The Bread and Wine

IMG_20150402_191240Communion was first taken as a part of a meal.  This was a meal shared among friends, the bread was broken and the wine was poured.  These are simple actions that would have meant nothing except that the next day the man who broke the bread and poured the wine would be crucified and die on a cross.  His actions fulfilled prophecy and took away the sin of the world.  He was the true Passover lamb.  Today is Good Friday and it is only good because we know how the story ends….stay tuned.

Preparing for Holy Week

Lent began with Ash Wednesday on February 18th.  Another local church marks this season with soup dinners and Lenten services.  I’ve been attending (Ryan works that night of the week) and I have enjoyed the community as well as learning about the Lord’s Prayer. At home for Lent Ryan and I have been reading daily and remembering the season, focusing on Christ and the cross.  My favorite reading so far, that I think encompasses the spirit of Lent, is called The Mourning.  It is part of a Lenten series that can be found on Redeemer New York‘s website. We began this season with seven lit candles which you can see here in my February 19th post: Lent and Remembering.

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But now there are only two candles lit in anticipation of Holy Week.  Each Sunday we blow out another candle and read from this devotional called Lenten Lights from Desiring God Ministries.  Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the Sunday where we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  At that point we will have only one candle still lit.

At some point this week, I will make hot cross buns.  I’m not really sure when, where and why hot cross buns started being made for the Easter season but I do know that they are delicious and another sweet reminder of the cross.

Ryan and I are excited to celebrate another sweet remembrance of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.  We will be driving up to Santa Barbara to connect with our church community there as we share a Christian Seder meal.  The Seder is the meal that is traditionally eaten at Jewish passover.

And on Friday, the 3rd of March we will attend services for Good Friday.  Good Friday is the day we remember Christ’s death on the cross.  This solemn occasion isn’t fun but it is a pivotal part of the Christian faith. Without Christ’s death, his resurrection is meaningless.  On Good Friday we will also blow out the final candle symbolizing our final descent into the darkness of sin and death.

But darkness doesn’t win.  Hope remains because we know how the story ends.  Christ defeats death and comes back to life. (Luke 24:6-7)  On resurrection Sunday Ryan and I, along with Christians across the globe, will celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  At home we will light all the candles again as a symbol of light reigning over darkness.  We serve the creator God, the one who endured death on a cross for our sins but was not defeated, instead he won the battle and rose again.  Easter is the celebration marking the fact that Christians serve a living God.  He is Risen indeed.

School of Ministry Graduation aka Congratulations Ryan!

School of Ministry is a ministry training course that introduces the participants to many aspects of ministry through dicipleship, lessons, reading, homework and mentorship.  This course prepares the participants for ministry and stretches them in many ways.  Ryan has been attending School of Ministry for the last 16 or so months.  To put this in perspective he has been attending school of ministry longer than we’ve been married.  But last night was graduation and my husband didn’t just graduate, he was co-valadictorian.

20150310_192701For his speech he talked about prayer, different aspects of prayers, the benefits of prayer and what we should be striving for in our prayer lives.  It was encouraging and inspiring.  I’ve heard Ryan speak before but this was the first time where I had no idea what to expect and was amazingly blessed by his words.

20150310_195502And this is Ryan receiving his certificate from Pastor Bruce.  Sorry for the blurry picture but it gives you some idea of the reasons for the height jokes flying.  Pastor Bruce was up on a stage and Ryan was not.  However, these men both love and respect each other and it is sweet for me to see the wonderful mentoring, encouraging relationship that Pastor Bruce has with my husband.

Congratulations Ryan!  I’m so proud of you for all your hard work.  I look forward to continuing to apply what you’ve learned in our life and ministry together.

Brookton and Beyond

We’re back in Perth after a few days of country/bush adventure.  This included an accordion, many meat pies, dead kangaroos, an Elvis sighting and British game shows.  Pretty random but we’ll take it.  Here are some picture highlights.

P1020710These signs are as common as deer crossing signs in parts of the US.

P1020864Brookton on a Sunday morning is amazingly quiet.

IMG_20141026_090302The church where we worshipped in Brookton…

P1020876…which featured hymns accompanied by the accordion.  Awesome.

P1020798We did a lot of driving.

P1020678This is not where we stayed but it’s nice to know that, as a respectable couple, we would have been welcome.

P1020840We saw lot of birds and even managed to capture one on camera. Can you spot him?

P1020820And we saw Elvis too!

P1020764Ryan got in some rock “surfing” at Wave Rock.

P1020805Along the road there were many, many sheep.

P1020749And we took in some amazing views.  This is what the countryside looks like from the top of Wave Rock.

P1020782Last but not least a picture taken just in case you didn’t believe that Ryan is tall. (These are markers used to show how deep water is when the area floods.)

Our Part of the Great Commission

This morning Ryan and I rose early to attend an 8am Missions Breakfast at the church here in Camarillo.  It’s hard to get up early on a Saturday (especially for Ryan since it’s his only day to sleep past 4:10am) but it was worth it.  We enjoyed our time rubbing elbows with other people who have a vision and a heart for the Great Commission.

missions breakfastEd and Kelli Compean, who work in Kenya, and their son spoke to us about their lives, ministry and what sustains them.  Thanks Krista for this great picture!  I appreciated the Compean’s candidness but especially enjoyed Ed’s reminder to us that all Christians are part of the Great Commission (“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20).  

No matter where God has you, whatever stage in life, whatever job or circumstances, we should be faithful to our little slice of the Great Commission.  We aren’t called to do it all ourselves.  We are a part of a greater whole.  This is such a sweet reminder to me in this time of transition and waiting.

I’m thankful for a church that takes the gospel seriously and for the reminder at this breakfast of all the work that is being done here in the area, in other parts of California and to far away places like Kenya.

 

Time with God

As a Christian I believe that I have a relationship with God and that through prayer I can communicate with the trinity.  I also have the privilege of hearing from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: in stillness, through other people and through the pages of the Bible.  I believe that the Bible is the word of God and although it was written in a different time to different and diverse cultures that the truth and the message are still applicable and transformative today.

But like any relationship, this one takes time, effort and commitment.  I have no problem carving out time for friends that I meet with face to face.  And so i’ve had to learn how to schedule devoted time to seek God’s face.  Many Christians set aside morning time for God.  I’ve heard many people say that it helps them to start their day out right and it is them easier not to forget it at some other time.  However, while I was in PNG the morning was usually get up and go.  In town that was market time or we were taking advantage of the clear skies to get laundry done or taking advantage of the daylight to get work and other errands completed.  And in the village, there was the morning radio sched and neighbors visiting and all sorts of other distractions.  Depending on where I was I had to set aside time in another part of my day.  In the village this was often the afternoon right after lunch.  The village was usually quiet and there was time before the afternoon work to just sit on the back porch, read my Bible, pray and listen.  In Ukarumpa I usually set aside time at night right before bed.  It was sweet to contemplate my day, read my Bible and pray before I slept.

IMG_0427So the point here is that I’ve had to adapt and change to my circumstances but I’ve also made it a priority to find what works.  Once back in the US I struggled for many reasons and finally settled on a system that is working for me.  While reading my Bible, I often found it discouraging when I would miss a day or two or 5 and come back just to have forgotten what I was reading.  This made me not want to start again, like when you see your friend who you’ve been meaning to call at the store and part of you wants to hide in another aisle because you’re embarrassed that it hasn’t happened.  To counteract this I began to write down what I was reading, along with one daily prayer and committed to read through the Bible, not in 3 months, not in a year but until I was done.  I’m finally (after 3-ish years) seeing the finish line to this commitment.  After reading through some more proverbs and a few more of the minor prophets, I will have read through the Bible once again.

It takes effort and commitment to grow my relationship with God.  However, it is worth it because I am getting to know the God of the universe.  The words of the Bible are his message to mankind as well as his message to me personally.  What an amazing gift.

 

 

 

Made in God’s Image

IMG_1178“Our task now is to learn that if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgrimage. That is why pilgrimage is necessary in some shape or other. Mere sitting at home and meditating on the divine presence is not enough for our time. We have to come to the end of a long journey and see that the stranger we meet there is no other than ourselves–which is the same as saying that we find Christ in him.”        –Thomas Merton

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