A New Season of Lent

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week begins the season of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter where we, as Christ followers, fast/sacrifice in some way to experience wilderness as Christ experienced wilderness. Most years, I consider something to sacrifice for the 40 days (food, coffee, tv, etc.) and spend more intentional time with Jesus in prayer. This year, however, as I meditate on Isaiah 58, I’m thinking upon how I can give my life as a sacrifice. In Isaiah 58, God calls us out and expresses a true fast:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
What if we engaged in a season of Lent by offering ours lives as a sacrifice instead of considering what we might sacrifice? What if we were to engage in tangibly serving widows, orphans, the poor, and foreigners? God promises that as we offer our lives as a living sacrifice, we will be awakened to the life and light of God. We will call upon His name and He will answer us! Light will shine in darkness!

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

In His Grace,

Pastor Bobby

The Heart Work of Easter

March 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week’s pulse comes from Becky Luoh, Convergence Women’s Ministry Leader and Greek IV Director at Cal:

As this season of Lent is drawing to a close, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The past six weeks have, at times, both dragged on and raced forward.

This week before Easter Sunday (also known as Passion or Holy Week), I find myself inching closer and closer to breaking my Lenten fasts and indulging in some pastel egg-shaped candy in the days to come. As this season draws to a close, my eyes are on the celebration of new life: or, in other words, getting back to my everyday life and habits. The weeks of suffering in fasting and mourning are ending, and I’m ready for things to be normal again.

I was reflecting on this today as I found myself in the car driving through the North Bay today. Taking from Pastor Bobby’s blog post a while back about being in a posture of listening, I decided to turn off my usual driving music and sit silently in my thoughts for a while, looking back on this season of fasting and Lent.

And here are some of my honest reflections:

– I’m still not great at fasting. My self-discipline really needs some work.

– I’m really glad Lent’s coming to an end.

– The church Easter choir on Sunday is going to be awesome!!!

– I’m not sure I’m any different now than I was at the start of Lent.

In the quiet of the car I had to face a hard realization… that I want my “suffering” to be in a neat little package and to come with some awesome outcomes that make the hard parts worth it. I want my sacrifices and struggling (even something as little as giving up coffee) to mean something. I want something to show for it. I want to give myself a pat on the back and endless celebratory cups of coffee to commemorate that I’ve done it. Despite everything, I still just want and focus on the benefits of new life without being fully present in the suffering. More than I care to admit, I’m ready to live back in my normal reality where I have freedom and new life. Suffering and fasting is just too hard.

Especially in this last week of Lent where Jesus lived his final week, it’s tempting to get ready for the Sunday celebration instead of staying present with the richness of His suffering and passion, which comes to a head this week. The depth of the suffering and passion paves the way for the depth and meaning of crucifixion and subsequent new life. Those two aspects – the crucifixion and the resurrection – simply cannot be unlinked.

Suffering is simply that– suffering. It’s hard! We people are pain adverse. A big part of entering into suffering is holding myself there in that hard place; that is half the battle for me. We have the freedom to choose out of it, and ironically the same freedom that Jesus paid for is the same freedom and willpower we exercise when we choose into crucifixion alongside Him today. We have the choice. He’s inviting us into the depth of His faithfulness and power that remain through both the suffering and the rising. Do we have the courage to say yes and to engage more deeply this week, despite any hard realizations we may have about our weakness?

Becky

 

The Heart of Lent

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Pulse

This week’s Pulse is from Becky Luoh, Convergence Women’s Ministry Leader and Greek IV Director at Cal:

Today is a day I think back to the New Years’ resolutions I made just a short 2.5 months ago. Specifically this year I promised to read more books, eat daily vitamins, and be more generous with my time/money/things and words. I’m not the greatest at keeping up with personal resolutions (alas that 365 tablet vitamin bottle only has a few missing) so reminders here and there help.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, 40 days before Easter. Lent is yet another time of year where people give up certain things– TV, money spent on certain things, sweets, you name it. It’s always interesting and quite telling to hear what people are giving up… you find out a lot about a person through the things they resolve to do or to give up!

Every year in the days before Lent, I hem and haw about what to give up–and moan about how hard it’s going to be: TV (I couch potato way more than I care to admit out loud), coffee (it’s probably bad for me anyway), spending on unnecessary things (should probably try to keep saving instead of buying). I always count the cost of giving up things that are vices and guilty pleasures, but then get excited and motivated dreaming about the end of the 40 days where I’ll be more intellectual, less caffeine-dependent, and more financially stable.

But I realize that the problem with Lent in our culture today is that we are too caught up in the self-betterment, self-improvement mentality that comes with the opportunity to make a commitment. We’re a society obsessed with the idea of a new start, a new leaf, a chance to do better. New starts, leaves, and chances are not inherently bad things, but we lose the true meaning of Lent when we see it as merely another time to make our physical bodies and lives better. While there’s nothing wrong with giving up eating ice cream or drinking soda, it’s important to evaluate the true heart behind participating in Lent. Is it just for us to be better people with better living habits? Or are we giving up something in order to draw closer in intimacy with God, our ultimate source of life?

Fasting is the spiritual discipline where we forgo our usual things in order to place ourselves in a place of dependency, a state that helps us realize our need and hunger for God. In preparation for fasting I need to check myself: I need to align my heart back to the true meaning behind why we’re invited into this season. God’s inviting me to experience new life– not just a more improved physical life– but also a deeper more intimate understanding of God as my Father, and Jesus as my Savior, and Holy Spirit as my living breath.

And another thought I have about Lent is this– I know the traditional way is to fast and to give up something; but what if instead of subtracting we added something instead? What if we pressed ourselves more deeply into God’s presence by purposefully entering into a place where we truly need Him? This thought came to me as I think about the highly-publicized and hotly discussed Asian-themed fraternity party at Duke University that occurred a few weeks ago. As an Asian American, a sorority woman and someone who ministers to Greek students on the university campus, my heart broke in the wake of this incident as I found myself on both sides of the story, identifying with both oppressed and oppressor. I find myself needing God in how to process all of this. Oppressed, oppressor, bystander– no matter which side we find ourselves on, we need our Savior. This Lent I find myself on my knees, needing my Father who reconciles all people to Himself and to one another. This Lent in addition to fasting from TV and coffee and random spending, I’m committing to praying daily for racial reconciliation to happen in the Greek system on campuses across the nation. The larger conversation about how we relate to one another and make peace across differences is large and complex, but a good place to start as an individual is in prayer and intercession. Join me in this season of subtracting (and perhaps adding) to draw nearer to Jesus.

Becky

Passion Week – Good Friday & Easter 2011

April 20, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Dear Convergence Family,

As I’ve been going through Passion Week, I’ve been reflecting on Christ’s life, his death, and the hope of Easter because of his resurrection.  I’ve been wrestling with how much I get this and how much I don’t get it.  I get it “in my head” but I don’t always get it deep in my heart and soul.  There is a quote from Martin Luther that rings so loud within me and can explain my sentiments of getting it and not getting it:

 

“Man is so evil that all he can see is what he should do to be righteous.  He is so evil that he cannot see what Christ has done for him to be righteous.”

More and more, I realize how much I truly need Christ my savior… I want to encourage you to pause and take some moments this week to reflect on Jesus, His amazing love, and the truth of His sacrifice for you and me.

 

We’re going to be gathering this Friday night (Good Friday) to take some time and consider the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice.  Please join us at 7pm at Preservation Park. There’s more info at: http://convergeoakland.org/2011/04/service-of-tenebrae-good-friday-april-22nd-7pm/

 

Then, this Sunday we’re going to celebrate RESURRECTION!!!  This is the reason we live.  This is the reason we gather together every Sunday.  This is the foundation of everything we believe and ultimately affects every aspect of our lives.  Invite a friend.  Invite a stranger.  Invite your enemy.  Let’s share the good news that death is not the end, but that Christ is risen!!!

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bobby Lee

 

Palm Sunday, April 17th, 2011

April 15, 2011 by  
Filed under News

Hey Convergence Family,

This Sunday marks Palm Sunday!  This is the the time when Jesus begins his descent into Jerusalem.  As He rides in on a donkey, people begin to spontaneously break out in worship and praise.  They were shouting “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name our Lord!”  Then they started laying garments, and palm leaves (hence, Palm Sunday) before the path of the donkey like a red carpet.

This Sunday, we’re going to look at a passage of scripture from Luke 19.  As much as we can see recognize Him from reading the Bible, I think it’s much more difficult to recognize him in our world as it was difficult for so many back then.  In fact, Christ shows up in unexpected places and moments and loves us with an unfathomable compassion.

Remember, these next two weekends are great opportunities to invite your friends and acquaintances.  So be bold in your requests and take a chance!  I’m looking forward to worshiping with all of you!!!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bobby Lee

Service of Tenebrae, Good Friday, April 22nd @ 7pm

April 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The Service of Tenebrae (or “Shadows”) dates back to eighth-century Rome.   It grew out of a combination of night and early morning prayer, focusing on the commemoration of the passion of Jesus. The most significant aspect of this service is the gradual extinguishing of the lights and candles, symbolizing the flight of the apostles and the darkness that accompanies the passion.

This Good Friday (4/22/2011), Convergence will be conducting the Service of Tenebrae starting at 7pm at Preservation Park (Nile Hall), in downtown Oakland. The service will also include communion and time to meditate and pray.

Childcare will be provided during the service.

 

Please note this location is different than our Sunday Service location.

A Thought on Lent

March 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Pulse

(From Pastor Bobby Lee)

Dear Convergence Family,

Today marks the beginning of the Lent season for 2011. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is the period of 40 days prior to Easter where we as followers of Christ pray, fast, and sacrifice as Jesus did in his 40 days in the wilderness. The Lent season culminates on Resurrection Sunday (a.k.a. Easter)!

I know that many people are aware of this season as both Christians and non-Christians are willing to “give up” something for Lent, but this season is meant to not just let go of something, but to grab on to Christ. It’s meant to deepen our understanding of Christ in his suffering and deepen relationship with Christ our Savior. I emphasize this because it can easily move from self-denial to self-help and can become more about religious ritual than relationship with our God.

As we “let go” of things during this season, I want to encourage you to take time with Christ. Carve out time to “be” with Christ. Carve out time to walk, pray, and meditate. Fill your life with Him!

As you consider fasting this season, read Isaiah 58:3-12. Here you’ll see how God is moving us from ritual to salvation, from religion to relationship, and from self obsessed to serving others…

Grace and Peace,

Bobby

Isaiah 58: 3-12 (NLT)
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.