Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Necessary Dying

We are now in the third week of the season of Lent which is a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter where we as Christians intentionally reflect on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us in our walks of discipleship.

More than mere commemoration of Jesus' sacrifice, though, I believe the season of Lent reminds us of a necessary process that we as followers of Jesus need to undergo on a regular basis.

We need Lent because it reminds us of a necessary dying that needs to happen in our lives on a regular basis. We need to constantly die to ourselves that Christ may live in us. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20a, CEB).

The practice of fasting, not just from food but from other creature comforts, is synonymous with the season of Lent. However, this practice of giving things up only works when we do it as a way of clearing our cluttered and busy lives to make room for Christ. And this practice only works when it continues all throughout the year and not just during Lent. Lent is meant to jumpstart us on this habit of dying to ourselves daily so that Christ may live in us.

Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Galatians 2:20 helps sum it up: "Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not 'mine,' but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that." (The Message).

What is it in our lives that needs to die so that Christ may live in us?

Bishop Grant Hagiya, in a sermon during a Clergy Retreat a couple of years ago said, "In order for Easter, for new life to happen, some things have to die." Richard Rohr echoes that when he wrote, "We need to deeply trust and allow both our own dyings and our own certain resurrections, just as Jesus did! This is the full pattern of transformation."

What is it in the way we do things as churches, as families, as organizations and as a conference that need to die, in order for new life to happen?

What are the systems and structures that God is calling us to put an end to, in order for transformation and resurrection to occur?

May this season of Lent be a meaningful time of reflection for all of us, intentionally confronting the serious question: In what areas of our individual and corporate lives do we need to die in order for Christ to fully live in us?

May this Lent truly be a season of necessary dying.

Your fellow disciple,

Carlo

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Prayer Run: #miles4gc2016

Photo by Steve Charles shared on the
Willow Running Company Facebook page
I'd like to continue on the theme of praying for General Conference, which I wrote on last week: #pray4gc2016.

Prayer Runs
As I've posted on many occasions on this blog already, running for me has evolved into a spiritual discipline. It is a practice that allows me to be centered in my relationship with God. It is an activity where I am able to prayerfully process thoughts, ideas and deep concerns. In the past three years, I have ran some marathons as "prayer runs", dedicating the miles to different prayer concerns. I've ran in prayer for our Alaska churches. I've dedicated miles in prayer for those in unfortunate life situations.  This month, I am excited for another opportunity to run in prayer run.

#miles4gc2016
As I posted last week, February 13th is the day assigned to us in the Alaska United Methodist Conference to join the denomination's prayer vigil: 131 days of continual prayer for General Conference. For 24 hours on that day, our fellow United Methodists from around the world are counting on us to continue the chain of prayer. If you haven't signed-up for your 15 minute timeslot, click here: AK Prayer Vigil.

Photo from susitna100.com
Now February 13th is also the day I am slated to run the Little Su 50K race in the Mat-Su Valley. I did not know of the prayer vigil yet when I signed-up for this race back in November. But I was pleasantly surprised that the assigned date for the Alaska Conference coincides with my race. Whether you call it coincidence or divine providence, I am elated at the opportunity of doing another prayer run! Moreover, I welcome the thought that many will be praying with me, albeit in 15 minute segments. I won't be praying (running) alone!

So, on February 13, 2016, I will be joining the chain of prayer, dedicating those long, snowy 50 kilometers (31.06856 miles) as prayer miles for General Conference. The race start is at 11 am in Big Lake and so I have signed-up for the 11:00-11:15 am slot (although the race will definitely take way longer that that!)

Call to Prayer
I cannot underscore enough the importance of praying for the highest policy making body of our United Methodist Church! We need a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit at General Conference and for us to be sensitive and responsive to the direction in which the Spirit of God leads us.

Will you join the global prayer chain? Will join me and others in praying, "Come, Holy Spirit, come! Fall afresh on our United Methodist Church. Melt us. Mold us. Fill us. Use us."?

Your fellow disciple,
Carlo