Denial

Lent Project: Extra's Purge Resources & Ideas

On Sunday, April 13th, we'll launch the final of The Lent Project's 6 Practices of Intentional Denial: The Extras Purge. During this week, we're inviting our community to take an inventory of all of your belongings.  How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have?  Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras.  Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away.  Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale.  Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with.  If money is raised, what will you do with it?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others?

Here are some creative ideas for what you could do with your extras:

  1. Host a garage sale by yourself or coordinate one with your Circle or your neighborhood.  Pool the proceeds together with your Circle or others and contribute it to a kingdom-weaving cause that you believe in.
  2. Donate your extras to the local Goodwill, Walnut Creek Presbyterian's Deacon's Cottage, or St. Paul's Trinity Center.
  3. Combine your extras with others and host an exchange or imagine a 2nd-hand boutique experience in collaboration with an organization serving the poor that you believe in. (i.e. The Michael Chavez Center serving Mexican immigrants on the Monument, City Team or Bay Area Rescue Mission serving the homeless and formerly incarcerated, or New Day for Children serving recently trafficked young women.)

An ODC Story: Anthony Machi on our Comfort Fast

As a part of our Lent Project, we invited our community to set aside either their beds or hot showers for the week in an effort to both create unique space for the Spirit of Jesus to rise up in our lives as well as to stand in solidarity with majority world.  Anthony and Paulina experienced the Comfort Fast from within the Dominican Republic.  Here is Anthony's reflection... Two weeks ago, Paulina and I took off for the Dominican Republic leading a group of 23 college students & young working professionals from U.C. Berkeley, UCLA, U.C. Santa Barbara, U.C. Davis, San Jose State, and St. Marys. The trip included an active marine, a youth pastor, youth coaches and trainers, and many students smack in the middle of their college experience.

The choice during this week of comfort fast: was to give up the bed, or to give up hot showers. I chose to give up hot showers: there was no hot water where we landed.

Our team visited the orphanage under the care of the worldwide organization Kid’s Alive, in Monte Plata in the Dominican Republic. Here were the main limitations (“strippings”) in the scene we entered in to: Running water is limited & rationed based on a pump system that takes the water out of a nearby river.

We had electricity for 3 to 4 hours every day: usually 7:30pm to 11pm. (by generator) Only showers available were cold showers from a drip system from the water reserve. We had twin bunk beds in open cabins with screen walls and bug nets around our bed, 10 people to a room.

No cell phone service + No media availability. Our first van ride = 30 people in a 20 passenger van & 2300 lbs of donations for the kids (Dominican style = cramped & cozy). Average amount of mosquito bites on our bodies by day three: 40 to 50 (with bug spray).

For me personally, I have grown up for most, if not all, of my life as an introverted young man, with most of my time spent as individual-time on the golf course, with my own room to go home to, quiet when I wanted it, privacy when I wanted it, a hot shower when I wanted it, and a good sandwich when I wanted it. For this winter and spring I have been sharing a room in a house of 10 men. And this trip to the Dominican was trip #2 of 3 week-long service trips in a matter of 6 weeks for Paulina and I this Spring (each leading 15 - 23 college students).

Here is where Jesus is getting my attention: For me, for whatever reason, comfort is not the end that I most struggle with. Comfort, for me, has served as the means to… here’s the key… perform. This, for much of my life, took the form of performance in athletics and academics. But my performance was ultimately a means to: try to earn the approval of others, for them to see me as a person worthy of acceptance and praise.

All the bullet points of limitations for this week in the Dominican combined with this season of living, contributed to a culmination of the stripping of my most prized comfort: my ‘own’ space.

Here’s what I watched Jesus do in me this past week:

Disruption to comfort => Disruption to my own spiritual “performance” => Revealing of the true me to those around me.

God has been breaking, and broke the cycle of comfort => performance => approval. Only through this fast of comfort was I then even able to see this equation clearly. The “equation” was broken down to disruption of comfort => not able to perform => worship Him. In this process He has pointed me to the river of life which involves no equation, but rather stands as one word, short, and very tall, Jesus. In stripping the comfort He revealed the worship of the approval of others (a false god) which my comfort was a slave to. He revealed me sitting in the middle of ocean dying of thirst, as this pursuit has never been satisfied.

It took experiencing deep feelings of claustrophobia for weeks, culminating in me having to stop an entire van of 23 on the way to church one day in the DR, for me to get out and walk.

Symbolically, the claustrophobia brought me to start walking.

And so after years and years of tried convincing that the answer was “back to my room to recharge, listen to that next song, just put on the right inspirational video, so I could clean myself up and ‘head back out there to the world’ to perform...” it was the never-ending search of the approval of others… He showed me:

He has been there the whole time…longing for me to stop dying of thirst… so I turned to Him.

No need to exit to re-enter. I’m in. Thank You Jesus.

In Him, He brings quiet, rest, and comfort in love: In the cold shower, in the top bunk bed... in the hot shower, and in the queen size bed back home.

My alone time with God is a beautiful gift, the approval & acceptance of others is a gift, a hot shower is a gift, a good meal is a gift, the ability to worship is a gift. All of these good and perfect gifts coming from our Father of lights.

The Lent Project :: Descriptions & Details

Lent is a 40-day journey in which we practice denial in an effort to recognize the distance between who we are and who we’re becoming in Christ.  It’s an ancient practice designed to help us embrace our humanity, recognize our ongoing need for a Savior, and encounter grace in refreshing ways.

This year, Open Door will practice Lent in a unique, communal, and experiential kind of way:

The Lent Project: Six Practices of Intentional Denial.

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Throughout this journey, we will engage in six different practices of denial and, in so doing, create margin to commune with Jesus in silence and solitude, community with others, and solidarity with the majority world.

Here’s how it’ll work:

At each Gathering during the Lent Season (March 9 – April 20), we will initiate that particular week’s practice.  Then, for the next 7 days, we’ll live it out (Sunday evening to the following Saturday evening).  For those of us in Circles, we’ll meet together to process, storytell, and learn from each other throughout the week.

If you’re not currently in a Circle but would like to join one to journey through the Lent Project with others, contact Heidi & Clint.

Here are the 6 Practices of Intentional Denial:

  1. Media Fast :: Turn off all media (Computers, TV’s, iPads, iPhones) from 8pm-8am.  Replace the time that would normally be spent engaging media with silence, rest, and community.  This first experience will prepare you well for the next five. Media Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 9th.
  2. Essentials Only :: Reduce your spending to the essentials: bills, toiletries, and 3 simple meals/day.  Simple meals should be prepared and eaten at home (brown-bag @ work) rather than out and should include pot-luck style shared tables with others.  This experience will help us face our consumerism and convenience spending while also helping us to consider budgeted and generous living.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Essentials Only will be launched on Sunday, March 16th.
  3. Majority World Diet :: Eat on $3/day by utilizing Trade As One’s majority world diet kit.  Each kit contains enough rice and beans (& preparation instructions) for one person for five days.  This experience of intentionally simplifying your diet will help you stand in solidarity with the majority world and will help you understand how much money you actually spend on food every week.  Note: the average savings per person will be $75-$100. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Majority World Diet will be launched on Sunday, March 23rd.
  4. Comfort Fast :: Give up either your bed (sleep on the floor) or warm showers (cold showers are acceptable) for the week.  As we stand in solidarity with the majority world, allow Jesus to awaken us to our preferences for convenience and luxury.  If you’re really up for a challenge, give up both! Comfort Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 30th.
  5. Environment Fast :: Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by at least half.  This could include utilizing public transportation or the casual carpool and/or walking and biking rather than driving.  This may include tele-commuting rather than heading into the office and turning down your water-heater. No doubt, this experience will continue to help us confront our convenience and should reduce our commitments for the week.  What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Environment Fast will be launched on Sunday, April 6th.
  6. Extras Purge :: Take an inventory of all of your belongings.  How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have?  Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras.  Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away.  Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale.  Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with.  If money is raised, what will you do with it?  How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Extras Purge will be launched on Sunday, April 13th.

As you engage this pilgrimage as an individual and in community with others, here are some questions to take you deeper into the experience and into intimacy with God, self, and others:

  1. What challenge am I / are we experiencing?
  2. What does this practice expose about me / us?
  3. What is helpful about this practice?
  4. What is one highlight from this week?
  5. What is Jesus saying to me / us?
  6. What am I / are we going to do about it?
  7. What will our Circle do with the excess $$$?