Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Tag: Lent

Ash Wednesday at 3rd Place.

Lighting tea lights as a form of prayer.

Download the Ash Wednesday Liturgy I edited and helped facilitate for 3rd Place here.

“Ash Wednesday, an echo of the Hebrew Testament’s ancient call to sackcloth and ashes, is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have enough time to waste on nothingness. We need to repent our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and empty diversions along the way. We need to repent of our senseless excesses and our excursions into sin, our breaches of justice, or failures of honesty, our estrangement from God, our savoring of excess, our absorbing self-gratifications, one infantile addiction, one creature craving another. We need to get back in touch with our souls. ‘Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return,’ the old Sacramentary formula warned us from God’s words to Adam and Eve, as the ashes trickled down our foreheads. We hear now, as Jesus proclaimed in Galilee, ‘Turn away from sin and believe the good news’ (Mk 1:15)” (Joan Chittister).

Love the movement in this shot. Kneeling to receive the ashen cross on one's forehead.

Amazing how beautiful barren branches can be. An apt metaphor of the soul's journey of growth.

 

Responding to the question of what we are fasting for the season of Lent.

Maxie Kamalski reading a portion of the Ash Wednesday liturgy.

 

Loved Pierre Du Plessis' comment that at times, we must 'receive' Communion as opposed to 'taking' it.

On the way to 'receive' Communion.

 

We are here (Ash Wednesday).

 

Fasting pride...

 

Ashen crosses all around!

 

A Facebook fast...appropriate! Love the potential of not finding self-worth in what is posted upon Facebook.

 

My favorite Ash Wednesday image, shot by Pierre Du Plessis. "Giving up substance abuse as distraction and a form of numbing" POWERFUL! This is why we are on mission in South Africa!

Stations of the Cross: A Place For Observation.

Curtis Love, allowing the Spirit to create 'a place of observation' within.

contemplation |ˌkäntəmˈplā sh ən|noun:

  1. the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time
  2. deep reflective thought
  3. the state of being thought about or planned.
  4. religious meditation (In Christian spirituality: a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the Divine).
  • Origin: 16th century Latin word ‘contemplatio.’ The verb form, ‘contemplari’ contains the root ‘templari,’ which means ‘a place for observation.’

I unashamedly love using the simple dictionary program on my laptop to look up the definition of words, especially their Latin root meanings. It must be something about the precision of words, and how their usage flows together to create a meaningful sense of what something is.

A few weeks ago, Curtis Love lead our community in an experience designed to simply create space for us to experience the presence of Jesus in our lives. He melded images from Chris Gollon’s modern Stations of the Cross installation in the Church of St. John on Bethnal Green in London with simple Scriptural texts accompanying provocative questions designed to help us walk alongside Jesus in the final hours of his life.

The Stations of the Cross are a common means of contemplation for much of the Church globally, particularly the Roman Catholic and more High Church portions of our faith family. What I love about them correlates directly with the definition of contemplation as described above: They allow for a ‘place of observation’ and the cultivation of a  deliberate desire to directly experience the Divine. In other words, opening our hearts (the creation of internal space, in the place the Spirit of God actually ‘resides’ within us) through the creation of a physical space + journey we undergo (walking + meditating on the journey Jesus undertook as He headed towards the cross).

All who participated agreed that this was a sorely needed breath of fresh air in our lives that evening. Maybe we all need to give greater credence to the creation of places of observation in our lives.

(Each week I will attempt to post a story or reflection about some aspect of the work that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the question, ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

 

Torn//Lent 2011.

Torn//Lent 2011 pdf download

Torn//Lent 2011 teaching at 3rd Place

My Lent Fast

TORN//LENT 2011

Listen to these startling words, whispered by God towards a lover long gone: “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead” (Joel 2:12-13a, NLT). David echoes this same sentiment in Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

What working with a stylist (Pierre Du Plessis), graphic designer (Janet Prinsloo), and fashion design/theology student (Elani Joubert) gets you in terms of an Ash Wednesday vibe!

 

Lent is a season within the rhythm of the Church year, preceding the startling explosion of the Easter resurrection, whereby hearts are torn, spirits are broken, and wills are bent towards walking with Jesus in the way of the cross. Robert Webber writes that what God wants of us is a spirit that is truly broken of pride and self-sufficiency and a heart that leads towards the presence of God in obedience to His will for my life. In essence, a fresh tearing of our souls, a deliberate wounding through which hardness of heart is softened and a return to dependency upon God is renewed.

We chose to theme 3rd Place's Lenten season around the concept of "TORN," taken from a phrase in Joel 2 where God instructs us to 'not tear our garments, but our hearts instead.' Powerful!

A 40-day practice of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving whereby we walk with Jesus on the road to the cross, Lent calls us to die to ourselves in order to renew the reality of our own resurrection within life gone stale. Joan Chittister echoes this call, writing “Lent demands both the healing of the soul and the honing of the soul, both penance and faith, both a purging of what is superfluous in our lives and the heightening, the intensifying, of what is meaningful.”

Torn. A journey into the heart of Christ, for the purpose of allowing Christ to journey deep within our own broken hearts. Welcome to the season of Lent.

To emphasize the season of sacrifice, we sat on the floor in front of candles + crosses, surrounded by flowing red cloth that everyone tore strips from to keep with them throughout this season. The sound of ripping cloth is haunting to this day. We confessed sin corporately while listening for what the Spirit was calling us to die to in this season.

 

THE PRACTICES OF FASTING, PRAYER, + ALMSGIVING

The season of Lent asks us to “enter into a fresh conversion experience with Jesus Christ by an act of metanoia (turning), a turning from sin to Christ. To assist us in this pilgrimage Lent calls us to fast, pray, and give alms. The nature of these actions is to help us to actually embody what it means to turn from sin and put our trust in Jesus. Fasting, prayer and almsgiving is not only the act of giving something up…it is also the activity of taking something on…to turn towards a virtue that replaces our sin” (Robert Webber).

 

Pierre + Elani running through a last minute flow for our Ash Wednesday experience.

FASTING: “The purpose of this fast is to be liberated from the flesh…to liberate us from the power that flesh holds over the spirit, the power that brought Adam into ruination” (Robert Webber). The question to ask the Spirit is “What is my spirit in bondage from in this season of life?” followed by, “What is the Spirit desiring to free me from?” Fasting can encompass bodily actions (freedom from addiction to alcohol, caffeine, food, etc), to distractions (freedom from media, technology, etc), to internal vices (freedom from negative self-thought, sinful patterns, etc).

My notes. It's been such a meaningful experience helping shepherd a faith community through the rhythms of the Church liturgical year!

PRAYER: Prayer fills the space that fasting creates in one’s life. As Robert Webber writes, “Prayer is the actual experience of turning to God in dependence.” As fasting produces room within one’s busy, distracted life, prayer breathes fresh life and wind into that newly created space. Explore a fresh discipline of prayer in this Lenten season.

The sounds of a sitar player, a ringing metal bowl, and chanting filled the Story Space throughout Ash Wednesday. We were taken to a different place by the haunting minor chords!

ALMSGIVING: “Almsgiving is the symbol of the virtue we are taking on to replace our sin” (Robert Webber). In essence, giving testifies to the internal transformation taking place in our soul through the practices of fasting and prayer. Almsgiving is an ancient spiritual practice that takes seriously Jesus’ teaching that our heart will reside in the place where our treasure lays. How can you actively seek to fast from something in this season, and to then financially engage in a project of justice + mercy, putting your resources where your heart truly desires to reside? Engage a friend in this creative work, and tell the story of where God leads you among our community at 3rd Place.

Torn. A journey into the heart of Christ, for the purpose of allowing Christ to journey deep within our own broken hearts. Welcome to the season of Lent.

Torn//Lent 2011 pdf download

Torn//Lent 2011 teaching at 3rd Place

My Lent Fast

(Each week I will attempt to post a story or reflection about some aspect of the work that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the question, ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

My Lent Fast.

I really enjoyed talking to myself on Twitter this morning regarding what I was choosing to fast from in Lent. In the height of irony, I announced via social media that I was going to fast from all things including social media! I am a comic of the highest order, no doubt. This comes in response to what our faith community, 3rd Place, is moving into regarding Lent. I have been privileged to lend my voice to this conversation taking place all throughout Pretoria, helping craft a downloadable PDF filled with prayers, meditations, and exercises designed to engaged you in the oldest fast within the Christian community. Also, I introduced this season last week during an Ash Wednesday experience we entitled “TORN.” Listen along, here:

What are you fasting for Lent this year as a means by which to die to yourself as Christ moves towards His own death?

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt 1): Fasting from procrastination + hiding via endless blog reading, internet searching (however appropriate), twitter reading. 7 minutes ago

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt. 2): Facebook status updating. Limiting self to 20 min daily to read news and be online, other than use of email outlets. 7 minutes ago

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt. 3): Will post learnings in 1 tweet daily, no replies. Will continue to focus on writing, Project 365 Photo, website. 6 minutes ago

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt. 4): Expect this to be hard. I hide online a bit, and swallow my heart at times via endless information consumption 5 minutes ago

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt. 5): Expect the Spirit to soothe distraction, open my heart anew, and prepare me for coming marriage to @sarahmaxie. EXCITED! 5 minutes ago

chriskamalski Lent Fast (Pt. 6): Gonna listen in prayer, not listen to podcasts in car, and read more. Sense this is a pivotal season of preparation. 3 minutes ago

Ash Wednesday: Remember We Are Dust.

Ash Wednesday

We are a few hours away from observing Ash Wednesday as a 3rd Place community. Our Lenten focus this year is [Torn//Lent 2011].

This portion of the Ash Wednesday liturgy has always struck me deeply:

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the
earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our
mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is
only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

How are you observing this season of preparation as an individual or community?

This is how I am walking with 3rd Place into the Lenten Season (Download pdf to join with!).

 

A Season Of Crosses.

(via sacredspace.ie)

Wednesday is the start of Lent, the season that leads to our commemoration of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. He said, ‘Take up your cross.’ (Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23) It is not something you go looking for in faraway places. Sooner or later the Lord hands us a cross, and our job is to recognise it. For each of us there are events that made a difference. Our sorrowful mysteries will be different for each of us. Maybe it was a meeting with a friend, a lover or an enemy. Maybe it was a sickness, or a triumph. We try to see our life through the eyes of faith, with a confidence that God in his Providence can draw good out of the most awful and unwelcome happenings.

These are powerful words to consider as we approach the start of Lent this Wednesday.

  • Where is your cross to bear?
  • What in your life seems like an unending struggle? There may be a deep invitation to abide in Christ through a regular death (Romans 12 calls it the wonderfully paradoxical term of a ‘living sacrifice’) to this struggle, especially if it isn’t naturally something that can change with normal adjustments.
  • Do you believe–in your heart of hearts–that God can draw good out of the most awful of deaths? I know this is something I often do not buy. The Resurrection is incredible–but I want resurrection in my own life. Yet in some sense, I must claim this reality, and there I am at fault–for I often enjoy complaining about the non-resurrection in my life as opposed to living in God’s empowerment with Him into a new life (C.S. Lewis carries the idea in many of his writings of ‘leading with the body to train the mind and heart to respond to God in willing obedience,’ which I think is the idea at play here).

Sabbath Prayer: Mighty to Save.

The Prayer Appointed for the Week (Taken from The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle):

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Additionally, I have been following along with Mars Hill’s Lenten series on Lamentations, and am enjoying their reflections and prayers around the concept of entering deliberately into a season of mourning, grief, and lament.  Here is the prayer they have been praying as a community this past week:

My God, my God.  I need courage to move from the safe distance to the uncertain center of my own pain and the pain of others.

My God, my God.  Grant me companions in my pain and create a compassionate space within me so that I can incarnate Your presence to others.

May you internalize the presence of the One who is Mighty to Save this Sabbath Day, in order that you may open your heart wide to those in need of salvation in your life.

Sabbath Prayer: Lent Begins.

Ash WednesdayWe observed Ash Wednesday this past week as a community, with many of us attending a service at the local Catholic parish in Pretoria.  This portion of the Ash Wednesday liturgy has always struck me deeply:

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the 
  earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our 
  mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is 
  only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; 
  through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

More on our Lenten Journey as a community this week (in fact, more blogging in general finally!), but for now, a question:

How are you observing this season of preparation as an individual or community?