Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
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Just back from Ash Wednesday service at First Church.  It was a nice service.  The congregation was a small one, giving the service a very intimate air.  Very nice, indeed.


Prayer, fasting and almsgiving
Lent
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The season of Lent has begun.  I'm excited about this opportunity to develop a more mature practice of prayer, to strengthen my faith and deepen my relationship with God in Christ.  Especially so, as it's been many years since I've undertaken any meaningful observance of Lent.  The dispostion of my Lenten observance this year is one built on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Prayer - As mentioned in a previous post, Last Sunday I began an eight-week practice of daily prayer and contemplation using the book, "Changed from Glory into Glory" as a guide that will carry me from the Transfiguration through to the Resurrection.

Fasting - I will limit myself to one meal, and two "snack-sized" meals each day throught this period.  I will also abstain from drinking coffee.  I normally drink both coffee and tea with a strong preference for coffee, especially throughout the morning, and usually have a cup of tea with my main meal.  Due to the amount of coffee my body is accustomed to receiving, I will allow myself an additional cup of tea in the morning in an effort to stem the onset of any potential caffeine withdrawal headaches.

Almsgiving - The monies saved as a result of not purchasing coffee at work each day will be donated to an as yet undetermined charity.  My current thought is I will donate these savings to either Radio Methos ( http://www.amplifyhope.org ), or to First Church of Winthrop, directly.

So, this is the observance of Lent I've outlined for myself for this year.  I don't expect it to be easy, but I do expect it will be doable.  I don't think this plan so difficult as to be unreasonable, but it should prove, for me, rigorous enough to give meaning.  And that's the point!

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Blessed Assurance
Cornet
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Another favorite hymn.
Lyrics by Fanny Crosby
Music by Phoebe P. Knapp

Blessed Assurance

vs.1
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

vs.2
Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

(Refrain)

vs.3
Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in His love.
(Refrain)


Here is a nice instrumental version performed by a brass quintet:


 

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Church buildings I esteem - X
Ichthus
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First Church of Winthrop United Methodist, Winthrop, Massachusetts.

I moved here to New England 17 years ago.  After many years of periods alternating between the practice of no religion and exploring other faiths, it's only been the past year or so that I've felt I wanted and needed to give Christianity another look.  Since this past Christmas, I've been attending First Church as my schedule allows (which unfortunately isn't as often as I'd like).  I love everything about First Church: the beautiful building, the services, the music, and above all her warm and welcoming people.




More photos. These taken by me, Christmas morning 2009Collapse )
 

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Changed from Glory into Glory
Lent
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As part of my observance of Lent, I'm undertaking an eight week period of study, prayer and contemplation to deepen my practice of prayer and my relationship with God in Christ.  I began this practice yesterday, on the Sunday of the Transfiguration, which means I will finish on Easter Sunday. 

I'm using the book, "Changed from Glory into Glory: Wesleyan Prayer for Transformation," by Paul Wesley Chilcote as my guide, focusing on one of the eight chapters each week to bring me through the eight weeks.  Each chapter consists of scripture texts, narrative discussion of the scripture, a hymn text by Charles Wesley, reflection on a work of art, and a meditation.

The first chapter, and my focus for the first week is, "The Rhythm of the Transfiguration."  This chapter suggests a paradigm of prayer rooted in the event of the Transfiguration that incorporates, 1) catching a glimpse of the divine, and 2) translating that vision into action.

I'm very much looking forward to this period of study, prayer and contemplation and am happy to have found this book to use as a guide.

For anyone who may have an interest in this book, it can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ykqzx22




Church buildings I esteem - IX
Ichthus
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Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, Buffalo, New York.

As mentioned in the previous post in this series, Baltimore was only a brief stop on my way to Buffalo, New York, where I would live for the next 12 years.  I attended services at Lincoln Memorial maybe 2 or 3 time throughout this entire period.  It was during this time my drifting away from the church had almost become complete and all connection with church and Christian community ceased.  I do feel I should state this in no way had anything to do with dissatisfaction with Lincoln Memorial or her people.  There were plenty of other Methodist churches (or churches of other denominations, for that matter) I could have attended had that been the case.  This drifting away was all about me, my own unease and discontent.  I own full responsibility.

 

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Moustached Little Devil
"Dutch"
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Gratuitous picture of my little Affenpinscher boy, "Dutch."



Jesus, keep me near the cross
First Church of Winthrop
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In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river
.
"Near the Cross," lyrics by Frances J. "Fanny" Crosby

I'm on vacation this week (Hooray!).  Because of this, I was able to attend Transfiguration Sunday services at First Church this morning.  This was the third time, now, that I've attended services at First Church.  It is such a beautiful church, and I don't just mean the building, either.  Everyone there is so welcoming, and I'm becoming quite fond of Pastor Alecia.  She has such a wonderful Christian spirit.  Her love and concern, and her enthusiasm and energy are infectious.  Even though my schedule restricts my regular attendance, I'm beginning to think First Church just may be the Christian community I've been searching for.

One of the hymns sung for the Anthem by the church choir (the Anthem was actually a "medley" of three hymns) was "Near the Cross."  This has always been one of my favorite hymns, and Fanny Crosby one of my favorite composers of hymnody aside from Charles Wesley.  Truly beautiful.

"Near the Cross," played by Johnny BellarCollapse )

Church buildings I esteem - VIII
Ichthus
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Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Maryland. 

After my short stint of time working in Charlotte, I passed an even shorter stint in Baltimore before moving on to Buffalo, New York.  I didn't really know about the history of this church while living in Baltimore.  I wasn't much of a church-goer during this time.  Understanding, now, the significance of Lovely Lane in the history of the Methodist Church, I wish I'd visited this church.  Should I ever make it back to the Baltimore area, Lovely Lane UMC will definitely be on my "must see" list!


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Church buildings I esteem - VII
Ichthus
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First United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina.  After exiting university and the city of Pittsburgh in favor of employment, I lived for a short time in Charlotte, North Carolina.  By now, my church attendance had become infrequent but I did attend services at this church a couple of times.

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