March eNews

Grace and the Hopeful Honesty of Lent

from Tim Keel, originally published on the Faith and Leadership Blog of Duke University

Tim Keel

Lent came early this year. Planning for our Ash Wednesday service began in the middle of January, just days after the Feast of Epiphany. Advent and Christmas were barely over.
The shift from celebrating the incarnation and the life that flows from it to contemplating death and the many ways it manifests itself in our lives and world felt abrupt and jarring. I wasn’t quite ready to go there.
But now that Lent has begun, I wonder whether the quick transition wasn’t a gift. Am I ever prepared to face death? When have I ever been willing to confront my sin? The answers are obvious. I am never prepared for death. And I rarely go out of my way to identify, much less confront, the life-denying patterns that I have cultivated so diligently.
The season of Lent, though, comes like the incarnation, full of grace and truth. It is grace in that it comes unbidden and unexpected. And like grace, it disrupts my life — my calendar, my rhythms, my comfort. Lent opens up time and space where it did not exist before. It is grace that invites me to examine myself in truth, to be honest about my brokenness, my sin, my limitations, my mortality. It challenges how my way of life has eclipsed God’s life in me. Read more…

Calendar of Events

Sunday, March 3 |  Congregational Meeting After each worship gathering

Sunday, March 3 | Summer Intern Applications Due

Monday, March 4 | Corpus Group Sign Up deadline

Saturday, March 9 | 9:00am | Men’s Breakstache at Chubby’s

Saturday,  March 9 |  Second Saturday | 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Sunday, March 24 |  Community Compass |  after the 11:00 am service

Thursday, March 28 | 6:30pm | Seder {Passover Meal} childcare provided for birth – 5 years
Friday, March 29 | 8:00pm | Tenebrae {Good Friday} childcare not provided
Saturday, March 30 | 7:00pm – midnight | Holy Saturday Vigil  

Sunday, March 31 |  Easter | 7:00am, 9:00am and 11:00am |
Childcare for birth – 5 years old; no evening gatherings.

Pancake BreakfastSunday, March 31  | Pancake Breakfast

Coming in April

April 14   Infant Baptism and Dedication

April 20   Baxter Kruger Forum | 9:00 am

Congregational Meeting – this Sunday, March 3

Come reflect on what God has done in our community over the past year and what our hopes and plans are for the coming year.  We’ll be holding a congregational meeting this coming Sunday, March 3. It will be held immediately following each of our services. The meeting following the 9:00am service will be held in Banner Hall and the other two will be held in the sanctuary. The meeting will last about 20 minutes and our Kids Community will remain in their classes for the duration.

Get Connected – Join a Corpus Group

Corpus Groups
Want to explore growing in your faith with a smaller gathering of people? Join one of the Corpus Groups that are opening up this spring. It’s a 12-week commitment. Read more and sign up HERE. Please sign up by Monday, March 4.

Register for a Spring Corpus Group

Men’s Breakstache – Saturday, March 9

Men's BreakstacheConnect with other men at Jacob’s Well this month! We’ll gather for breakfast on Saturday, March 9 from 9:00 – 10:30 am at Chubby’s, 3756 Broadway.

Make sure to register below so we can plan accordingly with Chubby’s.

Register for the Men’s Breakstache

Second Saturday – March 9

Second Saturday is an opportunity to put your faith into action. Meet at 9:00am on the 3rd floor of the church and join with other Jacob’s Well people to help a neighborhood family with organization. We will work until 1:00pm.

Further questions? Contact Philip Lesniewski.

Sacred Spaces during Lent

Enter into the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus in an auditory and sensory practice of staying awake with Jesus; experience the weight of the cross as the crucifixion draws near; soak in Scripture through Lectio & Visio; confess & lament with an examen and adding your own weight to the Cross. Spend 5 minutes or two hours in this quiet, sacred space in the Prayer Chapel {2nd floor}.
Open every Sunday before, during and after worship gatherings and every Thursday before, during and after Lenten Practices.

Download our Lenten Practices Card.

Summer Internships

Summer InternsJacob’s Well is now accepting applications for the 2013 summer internship program! We are searching for a few college-age individuals interested in working either in the Youth Ministry or in community outreach with the Koinonia Team. Initial interviews will take place the last week of March.
If interested, please download and fill out the application below and return it to:
Jacob’s Well Church Internship Program
1617 W 42nd St
Kansas City, MO 64111

Community Compass – Sunday, March 24

Community CompassNew to Jacob’s Well? Want to learn more about our community, values and practices? Join Tim Keel after the 11:00 am gathering on Sunday, March 24 from 12:30 – 2:00 pm in the 2nd floor Commons for our Community Compass. Lunch and childcare are provided. Can’t make this one? We’ll be offering another session very soon. Questions? Contact Maureen Lunn.

Register for Community Compass

Holy Week Activities

Maundy Thursday (Seder), March 28, 7:00 pm
We will gather in Banner Hall to participate in a Seder meal, which finds its roots in Israel’s Passover Feast. You are invited to bring some soup or bread to share. We will eat together and then participate in the Seder. Click HERE to sign up.

Tenebrae Service, March 29, 7:00 pm
Join us for a Good Friday celebration as we remember Jesus’ death on the cross.

Saturday Night Vigil, March 30, 7pm-midnight
A powerful night of settling ourselves in Mark’s account of Jesus’ earthly life as we follow Christ to the cross.
There will be readings from the book of Mark every hour on the hour from 7pm to midnight.
We’re excited to welcome many artists from Jacob’s Well to actively respond during this time. Stay for an hour, two, or the entire evening.

Easter Gatherings, March 31
We will hold three gatherings on Easter morning at 7:00am, 9:00am and 11:00am. There will be no evening gatherings. Childcare will be available for birth – 5 years old. Grade school, middle school and high school will be worshipping with their families.

Infant Baptisms and Dedications

Infant Baptisms and Dedications will take place on Sunday, April 14th. You can sign up online now through March 31st. There is a mandatory parents’ meeting on Tuesday, April 2nd from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Childcare is available for the parents’ meeting if you register on the sign up form.

Register for Infant Baptism Dedication

Grace and Hopeful Honesty of Lent (cont.)

Every day I make hundreds of decisions. But they are really reflections of a smaller number of deeper commitments that I hold — commitments called habits. My life is a collection of habits. Taken together, they add up to a story about what I believe constitutes a good life. In Lent, I am forced to ask, do the habits that I nurture add up to a good life? Have the ways in which I’ve stewarded my life increased or diminished my humanity? Is my life a reflection or a denial of the incarnation that I celebrated just weeks ago?
If I am honest, I have to admit that I find it much easier to nurture habits of self-absorption, gratification or distraction. And that simple confession, in turn, leads to another: my habits have affected not only me but other people as well.
It’s a sobering thought: the way I live my life can diminish not only my humanity but the humanity of people around me. Being honest about that fact is not just important or “a good thing to do.” It is critical if I want to make a break with the past — to renegotiate the story I am living about what makes up a good life.
This is what it means to be penitent: to face ourselves honestly and with hope. Truth — the kind of truth that sets us free — is hopeful honesty. It makes change possible. There is, of course, a way of being honest that is less than truthful, an honesty that is lacking in hope. It narrates only the “bad news” part of the story. Hopeless honesty keeps the focus on us and usually results in despair, and despair is not what Lent is about.
Once I truthfully identify the habits that marginalize God’s life in me, I can make different choices, empowered by God’s spirit. This is why fasting is so integral to Lent. When we fast, we identify, then let go of, the lesser commitments, the lesser habits, that have come to dominate us.
When we give something up for Lent, we are not simply going through the motions, giving up chocolate or carbohydrates as a pseudospiritual way to lose weight. We are naming our distractions, our life-denying habits, our sin, so that we can once more turn to God in life-giving ways. Fasting is not subtraction for subtraction’s sake. It is subtraction that opens up space in our lives for renewed devotion. As we renegotiate our story of the good life, we take on new habits. We develop new practices that reshape us in Christ.
This Lent, I am particularly aware of the habits of technological distraction that are so pervasive today. I am always connected to something or someone. Being plugged in, literally and figuratively, is a defining characteristic of my life now.
I pastor a young congregation, and much of our common life takes place or is facilitated through social media via a host of devices — smartphones, laptops and tablets. As much as these technologies can help people connect, they can also become ends in themselves, sinkholes into which we pour our time and attention. The constant stream of texts and tweets, the status updates and checks on the “likes” of some random “friend” are distractions that lead to self-absorption. They shorten my attention span and make trivia the stuff of my daily life.
It all keeps the here and now from ever being present, and for people who follow Jesus, that is a problem. In the incarnation, Jesus manifests the full presence of God. He is immanent. Here. Now. But if we are never fully here and now, then we will miss out on what God is up to — in us, our families, our neighborhood, in the many people and places who don’t text or tweet us but who only wait patiently to be seen and heard.
Yet despite the sheen of novelty, the temptations these new technologies present are not new. Every age has its distractions and temptations. Ministry itself can become a distraction, a way of not being present by constantly focusing on the needs around us.
Look at Jesus’ life and ministry. Confronted by needy crowds, Jesus made a habit of disconnecting so that he might reconnect with his Father and to the work before him. Time and again, Jesus retreated to a solitary place to fast and pray and be in fellowship with God. Jesus practiced subtraction because he understood that taking things away does not mean less life but more. He knew that subtractive spiritual disciplines like silence and solitude are critical if we want to experience a good life.
The 40-day season of Lent is modeled after the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. During that time, he was tempted to live a version of the good life that was less than what God had for him.
By leaving behind the very things that he could have turned to for sustenance and support — a home, family and friends, food — Jesus was forced to face his temptations and decide where he would look for his strength and direction. In the desert, he cultivated habits that sustained his life and ministry from there forward, habits that he would need on the long journey to Easter.