Unlearn, Learn and Relearn
— Christine Sine —
Tom and I have just returned from two wonderful weeks in Australia with my family and friends. This has been a very important trip for me, reinforcing the importance of my biological family and also of the country of my birth. However I also know that the sense of identity I gain from my biological family is not enough. My identity is now rooted in being a child of God, and my sense of belonging is tied to my true home in the kingdom of God.
As I wrote in a blog post, Where Do You Belong, becoming a Christian asks all of us to take on a new identity and a new place of belonging. It challenges us to be reshaped according to a different culture. Old priorities are turned upside down and we enter a process of unlearning, learning and relearning.
The Kingdom of God’s culture of love, generosity, compassion and mutual care transcends the cultures in which we grew up and from which we draw our stories. Living into this culture is meant to anchor us in ways that the stories of our birth families never can.
Finding Identity in the Season Of Lent
I am very aware of this as I prepare for the upcoming season of Lent. Reading through our devotional, A Journey into Wholeness, and meditating on the Lenten prayer cards, helps me to unlearn and relearn the anchors that I need to stabilize my life and focus me on God’s culture and priorities.
In A Journey Into Wholeness, each week of Lent emphasizes a different area of brokenness in our lives and our world. Over the five weeks of Lent we will deal with issues of inner healing, hunger, homelessness, stewardship of creation, and the brokenness of God’s family.
We end with Holy week and a walk from Palm Sunday, beyond the Cross, to Easter. We hope that the daily reflections in the book, and the additional reflections posted daily on the Godspace blog, will help draw people more fully into these themes and, more importantly, into their responsibilities as citizens of God’s kingdom.
We hope that you will not just read along with us but will commit to some of the suggested practices. Maybe you would like to join us for the $2 challenge. Or leave your car at home for a week and only use public transport. Perhaps you could spend a night working in a homeless shelter or visit a couple of churches with different theological perspectives and seek to understand their viewpoints.
Perhaps reading the book will stir you to institute other practices. Or you may be stirred by the compelling questions Andy Wade has asked on the MSA blog recently in his articles Stop Stimulating Me and Courting Imagination. Whatever you decide, we hope you will share your stories with us so that we can encourage each other by our actions.
Consider using some of the other Lenten resources we have available too. The new Lenten prayer cards are designed to help us follow through with our intentions. I suggest you use a different card each week as a focus for your Lenten practices. On the back of the card write down your intended practices for the week. Read the prayer on the card each morning, and carry it with you and read it as you travel as a reminder of your commitment. Having a visual focus like this often helps us both remember and follow through with our decisions.
If you live in the Seattle area consider joining us March 1st for our pre-Lent retreat, Return to Our Senses in Lent. This will provide a great opportunity to prepare your heart and establish some new practices for the season. Become a part of a committed community that can encourage and support one another in our journey.
Finding Identity in Garden Transformations
Not only are we moving towards Lent, but here in the northern hemisphere we are also quickly moving into the garden season. This weekend we will plant our first greens: broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as well as onions and leeks. We will start cutting back the dead growth on the fruit trees, spreading compost and getting ready for everything to grow.
Once again we are ready to help you start your garden. Would you like us to provide you with lettuce or broccoli plants? Perhaps you want some special tomatoes or squash varieties. If you are interested, email us for an order form. Unfortunately we are not equipped to send plants by mail so this offer is restricted to those who live in the Seattle area. Or you might like to put our upcoming garden seminar, To Garden with God, on April 12th, on your schedule now.
Gardening too is a journey from brokenness to transformation, an exciting, hope-filled journey that reminds us God is in the business of transformation. Perhaps like me you would like to start a Lenten garden this year. Fill a bowl with compost – reminding yourself continually that this is garbage transformed. Decorate your bowl with stones or crosses or other reminders of the journey of Jesus towards the Cross. Take some seeds and sprinkle them with water in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Allow them to soak overnight and then bury them in your garden, reminding yourself of the One who was buried in the darkness of death for us. Watch them sprout into life as you journey towards Easter and the resurrection.
This is a wonderful way to creatively connect your own experiences of gardening and the Easter story together. This kind of congruence between our daily activities and the story of God strengthens our faith and stabilizes our lives.
Find Identity as You Take the Journey with Us
We hope that you too will join us in taking Lent seriously this year and help others to take the plunge too. Let us all accept the challenge to develop new disciplines and reach out more actively as God’s loving and compassionate hands.