the Resurrecting King is resurrecting me

Holy Week.
This week holds a lot of weight for me.
As a former kid on the fringes of church, it was the countdown until I could eat chocolate and meat on Fridays again.
As a teenager discovering her faith for {what felt like} the first time, it was the week where I made myself feel guilty for all the sins I’ve committed or been complicit to in my life.
As a Seminarian, it was the week where we all debated which church had the best theology and the best services for each day.
As a Pastor, it has always been one of busyness, rushing around to make sure that everyone in your congregation has all that they need to fully understand each moment from Palm Sunday to Resurrection.
But this week has felt different for me.  It has to do with being at a new church, in a new city and having new responsibilities this week.  Part of it has to do with where my life is at, where my walk with Christ is at and how I’ve grown from that young kid who didn’t really understand what we were doing all this for.
This week is all out of whack from my normal rhythm.  We didn’t have youth group last night so instead I held a leader meeting to process how our year has been.  As we went around sharing the highlights and challenges of our Wednesdays nights, I heard the underlying thread of our leaders’ desire for our students to feel and experience the love of Christ first hand.
We wrapped up the meeting and I wandered down the hall towards the Sanctuary where I knew the worship team was practicing for Sunday.  I sat for a while and ended up staying for the whole rehearsal.  I stood in the darkened Sanctuary allowing the words of each song wash over me, reminding me of why we do all of these things.
We are creating spaces for people to come and see/hear/taste/experience the great love our God has for us.  That he would send his Son to walk on the earth, to teach the disciples, do miracles and call out the religious leaders.  He came to flip expectations on their head – to promote justice and give dignity to the oppressed.  Jesus came to show us that the only way out of the sin and hardship of this world is through him.
And he took all of our sin – individually and corporately – to the cross.  So that we could have freedom.  So that we could stand confidently before the throne and know we have been made whole in him.  He defeated the grave so that we may no longer be bonded by the brokenness of the world.
He did all of this for us.  So that we may walk freely and to be the Kingdom Dwellers we were always meant to be – that we were created to be.
So this weekend, as we walk toward Easter, let us remember that even though this world brings it’s darkness – the promise of Easter is the Light of Christ in the world.  We have a way out – through Christ.

Spirit Come – Lenten Practice Updates

The 2018 Lenten season started almost a month ago now.  Ash Wednesday was on Valentine’s Day.  And Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.   So needless to say that Lent is not quite the same this year.  Plus, I’m in a new church community that celebrates Lent differently than in my past congregations.
This year (like most years) Lent snuck up on me because the start of it fell in the midst of my busiest season as a youth pastor – Retreat Season.  For those who follow me on the social medias – you’ll have noticed that between January and February I spent three weekends up at camp.  One weekend was spent at a Youth Pastors’ Conference.  And two others were spent pulling together some fun fundraisers.
So when Ash Wednesday came around, I was like – oh no!  I haven’t picked a practice yet and my brain cannot handle picking up something or giving something up. It’s all too much right now. 
So, instead, I decided to reimagine an old practice that I had gotten a little lax on in the past few months.  Sabbath.
Partially I chose this because I had just recently listened to Annie F. Downs interview John Mark Comer about Sabbath.  And partially because of my aforementioned schedule, I was needing to be very intentional about my down time and resting to be ready for all the things going on in my life.
On a typical week of life I have two days off – Friday and Saturday.  Now, being a pastor doesn’t always mean those days are totally off, sometimes things come up and you need to deal with them, etc.  But for the most part, I try to do all my “work things” between Sunday and Thursday and then I disengage for two days.  In the past I’ve looked at one of those days as a Sabbath day and one of those days as a day to get all the household things done.
Sabbath comes out of the Old Testament, and the most common place to see it is in the 10 Commandments where God tells the Israelites:

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  You have six days each week for your ordinary work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, NLT) 

In the interview I mentioned above, John Mark Comer expands on this concept still being practiced today within the Jewish faith tradition.  (You should probably go listen to it.)
For me, reimagining Sabbath meant making time in my week to truly rest and find refreshment.  Rest looks like a lot of different things for a lot of different people.  So when trying to plan a Sabbath day, it’s important to take into account what gives you rest and refreshment.  Then you can build your Sabbath rules around those things.  This gets difficult when you have to take into account the desires of others (spouses, kids, roommates, etc.)  Luckily for me, in my current season I live alone and can shape my Sabbath days in a selfish manner.
So, here are some of the things required in my Sabbath day that help me to find rest:
Cook a meal from scratch
This seems like work, I know.  But for me, it’s really calming to do the work of creating a meal from raw ingredients.  The work part of it for me is the finding the recipes and shopping.  So I invest in a meal delivery service that helps me live into this practice I love.  The ingredients and recipes show up at my door once a week and gives me the ability to do the parts I love without the headache work of other parts.
Be with dear friends
I’m an extrovert who values quality time.  I need to be with people.  BUT – as an extrovert, not all interactions with people fill me up.   On Sabbath days I limit my interactions to people who are on the journey with me, my inner most circle wherever I am at physically.  This can mean family (if I’m in Denver) but most often it means friends that become like family.  Friends who know my heart and are in the trenches with me.
Limited Phone Time
I try my hardest to limit the time on my phone.  Sometimes it means turning off my notifications.  Sometimes it means intentionally leaving it on silent, in another room or in my purse.
Listen/make to music
I connect to music more than any other type of media.  It’s where my heart finds a home.  So every Sabbath day requires an extended music session – sometimes that means sitting at a piano and playing and sometimes it means pulling up my iTunes and playing through some of my faves.
Intimate time with God
I had a spiritual director once that loved to call me out on the lack of intimacy I had with Jesus.  She always challenged me to do things that caused me such discomfort that would deepen my intimacy with the One who created me.  I’m not talking about spending time in His word or praying.  I’m talking about talking about solitude, about embodying your relationship with Jesus – as if you are physically with him.  Tangibly this means trying to have solitude with just me and God.  Taking a walk with no music or podcast, sitting in his presence and not saying anything.  I try to do something to deepen that part of my relationship with him.
The Silly “No Work/Vain” Things
Sometimes you just need to name the things that you will not be doing on the Sabbath.  For me its:  No e-mails.  No housework (except dishes cause I weirdly love doing dishes).  No guilt for not texting/snapchatting/messaging back.  No social media stalking.  No early mornings.  No mind numbing activities (like TV or Netflix).
So there’s a look inside my sabbaths.  It’s the practice I’ve taken most seriously in my history of Lent practices.  It’s also been the thing keeping me alive throughout a busy ministry season.
What makes it on your Sabbath list?