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Lent, Anyone?


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Thought I'd start a thread that might be fun.... or not... :D


I was just wondering if there are any other Episcopalians here, or members of any other denomination that "does" lent.


In our household this lent, we are trying to eat vegetarian as much as possible, and I am also spending less of my time on the internet.


Also, there is a daily eucharist at my church throughout the season of lent and I am trying to get to at least one other service a week aside from Sunday mornings. Am also trying to set aside more time for reflection and meditation.


I feel that lent provides an excellent opportunity for inward reflection and moving closer to God, and I love this time of year.


Anyone else doing anything for lent?

Edited by Lolly
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Lent is my most treasured season of the Church. My wife and I practice it every year.

It is such a wonderful opportunity for spiritual, personal growth. The first thing on Jesus' agenda after his babtism was 40 days of spiritual purification in the wilderness. He didn't just go out and start preaching and healing. This is a crucial piece of the Christian journey.


My practices vary from year to year, and I find that my experience deepens little bit every time.

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I never do Lenten things. But as for giving "up" something, I think to me (not talking of anyone else here) it seems like a meaningless formula.


I also don't care for the usual services and don't attend them. . Once I went to Maundry Thursday service and I was very uncomfortable with it. It is the time our liberal/progressive church becomes its most conservative. We did, in our old church, have a Lenten series of talks, discussions, etc. that were wonderful. They took some topic and looked at it from a faith point of view. For example, we had one on WWII and had a discussion on Deitrich Bonhoefer, something on the A-Bomb, family experiences and stories, etc.


BTW, I think it is funny that UCC seems to attract many from other congregations that we get kind of a mix of what people dislike, etc. There are some ex-Catholics who will absolutely NOT go to communion as they don't like eating and drinking body and blood.

And they are people like myself who dont' like the lenten stuff. If someone would be able

to infuse some of this with new meaning-- I was interested in what BR posted. I believe my new church does a Seder. I went to a kind of Reform Seder in the 70s and it was very meaninngful.



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I think that all of the Church year can offer something. This years lent should be something special for me. It should be a time to really get back to who I am. It should be a time to discover who I am.

I am thankful for the traditions of the Church and the liturgy used. I am thankful that I have something that can be traced back for years and years. I am thankful that I have a faith tradition that can offer me some sort of a discipline when it comes to the spiritual.

This years lent I am trying to ‘give up’ the mask’s that I wear. I thought about how Mardi Gras is about letting loose and dressing up. I would never behave the way I did at Mardi Gras, and that is not bad, however I was not who I really am. Now I want to put away not only my Mardi Gras mask but also the mask that hide me from myself. I think that the Lenten season as well as the whole Church year can be a beautiful thing in each Christians life.

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Thought I would also offer this link here, which captures a good bit of what the season of Lent means to me (though I'm not sure I would agree with the author that it's "me" in charge... more like "me" trying to get out of my own way so as to let God in).


An excerpt:


The Observance of a Holy Lent


I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.


With these words, the Church calls us to enter the forty days of Lent. I hope you will consider this season an opportunity for spiritual growth, as that is what it is intended to be. Consider it the “spring cleaning of the soul” if you will. We may not like to clean, but it sure feels good after it’s done.


We may not like Lent, either, but if you follow a Lenten discipline, I assure you that it will transform your experience of Easter.


The model for Lent is Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. We are invited to make a similar journey, into the wilderness of our own soul. We are invited to look deep within ourselves, and confront those things hidden in the dark corners.


To make this journey, we have to begin by recognizing that there are parts of ourselves that don’t want to go along. Our emotions, often the voice for the appetites and desires of our body, are going to protest. Our emotions, in league with our bodies, wants to be in charge of everything.


The other part of ourselves that will most likely protest the journey inward will be our minds, which I often call “the committee that meets in my head.” Those folks never seem to shut up! Consequently, I can rarely reflect on much of anything. The internal dialogue goes on and on, often about pointless stuff, never giving me a moment’s rest. Beyond the incessant noise, I’ve also learned not to trust my head. I can justify almost anything, if I think about it long enough.


The truth of the matter is that neither the body, the emotions nor the mind are really in charge. You are. They must submit to your will. Once they’ve submitted, the inward journey can begin.


How do we get them to submit? This is where the Lenten disciplines come in....


This is a lovely post, really, and I encourage anyone interested to read it in its entirety:



Edited by Lolly
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My church does not celebrate lent, but my family (immediate, not of origin) does. We find it to be a practice of mindfulness and gratitude. This year we decided not only to give something up, but to add something also. I added a daily meditation period - I tend to be irregular - and gave up flour and sugar. I gave up flour and sugar last year and found it meaningful. It's not just legalism... it's a place for grace - I find that I cannot give these up consistently at any other time of year.


It also is a practice of mindfulness. Every time (each second or so) that I consider flour or Dios Mio - sugar, I remember God's blessings for me... it's not so much to give up in comparison- God is good to me. It makes me aware of my ambient gratitude. It wakes me from my workaday self... or, like Steve mentioned, peels away the false self.


I used to see it from a different perspective... but, hey, give it a try - you may be amazed at your experience. :)

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LOL Fatherman! :lol:


Actually, I like the idea of giving up flour and sugar for Lent for a couple of reasons:


1) I really really like both of those things, so it would indeed be a sacrifice.

2) I'm borderline diabetic, so I'd be doing something good for my health as well.


I wish I'd realized Lent started Wednesday, but I guess it's not too late to start? I've never observed Lent before.

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Go for it Aletheia - the best part is that you get Sundays off. In my house during Lent, Sundays are known alternately as "brownie day" (perhaps, just perhaps, a person might be made fun of for making brownies for breakfast...) and "God is GOOD" day! Sundays really make you appreciate what you usually take for granted.


Interested to hear how it goes for you. Godspeed :D

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Hey all--


I find Lent very to be meaningful. People often get irritated at the "giving up of something" notion, but one could also approach Lent as "adding something" or as simply "giving."


For me, Lent is an opportunity to spend a little more time in meditation and prayer (I practice Thomas Keating's centering prayer method), to give more to various charities, and to offer more of myself to people in my life who have asked for my help, explicitly or implicitly.


I also do more spiritual reading -- this year I'm relishing The Rhythm of Compassion by Gail Straub. According to one critic, "If you long to make a difference in the world and struggle to find a way to balance self-care with service, then you must read this book."


If I'm able to, I may participate in a silent Lenten retreat. Wasn't able to this year, but I went on a six-day silent retreat last year and was quietly transformed.


Then at the end of Lent, it's not like we need to drop all these "giving" activities! We can incorporate them, in larger or smaller degree, in our daily lives. Thus, each year, we ourselves take on more of the qualities of Eucharist -- and become bread, drink, nourishment for the world.


Blessings and peace to all--



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Progress/interesting aspects/enlightenment moments anyone???


My meditation is going well. The best time of day for me is about 5:30am before everybody gets up and moving. I have been waking up fully without an alarm and with no desire to go back to sleep. Ahhh... divine assistance - lovely.


On the sugar/flour front, the brownies today were great. I have been mindful of God since Wed :D


Aletheia - did you decide to celebrate?

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Progress/interesting aspects/enlightenment moments anyone???


Had a pretty good meditation today, too. Some stuff is currently coming up in meditation that isn't exactly fun, but it's good for me to get it out there where I can see it.


On Friday I went to pray the stations of the cross; being a fairly new Episcopalian this was the first time I had ever done that. I was very moved by it. Only a few of us were there, still fewer stayed to partake of the Holy Eucharist afterward. I always feel very strongly connected when the group is small like that... there is something very intimate and holy about celebrating the Eucharist with just a few people.


Also, the celebrant for that service was a priest who had just been ordained the week before. I was at her ordination, and it's really meaningful to be a part of this period in her life.


So, there seems to be lots of stuff coming up to just reinforce the faith. It's been a good week.

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  • 2 weeks later...



I am currently exploring "A Course in Miracles" which has a very different view of lent. It's a very positive one with no "Giving up Something for Lent" in it.


Our lesson for this first week of lent was Lesson 93 in the Workbook:"Light and peace abide in me". In discussing current lenten thinking, it's P.O.V. seems to be "These thoughts are not according to "God's Will".(W93:3:2) "The self you made is not the Son of God"(5:1)."Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God"(6:1)."You can do much for the world's salvation today"(11:5)


These are interesting words for one who was faithful with ashes on my forehead for many years, but now live in exile from the Church and its disfunctions.


More next week.



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Lent Devotional - Week Two: Lifting the AIDS Crisis for prayer and action


New Testament Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46


United Methodist Social Principle: The Social Community


2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions:


“…Jesus Christ reached out and healed those who came to him, including people who were despised and rejected because of their illness and afflictions…(p. 745)


The global AIDS pandemic provides a nearly unparalleled opportunity for witness to the gospel through service, advocacy, and other healing ministries…(p. 747)


Walking Humbly with God:


Read Matthew 25:31-46 and reflect on the following excerpts and questions:


The church has HIV/AIDS. The church, being the body of Christ, accepts that when its members are infected, the entire body of Christ is infected and affected, hence the need to transform the church into a living community of hope, healing and action. - Dr. Mercy Amba Oduyoye, a Ghanaian theologian.


…working together, we can be the generation that stands up and says no more shall children in God’s world die from hunger. No more will people’s lives be shortened by the AIDS pandemic. No more!

- Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World


What is your community’s response to people living with HIV/AIDS? What stigmas do you still carry about people with HIV/AIDS that keep you from responding to Christ’s call in Matthew 25? How do these stereotypes affect how our faith communities and governments respond to this crisis? What choices to we make that perpetuate the AIDS pandemic? (For clues click here) What other ways is God calling you to respond?




…United Methodist congregations, schools, health facilities, women’s, men’s, and youth groups can play a major role by providing awareness, support, education and care to those affected by HIV/AIDS. (Book of Resolutions, p. 747)


1. Identify and implement one thing that would help your church become a more open place where people whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS could name their pain and reach out for compassion, understanding, and acceptance (Book of Resolutions, p. 747).


2. Contribute financially.


United Methodist Global AIDS Fund: Advance #982345.

Responds to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS within the context of their communities and assists organizations in Latin America/Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia/Pacific to address the prevention of the spread of HIV. This is a new fund adopted by the 2004 General Conference to work toward the eradication of AIDS around the globe. The goal is to raise $8 million over the next four years.


AIDS Orphan Trust: Advance #982842.

Unlike a traditional orphanage, children in Africa whose parents have died of AIDS are allowed to remain in their homes and assigned caregivers regularly visit them and attend to their needs.


Enabling AIDS Ministries in the U.S.A.: Advance #982215.

This program facilitates development and strengthening of HIV/AIDS ministries by providing grants for education, compassion, and advocacy for persons living with HIV/AIDS.


Healthy Homes, Healthy Families Kit Program: Advance #982315.

Distributes infection control and basic care kits that contain 22 essential supplies needed to take care of an ailing loved one and prevent the spread of infection.


(When contributing financially, give through your local United Methodist Church indicating the Advance Special #. Gifts may also be sent to: ADVANCE, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. To make a credit card donation, call 1-800-554-8583.)




The General Board of Church and Society is committed to working in coalition with ecumenical partners to advocate for increased funding of global AIDS initiatives. One important goal is to support programs that reduce poverty, improve access to health care, education and economic justice--all issues related to eradication of AIDS.


1. Learn from the following websites about the current HIV/AIDS pandemic and what is being done about it. Design an awareness campaign or educational program in your church, youth group, conference or school.


The One Campaign


2. Advocate for increased levels of funding for HIV/AIDS. Contact your government officials and urge adequate funding for the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria as well as your country’s initiatives to overcome AIDS at home and abroad.


3. Advocate for funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to be guaranteed from the United States each year. UNFPA works diligently to provide resources for reproductive health of women and girls as well as HIV/AIDS prevention around the globe (Book of Resolutions, p. 747-8).


4. Plan to have your church/campus ministry participate in World AIDS Day on Dec. 1st.



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Lenten Devotional – Week Three: Creating a Well, Not a Wall in Iraq


New Testament Scripture: John 4:5-42


United Methodist Social Principle: The World Community


2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions:

"...we call upon the United States government and The United Methodist Church to work cooperatively with the international community and the worldwide Body of Christ for a just and peaceful rebuilding of Iraq that provides for Iraq's self-determination as a nation with intentional focus on the needs and concerns of the Iraqi people" (p.841),


Walking Humbly with God:


Read John 4:5-42 and prayerfully reflect on the following excerpts and questions:


Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty. - Archbishop Oscars Romero


The well has significance throughout human history, not only as the receptacle of the water that is needed to quench thirst, clean our bodies and accomplish many of the essential tasks of daily living. The well is also a meeting place, usually centrally located, where people come together to draw water and to reconnect with one another. Relationships are formed at the well. Where are the wells of our time?


Jesus says, "The water I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." Jesus is a well for those who are followers of him. Filled by the Spirit, we also become wells for one another. We can embody Jesus' well, becoming people who are reconcilers and healers in our communities and in the world.


"Well-being" is not merely a physical state of health. Wellness is openness to the presence of God in others, even those who have a very different life story to tell than our own. To be a well is to have a willingness to fill and be filled. It is a regular practice of justice and mercy, forgiveness and healing. What does it mean to meet together and share water at the well, particularly during difficult times and times of conflict?


How does Jesus’ life prepare us to advocate for people/communities/nations experiencing violence? Through Jesus’ interaction with a woman from Samaria, what assumptions and systems did Jesus challenge? How does this determine how we advocate for those affected (civilians and combatants) by the war in Iraq? With healing and reconciliation at the core of Jesus’ ministry and purpose, how can we engage world leaders to adopt a foreign policy that reflects these core beliefs?




"... we exemplify Christ's peace through the words and actions of each of our daily lives" (Book of Resolutions, p. 841).


1. Pray constantly for:

a. The safety and well-being of both civilians and combatants affected by the war in Iraq.


The people of the entire Middle Eastern region and for the implementation of serious and effective plans of peaceful resolution of the region's crises.

GBCS Statement on Crisis in the Middle East, 10/17/04


2. Support families of the troops and/or send money to the Red Cross:


< http://www.redcross.org/donate/donate.html or the USO:


< http://uso.com/pubs/8_13_18.cfm (designate for families of the troops).


3. Support citizens of Iraq by sending money for humanitarian aid:






Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate panel that " the Iraq insurgency has grown 'in size and complexity over the past year' and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year. Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down. War helps Recruit Terrorists, Hill Told, Washington Post, 2/17/05


...we urge a truly united effort to transfer power and sovereignty back to the Iraqi people as soon as possible, the withdrawal of United States and other coalition forces, and their replacement with U.N. forces, and funding coordinated through that international body. We further call upon the international community to support the reconstruction of Iraq and the healing of its people who have been devastated for decades by their own leaders as well as more recently by the occupying forces.


GBCS Statement on Crisis in the Middle East, 10/17/04


Learn more about the conflict in Iraq:


· http://www.umc-gbcs.org/issues/issues.php?topic=Iraq


· Religious leaders condemn Iraq church bombings:




· Education For Peace in Iraq: http://www.epic-usa.org


· Amnesty International report on Women in Post-Conflict Iraq: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/women


· Cost of War: http://www.costofwar.com/


Contact your member of congress to advocate:



Transfer of power and sovereignty back to the people of Iraq as soon as possible.

Reconstruction of the country and the healing of its people though the support of the international community.

Against (specific to U.S.):


a. Proposed cuts in President Bush’s budget for veteran's health benefits.


b. The supplemental $80 billion to continue the war in Iraq.


Go to UMPower: http://capwiz.com/gbcs/home/ for the name and contact information of your members of congress.


Learn about the Arab people and about Islam:

http://www.freep.com/jobspag e/arabs/index.htm


Sign-up at the JUSTPEACE* website to learn about training opportunities coming to your area -- to learn about engaging difficult situations and resolving conflict using the image of a well instead of a wall.



*Mark Mancao, a director of JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, helped create this weeks’ devotional



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Jeep, I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not sinless and neither am I.


What Jeep describes sounds something like the Christian Science idea of you are sinless because God didn't create sin. I would agree wtih the latter, that God didn't create sin. My view of sin is partly, at least, that your separation from God is what sin is. So unless you

could be totally with God the way Jesus was, then you will sin.


I agree with Jeep in the sense of the amt. of neurosis that has been created as a result of the sin heavy discussions of conservative churches. However, I also agree with BR that we have done a "very good job" in the liberal/ progressive traditions of not talking about sin!

(I think he or someone else, might have said that.)


Since we are pretty much likely to be separated from God, then we are likely to sin.

I don't believe in a fall, but we pretty much create our own fall.


BTW, BR I feel you have put together here (or at least put it up here) a fine alternative to

traditional lenten contemplations. I'm going to take a closer look at this one!!






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This year March 20th is Palm Sunday. What better way to celebrate Palm Sunday (a day where people filled the streets and marched on faith which challenged the military might of the empire) than to join local actions to end the war in Iraq and end the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.


Please share below actions with friends and neighbors!


US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

March 19-20 The World Says End the War!


March 19-20 marks the two-year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. The war on Iraq is one manifestation of a larger US agenda for domination in the Middle East. The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, which is supported politically and financially by the United States, is included in this agenda.


The US Campaign is joining United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) to call for end to the war. On March 19th and 20th people around the world will be joining together in a global protest against the war and against occupation. A major national convergence will take place in Fayetteville, North Carolina which is home to Fort Bragg, one of four major US military bases in North Carolina. Additionally, there will be decentralized protests in cities in towns all over the country.


What you can do:


* Endorse the Call to Action! Visit http://meetups.radicaldesigns.org/modinput...t4.php?modin=13 to fill out UFPJ's endorsement form


* Participate in the global day of protest! We encourage you to join the US Campaign in Fayetteville, NC. If you can't make it to Fayetteville we encourage you to join or plan an event in your own community. Visit http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=2688 for UFPJ's information about Fayetteville and other activities nationwide.


* Educate about the linkages between the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The US Campaign has two educational resources for you to use that highlight these linkages:


Dual Occupations looks at the political relationship between the two occupations,

the similarities in the tactics used by both occupation forces, and occupation vis-

à-vis international law. Visit

http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=314 to download a PDF of Dual



Torture in the "War on Terrorism" deals specifically with the use of torture by US

and Israeli soldiers and security forces against prisoners during interrogation and

detention. Visit http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1052 to download a PDF of Torture in the "War on Terrorism."


* Write an op-ed for your local newspaper. For tips on writing and getting op-eds placed visit Palestine Media Watch at http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/index.asp

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To All:


I am continuing to study "A Course in Miracles" by audiotape from Anaheim, California. The lesson for Lent for this week:"God is the love in which I forgive".Lesson 46. "God does not forgive because God has never condemned(1:1)". "God's love is nevethless the basis of forgiveness(2:1)"."Fear condemns and love forgives((2:2)"."For this reason,forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear((2:4-5)".


God is the love we are learning of in which to forgive and be forgiven this Lenten season.


God is Love



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Indeed, God is love - and God expects us to love each other.





Lent Devotional – Week Four: Just Immigration Reform


New Testament Scripture: John 9:1-41


United Methodist Social Principles: The Social Community & The Political Community 2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions:


"...the ethic of welcoming the sojourner was woven into the very fabric of the Israelite confederacy. It was more than an ethic, it was a command of God. "Do not mistreat or oppress a stranger; you know how it feels to be a stranger, because you were sojourners in the land of Egypt."

(Exodus 23:9, Revised Standard Version, adapted)


Walking Humbly with God:


Read John 9:1-41 and prayerfully reflect on the following discussion and questions:


Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath" (9:16).


Jesus knew what it meant to stand up and speak for justice and right in the thick of oppression. When we stand up, he stands up with us. Jesus knew what if meant to risk for the coming reign of God. When we risk for that reign, he is present to us and with us. Jesus knew what it meant to live in compassionate solidarity with the poor and excluded. When we live that same solidarity, he is present to us and with us.

--Shawn Copeland


What resistance do you anticipate within yourself or your community as you ask new questions regarding people who are immigrants or refugees? What messages do you hear that tell you, like the Pharisees, to put the law before the needs of God’s children? How much are you willing to share God's bounty in the land in which you live? How is God calling you to respond to the immediate needs (mercy) and work to change the systems that perpetuate the suffering (justice)?



Loving God, help us to see clearly like the blind man. Help us to see your face in the faces of all those who come to our shores and borders, those whom you love, and for whom your Son Jesus Christ died. Amen.



The Bible is full of stories of sojourners, strangers without homes, whom God called people to protect. The Israelites were themselves sojourners for forty years...The infant Jesus and his family had to flee to Egypt to avoid persecution and death; they became refugees... (p. 677-8).


Nearly all the citizens of the United States have ancestors who emigrated from other parts of the world... (p. 681).

--2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions


1. Talk with family members about your stories of immigration. What were the factors that made them leave their homes and move? How were they received? What would have happened if they had stayed? How does that history impact who you are today? (For UMs in the US, when you consider your family history how does that impact your attitude toward people who are new to this land, remembering that only Native Americans were indigenous to the United States?)


2. What and where have you learned about immigration in the United States? Test your understanding by reviewing the myths and facts below: Immigration Myths and Facts

3. Name one thing new you have learned by reading Immigration Myths and Facts and discuss it with three other people.

4. Volunteer to help immigrant children and adults learn English and help them transition to their lives in their adopted country.

5. Learn about the needs of the immigrant population in your community and find out how the church can help/get involved.



About a year and a half ago, in a small town in North Carolina, a Pastor told me a story of how after Sunday Worship, officers of the Immigration and Nationalization Services were standing out of the church waiting to arrest some of the worshipers because of their immigration status. According to the pastor, a number of the members, of this United Methodist Church, were detained for being undocumented.


In recent months we have seen an increase in anti-immigrant sentiments and legislation across the United States (and other countries). In the United States most recently, Proposition 200 in the state of Arizona has become the law of the land. But this is a law that has no hope for people who are immigrants. These immigration laws continue to oppress groups of people just as the laws that Jesus challenged when he healed the blind man in John's story.

--Rev. Eliezer Valentin-Castanon


...Uprootedness is seen by the governments of the industrialized nations as a problem to be dealt with by leaving other countries to solve their own problems or by exercising force, rather than grasping the complex phenomena that need coherent and human solutions on a global scale (p. 680).

--2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions


Steps To Take:


Ask your members of Congress to support the "Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act” (AgJobs).


Plan for your church to observe United Nations Sunday, “Migrant Workers: Uprooted, Rerouted and Re-rooted”, on October, 24, 2005. Find liturgical resources at the GBCS Special Sundays page.


Urge your members of Congress to ratify the “International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families”


Participate in the consumer boycott of Taco Bell restaurants and products to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers – migrant farm workers earning 40 cents per 32 lb bucket of tomatoes picked. (The 2004 General Conference of the UMC voted to join this boycott.) For more information, see Resolution #196, p. 511.)


Take current actions based on the UM Resolution #265 in the 2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions, Immigrants and Refugees: To Love the Sojourner:


To urge the government of the United States as well as other governments to… ensure protection of basic human rights and refugees, such as the right to:


an education – advocate for the DREAM Act (S. 1545) – Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act in the US Congress,


adequate health care – advocate for the ICHEA Act – Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act in the US Senate


due process and redress of law (civil right protections) – oppose the USA PATRIOT Act I and II – Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism in the US Congress


protection against social and economic exploitation – oppose State propositions like “Proposition 200” in Arizona,


the right to a cultural and social identity,


and access to the social and economic life of the nation whether in documented or undocumented status.

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...A unique perspective...


Lent and 'pop' theology

by Will Braun


I was sipping a soda on the eve of Lent when it became clearer. The stars in my head - those specks of truth orbiting inner space - aligned themselves with rare clarity. The ancient rhythms of Lent presented me with a liturgical path leading beyond the consumer fatigue of our era, a gentle path of spiritual de-corporatization.


At that moment I recognized my willingness to not only fill my body with a substance of nutritional detriment, but to actually pay Mr. Coca-Cola for the self-destructive opportunity. It felt in every way like a matter of dignity. I was repulsed by the bottle in my hand. If I was making a donation of $1.39 to Mr. Coca-Cola in exchange for his plastic-packaged froth, he was smarter than I. I felt that change was not only possible, it was inevitable.


The decision to give up something for Lent had been made for me. It happened before guilt or duty had even stated their nagging case. The motivational force was other, and stronger. The forces of my inner universe placed the value of dignity squarely above the value of fizz. I would abstain from big-name soda (i.e., Coke and Pepsi products), and I knew that after Lent there would be little reason to revert to the carbonated ways of old.


What emerged from my experience was the realization of Lent as a liturgical antidote to consumer stress and excess.


I do not imply here that people who drink Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper are bereft of moral fortitude. We are all indictable on multiple counts of less-than-noble consumption, and likewise all worthy of boundless grace regardless of our shopping habits.


Beyond compunction


Lenten self-sacrifice has tinges of earnest piety and religious compunction. It can feel like a moral "heavy." But there is something beyond this, a certain appeal. Despite relentless reminders of the benefits of having more, somewhere in the undercurrent of human experience we retain the knowledge that less can be more, that life abundant is not synonymous with life over-indulgent. This knowledge is "common sense," if you will - a shared sense of some bit of truth. And liturgy lures us back to this "common sense."


In our age of rampant rampancy, the relevance of a "less is more" undercurrent is obvious. What had been less obvious to me was the role of Lent as an ordained season of liturgical de-corporatization. My soda experiment showed me Lent can be the optimal time to ride the counter-consumer spiritual tide. If we get into the spirit of the season, the task of untangling our lives from the consumer web becomes a bit easier.


Rather than continually trying to conjure the willpower to do "the right thing," I like to think of being drawn into the flow and rhythm of the liturgical calendar - being carried along by a phenomenon beyond myself. Liturgy gently stirs us; it connects us with rhythms of change. It holds the possibility of matching ancient, ongoing undercurrents with nitty-gritty lifestyle challenges. I like to call it "practical liturgy."


De-carbonation of spirit


The perennial peeling away of consumptive layers need not start or finish with soda. The long list of candidates for the Lenten chopping block is conveniently provided for us by the advertising industry. For me soda was a good first experiment.


Since my final, fated can of soda I haven't looked back. Other than the very occasional glass of generic brand grapefruit soda, or a bit of ginger ale concealed in the party punch, I have not strayed. Nor have I been particularly tempted to. The de-carbonation of my being is a source of satisfaction and dignity. (The remaining consumer shortcomings in my life prevent the satisfaction from becoming self-satisfaction.)


Similarly, I feel better knowing not a penny of mine goes to the global cause of fizz. Coke, with its patented red and its sugary blend of mild cultural poison, is one of the most recognized brands on earth. The nearly 400 brands handled by the Coca-Cola Company show up in 200 countries. Its legacy is littered with environmental and human rights abuses. Its greatest redeeming quality is fizz. I am pleased not to be a part of it.


If liturgy hints at the deepest and highest layers of human existence, Coke's role in the human story is rather contrary.


However, the focal point of Lent is not corporate blame but Easter redemption. Lent looks forward to the mystery at the heart of life abundant. The practical liturgy of the season offers the possibility of peeling away layers that obscure our view of that life. And ultimately, the primal flow of Lent carries us toward the imminent eruption of life in the ongoing cycle of grace.


Will Braun is editor of the new Geez magazine, coming fall 2005 (www.GeezMagazine.org). He writes from Winnipeg, Canada.



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