was successfully added to your cart.

Category

Lament

Continuing to practice this week…

By | Lament | No Comments

Does anyone else’s Sunday night feel a little empty when we don’t gather? I missed you all last night. Lament may not be the practice we’d like an extra week on, but isn’t that the very reason it is so important? If you need a reminder, here are our kingdom practices from last week and an update on the communal lament.

(1) Fast from distractions and lean into Jesus: Abstain from activities you use to distract yourself from pain and sadness and fill that space by leaning into Jesus. You may practice a prayer of imagination, journaling, silence, or anything else that helps you feel the emotions associated to your pain and share them with God.

(2)Write a lament: Make some time in the next two weeks to write a personal prayer of lament and share it with a trusted friend. If it is helpful, use this pattern Jenna shared with us in February.

  • Cry out to God (your address to God);
  • Complaint (your anger, pain, heartache, or sadness);
  • Affirmation of Trust (your remembrance of God’s presence in your past);
  • Petition/Request (your deepest desire);
  • Additional Argument (anything more, why God should intervene);
  • Rage against Your Enemies (bringing your enemies before God);
  • Assurance of Being Heard (what you need to feel heard);
  • Promise to Offer Praise to God (the promise you can offer to God); and
  • Assurance (the attribute of God you are thankful for in the moment).

(3) Join a communal lament: If you are like me, your heart has been broken by the violence and racial injustice in our city, and you are wondering what you can do. Soong-Rah Chan says our entry point to engaging injustice is lament, and next weekend we have an opportunity to join in a communal lament.

A group of organizational leaders in Chicago are arranging a vigil of bereavement to provide a place to stand in solidarity and support of leaders of color. They are seeking to create a safe space to grieve, lament, and share stories, creating more dimensions in the narrative of the movement. The vigil will be held Monday, October 10th. It begins at 6pm at the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens (1801 S. Indiana Avenue). If you would like to carpool, let’s meet at the chapel entrance at 4:15. I hope you can join us.
Sincerely,
Jason and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, March 13, 2016: A Concert of Lament & Hope with The Brilliance

By | Lament, Lent | No Comments

brilliance_slider

Last night at The Practice our community was masterfully led in a concert of Lament & Hope by our dear friends The Brilliance.

I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but I am genuinely amazed that this experience got to happen in the context of church. I may be overstating my own experiences, but growing up in the church, I have always wrestled with a glass half empty vs. glass half full mentality when it comes to worship. Most of my experiences of worship have focused (and I believe rightly so) on the glass half full – offering up thanksgiving, praise, and joy to God for who He is, what He has done for us, and how we are changed as a result of the beautiful exchange that took place through Christ Jesus.

And don’t get me wrong, I desire and long to spend the majority of my headspace and my heartspace dwelling on the hope we have received and look forward to in Christ. But there have been other times in my faith; low times, depressed times, disenfranchised times – in which my head and my heart haven’t been willing to go there, or more importantly, haven’t been able to fake being there. In those times, I so badly wanted to be in communion with God, to wrestle with Him, to speak my fears, concerns, and pain to Him – but I was never sure if I could talk to God about the glass half empty that I saw. I was afraid that these periods of doubt, sadness, and confusion excluded me from relationship with God, that they had no place in the church, and the saddest thing about this, is that the one I wanted to lay it all before was God. My glass half empty wasn’t a declaration of apostasy – it was an ache for deeper intimacy with my Maker.

So to experience a concert of lament and hope within the walls of our chapel – was a beautiful, and profoundly redemptive experience for me. The Brilliance are in some ways, a modern liturgical marvel, writing a stunning soundtrack to lyrics expressing protest, pain, and sorrow all in the spirit of lament.

Our refrain throughout the evening was simple and haunting,

Oh my, my soul, it cries
Oh my, my soul, it cries out Soul, it cries out
Soul, it cries, it cries out

Woven throughout this refrain were readings from Psalm 88, songs of lament & hope (you can listen through their album for more), and eventually two stories of lament from our dear friends Sam Ogles, and Joan Kelley.

I am deeply grateful for both Sam and Joan in my life, for the deep and sincere faith they live out with authenticity in both the joy and the pain. Sam poetically shared his story of lament over an anxiety disorder that claimed much of his childhood and now claims his sister at times – Joan courageously and beautifully shared the ways in which her family has creatively lamented the death of her teenage son Will due to cancer. I listened to their bold yet tender stories of lament, and I felt at home, I felt known in their sharing, and I felt like I knew them – through the pain we allowed to share space with us that evening.

From these stories we moved into prayers for the world that protested the ways in which we have contributed to systemic problems of race, gun violence, pollution and inactivity in the church that keeps us from loving one another – it was a powerful and sobering time of prayer that reminded us all that we are part of the problem.

Our evening then culminated around the table, where our Lord was broken and poured out in love for us. As we turned out from the table, our songs turned from lament to hope – and in this way, the whole story was told. A glass half empty – a glass half full, being made even fuller through the work of Christ in and through us. One of the songs we sang, See the Love, embodied my heart with so much hope and joy, these words meant so much in light of the journey we took together –

Learn to feel,
Learn to begin again Open our eyes again
To see our brothers pain

I hope they see it Cause I wanna see it I hope we believe it

I wanna see the love
All around you all around you
I wanna know I wanna know
that love Is all around you its all around See how it lights you up.

I hope that each of you were sent out in this spirit, desiring to see God’s love all around you and the world we were sent back into.

As we close this chapter on lament in lent, I am truly blessed to have journeyed this path with each of you. It is a rare and precious experience to grieve and cry and hope together in the same space, bearing one another burdens in the healing name of Christ.

May you carry lament with you as a tool for the days in which your cup is half empty, and in so doing, may we all find through Christ a cup that is overflowing with love, grace and peace.

Blessings,

Jenna & The Practice Team

Songs of Lament

By | Lament | No Comments

On Sunday, Jenna encouraged us to resist the addiction to happy worship. She was not suggesting that worship should never be happy–the Psalms are rightly filled with joy, celebration, and praise–but she was inviting us into a fuller experience of life with God…beyond “only happy” worship.

And here is an incredible place to begin.  Yesterday, Isaac Wardell and Bifrost Arts released a stunning album called “Lamentations”.  These 14 laments are achingly beautiful, haunting, and deeply hope-filled.  Check out a short video about the project and a way to download the tracks…

May we continue to learn how to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Grace and Peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

A Lament Table Liturgy

By | Lament, Lent | No Comments

lament_homeslider

Dear Tribe,

This is a quick blog post to encourage all of you to make plans for this upcoming Sunday night Sunday, March 6th!  Remember: The Practice is gathering on Sunday, March 6th, but NOT in the chapel. Instead, we invite you to meet with at least one other Practicing brother/sister around a table or living room to:

(1) Share a meal together,

(2) Create holy space by praying the table liturgy (instructions below)

(3) Share your lament (based on last Sunday’s lament writing workshop) with each other.

Here, we wanted to give you a few practical next steps in how to plan for your home gathering, including how to print and prepare the table liturgy.


 

How to host a Lament Table Liturgy

Step 1:

As soon as possible, send the invitation. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out to that person/couple/group that you’ve wanted to connect with more deeply. Or maybe God is placing someone on your mind–even as you read this blog. Send them a message right away! Who knows what God might want to do in and through you next Sunday night.

Step 2:

Figure out the meal you want to share together. We believe hospitality, and sharing a meal around a common table is a powerful thing. This can be as simple as ordering pizza to be delivered, or an opportunity for you to cook and host a meal in your home. Don’t stress this part, but if you can, make a plan for a meal with your people to make food a part of it.

Step 3:

If you believe it will be helpful to facilitating a time of lament sharing around the table, we highly encourage you to make use of the beautiful table liturgy created by our very own Kellye Fabian and the team. Print off a copy of the table liturgy for each person who is attending your table using these instructions:

  • If you have a double sided printer (recommended):
    • Download the double sided table liturgy by clicking here.
    • This version of the table liturgy has been pre-formatted to be printed double sided on two pages and then folded in half with one page inserted into the other to create a booklet.
    • Use the page numbers to make sure your booklet flows in order from page 1 – 8
  • If you have a single sided printer:
    • Download the single sided table liturgy by clicking here.
    • This version of the table liturgy simply prints two pages of the liturgy per page.
    • Your document will be a total of 4 pages when printed.
    • Use the page numbers to make sure you read the table liturgy in order from page 1 -8

Step 4:

The table liturgy will work best if you have all the required materials – we suggest having 1 candle per person who will be sharing their lament (and a way to light the candles i.e. matches or a lighter).

The table liturgy is also set up to have 1 leader, who reads the role of the leader throughout the table liturgy. We recommend that you as the host do this, but anyone can lead.

Step 5:

Go for it! Dive into the holy space you’ve created around the table, share a meal, and then take the risk to share your laments with one another. If you or another member at your table haven’t had a chance to write a lament using last week’s workshop, feel free to simply share from your heart, what God has been putting on your heart to lament as you’ve journeyed with us this past series.

That’s it! We cannot wait to hear how this home practice goes – may you be brave and take risks to find intimacy and common ground in Christ around the table with one another.

Blessings,

Jenna & The Practice Team

 

Sunday Reflections, February 28, 2016: How Can I Lament?

By | Lament, Lent | One Comment

Jenna Blog header

I feel haunted this morning as I reflect on our experience last night—the minor-key music still resounds deeply in my soul and the invitation to make my implicit anguish creatively explicit before God somehow triggers both anxiety and hope. When I walked through the chapel doors last night, I wasn’t sure what I would lament; nothing was coming to mind and I worried I would find myself sitting in silence unable to identify anything. Of course, this is not because I have nothing to lament, but because I tend not to allow myself to feel my pain, let alone voice it.

The opening liturgy, and especially the refrain we sang together (“Take my life and let it be all for You and for Your glory”), opened me, although I didn’t notice it at the time, caught up as I was in trying to think of the thing I would lament. So, imagine my surprise when one word came crashing over me within the first minute or two of Jenna Perrine’s prelude to her walking us through the process of writing our own lament: loneliness. I immediately wanted to push this word down and away. I have been lonely my whole life and there have been times I have been swallowed up by it. But not so much lately. To allow the word to crop up into my heart was to risk falling into loneliness again.

And then Jenna told the story of the video game That Dragon, Cancer. Those hot tears indicative of deep pain welled slowly and my throat tightened. I’m still not sure exactly what was happening in that moment other than that some buried thing was seeking to be released. Was this my implicit anguish? Could I make it explicit before God?

For the next half hour, Jenna walked us through a process of writing our own lament, using these nine steps modeled after the Psalms:

  • Cry out to God (your address to God);
  • Complaint (your anger, pain, heartache, or sadness);
  • Affirmation of Trust (your remembrance of God’s presence in your past);
  • Petition/Request (your deepest desire);
  • Additional Argument (anything more, why God should intervene);
  • Rage against Your Enemies (bringing your enemies before God);
  • Assurance of Being Heard (what you need to feel heard);
  • Promise to Offer Praise to God (the promise you can offer to God); and
  • Assurance (the attribute of God you are thankful for in the moment).

You can listen to Jenna’s message and partake in the practice of writing your own lament here below or by listening to the Practice Podcast. We encourage you to follow along with Jenna’s handout as you listen and write, which you can download here.

As we began, everything in me resisted. I wanted to skip ahead to the part where we would thank God for His goodness and that all things in the end will be redeemed and restored. I wanted to hang on to my addiction to happy worship. But with the help of Jenna’s gentle coaxing and reassurance and the music, which my heart and mind grew increasingly in tune with, I allowed the anguish of my loneliness to become explicit before God. I presented the hurt, unfiltered; asked Him questions I hadn’t asked before; requested His immediate intervention; and got specific about the people and circumstances that hurt me.

I turned my heart to hope with the last three steps, but the greatest reassurance came as we joined together at the communion table. Never before have the Beatitudes felt more personal as they did when we read them as part of the communion liturgy.

This week as a community, we hope to continue our journey into lament and how to make it part of our lives so we can bring our full selves and every range of expression before God. We are not meeting in the Chapel next week, but instead around dining tables and living rooms. This feels slightly terrifying to me, but at the same time, I can foresee the healing that could come in sharing my lament and being present to my friends who long to be seen and known.

Imagine what God could unlock in each of us as we: (1) create holy space by praying the table liturgy (which you can download and print at home by clicking here) that we created specifically for this purpose; (2) share our laments with each other; and (3) pray for each other as we embark on this new practice.

I’ll end with the first line of the benediction that Jenna read over us last night as revised by Josh Spier:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart.

Grace and peace,

Kellye Fabian

 

Sunday Reflections, February 21, 2016: What Is Biblical Lament?

By | Lament, Lent | No Comments

Last night was such a robust and rich experience at The Practice – I almost don’t know where to begin!

First of all, it was our genuine privilege and pleasure to have the Judson University Choir join us to lead us in worship. It’s hard to put into words how beautiful and moving it is to have these gifted college students with us – each time they’ve been with us, they circle the room with sound, presence and praise in a way that facilitates and ushers you into an awareness of Christ’s spirit.

The choir is led by spiritual giant Warren Anderson, who boldly and vulnerably led us into our theme of lament by sharing from his own story, how the loss of his father in the past few months has been teaching and leading him into beauty in the bigger picture through lament. You can read Warren’s touching reflection for yourself online here.

One of my favorite moments of the night was the confession and the assurance. After confessing our sins before God and sitting in the silence before Him, the Judson University Choir sang the beautiful assurance, “All You See” over us. The experience of these words and these heavenly voices declaring such an assurance over us is enough to bring you to your knees, and I am full of gratitude each time I am reminded of God’s grace in this way.

Another meaningful experience we’ve been exploring through Lent, has been the sharing of stories from people in our community who are engaging Lenten Experiments (as introduced by Mark Scandrette before Lent.) This week we had our dear friends Sarah McClarey and Mark Mixter share with the room what God has been leading them to engage and abstain from throughout Lent, and it was a beautiful and vulnerable insight and encouragement to remember we are not alone in the highs and lows of disciplining and experimenting before God. After praying over Mark and Sarah in blessing and thanks, Aaron introduced our speaker for the evening, Curtis Miller, to lead us in a message of, “What is Biblical Lament?”

You can listen to Curtis’ message here below or on the Practice Podcast.

I urge and encourage you to listen to and soak up the experience of Curtis’ words. Not only did he introduce and flesh out the biblical framework of lament, pointing out that the Bible engages lament for both personal and communal reasons, he shared deeply from his own experience of needing this practice in order to respond to the problem of pain in his own life.

In response to this rich teaching, Kellye Fabian got up to lead us in a practice of lament with pictures. This has fast become one of my favorite practices that we have done at The Practice. Kellye led us through three pictures of personal lament, and then three pictures of communal lament for Syria. In between each picture we engaged in a moment of silent lament using a body posture (bowed heads, covered faces, kneeling), before corporately praying a section of the Psalms together in response. You can follow along with this practice by listening to the Practice Podcast and by following along with the pictures below using Kellye’s handout.

It is our hope, that through praying and lamenting over these pictures, that you would begin to identify the categories that you may need to lament in your own life. Whether it be a personal or a corporate lament, as you go about your week, please remain curious and open to what areas of ache may need to be brought before God in lament.

Our night then culminated, as it does every week, at the Table. We shared in the glorious body and blood of Christ, remembering and refreshing ourselves in the sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of our Savior, who hears our cries and who responds with His whole self.

Our night came to a close with an epic benediction led by the Judson Choir, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” by U2 was soulfully sang over us, as a reminder that we as believers still haven’t found in this tension of the now and not yet, all that we’re looking for in Christ, until His return.

It was a meaningful and packed night – one I am proud to be a part of. It is not typical for a community to press so bravely into lament in these ways. Even if this series has been uncomfortable and foreign to you, I commend you to keep leaning in to see how this practice and expression in God’s presence could be healing for you and for the world.

Next Sunday we will be learning how to write our own laments to God as a practice to integrate lament into our every day lives. In that spirit, the Kingdom Practice for this week is:

  1. Stay curious about the personal and global burdens in your life that you may want to write a lament about before God. Jonathan Martin poetically described these things as, ‘the lump that catches in your throat’ when you go to put it into words. Spend time with God discerning what you would like to lament, and come with it ready and on your heart to write about this next Sunday.
  2. Keep reading and praying the Psalms of lament! Believe us, they are in the Bible, and making yourself familiar with them will be so enriching this Lenten season.

Thank you for being on this journey with us. May God bless you, keep you, and make His face to shine upon you as you go about this week,

Blessings,

Jenna & The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, February 14, 2016: Why Do We Lament?

By | Lament, Lent | 2 Comments

“Lament is the unfiltered animal cry of our soul.”

Last night, on a snowy, blustery February evening, Jonathan Martin Invited us into this great mystery and Lenten theme of lament, marking the first week of our corporate Lenten journey.

In a faith expression dominated by major keys and uplifting words of hope and thanksgiving, conversations of lament can seem out of place. But if you’re anything like me, the absence of lament in a regular rhythm of worship causes me to feel out of place. I have often wondered as a Christian, where do I bring my anger, my hopelessness, my despair, my frustration, my protest and my hurt? Because I do feel those things. Just because I am a Christian, does not mean those parts of me have disappeared over night. Many times I have wondered, what can I do with it apart from stuff it down and hope it doesn’t leak out sideways at others or at God? For too long, I believe we have cauterized these bleeding wounds, for fear that they mean we don’t belong, or we’re being inappropriate, when all along the Bible has been full of this precious gift of lament.

We began our opening liturgy by singing a soulful lament, I want Jesus to walk with me.

In my trials, Lord, walk with me
In my trials, Lord, walk with me
When strength is failing
I want Jesus to walk with me

In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
In my sorrows, Lord walk with me
When my heart is aching
I want Jesus to walk with me

In my troubles, Lord walk with me
In my troubles, Lord walk with me
When my life seems a burden
I want Jesus to walk with me

You may not have thought this song a lament before, but it contains the honest and raw acknowledgement that trials, sorrows and troubles are present, that strength can fail, hearts can ache and life can be a burden – yet in the midst of it all, it reveals the desire for Jesus to remain present in the midst of it all.

Our opening liturgy led us through the story we know and need so well, prayers for our world (beautifully penned by the gifted Sam Ogles, and led by Sam and Katie Ro), a confession and assurance, and passing the peace of Christ.

A new element of our service that we introduced last night for Lent, was the sharing of stories from those in our community who are participating in the Lenten Experiment that Mark Scandrette guided us through last time we gathered. John Perrine shared that all throughout Lent, we will be inviting stories from the community to be shared with the room, to both model and build a picture of what these practices and experiments can look like. Last night, our dear friends Jason and Erin Feffer bravely and vulnerably shared their Lenten experiments with the room, guiding us through their thought processes to show us how they arrived at their practices for mind, body and resources to use during Lent. I hope that the sharing of these stories and experiments continues to encourage and bind us together in the truth that none of us are perfect, all of us are journeying, and for some of us, an experiment is just the right engagement this Lent to seek new life in dying places.

After praying for Jason and Erin, we welcomed Jonathan Martin to share with us (which FYI almost didn’t happen due to the insane flight delay, snow storm and travel conundrums he faced throughout the day! Thank God for traveling mercies – he made it). You can listen to Jonathan’s message here below or on the Practice Podcast.

 

Jonathan powerfully preached an invitation for us all to consider lament, sharing that, “Lament is the unfiltered animal cry of our soul.” It is deep prayer that tries to articulate in the presence of God those painful, raw, animal emotions and experiences that catch in our throat and cause hot tears to well in our eyes. Lament is the hard practice of putting words to those parts of our lives in which words fail us, and in so doing we are drawn closer, and deeper to God, cracking open a door for resurrection to enter in.

In order to familiarize and connect ourselves to lament, our practice for the evening was a lectio divina of Psalm 6. It was our desire that after having heard this grand invitation and vision for the importance of lament, that holding one in your hands, hearing one read aloud in your ears, and stirring one in your heart might begin to show each of us the spaces in which we can find ourselves in these raw Bible passages. The remarkable Fr. Michael Sparough led us through the practice, reading the text over us three times, each time pausing in between to pay attention to the words, phrases and emotions that stirred our hearts. If you have never spent time in lament before I commend this practice to you, that you might become familiar and acquainted with the Psalters cries as you begin to articulate and find permission for your own.

We then culminated, as we do every week, at the table. Bringing our longing, our heartache and our brokenness before God as we partook in his body and blood through the holy sacrament of communion. It was a true testimony that we can partake in every season of the soul, and that we can truly bring our whole selves before Christ to receive His whole self.

Friends, our Kingdom Practices for this week are simple,

  1. Read the Psalms of lament. Begin to expose yourself to the scriptures that model this important practice and try to see if they resonate with any aches you may have felt. There are many Psalms of lament, both personal and corporate. Here are a few personal Psalms to get you started; 3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25
  2. Stay curious about the areas in your life that you may want to lament this Lenten season. Next week, Curtis Miller will lead us into, “What is Biblical Lament?” to help us better get a grasp of the parameters of what biblical lament looks like, and more specifically what kinds of things the Bible lamented and how that connects to what we can lament today.
  3. Finally, check back on the blog later this week, we’ll be posting more resources on Lent and lament to help us keep diving deeper.

Grace and Peace for the journey,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Team