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Safe stories are where we hide and rest. God stories stretch and challenge us.


My biggest problem in a small church setting is to clone creativity. Finding people to join me in discovering and telling the dangerous, life-changing stories of God is difficult, but things worth doing are worth the effort. I trust God will reveal the ones called by the Spirit.

Today's post is in response to a recently launched blog, “No More Safe Stories” that is designed for church creatives. I'm starting over in a new parish with little technology, so I won't be using videos for a while. I can still tell the stories. Journey Media offers support for creative types to challenge and encourage each other. After all, creative people always face the obstacle of “But we've never done it that way before.”

Pastor Hazel Behrens
Serving 3 churches in rural North Dakota

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I am pressing pause in several areas of my life during the season of preparation before Easter. This period of 40 days plus 6 Sundays (little Easters) is called Lent for those in liturgical churches. Traditions of giving up something for Lent abounded in the past but came to be seen as too legalistic or too Roman Catholic by many Protestant groups. It is like we threw out the roast with the grease. Because of misuse, we abandoned a rich tradition of great benefit to our modern lives.

My mother, a life-long Lutheran, is now 88 years old and she never remembers giving up something for Lent. I am grateful that the animosity between Lutherans and Catholics eased considerably during my lifetime. My own life has been enriched by conversations with and observations of deeply faithful believers in other denominations than my own.

John and Charles Wesley, founders of the denomination in which I now claim membership, spoke of means of grace. Their list would include practices of fasting from something for a period of time. Charles wrote great hymns about grace (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling & Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown -2 of many) and John wrote prayers and sermons about it.

John Wesley thought that means of grace are those things that help us encounter God’s grace, helping us see God’s work in out lives. When our lives are so busy with things to do, we can miss the finer workings of God within daily life. Pressing pause occasionally can hold rich treasures.

I intend to fast in 2 areas this Lent. In both areas, I will add something as well. I am fasting or giving up some foods and one social media feature.

Fasting is often linked with the withdrawal of food or water as in highly publicized hunger strikes by political prisoners. A food fast in Lent is not supposed to draw attention to one’s self. It is best designed as a way to draw our attention to our relationship with food and instead give that attention to God. I intend to remove all sugar and flour from my diet, so that I can learn from God, instead of satisfying my cravings for sweetness.

The social media fast I am taking is the withdrawal of all the games that I have been playing on FaceBook. The games are relaxing. I like to add notes to the other friends who are my neighbors and my presence helps them accomplish their game goals.

However, the games are also a distraction from life. When life is moving too fast to control anything, a game world is a safe place where all the pieces abide by set rules. I want to intentionally enter into the messiness of life by taking my game time and transforming it into increase prayer time.

I am doing it now. As I write this piece, I am praying for whoever may read it. May your life be enriched as you consider ways to encounter God’s grace in these 46 days before Easter.

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