Good Friday, April 14

Holy Week – Good Friday Prayer

BLESSED LORD JESUS,

Before thy cross I kneel and see
      the heinousness of my sin,
      my iniquity that caused thee to be
        ‘made a curse’,
      the evil that excites the severity
        of divine wrath.
Show me the enormity of my guilt by
  the crown of thorns,
  the pierced hands and feet,
  the bruised body,
  the dying cries.
Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
  its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt
  that demands such a price.
Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
  born in my birth,
  alive in my life,
  strong in my character,
  dominating my faculties,
  following me as a shadow,
  intermingling with my every thought,
  my chain that holds me captive in the
    empire of my soul.
Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
  the air supply breath,
  the earth bear my tread,
  its fruits nourish me,
  its creatures subserve my ends?
Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
  thy heart hastens to my rescue,
  thy love endured my curse,
  thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.
Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths
    of humiliation,
  bathed in thy blood,
  tender of conscience,
  triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.

-The Valley of Vision

 

Join us at 7pm tonight at Market Square for our Good Friday Communion Service.

 

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Thursday, April 13

Holy Week Prayer Thursday

Dear God, Loving Provider of all good things, 
you gather me in this upper room with your son,
to be fed and nourished by your love.

At that supper, Jesus told us to “love one another”
and I know that is the heart of his gift,
his sacrifice for me.

I ask that I might find the source of my own heart,
the meaning for my own life,
in that Eucharist.
Guide me to the fullness of your love and life. Amen.

Don’t Worry About Simplicity Either Con’t

We do things as we’re ready. We are all on different paths, but even within this simple life journey each of us need pruning in different areas. Right now it might simplifying our schedules and later it might be decluttering our home. Simplifying any area should always be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be something that we’re forcing upon ourselves. Being uncomfortable is one thing, but being repelled by the very idea will only hinder the journey.

We don’t take our spirituality too seriously. This journey may have revealed undesirable tendencies, thoughts or habits you didn’t realized you harbored. Don’t let the idea of what/who a Christian “should” be keep you from continuing to examine your heart.

We focus on the next step. If the Holy Spirit really moved in you this Lenten season, then starting next week just focus on the small, daily/weekly ways you can move toward God through simplicity.

We make room for celebration and beauty. As our journey comes to an end, we can either look back and dwell on the things we’ve left behind (social media, that box or two of things donated, negativity, etc) or we can instead focus our eyes upon what we gained: a new perspective on life, freedom, less stress, more authenticity, deeper company with God.

4.13

Daily Scripture

Matthew 6: 25-34

Challenge

Spend some time today outside. Put away all distractions and simply observe the beauty of the natural world that God created. He was thoughtful in his design of the trees, the flowers, the birds. Admire his creativity and allow yourself to absorb the fullness of his creativity in and love for you.

Wednesday, April 12

Holy Week – Wednesday Prayer

 God of love,
My prayer is simple:
Your son, Jesus, suffered and died for me.
I know only
that I cannot have real strength
unless I rely on you.
I cannot feel protected
from my many weaknesses
until I turn to you
for forgiveness and your unalterable love.
Help me to share this
strength, protection and love with others.

Please stay with me 
as I struggle to see 
how accepting the crosses of my life 
will free me from the power 
of the one who wants only 
to destroy my love and trust in you. 
Help me to be humble and accepting 
like your son, Jesus. 
I want to turn to you 
with the same trust he had in your love. 
Save me, Lord. Only you can save me. Amen. 

Don’t worry about simplicity either

It is important that we do not add more clutter to our minds in our effort for simplicity – Should I be doing more? Am I doing this right? Feeling burdened by the thought of what needs pruning will only make simplicity into another task on our ever-growing list.

Start where you are, every single day. We are seeking a life with our heavenly father and his mercies are new every morning. Every day is an opportunity, even just within ourself in the the smallest way, to simplify – in the words we use to others, in how we manage our time, etc.

Any amount of time counts. Life is full of seasons, and whatever it is that you have been trying to put to death this lenten season, whatever distraction(s) you have identified in your life, may not be something that continues forever. Examine your heart after each practice or discipline that God is calling you to.

Don’t compare with others. Our goal is to listen to God, not to gauge our simplicity practices on what others are doing. Some people may declutter their possessions very quickly, some may start a garden or new practice of rest, some may reduce down to one car, etc. If a simplicity practice of someone else catches your heart, pray that God would make it clear to you that this is where He is preparing you to go as well, instead of it being the pressure of comparison.

Verses of the Day

Matthew 13: 1-9

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 
3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 
5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 
6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 
7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 
9He who has ears, let him hear.”

Matthew 13: 31-32

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 
32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 

Today’s Challenge

Comment on the blog today with one (or more) ways that we can be praying for you, as a group.

Tuesday, April 11

Holy Week  Tuesday Prayer

God of unwavering love, 
how do I “celebrate” 
the passion and death of Jesus that’s right in front of me this week? 
I often want to look the other way 
and not watch, 
not stay with Jesus in his suffering. 
Give me the strength, O God,
to see his love with honesty and compassion 
and to feel deeply 
your own forgiveness and mercy for me today. 
Help me to understand 
how to “celebrate” this week. 
I want be able to bring 
my weaknesses and imperfections with me 
as I journey with Jesus this week, 
so aware of his love. Amen.

Much More

This idea of “much more” is odd to think about after reading an entire book of simplicity and lessening. But hopefully by now each of us can see that by decreasing in the areas this book covered and you discovered, we can see the opportunity for Much More God.

God’s goodness is truly in every detail of our day. His goodness flows from us, but it’s present all around us as well. The simplicity of a flower in bloom. Witnessing a stranger helping an elderly woman with her bags.

Each task that we face today, including the small ones that we’re used to accomplishing on autopilot brings about an opportunity to see God.

Let us consider how “much more” God will show up in our lives when we focus more on him.

  • How much more will God bless us with through simplifying?
  • How much more financially are we able to give by limiting our spending?
  • How much more generous are we able to be through our decluttering?
  • How much more can we grow in love with Christ when we leave margins in our schedule?
  • How much more gratitude will we have when we focus on God and not our circumstance?
  • How much more authentic can we be in our relationships?
  • How much more will we feel God when approach him on our knees?
  • How much more compassion will he bestow upon us when we leave our worries at the foot of the cross?

I think of Jesus today, facing the reality of the cross. Human though he was–but still God, he knew he had to lessen himself to show the world how “much more” God really loved them. Though he pleaded with the Father, “let this cup pass from me” he knew that through his unimaginable suffering that God would be elevated forever. So much love. Much more love than we deserve, that’s what Jesus offers us.

More than he wanted to avoid the suffering he knew was inevitable, he desired that the Father’s will be done.

4.11

Worry about circumstance and fear of the unknown can shake this wall of “much more”. How much more like Jesus can we live when we come to our Father as he did?

“Father, you know the desire of my heart and if it possible could you spare me from this burden? But Lord, more than that I desire that your will in this situation be done, and not my own.”

Daily Challenge

This simple life journey has been a tough one, it’s brought about mixed feelings. Consider how “much more” you will gain today by focusing on Jesus and his sacrifice instead of your worries.

Monday, April 10

Holy Week – Monday Prayer

Loving God, 
I am just beginning to realize how much you love me.
Your son, Jesus was humble and obedient.
He fulfilled your will for him by becoming human and suffering with us.
I ask you for the desire to become more humble
so that my own life might also bear witness to you.
I want to use the small sufferings I have in this world
to give you glory.  

Please, Lord, guide my mind with your truth.
Strengthen my life by the example of Jesus.
Help me to be with Jesus in this week
as he demonstrates again his total love for me.
He died so that I would no longer
be separated from you.
Help me to feel how close you are
and to live in union with you. Amen 

Worry No Longer Necessary

Today, as we contemplate Christ’s death and resurrection, our humble and unexpected king, we pray for the desire to be in union with our Father and to live our life by the example of Christ. As we read in the beginning of chapter 10, this whole journey of simplicity that we either began or continued this lenten season, is simply a way to do just that – to connect with God and to seek union in him, our real treasure.

Worry is something that really clouds our vision and even our ability to intentionally simplify. We worry as though worrying will solve the problem. We worry even though, as Jesus tells us, won’t add any hours to our life. Today I invite each of us to really meditate on the Matthew scripture below, knowing that “worrying is not necessary when we seek God, God’s kingdom, and God’s deep inner goodness, because then ‘all these things will be given’ to us”. The lord will provide, we can always take comfort and rest in that.

Verse of the Day

Matthew 6: 31-34

 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” 

Today’s Challenge

Every time you find yourself worrying or feeling anxious today, write it down. At the end of the day, take your list and take it to God. Pray over these things, giving them over to God. When you lay down your burdens, don’t pick them back up. Trust in the Lord, and don’t worry.

Friday, April 7

Say goodbye to Chapter 9 and Week 6 of Lent! How’s everyone doing? Have you found it difficult to stay on top of the reading? How has God changed your view of simplicity through this journey?

Chapter 9 isn’t my favorite chapter, I’ll be honest. I understand the need to include it because simplicity for the sake of identifying and eliminating things, ideas, or activities that hinder your relationship with Christ need a change in lifestyle (every day simplicity). But “every day simplicity” is going to look vastly different from person to person.

Daily we will be bombarded from all directions by media, friends, the lies of the Enemy, advertising, etc. that we aren’t enough. That acquiring something, looking a certain way, maintaining an insane schedule will fill that hole in our heart. We all have it, this hole, but the only thing capable of filling it once and for all is Christ.

As we each consider what every day simplicity will look like moving forward, I wanted to use today to write on how minimalism is Biblical. Because let’s face it, we’ve probably all wondered at least once during this journey if the work is really worth it. Saying no, especially to good things, isn’t easy. Decluttering our homes is stressful. The urge to fill every second of our day with productivity runs deep.

Minimalism, while often thought of only in the context of physical belongings, can actually include all areas of our lives–as we’ve seen from our book. Minimalism is a philosophy: a life spent pursuing what really matters, saying no to anything that distracts from that, and intentionally living with less.

And he said to them, “Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 

Luke 12:15

The Bible has much to say about materialism (see here). We all know that as followers of Christ we are called to be focused on God and on loving the people in our lives. Most Christians don’t talk much about this. Sure, we’ve all heard the sermons on how the love of money is evil or we’ve read the verses, but the love of money is completely different than love for accumulation of things.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with the treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart also be. 

Luke 12: 33-34

We are called to be unencumbered by earthly things–endeavors, ideas, evil, material possessions. Instead we are to pour our heart and soul into eternal things. Nothing we have or ever will have is ours anyway, we can’t take it with us when we go.

Daily Challenge

Today and this weekend I’m going to ask us to reflect. Reflect on our book, the verses you’ve read, and how God has moved you this Lenten season. Each of you came to this pathway for different reasons, but I bet we all desire one thing or else we wouldn’t be here: Simplicity.

Easter will come and go and this journey could be a small memory of your long life or through meditation, prayer and reflection you can figure out which areas of your life God is calling you to simplify for good.

Thursday, April 6

One of my favorite books of the past year is one called You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith. He talks a lot about the power of habit and the daily liturgies that shape us. He says, “To be human is to have a heart. You can’t not love. So the question isn’t whether you will love something as ultimate; the question is what you will love as ultimate. And you are what you love. . . . To be human is to be animated and oriented by some vision of the good life, some picture of what we think counts as “flourishing.” And we want that. We crave it. We desire it.”

I think that simplicity as a way of being is a re-orientation of our vision of “the good life”. It is an invitation to disrupt the hurried, autopilot norm. And as we strip away the excess, the rushing, the grasping, we see just what it is we love. We are what we love, we become what we love. Chapter 9 highlights quite a few areas of our life that this way of being can radically reshape, continually bringing our focus back to loving God – what he is doing in us and in the world around us.

Wherever we need a recalibration of what we love as ultimate – in our finances, our possessions, our words, our appearance, our technology, our work – may we continue to pray the prayer “God, you are enough”.

Verse of the Day

Psalm 51: 1-5, 10-12

Have mercy on meO God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

Against youyou onlyhave I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

and blameless in your judgment.

Create in me a clean heartO God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Today’s Challenge

Consider choosing a book to pick up once our journey through Abundant Simplicity comes to an end. Let us know what you are thinking about reading next on the simplicity journey!