Tag Archives: Easter

Preparing for Lent 2017


Lent_Three Croses

This year Lent is March 1st to April 13, 2017. This is thee most important and spiritually focused period of the liturgical year. It’s also the time when some of us are most miserable. Sometimes you can easily tell who has given up their favourite foods and habits for Lent. Have you ever encountered the Starbucks coffee lover who is in desperate need of their daily 2 litres of straight black coffee, but is determined to make it through the 40 day period? Yeah, not a lovely experience.

What about the person who has given up Facebook for Lent? You discover they have given up Facebook when there is a sudden increase in texts and emails from them.

Did you notice the person who has given up beer for Lent? Friends start to notice this when the person begins to drink more wine and other adult beverages in lieu of beer.

So why am I making these borderline judgmental observations? Because, I’m annoyed by the cultural misunderstanding that we have about Lent.

In my lifetime I’ve certainly chosen random, meaningless, and spiritually empty things to give up during the season; but with each passing year I am learning more about the deeper meaning of Lent. I now realize that things I used to give up didn’t bring me any closer to identifying with Christ. These thoughtless acts didn’t help me grow in my faith.

For some people giving up items such as beer, chocolate, and coffee is very important. Giving up these luxuries and habits are a major victory over the material things in life that we become dependent on for happiness, meaning, and ability to live in peace with others.

Where I think some people miss a great opportunity for spiritual growth is when they take something away, but don’t replace it with something that will help them grow in their relationship with God. Giving up coffee and replacing it with tea, is a filler, but it’s not a time for growing unless you are intentional about it. An example of making the experience spiritual would be to use the money you would put towards coffee and donate it towards a cause that is important to you. Another idea might be praying each time you feel the need to get a coffee. When the urge hits you stop and pray to God for strength, recite a helpful verse, or engage in another spiritual activity that will help you.

These are only examples. We all lead different lives and this means how we choose to grow closer to God during Lent will look different for all of us.

If you want to get serious about Lent this year, below are some ideas and links to help get your started.

Lenten Symbols

Some Ideas on Ways to Prepare for Lent


-The Gospels

-The parables of Christ

-Listen to the Gospels or parables of Christ on audio

-Choose a daily devotional to read each day

-Do a 4 week bible study to prepare for Easter



-Choose a specific topic to pray for (peace, oppressed women in other countries, persecuted Christians in other nations, poverty in your city, etc)

-Pray through verses in the bible

-Add additional prayer time (e.g. pray morning and evening, pray grace during all three meal times, try new styles of prayer, etc.)



Almsgiving is the spiritual act of giving money or food to the poor; almsgiving is also the act of providing something to someone in need for free without the expectation of anything in return.

-If you already give regularly to a charity or cause, give a little extra if you can. If extra money is not an option for you, consider giving extra by donating your time.

-Volunteer at a soup kitchen by helping to serve food during their Spring/Easter holiday meals

-Go through your clothing and household items, donate items that are still in good condition that you no longer need.

-Do you have skills and occupational experiences that are normally unaffordable to the average person or those without insurance. Consider providing your service for free to one or two people (e.g. Offer free message services to low income parents, offer a draw for a free meal at your restaurant, file someone’s taxes for free, shovel your neighbour’s sidewalk and driveway etc.).


Repentance:Engage in authentic soul searching during the 40 day period. This involves a lot of prayer, a lot of silence, and a lot of listening. Here are some resources to help you with this process.

Daily Examen


Intentionally Engage in Various Spiritual Disciplines










General Ideas




Giving It up For Lent

Preparing for Lent 2016


Lent 2016: Wednesday February 10th – Thursday March 24th. Sundays are excluded when counting the 40 days. Lent is for all Christians, not just Catholics and mainline protestants.

For the past couple of year’s I’ve switched my focus during Lent from saying “no” to saying “yes”. In the past I had placed my attention on what I was giving up at the expense of realizing what I was gaining by practicing the spiritual disciplines of the Lenten season. When Jesus spent time in the desert, he didn’t simply say “no” to the temptations before him; he was also saying “yes” to all that God had to offer.

Our spiritual practices during Lent aren’t meant to be easy, but they aren’t meant to be torture either. When I choose something to give up during Lent I try to find something that benefits my spiritual life beyond the approximately six weeks of the season. This year I have chosen to say “no” to garbage foods and say “yes” to foods that make my body feel great. Sounds like a diet doesn’t it? But… it’s not a diet.

I decided to eliminate garbage foods and foods that my body doesn’t react well to because I have once again experienced negative physical reactions due to stress induced junk food snacking habits. I’ve been dealing with an increase in stress again and a decrease in my mindfulness and meditation practice. As a result of these changes, I realized I had started turning to mindless snacking to deal with unpleasant life stressors. My goal during this Lenten season is to reconnect with the spiritual discipline of turning to God when I feel anxiety, stress, or fear. I don’t need to use food or exercise to deal with issues when I have a God I can turn to instead.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to take some time to pray about what earthly habits or unnecessary pleasures you might want to say “no” to in exchange for a spiritual “yes” during this season.

Remember, Lent is not the same as our regular liturgical year. Whatever you take away you replace with extra time spent in prayer and reflection.

As an example, for some people Lent will mean not logging onto Facebook; this is great, but it only becomes a spiritual discipline if you replace that Facebook time with something reflective such as prayer, devotional reading, meditation on God’s words, or another spiritual activity of your choice.

creat in me a clean heart Psalm 51:


What is something that you can focus on during Lent? e.g. Praying every day for the poor in your community; praying for political candidates in your area; commitment to learning about a justice issue that you are not familiar with or comfortable with; reading and learning about an area in your life where you need personal growth.

The following are some self-reflective questions for Creighton, “But this year we might reflect and ask the deeper question: What is God inviting me to change this Lent? How do I know what God might be stirring in me? I begin by listening to the movements in my heart. Where am I feeling uncomfortable with the choices I am making? With the things I have done? With the habitual ways I respond? The Lord will be speaking to me in those small nagging moments of discomfort in my heart. We can ask: What would it cost me to change this behavior. …What if I did decide to “give up” something really destructive in my life, ….?  As I reflect, I might realize that changing a particular way I live is coming to me as a call from God and I don’t have to do it alone. God is moving my heart to reflect on these changes and God will remain faithful and help me to stay open to the grace being offered to me for change.”


There are many options to choose from. If you find yourself overwhelmed or unsure what to focus on, pray, meditate, ask God to reveal to you what sacrifices or changes would are needed in your life at this time.

Resources for Lent:








Post Easter and Lent Reflections

victory cross

Post Lent and Post Easter Resurrection Reflections

For myself, Easter Sunday is not the end of this holiday season. By Easter Monday I still have some unfinished business; mainly that of reflecting on the overall Lenten season and what I have learned. Monday, being a holiday, is usually the best time for me to do so. Here is what I have learned over this past Lent and Easter.

The goal of Lent is never perfection! Thank God for that, literally.

My main focus this year was on mindfulness, it may not have started out this way, but over the 40 days I became more focused on this process of being mindfully present in my life. Fear and anxiety are my best friends and I’ve learned that I cannot allow them to have such an active presence in my life. Learning to trust in God removes the stronghold that anxiety and irrational fears have over my life.

Did I fail at various times to remain mindful, yes I did! But it wasn’t the end of the world, I simply picked myself up and carried on. Perfection is never the goal. Thank you Lord for your never ending grace, love, and understanding each time we fail.

The same scriptures and stories you have read hundreds of times will have a different meaning for you each time you read it.

The Easter story hasn’t changed since the bible was compiled. We listen to the same story each year, yet, during the Lenten season the same scriptures have a completely different meaning and purpose in my life. I attribute this to the power of the Holy Spirit. If we allow ourselves to be open to what God’s spirit has to say to us, we will never become tired of hearing the story of Jesus’ life and teachings. God’s word has the power to continuously transform us through the gifts of His Spirit and the bible of which we are beyond blessed to be able to have access to; unlike so many people in the rest of the world.

christ death love

I no longer have to weep, I have found who I am looking for.

Jesus said to Mary Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” John 20:15

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). John 20:16

I, along with Mary Magdalene, no longer have to weep, we have found what we are looking for. We have found our Rabbouni! God sent Jesus to be a living example and sacrifice in order to set the record straight. The message is clear, but difficult to believe, accept, live, and process. God’s message through Jesus Christ involves this: I (God) am love. My love is here to redeem you, cherish you, transform you, challenge you, discipline you, and comfort you. Despite the internal struggle I have between our human nature and the spiritual nature, I am able to rejoice knowing that Christ has shown us, as a living sacrifice, that one can overcome spiritual death, but first I must be willing to carry my cross, experience the pain that leads to freedom and only then can I overcome and rise from being spiritually dead.

When I don’t recognize the voice of Jesus, he knows to call me by name and I will answer “Teacher!.” Whatever he has to say next are lessons and instructions that will be worthy of moving from weeping to rejoicing.

john 20 15 image 3 best

The process doesn’t end for me on holiday Monday. Yes, Jesus is risen, but it’s Monday, and not a special Monday. It’s a Monday like any other because now we must return to work. We return to the work of growing in our relationship with God. He had to the power to raise His Son from the dead and overcome death; He has the power to do the same for us. Through His continual forgiveness, power, mercy, grace and love we too are afforded the same resurrection story as Christ. We no longer have to weep at an empty grave, and a missing saviour, we can now recognize the voice of Christ calling our name and rejoice! We can overcome spiritual death! Amen and thank you Father.

Betrayed to the Cross Forever

Holy Week Reflection

Holy Week verses

Matthew 26 

Passion week, Holy week, Easter week, whatever name you’d like to give to this week, is definitely not one we’d ever call dedicated, loyal, or dependable friends week! I think I might even call this week, Betrayal Week.

I can’t point fingers at Peter, the Zebedee boys, Judas or the rest of the disciples who fled during Jesus’ greatest time of need. Imagine how Jesus must have felt knowing that all of his closest friends, the men he hand selected to carry on his work were no longer by his side? I don’t know how Jesus felt, but I sure know how his disciples felt.

The story of the betrayal of Jesus is important. These men are symbolic representations of how we continue to betray Christ, not just on one significant occasion, but in our regular everyday lives. The betrayal stories are important for us because despite being literally abandoned by his best friends, Jesus still went to the cross for them. Jesus still entrusted the disciples to care for his grieving mother.

We, all of us, are Peter, Judas, the Zebedee Boys and the other disciples. We betray Christ, yet, he still loves us. He still went to the cross knowing that future generations would still betray him. Christ’s love for the Father and for humankind allowed him to not betray us!

betrayal friendship

During this sacred week, let us not look down at the disciples, instead let us see our reflection in their actions and remember the magnitude of Christ’s love for us; that he would still go to the cross to be tortured, ridiculed and abandoned all for us, so that we may know and experience the greatness of God’s love. What an amazing ending to the worst week of his life! Resurrection!

Jesus’ love for us was more powerful than, lies, sleeping instead of praying, violence, running away, and publicly denying being a follower of Christ. Pray that we can be like Peter who could only weep when he realised what he had done. The opposite of Peter would be to follow Judas’ actions of betraying Jesus and then in the midst of shame taking his own life. Did Judas know or accept the fact that all he had to do was ask Jesus to forgive him? Did Judas not learn anything during the time he spent with his best friend Jesus?

Jesus forgives us all, the process of forgiveness requires that we approach the cross and say, “Jesus forgive me.” We won’t do this once or twice, this will have to be an everyday act of forgiveness because we are human and we can never stop betraying Christ. This spiritual act of forgiveness is eternal it never ceases, because it can’t; or else we would all be doomed.



Are you willing to go to the cross every day to ask Christ to forgive you for your continual betrayal or are you like Judas, refusing to face Jesus and ask for forgiveness?


Find verses that bring comfort to you in knowing that Christ forgives us for our continual betrayal towards him. Refer to these verses or pray these verses anytime the enemy has you feeling unforgiven or unloved by our saviour. Please know that you are forgiven, not because I said so, but because God has said so. God’s love is bigger, stronger, and greater than our sins. Praise be to God!