Two fish sticks and a Sprite…a post by Joy

Two Fish Sticks and a green bottle of Sprite is what I ate and drank on Fridays for lunch in the the 7th grade during Lent Season. Although, we were having fish because there were lots of people giving up meat for the season, the fish sticks and Sprite were a treat for me. This was my first realization of the Lent season and even then I did not really know what it meant. I’m sure there must have been other food served with this delicacy such as French fries and slaw and maybe even a bread roll. Yet, for me, the two fish sticks and the cold green bottle of Sprite is all I can remember. Interestingly enough, during this Lent season, this visual has come to my mind at least 3 times.  I’ve actually asked Christ what invitation in my Spiritual Formation is He bringing to me with this memory.  What is it that I am supposed to pay attention to?

As I sat with it these last 2 weeks in particular, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men plus women and children kept coming to my mind. When the disciples noticed how late it was getting they suggested to Jesus that He send them home or to the villages to buy their own food.  Jesus told them that the people did not need to go away. He instructed them to give the people something to eat. Matthew 14: 17 states that the disciples told Jesus they only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He requested that it be brought to Him. We all know the rest of the story of how Jesus miraculously fed all of these people until they were satisfied. And there were still 12 baskets left over.

In reading this story in Matthew 14: 14-21 and Mark 6: 34-44, the phrase that kept standing out to me was that “Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd…. (Mark 6:34). Matt. 14:14 says “….He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick. “  During this Lent season, with my own illustration of “two fish and a Sprite”, I am compelled to receive the compassion of Christ as we are now in the Holy Week working up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Somber Saturday, and Glorious Easter Sunday. We remember and celebrate His greatest work of compassion for us all this week. I am also compelled to show compassion to others and to myself in a way that is honoring of how Christ is working in me. May you each have a blessed Easter celebrating His compassion for us all!

It Takes a Body…a post by Jim

“Christianity is to have one’s body shaped, one’s habits determined, in such a manner that the worship of God is unavoidable” (Stanley Hauerwas). A spiritual discipline is “an activity within our power—something we can do—which brings us to a point where we can do what we at present cannot do by direct effort” (Dallas Willard).

Practicing spiritual disciplines shape us so that we become the kind of person who more instinctively lives the kind of life that is pleasing to our Lord. That is to say, the change our being through our doing. They shape our souls through our actions. Or as neuroscientist Antonio Damasio puts it, “Mind is probably not conceivable without some sort of embodiment.” Our thoughts and desires arise in large part from the activity of our bodies.

This is Holy Week. The Gospel writers slow their narratives of Jesus to make sure we understand that what happened this week is absolutely crucial to the Gospel story. And as we read of Jesus activity during the week we see a man, among other things, given to communion with his Father (in prayer) and communion with his disciples (at the Last Supper). It is as if Jesus needs the influence and strength that comes from connecting with others.

Without the help of others, without a sense of touch and togetherness, it is very, very difficult to live out our calling in Christ. Like Christ we need healthy and hefty doses of communion. We need others to influence our body to the point of being the kind of person that is pleasing to our Father.

May God help us this week to follow the path of Jesus, the way of surrender no matter what the ‘ask’, so that we glorify our Father. To do that will require a connection that our body feels so that it can move us in that direction.

Praise Rather than Pout

The story of Jesus kicking out the merchants and knocking over tables in the temple fascinated me as a kid. As best I could I pictured the mess he made. I thought Jesus must have been quite the character to do that! I guess that because I got caught up in the action of cleansing the temple I missed what followed–the healing of the blind and lame who came to Jesus in the temple (Matthew 21:14). And I certainly did not make the connection between the two that Matthew wants us to make. Continue Reading

Time to Kick out and Knock Over

At least 1,248!! That’s the number of chapters Matthew would be if he had given the same amount of coverage to the entire life of Jesus as he gave to the last week of Jesus. As it stands, 20 chapters (682 verses) record the first 33 years of Jesus life and 8 chapters (389 verses) capture the Passion Week. Over a third of Matthew (like Mark and Luke) focuses on what happened from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Why? They want us to pay VERY close attention because what happened is of VITAL importance. And what is the first thing Jesus did that is so important? Continue Reading