March 31, 2020

Easter Reflections - guest post by Janice Mansell

Art by Hannah Lenz used with permission
While reflecting on Easter and the Lenten season preceding, I remember how I used to enjoy the Easter sunrise service and breakfast at church when our four children were young. I also remember that I didn't feel good leading up to events of the remembrance of the crucifixion. The actual aspects of it and when I later heard a detailed account of physical aspects of crucifixion, it sickened me to realize how brutal it was.

The hymn, 'He Arose ! ' became my theme and anchor as the Joy of the Lords’ Resurrection and sacrificial love filled my mind, soul and body. For me as a child, Easter meant a new outfit, and some coloured hard boiled eggs, that mom and dad hid so we could 'hunt for them'.  As far as the actual meaning element of Easter, there was some contact with one of mom's aunts who was a Christian, but she was considered to be too radical to be taken seriously.

Sometimes my dad took us to a nominal church that didn't preach a saving gospel. However, when I was 12, my oldest brother and I went to a rustic Bible camp in Northern Saskatchewan and on the strength of John 3:16, accepted Christ and got a lot of new rules to follow.

I don't remember being assured of God's loving presence or His intervening in our lives. Later on, my dad, then mom, gave their lives to the Lord, and we started to attend a Bible believing church when we could. There was a form of Godliness, but still I didn't know the power of God on my behalf.

When I first married, my husband and I "did the right thing,” and attended church regularly.I still often wondered about the cross of Easter, and what was good about God - the man who was brutally treated and crucified on ' Good Friday’?

A recent quote by J.I. Packer  in 'Knowing God'  made me reflect. He suggested for many unbelievers, the really staggering Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was  God - made - man .. as truly and fully divine as He was human.  I wondered if, even though I have been a Christian for for 68 years now if I was still struggling with that understanding or not appropriating the blessing and power and forgiving love of this Saviour?
As for Lent, we have been unable to attend Easter services for many years and can't really identify the humble and worshipful steps and feelings that bring me to reverence at this time.
I know my God personally but often don't experience His presence in fellowship withothers. I know Christians are to uphold, encourage and help each other, but I feel at times to be  'on the outside, looking in' on the fellowship and absolute love that should flow because of the Christ who died and rose again triumphant.

The song ‘Up From The Grave He Arose!’ Is one where there lies my hope, joy and peace for time and eternity. Lent is not just about giving up, but also giving over all of ourselves and life experiences to God. I watch in wonder as others seem to have a genuine experience of being blessed in honouring God in these ways. Sacrifice of self and nurturing  my daily walk with Him has been important to me.

Although I know the importance of Good Friday and the resurrection that Easter represents I think the Christmas song,  ‘Ring Those Bells ' sparks more of a full response in my soul and lets my spirit soar with the limitless beauty of God's wild and gracious and giving love for His own.

Janice Mansell has been writing for fifty years. She has come and gone from Inscribe since it originally started. A one time community correspondent she has spent the vast majority of her writing life chronicling the day to day, and memories.

March 30, 2020

St. Patrick's Day Reflections - Guest Post by Robert Stermscheg

St. Patrick’s Day is a special day indeed. Commemorating the day and its patron saint can be traced back throughout the centuries. It has particularly evolved over the last hundred years to include much celebration and revelry, but largely ignoring its foundation, that of introducing Christianity to its people. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world by all sorts of Irish adherents and revelers. Many cities and towns honour the venerable Saint by holding three days of music & culture festivals.
Even the use of green ribbons and shamrocks stems from as far back as the 1680s. It’s always been fascinating to me, how those of no traceable Irish ancestry can fit right in, taking full advantage of the regalia and celebrations. And then there are those add-ons over the years: the leprechaun, the pot of gold and the promise of good fortune. It’s interesting how these harmless oddities have over time been incorporated into the folklore and have slowly replaced the original meaning of the celebration: Christianity in Ireland
I’m not of Irish ancestry but I can appreciate how those that mark their calendar look forward with anticipation to March 17th and its festivities. As so often happens, I was looking for an anecdote in an old datebook and stumbled upon an entry that surprised me. During that particular week in 1984, I was quite sick – with the flu. There I was, off from work, fighting flu symptoms, in effect quarantined from neighbours and friends. As I read through my notes, it dawned on me how roughly 35 years later, people are experiencing something similar, but on a far more serious level. Whereas I contracted a common strain, a mild case of flu virus, that is not the case today.
Watching the news, it’s a sober reminder of the misery cruise passengers are having to endure these days. They’re dealing with a strain of corona virus – covid19. From what we (non-medical personnel) understand, this latest virus originated at an open-air market in China. Indicators vary, with some patients experiencing mild symptoms, while others like the elderly and infirm, quickly succumb to the disease and require hospital treatment. Sadly, death has factored into a few cases, a sober reminder of our human frailty.
Looking back to 1984, I was a young man and in good health. I was fortunate in that my fever and discomfort quickly subsided and that only three days later I was feeling normal and already back to work. I had no fears that the malady would linger, or worse, spread to those around me. What a stark contrast to what is happening today. The corona virus is indiscriminate and spreading rapidly, ignoring physical and political borders. To highlight one example, unprecedented measures are being taken by the Italian government in northern Italy, in an attempt to curb the spread of this highly infectious virus. People all over the region are frightened and rightly so. Yes, the circumstances don’t look great, particularly if you’re in the midst of an outbreak and are quarantined.
Basically, we have three choices: rebel, resign or surrender. Choosing to rebel is not a great option. In effect – I don’t care what others do, I’m going ahead with my plans. Resignation isn’t much better, e.g – life is hard and there’s no future. Surrender sounds similar but it really isn’t.  In summary: face the reality and surrender to God. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up.
            “We choose to actively trust God….and bow our stiff necks to Him. We don’t demand that God plays by our rules.”       Dr. Rob Reimer in DeepFaith   
So, what does all of this have to do with St. Patrick’s Day? I’d like to think that it’s a good reminder – an invitation if you will – to accept that there are lots of things beyond our control. But, like Saint Patrick, we can surrender our fears to God’s will and trust that He will see us through.
The pot of gold, even it were attainable, is fleeting at best and will not meet our deepest needs; only God can. A better way is to claim the psalmist’s promise:
               “He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2

March 29, 2020

Write For FellowScript and Congrats to Winners

FellowScript, InScribe's quarterly magazine, is one of the many benefits of membership in ICWF. It is a quality magazine full of tips, writing helps, stories, devotionals - and so much more. Our dedicated editorial staff are also always looking for fresh content... which is where YOU come in!

If you would like to write an article for FellowScript - and even get paid for it, send your submission to: with 'Submission' in the title.

For all guidelines, deadlines, upcoming themes and more, visit our website:
FellowScript Submission Guidelines

The deadline for the August is is on May 1. 

As well, a huge congratulations to the winners of this year's Winter Contest!

Nonfiction - Sharon Espeseth - “Publishing God’s Glorious Deeds”Poetry -  Kathleen Friesen - “Creativity”Devotional - Pat Gerbrandt - “Looming Mountains” 

March 28, 2020

365.24 Days of Lent - Bruce Atchison

To me, Lent is my year-round practice. Being one of those who esteems every day more or less the same, I try to avoid all the things which Christ and the apostles told us to eschew. Colossians 3:8-10 (BBE) is a partial list of what we must avoid, even unintentionally. "But now it is right for you to put away all these things; wrath, passion, bad feeling, curses, unclean talk; Do not make false statements to one another; because you have put away the old man with all his doings, And have put on the new man, which has become new in knowledge after the image of his maker;"

Even so, I sometimes slip, Railing at politicians and stupid people. My computer takes the brunt of my curses as well. I'm amazed that the paint on it hasn't blistered yet.

It's a good thing therefore that our Lord and Master forgives us when we slip back into old behaviour patterns. In 1 John 1:9 (BBE), we read, "If we say openly that we have done wrong, he is upright and true to his word, giving us forgiveness of sins and making us clean from all evil."

Imagine if a piano teacher tolerated no wrong notes. All the students would fail and the teacher would lose all his or her customers. Though our Lord and Master tolerates no sin, he's ready to forgive any of us who apologize and ask for his pardon.

I also want to be more caring toward people. It's hard for me since I've suffered so much verbal abuse in the past. That's why this part of what people call The Lord's Prayer greatly worries me. Matthew 6:12 (BBE) says, "And make us free of our debts, as we have made those free who are in debt to us." This "debt" is the wrongs which people do to us.

I must admit that there are some bad memories which I still struggle with. But prayer and letting the Lord deal with those miscreants and inconsiderate people who abused me has helped me let go of many bad incidents in my past. Romans 12:19 (BBE) reminds us to, "Do not give punishment for wrongs done to you, dear brothers, but give way to the wrath of God; for it is said in the holy Writings, 'Punishment is mine, I will give reward,' says the Lord."

Of course we still have our human urge to hold onto past hurts. That's like a certain English demolition expert who was called out to a farm because a woman found a stick of dynamite on top of the coal in the shed. When he picked up the stick, one end felt softer than the other. Then he heard a large dog barking from inside the house. He stood there, stunned that he was actually holding onto something the dog left behind. That stick is what our past hurts are like.

May we all let go of the messes of our past and let our heavenly Father deal with those who wounded us.

March 27, 2020

Releasing Control by Lorilee Guenter

Growing up, we did not observe Lent. Until the last few years, I did not even consider the meaning behind the tradition it was just something other people did. Since then, I have observed it sometimes. Most of them came with much struggle, human struggle. My struggle to be in control through this time, as with other times, reared its head. The more I strive and struggle on my own, the harder it becomes. Words get lost in the turmoil. Ideas hide behind walls. Everything becomes difficult.

During all my struggling a gentle voice calls  but I don't hear it unless I pause to listen:
"Come and rest. Come enjoy my company. Let me show you my grace and love through my sacrifice for you. Come let me remove your old ways of thinking. Let me heal you as I teach you. Come walk in my peace and power. Then my peace, love, grace and mercy can flow through you to others."

When I listen, when I step out of the way, the words return along with the peace. I stop overthinking and striving. I give up control and I gain peace. I gain ideas and words to share encouragement, to share story, and to share so much more.

As I wrestle this season with what it means to sacrifice and prepare, to remember the reason we celebrate Easter, I realise that control is something that I need to regularly release. I keep taking it back until I am once again reminded that His sacrifice is enough. I can trust the control of my life to the Lord  Jesus Christ and His Spirit at work in me. He is always enough.

March 26, 2020

Forced to Observe Lent - Marnie Pohlmann

I don’t know what the situation with the coronavirus and Covid-19 will be when this post shows up for you because the news changes daily. At the time of writing this, we are to wash our hands every 20 minutes, stay two meters apart, self-isolate, and one site even says to avoid singing in a group.

For me, as an introvert, social distancing and self-isolation are like a dream. Sign me up! Yet for extraverts, all this may range anywhere from an inconvenience to extreme torture.

I have been thinking about how each of us tries to do our part to stop the spread of this new pandemic. As a writer, are others intruding on your creative space? As a Christian, are you struggling to find a balance between concern and faith?

As Spock from Star Trek said, “The good of the many outweighs the good of the one.” This time is one for which this quote applies. We are to sacrifice our own wants and needs to protect others, from the most vulnerable to those who continue to serve our communities.

Sacrifice goes against our natural grain. We have become, or rather always were, a society that wants what we want when we want it. So now, to be asked to share toilet paper and limit where we can go can be a new and uncomfortable experience.

The season of Lent gives us an opportunity to practice this very form of sacrifice. Not giving up what we choose to give up but by seeking ways to isolate some time alone with God and finding ways to sacrifice by serving someone else. The purpose of Lent has never been to simply give up for a short time a vice that would be good for us to give up anyway. Lent is a time that is meant to change us for good, and forever.

Lent is a time to focus on Jesus. An opportunity to focus on when He set down his Crown in Heaven to become man, to live a human life, to enter ministry focusing on others, and to die. At the end of this time of Lenten focus, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. On Easter Sunday we remember how Jesus defeated earthly death, freed the prisoners, and became, on our behalf, the pure sacrifice needed to allow us to enter God’s presence. Lent is a time to identify with how Jesus served others, sacrificially.

At the beginning of His ministry, when Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, Satan taunted and tested Him. I see three areas that Satan used to tempt the Lord. Physical needs - food (Luke 4:3-4); emotional needs - riches and power (Luke 4:5-8); and spiritual needs – knowledge of Truth (Luke 4:9-13.) During Lent we may also sacrifice in these areas by giving up a favourite dessert, giving rather than taking, or spending more time than usual in Bible study. You may not usually take part in Lent but consider this present pandemic isolation as a “forced” lent.

Physically - give up some foods that you like – you may not have a choice about this, as grocery stores are unable to restock their shelves as quickly as they sell out. Give away excess (toilet paper) that you may not need.

Emotionally – consider others; those who are in the same situation as you and those who are continuing to serve your community. Staying together at home can be difficult for families when they are not used to being in one another’s way for this long. Mind your tongue. Be considerate. Don’t whine. Protect one another from illness by practicing good hygiene.

Spiritually – use this time apart from others to delve into God’s Word. We may not understand some Scripture or be mistaken in our thinking. Be open to God correcting your viewpoint by showing you what He means and desires from you on a personal level.

Social distancing and self-isolation are in direct contrast to what God instructs for His people. We are to “not forsake” gathering (Hebrews 10:25.) We are to be a family, a community, part of One Body. We are not to be afraid of persecution, illness, or death. Martin Luther said to be Christian was to not run away from a plague, while exercising common sense.

We must obey the laws of our land (Romans 13:1) and we must also not forsake one another. It may be safer, at this time, for churches to close to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but it is also sad, that churches are not available to those needing comfort and hope. How can we gather while remaining apart? Is it enough to watch an online sermon on Sunday morning?

Here are a few suggestions for maintaining Christ-focused relationship and community. 
  •  Phone the seniors of your congregation or community. Our older members often treasure gatherings of the church on Sundays and during the week. They may not have a computer to visit with someone online. They could become very lonely when isolated.
  • Check with the young families, as Moms and Dads worry about their children. You may be able to offer some reassurance from Scripture.
  • Do an online or phone Bible study with a teenager, to strengthen their faith during the uncertainty of these days.
  • As the weather allows for outside time, be available to talk with your neighbour over the fence or from across the road. Be purposeful in your conversation.
  • Meet, but in smaller groups of 5-50, as your Province allows. Try to maintain physical separation as much as you can and remember to wash your hands. And of course, if you have even the slightest symptom or may have been in contact with someone who may be sick, stay home.

We can try to ensure no one feels they are alone. I’m sure you can come up with many ways to offer the Hope of life in Christ during this time of illness and death that is causing so much fear throughout the world.

Some military spouses turn the porch lights on when their loved one is deployed and do not turn it off again until their safe return. Some communities are placing red hearts in their windows to encourage those walking by that they are not alone; we are in this together. Can we as Christians offer God’s comfort and salvation to our church family, our neighbourhood, our community, and the world?

I suggested we could keep our porch lights on. My husband suggests we hang a scarlet rope, ribbon, or banner on our home, like Rahab did to declare she believed in God (Joshua 2.) This will not keep our homes miraculously protected or free from the coronavirus, but will declare we are willing to go beyond the concern and fear to assist another, offering the Peace we know as our Lord Jesus Christ, and if able, to fill a physical, emotional, or other spiritual needs.

We are forced to practice sacrifice this Lenten season, and this may continue past when we usually celebrate our salvation at Easter. As Christians, we can willingly sacrifice for the good of the world, like Jesus did.

Be the church.

March 25, 2020

Lenten Reminders by Sharon Heagy

While I was enjoying fresh air on a glorious sunny day, I looked up and noticed a beautiful clear blue sky.  Entirely clear. Not a blemish upon the canvas of blue.  It occurred to me that this was…weird.  We live near the US border and at any given time of day, the sky is filled with a crisscross pattern left by jet contrails. Not today. Covid 19 had closed the border. Rats! My brain had been as clear as the sky but after a brief respite from thinking of the world’s situation, viral thoughts returned. I recalled that somebody had posted a challenge on social media for people to name something they would never take for granted again.  The answers were encouraging – hugs, freedom of movement, peace of mind, family, health – but are we just fooling ourselves if we think we will never take these things for granted again or will we need reminders.

There is more than a slim chance that we are no different than the Israelites who forgot their deliverance, who took for granted the miracle of manna and who ultimately took for granted their very Deliverer and built a golden calf in His stead. They needed constant reminders.

For the past month I have been mulling over the theme of lent and how it is observed. Some folks fast, some give up something dear to them or abstain from a variety of foods or activities. Some participate in Lenten Bible Studies or prayer groups. But is there a purpose in all this participation? Certainly, we want to prepare our hearts for the holiest celebration on the Christian calendar but perhaps there is something more.

Could it be so we never take for granted the death and resurrection of our Saviour? Never take for granted the suffering he endured on our behalf.  Never take for granted that he took our place on the cross of crucifixion or that resurrection power poured out eternal life for us all.  Perhaps we too need reminders.

Humanity seems to be a fickle bunch who are quick to lose focus and to take for granted even our risen Saviour, our God and his most Holy Spirit. It’s possible, that is what Lent is for, to re-focus, remind, and reflect so that we never take for granted all that was accomplished through Jesus. Yet, is 40 days enough?

It occurred to me that as writers we can be a conduit for Lenten remembrance, not just for this season but all year long. It’s conceivable, that as we surrender to God, he will use us to encourage people and to help re-kindle the fire of their passion for the Lord. To fan the flames of faith so that neither the reader nor the writer takes for granted God nor the gifts he has given us. And in doing so, maybe we will reach out to many who so desperately need Him today and everyday. I do need to take time to be refreshed and renewed. To let Him remind me of all he has done and to flow into me so that I may pour out to others - not just for 40 days but each and every day of the year so that, hopefully, I will never ever take Him for granted. 

March 24, 2020

Along the Via Dolorosa by Valerie Ronald

The streets of Old Jerusalem are silent witnesses to centuries of history. Their narrow, winding passageways still echo with the tramp of soldier’s boots and the soft scuff of barefooted pilgrims. One route in particular bears an ancient Latin name descriptive of an event that changed the world. The Via Dolorosa, meaning “way of suffering”, is believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to His crucifixion. The winding route covers a distance of about 600 metres, marked by nine Stations of the Cross based on biblical accounts of events leading up to the death of Jesus.

I am not a traditional Lenten observer. For medical reasons, I cannot fast from food, and I do not feel a driving necessity to abstain from much in my simple lifestyle in order to remember what Christ went through. What I have done in my decades as a believer is spend the season of Lent walking with Him through His Passion; a mental pilgrimage down the Via Dolorosa, if you will. Considering the eternal impact of the events leading up to the cross, there are not a lot of descriptive details in the gospel accounts. As I repeatedly, thoughtfully read each account, I imagine myself in the various scenes or as the different characters. It is how it all becomes real to me, hearing the sounds, seeing the faces, smelling the odors of dust and blood and seething crowds. I walk the Via Dolorosa alongside my beloved Lord and Savior. His way of suffering brings paths of tears down my cheeks with each step I take.

Following is what I imagine Simon of Cyrene may have experienced in his singular encounter with Jesus.

Simon of Cyrene   

Drawn by the roar of an excited mob, I stepped out from a narrow Jerusalem street into a scene of mayhem. I, Simon, had traveled far from my home in Cyrene to celebrate Passover on the Temple Mount, never expecting to come upon such chaos on a Feast Day. Fists punching the air, voices yelling invectives, the crowd surged closer to the entrance of the Praetorium. I found myself absorbed in the seething throng, jostled and pushed until I was thrown up against the open gate.

The object of the crowd’s ridicule hardly seemed worth their fury. Surrounded by a company of Roman soldiers, a man beaten and bloodied beyond recognition struggled under the burden of a heavy beam. I winced at the gruesome sight of the prisoner’s back laid open by brutal flogging and his limbs purple and swollen from countless blows. I had seen condemned prisoners before but none tortured so viciously. The man’s face was a mass of open flesh where his beard had been plucked out; his brow gouged by the long, cruel thorns pressed on his head. Blood filled the hollows of his eyes, running down his chin to pool on the paving stones at his feet. I thought of my sons, Alexander and Rufus, relieved they were not here to witness this atrocity.

“Crucify him! Crucify him!”, screamed the mob while soldiers goaded the prisoner forward through the gate. His clothing hung in bloodied shreds, still I recognized remnants of the tasseled stole of a rabbi. Could this be the rabbi I had heard stories about ever since arriving in Jerusalem? The one rumored to have healed the sick and raised the dead? Some even linked the title Messiah to his name. Surely he did not deserve this inhuman treatment.

I wanted to shut out the awful procession; close my eyes to the pain and blood, my ears to the labored gasps for air, my nose to the reek of sweat, but I could not. The prisoner sagged beneath the weight of the rough timber, stumbled then collapsed to his knees at my feet. Sentenced to die, he was forced to carry the beam of his own cross to the place of crucifixion but he could go no further. 

Suddenly rough soldier hands grabbed me, shoving me toward the man on the ground, shouting at me to pick up the beam and carry it for him. I felt the sharp prod of a Roman spear in my side and knew I must obey or die. As I stooped to lift the blood-slick beam, the condemned man raised his head to look at me. Roaring mob, forceful soldiers, the smell of blood faded before that capturing gaze. The pain and suffering creasing the man’s brow and squinting his eyes could not diminish the absolute love blazing out. I felt my heart suspend its beat for the length of that look, only to take it up again as a renewed heart, an alive heart touched by this almost-dead rabbi. 

Hefting the rough wood across my shoulders, I felt sticky blood staining my hands but was not repulsed. Instead, strength coursed through my limbs, enough to grip the beam with one hand, reaching down my other to help the bleeding man to his feet. The crowd parted as we moved towards Golgotha.

(based on Mark 15:21)

Valerie Ronald lives in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. She is a graduate of Vancouver’s Langara College journalism program, and has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, public speaker and bookstore employee.Valerie finds being a member of the Manitoba Christian Writers Association has honed her writing skills and confidence. She writes devotionals for her home church bulletins and her online blog. Her current book project chronicles how God’s faithfulness saw her through the dark valleys of divorce and cancer. Along with her husband, Valerie enjoys spending time with their blended family and six grandchildren.She is a nature photographer, water colorist, cat lover and Scrabble addict.

More of her devotionals can be read on her blog

March 23, 2020

The Sacrifice Lamb by Joylene M Bailey

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

“Celebrating Lent was not part of my Baptist upbringing” was how I was going to begin this blog post. But then I thought, I don’t even know if ‘celebrating’ is the right word. That’s how much I know about Lent. Do you celebrate Lent, or practice it? Observe it? Maybe you just get through it.

And so …

Lent was not part of my Baptist upbringing. I remember hearing comments about it from some of my friends at school, but I never paid any attention to them.

As I got into my teen years, I learned a little more. You gave up something, like chocolate, for 40 days. I could never figure out why chocolate would have anything to do with the days leading up to Easter … unless it had something to do with those one-pound solid chocolate bunnies we always got in our Easter baskets. Could that be it? No chocolate, no chocolate, no chocolate. BOOM! Chocolate!

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay 

It didn’t make any sense to me.

So when this month’s theme came up, I asked the Lord to teach me what Lent was all about. What is it about giving something up for 40 days? Sacrificing something.

And what is real sacrifice anyway?

That’s the question I was pondering when I had lunch with a good friend. She mentioned that her Bible Study group was learning about Jewish feasts and festivals. Passover is the next one.

“Did you know,” she said, “that in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were preparing to celebrate Passover, they chose the unblemished lamb five days before it was slaughtered? They brought it into the house to live with them.”

Then she calmly went on to take another bite of salad while I sat there stunned.

They brought the lamb into the house? Where the adults would trip over it? Where the children would play with it and then fall in love with it? This lamb that would be slaughtered five days later would break the children’s hearts.

Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

In that split second I began to understand what true sacrifice meant.

So now, not only was I researching Lent, I was researching Passover.

Sure enough. The lamb was chosen five days prior to Passover, on Lamb Selection Day. It was brought into the house for those five days so that it could be inspected and proved to be unblemished. And then, slaughtered at twilight five days later.

To my astonishment, I learned that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Lamb Selection Day. Five days later he was crucified, on the day that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. Our Sacrifice Lamb.

So, what is real sacrifice?

It’s what broke the children’s hearts to have their pet slaughtered. It’s what tore Mary’s heart to see her son beaten and crucified. It’s what God the Father and Jesus the Son were willing to go through for the salvation of all mankind. For my salvation.

Lent … sacrifice … Passover … sacrifice … My brain was making the connections. And it being MY brain, needed this all to boil down to the lowest common denominator.

I understand that there are many components to Lent, but for me it all comes down to one thing: Remembering the Sacrifice.

Now I know that those who choose to give up something for Lent do so to remind themselves, every time they find themselves reaching for the thing they’ve given up, that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.

I don’t know that I’ll start observing Lent now, but on this journey God has brought me to a fresh understanding. And all through the eyes of a child and a pet lamb.

Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay 


These are some of the websites I went to in my research for this post. They are worth checking out:


Joy writes from her home in Edmonton where she is presently hunkering down with the Cowboy and Babe. Find more of her writing at Scraps of Joy.

March 22, 2020

Forgiveness Sunday to Great Lent: the Journey is Worth It by Alan Anderson

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matt. 6:14).”

My wife and I are members of an Eastern Orthodox Christian church. Our spiritual journey seeking peace, a place to belong, and a caring community, ended with our being embraced by Orthodoxy three years ago. Every step of this journey is worth it.

Eastern Orthodox Christians observe fasts all through the year. For instance, we refrain from certain foods every Wednesday and Friday. There are also Communion fasts which means we abstain from food after dinner Saturday evening or midnight (whatever comes first) until we receive the Eucharist at Sunday liturgy.

Great Lent

Great Lent is the most important fast in Eastern Orthodoxy. Great Lent leads into Holy Week then Pascha (Eastern Orthodox Easter). This year Great Lent began on March 2 and Pascha is April 19. Pascha is the most important celebration of the year.

Here is what one of our Orthodox Bishops notes about Great Lent.

"As with our whole life in Christ, this Lenten journey will not be without difficulties. Spiritual health is like physical health, requiring a paced effort, with love, patience, and forgiveness – for self and for others – allowing God to work within us, transforming us into the Body of Christ. The Church offers us the Great Fast as a period of sobriety, wherein we focus on an internal change of heart, bearing fruit in our external actions with those around us. Indeed, the promise of the Resurrection enables us to call brothers even those that hate us, forgiving and loving others regardless of what they may have done, or not done.” --- Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Forgiveness is central to Great Lent.

On the last Sunday before Great Lent, Eastern Orthodox believers participate in, Forgiveness Sunday. This is one of the most beautiful and meaningful gatherings of the year. Eastern Orthodox churches all over the world take part in Forgiveness Sunday.

This is how our church participates in Forgiveness Sunday. After our Sunday morning liturgy (church service) the congregation has lunch together, just like every Sunday. The difference from other weeks is when lunch is over we all head back into the Nave (where church services are held) for a brief vespers time. After vespers and beginning with our priest he stand in front of the congregation and asks forgiveness of them. Each member of the congregation then asks the others, one by one, for forgiveness. The wording we use is, “forgive me brother/sister” The other person responds “God forgives and I forgive.”

My first Forgiveness Sunday felt foreign and somewhat uncomfortable to me. I now look forward to this significant day of the Orthodox calendar. Forgiveness Sunday offers a unique and beautiful preparation for Great Lent.

Through Forgiveness Sunday the Christian is reminded not only of one’s sin but also that sins can be forgiven. As Orthodox Christians we are on a spiritual journey and recognize we do not journey alone. From Forgiveness Sunday all the way to joyous Pascha includes a time of self-examination, fasting and giving to people.

Great Lent allows Christians a time to reflect on Christ’s death for us. The season includes a sense of sadness where we recognize we may have lost relationship with God. During Great Lent we also recognize a recovery of this relationship is needed and is indeed possible. Although a spiritual darkness resides in Great Lent, God’s Holy Spirit works in our hearts and leads us to the brilliance of the Resurrection. The time of self-reflection and examination although at times painful, is worth it.


March 21, 2020

What to Make of Lent... Tracy Krauss

When I looked at this month's theme, I wasn't quite sure what to do with the prompt. Like some others, Lent was never really part of my tradition, either growing up, or now as a mature Christian. It's not that I don't think the practice of giving something up has no value. I'm sure it does, and for many people it is a concrete way for them to honour God that also has lasting and profound impact on their own walk with Him.

I did not come to know Christ as my personal Saviour until I reached young adulthood. However, growing up I had a close friend whose family were devout Catholics and who practiced Lent quite faithfully, even though I'm not sure if there was a personal relationship involved. I remember my friend giving up various things each year. Once it was candy; another time it was a certain TV show. It seemed like a silly ritual to me and I was glad nobody was making me do such a thing!

I didn't understand it at the time, obviously, or the significance it can have to one's faith walk.  I also thought it was a tradition specific to Catholics. I since realize that many denominations encourage participation in Lent. When we were pastoring in the Yukon we enjoyed participating in Shrove Tuesday - which included yummy pancakes at the Anglican church - along with other members of the community. It was a way to demonstrate unity among the churches, one of our main focuses while ministering there for eight years.

Two of my grown daughters now attend a more reserved and liturgical church than the Pentecostal one they were raised in. They love the ceremony and sense of reverence they feel there, and although my husband and I prefer our own 'style' of church, I know that my girls love the strong foundation in the Word and in church traditions that they find in their new church home. People who attend genuinely love the Lord and really, what more is there? I include this here because observing Lent is an important part of what they now do with their own young families. I approve and try to support these decisions.

I have appreciated hearing the various perspectives this month and thank each one of you for your honesty and open hearts. I admire those that do choose to make Lent part of their faith tradition for whatever reason. In the end, although I still don't practice anything special for Lent, I try to live my life in a way that honours Christ all year round.

Tracy Krauss lives and writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. and is currently serving as InScribe's president.

March 20, 2020

To Hear His Voice – Denise M. Ford

I grew up in a small town in which the local churches took turns hosting mid-week Lenten services. As we worshipped together, we benefited by hearing about God from fresh perspectives through varied faith backgrounds.

Back then I didn’t comprehend the differences between Lutheran, Baptist, United, Moravian or Catholic worship services.  The hymnals featured unknown arrangements of songs, but the choirs always led wayward singers to the appropriate Hallelujahs. The prayers sometimes seemed strange, but they all got around to Amen with or without everyone following each response.

When I went to live on campus during my college years, I discovered that reading through the Psalms kept me grounded during Lent. I attended chapel services and became active in the Religious Life Council which brought the traveling Great Commission to our school during one spring-term. The new era of emotional Christian rock music broadened my lexicon of hymns with worship songs that could bring forth responsive moments when I sang.

When I married and moved from place to place with my husband, we attended the local churches celebrating Lent in a New England Congregational church, in a Virginian Methodist church, a North Carolina Presbyterian church, a United Church of Canada, and an Alliance Missionary Church of Canada. Navigating our way through the different approaches to Lent gave us the opportunity To Hear His Voice from a fresh perspective in varied places.

When our sons developed an inquisitive pondering of who and how Jesus came to be their Saviour, we focused on the tough questions. We delved into all the current research, from the historical Jesus and his time period, as well as the scriptures that relate his life and teachings. Philosophical discussions became our Lenten devotions.

Presently I am focusing on Jesus and how He prayed.
He too wanted and needed… To Hear His Voice… the guidance and wisdom of His Father, our God. He prayed for us, and for the purpose of his life to be fulfilled.

Mark 1:35-37 (NIV)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him and when they found him, they exclaimed “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.”

Jesus prayed.

Jesus prayed and lived through the ultimate human yearning…To Hear His Voice. He prayed in humility yet with authority. He prayed in gentleness yet with intensity. He prayed in expectation yet with compassion. He prayed for us and He prays with us when we seek His presence today.

Jesus prayed and then He listened…To Hear His Voice.

I cannot immerse myself into Lent without the multitude of songs that come to mind from the history of my worship experiences. Yet this year the season is freshly new as I begin each day praying fervently for the presence of Jesus and to gain His fresh perspective for my life.

Praying and seeking …To Hear His Voice.

When I worked in a high school supporting special needs students, I sometimes had to search for a student who had taken a walk to escape too much human interaction. In fact, we often encouraged our students to use a separation strategy by taking a walk as a calming tool, or as a venting escape.  We hoped that they would allow a companion on these walks so that it became either a time to provide silent support or an opportunity for a walk-and-talk. A chance to gain a fresh perspective! However, in a meltdown of feelings often a student would head out on his own and quickly outpace me. So, I would go on a search.

Thankfully our school campus had boundaries surrounded by sports fields and country roads.  Thankfully our students created repeated routes that they would pace on these rare occasions. One day I had followed the predictable path of one student over and over again. Every time I turned a corner, I expected to see him in a usual place or with a trusted staff member. As I grew increasingly worried, I circled the outer grounds following the sidewalk that led to the baseball fields. Suddenly I saw him walking towards me with a huge grin on his face. As I neared, he exclaimed, “Mrs. Ford, I found you!”

Imagine that! Sometime along his walk his perspective changed, and he believed that he needed to find me!

I have often replayed that scene in my mind as I ponder what it feels like to be found. To realize that someone wants to come to you so that you may share a walk-and-talk or silent companionship.  To seek for someone and to find someone. To rejoice when found.

When the disciples went looking for Jesus in exasperation because “Everyone is looking for you” He very well could have said, “Simon, I found you!”

We forget that as we pray yearning to Hear His voice, He finds us.

I pray that we may sense and know that Jesus continues to find us. He constantly approaches us with joyful delight, to encourage us to continue on our walk-and-talks together so that we may fulfill our life purposes, with fresh perspectives.

Praying and continually seeking …To Hear His Voice.

On a walk, listen... To hear His voice... To gain fresh perspectives
On a walk?  Listen... To hear His voice... To gain fresh perspectives