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11.3.19 Invitation to Respond (part 2)

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Sunday night, our journey of stillness and response continued as we listened for God’s invitation for us in this season. Brad and Ben shared their stories of how God has been inviting them into the work of reconciliation in the world, Brad in prison ministry and Ben living with intention in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. We then examined our stories and noticed where our hearts are broken by the injustice of our world as a way of listening to God’s invitation in our lives.

Kingdom Practices
Our hope in this series is that we have been listening to God’s voice. How are we being invited to join God’s work of reconciliation in the world? How has God invited you to respond? How has God refined that invitation in your life?

Sam shared three specific practices we might be invited into out of the night.
Being present to those around us so that we might serve and be formed by presence. Who might God be inviting you to be present to this week?
Reflecting on our relationships, and considering whether God is stretching us to build relationships with people who are different than us. Who might God be inviting you to reach out to this week?
Listen to your story and reflect on the moments of messiness and deep joy. What part of your story might God be inviting you to consider this week? (Check out One Life Maps for a great resource.)

10.27.19 Invitation to Respond (part 1)

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Sunday night, we continued our journey of stillness and response as we turned to examine how God might be inviting us to respond. How are you being invited to join the work of reconciliation God is already doing in the world? We are not leaving stillness behind. In fact, let’s continue to engage practices of stillness. (You may even choose to continue the outward Examenor abiding contemplation.) But let’s begin to listen for how we are being invited to join the work God is doing around us.

This week, David Bailey taught from the story of Esther and asked, “What does it look like for us to be a reconciling community in such a time as this?” It was an incredibly invitational and challenging night. The idea that God is inviting us to long for something that requires fasting and prayer continues to disturb my thoughts. This is the kind of teaching and practice that needs time, reflection, and space to listen to the Holy Spirit. If you couldn’t be with us, would you make some time this week to listen?

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to listen for God’s invitation. If you know where you are invited to join God’s workin this season, how is God refining that invitation? If you are unsure, you might return to the practice of Sunday night or even the outward Examen. And as we listen to the Spirit for our invitation, let’s continue to engage our practices of stillness.

10.13.19 Invitation to Stillness (part 2)

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Sunday night, we continued our five-week journey of stillness and response. There is a temptation with the journey of formation to focus inward and remain there, but a wholistic experience of spiritual formation will always include an outward expression. Our formation is stunted if it does not result in us joining God’s redemptive work in the world. Jesus invites us to join this kingdom work, but he does not invite us to a life of constant activity and burnout.

How might we be present to God’s invitation to join the work of the kingdom and remain present as we join God’s work? This week, Phileena Heuertz shared the importance of an inner stillness as we respond to an invitation to join God’s kingdom work in the world, and she guided an abiding contemplation to help us cultivate a spirit of stillness in God’s loving presence.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to practice this abiding contemplation daily. As we practice becoming still in set aside times of prayer, may the Lord give us an abiding stillness as we join the kingdom work God is doing in our midst. You may use this podcast to continue practicing with Phileena’s guidance.

10.6.19 Invitation to Stillness (part 1)

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Sunday night, we began a five-week journey of stillness and response. There is a temptation with the journey of formation to focus inward and remain there, but a wholistic experience of spiritual formation will always include an outward expression. Our formation is stunted if it does not result in us joining God’s redemptive work in the world. Jesus invites us to join this kingdom work, but he does not invite us to a life of constant activity and burnout.

How might we be present to God’s invitation to join the work of the kingdom and remain present as we join God’s work? This week, Father Michael Sparough shared the importance of both contemplation and activity, and he guided us in an outward Examen to help us cultivate a spirit of stillness as we discern and respond.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to practice this outward Examen daily. We are certainly discerning how the Lord is inviting us to join his kingdom work, but let’s not discern and move on. Let’s stay with the Examen for at least this week. Let’s commit to stillness with the Lord as we cultivate a spirit of presence. You may use this podcast of the practice with Father Michael.

9.22.19 Invitation to Find Solidarity with One Another

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Kingdom Practices
In our time of practice, we listened for God’s personal invitation to us. How might God be inviting each of us to cultivate a space of hospitality and belonging in our community? We noticed: the invitation, the practical steps we needed to take in response to God’s invitation, what roadblocks we may encounter, what we need to be aware of, and shared our desire with God in prayer. You can find the handout here.

Our Kingdom Practice for this week is to discern God’s invitation and to share it with someone. When you have some clarity about God’s personal invitation, would you share it with someone in our community?

9.15.19 Invitation to Find Solidarity with Jesus

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Kingdom Practices
In our time of practice, Adele offered twelve questions to consider how we might interpret our experiences through the lens of Jesus’ life. This week, let’s keep these questions with us and continue to notice how what is happening in our lives fit in the life of Jesus. We may choose to send time with a new question each day. Perhaps we might reflect on moments when we experience a strong emotion and ask, “How was I in solidarity with Jesus?” or “How was he in solidarity with me?”

1. What narratives and slogans have shaped my life?

2. What fears have authored my story?

3. What is the deeper Exodus story behind my roles, titles, degrees, successes, losses, joy, etc. How did I get from somewhere to somewhere else?

4. Where have I had moments when I felt the Spirit descend on me and affirm me in a calling or direction? (Matthew 3:13-17)

5. When was I in a time of testing and tempted to take control of my life rather than trust God? (Luke 4:1-13)

6. What are my wilderness seasons? How did God work in these for my good? My growth? And His glory? (Luke 4:1-13)

7. Where have people figuratively tried to throw me off a cliff? (Luke 4:14-30)

8. What are my mounts of Transfiguration? (Mark 9:2-10)

9. Where have I experienced betrayal? (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50)

10. When have I had mini-gardens of Gethsemane? (Matthew 26:36-46)

11. When have I died on my own mini-crosses? (John 19:16-37)

12. What are resurrection moments in life? (John 20:1-18)

6.9.19 Invitation to Retreat

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Sunday night, we were led by Gail Donahue and Joan Kelley as we continued to discern how God is inviting us into a rhythm of retreat this summer. In the stillness of retreat, Gail taught, God reminds us of our identity as God’s beloved children and what God intends for our lives as we reflect Christ’s image to the world in which we live. She then offered helpful and practical guidance for how we engage this spiritual practice. How do we transition into retreat? What should we be aware of on retreat, and how do we transition out of retreat?

Then we were guided by Joan Kelley in a practice of listening for God’s invitation. This wonderful practice is one we can use anytime we sense an invitation from God, and you can find the handouts here and here. If you couldn’t be with us last night, would you please make time this week to listen and engage this practice?

Kingdom Practices
As we move into the summer, let’s continue to discern how God is inviting us into a rhythm of retreat. How might the practice of retreat remind us of our belovedness and help us engage the activities of the summer as God intends? How will you retreat this summer? Where will you go and what practices will you engage? If you are still discerning, that’s okay. (I certainly am.) You might choose to read some more about retreat or listen to some podcasts, or you may consider including someone in what you are hearing. As our invitations from God become more clear, let’s choose to respond and see how God intends to move in us this summer. Last night, we shared a list of helpful resources that includes books and podcasts, resources for retreat, and places you might go on retreat. You can find that list here.

6.2.19 Invitation to Retreat

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Sunday night, we began our journey discerning how God is inviting us to rhythm of retreat this summer. When God invites us into something, Ruth taught, we know we are wanted by God. We know we are loved by God. Ruth guided us through the Biblical basis of retreat and explored seven specific invitations of retreat: strategic withdrawal, resting in in God, a new rhythm, intimacy in God’s presence, to discern, relinquish, and recalibrate.

Then, Ruth led a helpful meditation. Which of these invitations do we sense God drawing us toward in this season? If you couldn’t be with us last night, please make some time this week to listen and join us on the journey.

Kingdom Practices
Last night was the beginning of our discerning God’s invitation. Do you sense God inviting you into a rhythm of retreat? Did one or more of the seven invitations stand out? Or maybe you are unsure. This week, would you continue to reflect on the invitation to retreat? If you heard something specific, continue to listen for how God may be refining the invitation. If you are still unsure, would you continue to prayerfully consider how you might make room for retreat this summer? How do you desire to experience God’s presence in retreat this summer?

Next week, we will get more specific with the invitation as Gail Donahue and Joan Kelley will guide us in the practical application of retreat. How do we enter retreat, what do we do on retreat, and how do we transition out of retreat? This will be a meaningful and helpful night as we settle into God’s invitation for the summer.

5.19.19 Wisdom from our memories

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What a gift it was to have Casey Tygrett with us Sunday night. Casey guided us through the important role our memories play in the formation of wisdom. “To be ready for what is to come,” he said, “we are invited by God’s Spirit to learn from where we have already been.” We learn from our wounds, our successes, and our failures in order to receive wisdom from God. Wisdom, as the great Dallas Willard once said, is the knowledge of how to live well.

After teaching, Casey led us in an Examen based on our memories. If you couldn’t be with us, please make some time this week to listen and engage our practice.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue in our Examen of memories. Perhaps there was an invitation from God in your practice of the Examen. Did you sense a way you might carry your experience in this memory forward? Or maybe you will remember this practice, and spend some time with it as God brings memories to the surface in the coming weeks. Below are the steps of this helpful practice (summarized from As I Recall).

  1. Acknowledge and rest in God’s loving presence.
  2. Identify a memory you sense God inviting you to examine. Name what you are grateful for in the memory. If it is a painful memory, you may choose to express gratitude for how God has worked out of the memory.
  3. Notice the emotions that arise as you hold the memory in your mind. Express those emotions to God.
  4. Ask God how you might turn this memory and the experience of it into wisdom for the future.
  5. Listen for an invitation. Is God inviting you to pass on this wisdom in any way?

 

5.5.19 The Beauty of Your Identity in Christ

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It is always a joy to have SIbyl Towner with us at The Practice. On Sunday, Sibyl helped us lean into God in our brokenness. In Psalm 139, David acknowledges God that God knows him intimately. God knows David better than he knows himself, and still he has the courage to ask, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Our practice Sunday night was a way of joining David’s prayer. How have we been shaped by our wounds. What false narratives have we adopted in our brokenness, and how might we lay them down and receive the beautiful truth of our identity from God?

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to lay down the false narratives of our brokenness and remain in a posture to receive the beautiful truth of who we are in Christ. Sibyl often says that this journey often involves “deep, empathetic listening,” so would you be willing to find someone this week to invite into your journey. It may be a close friend or a spiritual director. Would you ask someone to listen, and would you be on the lookout for opportunities to listen to someone in your life?