a prayerful lent — EASTER

EASTER

Sunday, April 16, 2017

PRAY  Heavenly Father, we thank you!  You are generous and loving and so powerful!  We ask that you continue to help us see our sin and to remember that you are the one to save us.  Thank you for living and dying and rising all because you love us.  Amen.

READ  John 20:1-18

SING 

1. Happy Day     

The greatest day in history – death is beaten, You have rescued me!
Sing it out: Jesus is alive!
The empty cross, the empty grave, life eternal, You have won the day.
Shout it out: Jesus is alive. He’s a – live!

Oh happy day, happy day, You washed my sin away.
Oh happy day, happy day, I’ll never be the same.
Forever I am changed.

When I stand in that place, free at last, meeting face to face,
I am Yours, Jesus, You are mine.
Endless joy, perfect peace.
Celebrate: Jesus is alive.
Earthly pain finally will cease.
He’s a – live!

Oh, what a glorious day, what a glorious way
That You have saved me

DO  Read the story of the Resurrection three times.  During the first reading, choose a color of paint that shows what you are feeling.  Paint a page that color.  During the second reading, write on your paper a word or words that God is whispering to you.  During the third reading, add more doodles with paint or pens to show more about what you are experiencing with God.

 

a prayerful lent — PALM SUNDAY and HOLY WEEK

PALM SUNDAY and HOLY WEEK

Beginning Sunday, April 9, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, you love us so much that you sent your Son Jesus to die for us – “to get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness”1 – to make all things new.  Help us to understand how you suffered for us all because you love us.  Thank you, Jesus!  We love you!  Amen.

READ

John 12:12-15

John 13:1-20, 31-35

John 18:1-11

John 18:15-18, 25-27

John 18:28-19:16

John 19:16-42

SING 

1. You Alone Can Rescue     

Who, O Lord, could save themselves
their own soul could heal
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise.

You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide You healed
for when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still.

We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes, You’re the giver of life.

DO  This is it!  The BIG WEEK where we see God’s great rescue plan in action.  As you read a bit of the story each day, listen as God whispers to you words and ideas that make your heart flutter.  Write them down.

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

Pausing to pray in lent

Week by week we have been hearing some wonderful reflections during our Lenten services. Here Eric reflects on the discipline of prayer.imgres

The older I get– the more I find myself a creature of habit. I wake up, I work, I spend time with my family, and I go to sleep. Each year passes more swiftly than the last. My body ages more quickly than my spirit matures. All too often it feels like I am on autopilot, going through my days with reaction not intention.

In the same way, the older I get– the more “past” and the more “future” I carry with me. The “past” has many names: memory, home, regret, missed, forgotten, I did, I didn’t, did I? Didn’t I?. The “future’s” names I know almost as well: wish, dream, danger, promise, anxiety, fear, should, I will, I won’t, I must, I must not, maybe. Unexpectedly, the past and the future have become my friends. I know them, I’ve nourished them, I’ve courted them. And these constant companions crowd out my present.

Each day, I am faced with choices about how to live, how to love, how to parent, how to work, how to succeed, how to fail, how to forgive, how to be forgiven. In those many moments, I am tempted to let my habits, or my perspectives of the past and the future speak for me. They whisper in my ear, “let us decide for you, we’ll take good care of you.” During those moments, I may think that I’m in my living room with my kids, or at a meeting with my boss, or unable to sleep in the dead of night…

I may think I am, but I’m not.

I’m actually standing in a garden with a man, and a woman, and a snake, and a tree. The sky is a cloudless blue, and the sun is radiant, the fruit is there before me, and it looks just about perfect and The Father’s voice moves the leaves of that Sacred Tree like a breeze, and He says to me, simply, “Will you trust me?”

One of the great joys of having kids is praying together. Before nap-time, we pray the At Noon Daily Devotional for Families and Individuals from the Book of Common Prayer. The Devotional’s reading from Isaiah articulates best the freedom God gives me in prayer:

O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength.

Prayer makes me pause. Prayer gives that moment for God to nudge me to come to myself.

When I am a man who prays, I have clarity. In prayer, God pulls me from yesterday and tomorrow into the present. In prayer, God frees me from the easy to choose the good. I can say no to the fruit, and trust that the food The Father provides thereafter will not only nourish and satisfy but will give the real life for which I hope.

~Eric Lessels

a prayerful lent — THE 5th WEEK IN LENT

THE 5th WEEK IN LENT

Beginning Sunday, April 2, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, you are the only one who can set all things right.  Help us to love what you love.  Help us to do all that you tell us to do.  Help us to not be distracted by the things in this world that draw us from you.  Help us to trust you alone.  Amen.

READ  “When I listen to you, God, when I do what you ask me to, I am like a tree planted by a river, a tree full of fruit with leaves that are always green.”2 (Psalm 1)

SING 

1. Yes Lord Yes     

I’ll say, “Yes, Lord, yes”
To Your will and to Your way
I’ll say, “Yes, Lord, yes”
I will trust You and obey

When Your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree
And  my  answer will be, “Yes, Lord, yes”

DO  On a piece of paper, draw a tree trunk.  Draw leaves and fruit on your tree.  Inside each leaf, doodle or write a request to God.  Inside each fruit, write how God has answered a prayer.

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

a prayerful lent — THE 4th WEEK IN LENT

THE 4th WEEK IN LENT

Beginning Sunday, March 26, 2017

PRAY  Gracious Father, you sent your Son, Jesus, to be bread and life for the whole world.  We ask you to give us more and more love for Jesus every day.  Amen.

READ  “I praise you, God!  You are like a marvelous king who wears beautiful, bright robes!  You make the water run in rivers, and the animals come for a drink.  You make the plants grow, and we have food to eat.  You open your hands and give us everything we need.”2 (Psalm 104)

SING

1. Communion Song     

God the Father, God the Spirit
God the gift  Incarnate Son,
Feed us now on grace and mercy
Feed us now and make us one

Feed us on the Bread of Heaven
Quench our thirst with Holy Wine
Cleanse us from all sin and darkness
Cleanse us now and make us Thine

Grant us peace and
Grant us wisdom
Grant us love and grace
Fill us with your
Holy Spirit
Come and fill this place

Feed our hearts and
Cleanse our minds and
Free our souls from sin
You have died and
You are risen
You will come again

These mysteries we believe
These gifts we now receive

DO  Doodle and draw a heart on your piece of paper.  As you work, tell God all that you love about him.

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

a prayerful lent — THE 3rd WEEK IN LENT

THE 3rd WEEK IN LENT

Beginning Sunday, March 19, 2017

PRAY  Heavenly Father, you made us to love you.  Guard us from our enemies.  Help us to love and forgive them.  Help them to love you. Amen.

READ  “Help me, God, I am worried!  Please hurry up!  I know that you are strong.  You are the only one who can help me.”2 (Psalm 70)

SING 

1. God I Look to You     

God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do

I will love You Lord my strength
I will love You Lord my shield
I will love You Lord my rock forever
All my days I will love You God

Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
forever All my days Hallelujah

DO  Draw a shape in the middle of your paper.  Inside the shape, write the name of a person who is hard to love right now.  Doodle and color as you talk to God about why it is hard to love that person right now.

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

APEX experiences the “ART” of giving up

 

APEX Youth Ministry Experiences the season of Lent through the "Art of Giving Up."

APEX Youth Ministry experiences the season of Lent through the “Art of Giving Up.”

Last weekend, APEX Middle and High School reviewed the concept of “incurvatus in se,” from the book “The Good of Giving Up,” by Aaron Damiani.  They were asked to embrace Lent as a time to cease focusing on our dependence on earthly desires and drives and instead to focus on the provisions and Grace made possible through dependence on God.

They were then asked to express (on a chalk board) through words and images what came to their hearts and minds as they meditated on the 40 day journey of Christ into the wilderness. With full knowledge that their work would be erased the following Sunday as a symbol of how our sins and bodies will be washed away and returned to dust (Genesis 3:19), this is what they came up with.  I encourage you to watch this video and view their expressions this Sunday, March 19th, in the upper narthex.  It will be washed following the 5pm services.

To volunteer for APEX or to have your child join middle or high school, please contact Isaiah Brooms at apex@restorationarlington.org.

 

 

 

a prayerful lent — THE 2nd WEEK IN LENT

THE 2nd WEEK IN LENT

Beginning Sunday, March 12, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, only you have the power to work in us.  Protect our bodies and our minds.  Help us to do things and think things that help us step closer and closer to you.  Amen.

READ  “God is my shepherd. He leads me in the right direction.  And even if I have to walk in a dark place, I am not scared.  I know nothing will hurt me if I walk with God!”2 (Psalm 23)

SING  

1. My Shepherd Will Supply My Need     

My Shepherd will supply my need
Jehov – ah is His name:
In pastures fresh He makes me feel,
Beside   the living stream.
He brings my wandr’ing spirit back,
When I forsake His ways;
And leads me for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

DO  Trace around your hand.  Write the word “shepherd” in the palm.  On each finger, write the name of a different person you want God to shepherd.  Doodle and color each finger as you pray.

 

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Living in the Reign of Grace

wilderness

Really dealing with temptation

I have never found a deep connection to the story of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11.  I experience temptation all the time, but this is not where I go when I need help.  To be honest, it seems too mechanical–  temptation gets presented, Jesus neatly bats it away with a clever and germane Deuteronomy quote, then a skip across the desert to the next temptation–  like some diabolical mini-golf course.

My temptations seem so much more visceral and agonizing.  I rarely have the right word in the moment.  I often feel desperate to make the ‘right’ choice.  The beginning of 2 Corinthians 6 or Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”) feels more descriptive of the struggle I feel.  God, Help!  Get me out of this!

Jesus the Pastor

What helped me turn the corner on those wilderness temptations was the realization that Jesus had to tell his disciples the story, because none of them were there!  It was just Jesus and the devil and the wilderness.  So at some point, Jesus decided, ‘this is the time to tell my disciples about the wilderness and what happened with those temptations.’  When He told them, the Gospel writers recognized ‘a keeper’.  They included it in their particular stories (See Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).

When was that moment?  What was going on in the experience of the disciples and the crowds who were following such that Jesus said, ‘this is when I need to tell that wilderness story’.

I have no idea.

But I know that imagining Him deciding WHEN He would tell it makes me love Him and trust Him.  It tells me He is sensitive to my needs.  It tells me He is deliberate in His instruction.  It tells me that He wants me to know what He has accomplished FOR ME so that I can live in His reign of grace.

The Reign of Grace

Winston Churchill famously said,

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

As we think about all that Jesus has accomplished, it would be more accurate to say, [Never have] ‘so many owed so much to just one person.’

Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote,

“God has always dealt with mankind through a head and representative.  The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam, and what has happened and will yet happen because of Christ.”

It is Romans 5:12-21 where Paul carefully draws the analogy between the work and results of Adam and the new Adam, Jesus.  It is this chapter where Paul explains the effect of one person on the many.

The reason Jesus chose the moment He did to tell His disciples about the wilderness is because He wanted them to know what He had accomplished for them.  Jesus’ work of saying no to temptation created the way for us to say no to our own temptations.  He ‘represents us’ as we engage our personal battles against the Tempter.  His work accomplished so much for us.  It was a grace.

And now, those of us who follow Jesus, live in a reign of grace.  As John Stott writes,

Nothing could sum up better the blessings of being in Christ than the expression ‘the reign of grace’.  For grace forgives sins through the cross, and bestows on the sinner both righteousness and eternal life.  Grace satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry with good things.  Grace sanctifies sinners, shaping them into the image of Christ.  Grace perseveres even with the recalcitrant, determining to complete what it has begun.  And one day grace will destroy death and consummate the kingdom.  So when we are convinced that ‘grace reigns’, we will remember that God’s throne is a ‘throne of grace’, and we will come to it boldly to receive mercy and to find grace for every need.

At some point, the disciples needed to know the story of the wilderness– because their connection to Jesus made it their own story as well.

May the reality of being connected to Jesus, our representative and head, give us courage to enter the wilderness of Lent and live under The Reign of Grace.

-David

a prayerful lent — THE 1st WEEK IN LENT

THE 1st WEEK IN LENT

Beginning Sunday, March 5, 2017

PRAY  Almighty God, come quickly!  Help us!  You know where we are weak.  Save us!  Keep us from loving things more than we love you. Amen.

READ  “God, you are good and you forgive me.  You are full of love.  When I pray to you, I know you will answer me; I know you will show me the right path to take.”2 (Psalm 86)

SING  

1. By Thy Mercy     

Jesus, Lord of life and glory,
Bend from Heav’n Thy gracious ear;
While our waiting souls adore Thee,
Friend of helpless sinners, hear:

By Thy mercy, O deliver us,
good Lord, good Lord
(repeat)

From the depth of nature’s blindness,
From the hardening power of sin,
From all malice and unkindness,
From the pride that lurks within:

When the world around is smiling,
In the time of wealth and ease,
Earthly joys our hearts beguiling,
In the day of health and peace:

In the solemn hour of dying,
In the awful judgment day,
May our souls, on Thee relying,
Find Thee still our Rock and Stay:

DO  Draw a cloud and in the center write “I’m sorry, Lord.”  Draw raindrops beneath the cloud.  Within each raindrop, write words or doodle in color as you talk to God about the things for which you are sorry.

 

 

1Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Illus. Jago. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

2Delval, Marie-Helene. Psalms for Young Children. Illus. Arno. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church