimately be redeemed (universalism). What many do not realize is that there is scriptural and historical support for all three sides of the debate. The answers are not simple.

There is something to offend everyone in this film, whether it is a death metal rocker positing that religion is simply a money-making business, or the hateful vitriol of the Westboro Baptist church member who insists that God hates almost everyone. My favourite part is when this 50-year-old woman refers to the interviewer as a pussy. Very godly.

This is not a cheesy church-umentary to be played in church basements and used for neighbourhood outreach. It is a fascinating look at a complex and contentious issue.

The release of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” rocked the evangelical community last year. There are many who believe we are better off NOT to broach the discussion at all. But these are the questions people are asking. And I have to agree with Gregory Boyd who said “the truth shouldn’t have anything to fear.”

So here’s me, not a bible scholar, or pastor, or theologian; just a regular Jo. And this movie was made for us too. Choose it – Bruce Willis will be killing someone else next month.


The Myth of Us and Them

I watched a documentary about the Amish last night. It reminded me of drives to St. Jacob’s for the farmer’s market and Amish bakery. Sour Northern Spy apples. Giant sugar cookie pigs. Sweet buns and fresh bread. The quaint characters we craned our necks to see as we zipped past in modern convenience. But most of all, it reminded me of me.

The program explored this strange subculture, both good and bad. The ones who left. The ones who stayed. Neither ones the villains. Both the victims, in their own way.

The customs. The secrets. The lines drawn in the sand. Tradition. Conviction. Fear.

And it all sounded so familiar. Not only from family stories of our strict Brethren sect, but from my life here and now. Because we draw lines in the sand too. In different places, but they are still there.

This is something I wrote a few months ago. It is a little different. I usually keep the rambly “poetic” pieces securely hidden in journal pages, but I’m running low on time and energy, and feeling a bit brave today.

How do we separate “us” and “them”?

We try to wrap our skinny arms around it, digging in our nails, gritting our teeth. So we can throw it down and beat it into submission.

We’re the church, we’re big on submission. Not the doing, but the saying.

White knuckled and wide-eyed. You can almost smell the fear. In whispered rumors and wild innuendo… cause that sort of thing is contagious, you know? We have to keep that shit, excuse me, sin out. We cannot let them win.

So we create our own. Our own music. Our own slang. Even our own breath mints.

But we are them.

And they are us.

No matter what brand of candy we chew.

Culture was never the problem. Creating a new one won’t save us. Bullying “them” pleasantly, with our kind intentions, until “we”, happily deluded, feel safe.

But we are them.

And we are as full of shit as anyone.

And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else.

Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God.

What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.

Romans 3: 20 (MSG)

So here’s me, and yes, I used the word “shit.” If that’s all you can think about, then you probably missed the point anyway.

And I’m not kidding about the breath mints. “Testa-mints” – has anyone tried them? They’re like Certs, with a righteous after taste.


The Voices in My Head

My very first mentor was my Dad’s little sister, my “Auntie Omi”. She was there the day I was born. I was there the day she died.

She stepped in when I was only a zygote and wrote herself into my story. When my Dad was sent out-of-town on business, she stayed. She was the one who drove my Mom to the hospital. She was there when I was born. I could always count on her.

She was my unofficial tour guide to life. Whether it was letting me watch Grizzly Adams and Dukes of Hazzard when my parents didn’t have TV, or taking me to visit her office, she opened up a whole new world to me. She taught me my first joke and then listened patiently while I told it to her 5 million times over the next year. It was only slightly more sophisticated than the chicken crossing the road. It goes something like this:

Why did the fireman wear red suspenders?

To keep his pants up!

ha ha ha ha ha ha…

…ahhhh, good stuff!

When I was a teenager, she did something amazing and totally crazy. She adopted a child. A single women adopting an older child from the foster care system is spelled R-A-D-I-C-A-L, no matter where you come from. But it’s an awesome brand of crazy! It’s also spelled B-R-A-V-E and C-O-M-P-A-S-S-I-O-N-A-T-E.

My aunt was flesh and blood altruism. Her journey was a lot messier, more confusing and more exhausting than she (or any of us) were prepared for. My cousin was 8 when she joined our family, and it was quite a ride for both of them. Watching my aunt learning to love her daughter did me more good than the hundreds of sermons I’ve heard in my life. She wasn’t perfect, but she was faithful and committed. She was a great mom. You could always count on her.

Even as an adult she looked out for me. When we moved halfway across the country, she started sending our family care packages of totally random things she had found in thrift stores or antique markets: a set of tea towels, a weird night-light, blank video tapes, socks, a ceramic bird… Just between you, me, and the entire internet, I didn’t need any of this stuff. Sometimes I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it. But I loved those weird packages just the same. It was her way of looking out for us. I knew she was thinking about me.

She gave the toast to the bride at my wedding, and I gave the toast to the bride at hers. I dressed all three of my daughters in fluffy blue dresses so they could precede her down the aisle. At a young fifty-something years old, she had finally met the love of her life.

It’s a beautiful story, plus now I can honestly say that “Bob’s my uncle”, which is just as funny years later as when I first said it (obviously my sense of humor hasn’t matured much since the fireman’s suspenders). My girls referred to them as “the bride and her prince”. They were so happy together and it breaks my heart that their time together was so short. Life, and especially death, just isn’t fair!

As I wrote the eulogy for her funeral 2 years ago, I realized that I had, more often than not, written it in the present tense. My aunt is brave, she has a great sense of humour… As I went back to change everything into the past tense it occurred to me – she still is. She still is all those things and more. Like her, I trust the promise that heaven is a place where weaknesses fall away and we fully become our true selves.

I’m not exactly sure what the afterlife will be like; none of us know, really. But I do know that my Aunt loved God faithfully all her life. The bible talks about us having a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11), and I can’t imagine anyone better suited to watch over us, pray for us and cheer us on. She was always taking care of us. It’s what she did best, and we miss her terribly.

My memories of my aunt may grow hazy as the years go by, but I will never forget who she was. I know I am a better person for all her support and her example. Her death was a terrible blow. But I did not lose her, not really. She is one of the voices in my head. Because our best mentors never leave us.

So here’s me, knowing someday I will be the voice in someone else’s head. I hope I have a Scottish accent.

Who are the voices in your head? What kind of things do they whisper to you?


Good Friday Favourites

Today is the most somber holiday in the Christian calendar. So my usual sarcastic, irreverent Friday post doesn’t seem like the thing to do.

If you are not familiar with the story, here it is in a nutshell.

God creates humanity. Humanity rejects God. God reaches out to humanity over and over and over again. Humanity rejects God over and over and over again. It’s kind of our thing.

God becomes human (Jesus, God the Son, is born. Merry Christmas). Jesus reaches out to humanity. Humanity rejects him. In fact, humanity strips him naked, beats him up, and kills him.

This is the part where you almost expect the giant Hand of God (a la Monty Python) to reach down and smite us all, smite us good. Instead, God the Father lets his Son die, because that was the plan all along. He was the ultimate sacrifice – the blood ransom to free us from a prison of our own making.

The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin

so that he’d see life come from it

– life, life, and more life.

Isaiah 53:10

Whatever you believe about Jesus or Christianity, this day is for all humanity. Yes, it is serious, but worth celebrating. So, here are some of my Good Friday Favourites.

Quote

This Word played life against death and death against life in tournament on the wood of the most holy cross, so that by his death he destroyed our death, and to give us life he spent his own bodily life. With love, then, he has so drawn us and with his kindness so conquered our malice that every heart should be won over.  Catherine of Siena

Blog

My friend Marc makes an important, spiritually powerful point. “Pontius Pilate is a pylon.” And how! Here is a post about the guy who just stood there and let it all happen: Pilatitus. Definitely worth a read, because sometimes we’re just like him.

Also, Laura Ziesal wrote a post that has stuck with me this week. “We serve a God who is not far from our pain.” Though Good Friday is not the main topic, My Least Favourite Day of the Year speaks to it in a powerful way, especially for anyone who has lost a child.

Liturgical Tradition

Don’t tell my Anabaptist ancestors, but occasionally I have a hankering for liturgy and the rituals of High Church. Yep, I’m pretty sure my Grandpa is spinning in his grave right now.

There is a richness and ancient meaning behind centuries old traditions. If I were going to pick one which appeals to me most, it would be Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross. Whether it is a series of art displayed throughout a cathedral, an interactive physical experience or simply a devotional guide, each of the stations depicts a different part of the Good Friday story. Usually there are thoughts and prayers to meditate on at each station. Remembering is not something that just happens, it is something we do on purpose.

Pray through the Stations of the Cross online.

Video

It seems kind of douche-y to have a “favourite” part of Good Friday, since it’s all very grim and painful. But the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane is what I am finding most meaningful lately. It hits me every time… Jesus did not eagerly skip to the cross with a serene smile on his face and a cheesy hymn on his lips . He struggled, he cried, he felt the bitterness of grief, and he begged for reprieve. Kind of encouraging for those of us who do not always find God’s will easy to stomach. It also makes his ultimate choice that much more meaningful.

Mel Gibson may be an enormous schmuck, but he did a great job dramatizing spiritual agony (not exactly the most visual concept) in Passion of the Christ.

So here’s me, forgiven, because He was forsaken. Take that creepy snake-satan!


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