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

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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

A Lament Table Liturgy

By | Lament, Lent | No Comments

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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

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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?

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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

Lent 2016: Learning to Lament

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This week begins the season of Lent.  In the Christian year, Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter where we fast, pray, repent, and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. In many ways, Lent reflects Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before he began his public ministry, and Christians all over the world are unified in this holy practice.

This Lent, as a practice community, we want to go deep into one of the Lenten themes: Lament.  With all that’s going on in the world these days, and all that’s going on inside each one of us, we long to be a community that knows how to weep, mourn, and lament well. The reality is that our culture—and even our christian tradition—does not teach us how to do this. Over 30% of the Psalms in the bible are laments, and right around 0% of the top 100 Christian worship songs are laments. As a result, our faith can get lopsided and we don’t alway know how to engage the full reality of life.

But thankfully, by God’s grace, we can learn the biblical practice of lament. We can learn how to hold the heartbreak, the injustice, and the evil in the world before God, and weep. We can learn how to hold our own brokenness, disappointments, and sorrow before God, and weep. And as we do, we learn that God doesn’t always fix the issue, but He does something infinitely more profound: God weeps with us. And then invites us to join His work of healing.

Here’s the journey…

———
Feb 14 – Why Lament?
 – Jonathan Martin offers a vision and invitation into this practice.
Feb 21 – What is Lament? – Curtis Miller teaches about lament in the scriptures.
Feb 28 – How do I Lament? – Jenna Perrine guides us through a 10-step process to write our own lament.
Mar 6 – Sharing our Lament – Instead of gathering in the chapel, we’ll meet in living rooms on Sunday night to share our laments with a trusted friend or smaller tribe. The Practice team will offer a “table liturgy” to help you create holy space on that night.
Mar 13 – The Brilliance: Concert of Lament and Hope – The Brilliance returns to lead us deeply into the practice of lament and hope through liturgy and song.
———

Friends, please join us for this journey. Lean deeply into this important practice of being fully human, and let’s see how God forms us over the next 40 days.

And remember, even as we weep, mourn, and wail…Easter is coming.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

 

Join our Lenten Practice Facebook Group

By | Lent | 6 Comments

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Greetings Tribe,

Last Sunday, our great friend Mark Scandrette joined the tribe to help us design a personalized Lenten Experiment out of the laments and aches in our lives as we prepare for Easter. If you missed it, you can listen to his message through the Practice Podcast and work through the steps to designing your own Lenten experiment using the handout available here.

In the sixth and final step of the process of creating a ‘Lenten Experiment’ – Mark mentioned a few important ways to make your experiment stick. If you’re anything like me – I’ve often started a Lenten practice, but failed to finish it due to a lack of encouragement, accountability or a space to share the journey. One of the ways we’re most excited to journey with one another in our experimenting is by inviting you to join our private Facebook community group.
We’ve created a Facebook Group online that you can join for support and community as you implement your Lenten Experiment. Being a part of the group is simple – each of us will post the experiment we’re going to try over the course of Lent each week our team will post self-reflection questions and prompts to check in on how your practice is going. Each week we will all respond and check in by sharing how our experiment has been going (good or bad!) and each week we will encourage and support one another by commenting on each others posts.

Right now the group is public and any of you are invited to join us on the journey – on February 10, the group will be made private so that only group members who have committed to a Lenten Experiment can read and contribute to the posts. We are excited to share that Mark will be participating in the group with us along with members of The Practice Team. We hope that you will join us as we journey together – you don’t have to experiment alone!

Blessings,
Jenna & The Practice Team

I’m in, what should I do next?

  1. Make sure you have a Facebook account (they’re free!)
  2. Join our Facebook group by clicking here.
  3. Post your experiment to the group by February 10
  4. Respond weekly to the self reflection promtps
  5. Encourage and support others in the group by commenting on their posts

Sunday Reflections, January 31, 2016: Preparing for a season of Preparation

By | Lent | One Comment

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Last night at The Practice we gathered together to prepare for Lent – which is, (ironically) a season of preparation for Easter. I don’t know about you – but this is perhaps the first time in my entire life that I have actually thought about Lent before it was upon me. So often I have been alerted to the presence or beginning of Lent by the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” And if I’m honest – I’ve never had a great answer, certainly not one that I’ve given any great thought to. (I have probably tried and failed to give up chocolate unimaginatively every year…)

So in that light, it was a wonderful gift to be able to open up the conversation about Lent ahead of it actually beginning; to prepare for it, to plan for it, and to thoughtfully engage how to participate. In my opinion, our wonderful friend, Mark Scandrette, was the perfect guide to host such a conversation, offering encouragement, challenge and vision for how we can experiment this Lent.

This Lenten season The Practice will communally be exploring in depth the Lenten theme of Lament. Mark started us off by inviting us into the heart of Lament by pointing to the beatitude in Matthew, “Blessed are those who mourn.” In other words, “happy are those who are not happy.” As a counselor in training, I had to hold back from shouting a whole hearted amen! As Mark shared, more and more research is revealing that the belief and pressure to believe that we have to be happy all the time is actually making us less happy. Lament is a practice that faces into the honesty and breadth of our emotion and I cannot wait to dive deeper with all of you in the coming weeks into how to incorporate it into the rhythm of our daily lives.

Mark also began with the helpful reminder that ‘Lent’ literally means Spring or Springtime, and represents the desire for new life to emerge out of our lament, our pain. The practice of abstaining, or giving something up, for Lent – should ultimately be connected to a lament in your life, an understanding that something is dead or dying in your life, and a desire to see new life emerge. The rest of the night focused largely on answering two key questions,

  1. Where do I long for newness to come into my life?
  2. How can I cooperate with God’s work in me to allow more life to spring forth?

Mark helped us answer these deep and honest questions by leading us through a workshop of how to design our own personalized ‘Lenten Experiment’ that is driven by an awareness of our own lament and desire for new life. Please check out the handout that Mark used throughout his talk to help us design an experiment HERE. It will be helpful to follow along with the handout as you listen to Mark’s message, which you can listen to through the Practice Podcast or here below.

The steps Mark led us through were simple yet challenging:

  1. Examine your life
  2. Explore patterns & root causes
  3. Imagine the life that is possible
  4. Design your experiment
  5. Commit to your plan & track it
  6. Evaluate your experiment

I hope as you listen to the talk and engage the handout, that you come to see a richness in Lent that you may not have experienced before. As I listened to the message I felt a genuine sense of excitement that there was a real opportunity before me to change my life in Christ through throwing myself into Lent. I’ve never felt that way before.

We then focused our hearts and our desires, as we do every week, on the table. Kellye led us through the communion liturgy as we prepared for Eucharist and in response to all this self examination, planning and lenten hope, we came to the table to receive Christ. The outward sign of bread and juice, is such a powerful reminder of what Christ accomplished on the cross, and at the same time a present reminder and engagement with the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. When I take communion I am refreshed. I am restored. I am washed anew in the reality of what is possible through Christ who conquered all.

May the truth of communion be with you as you engage your hope for Lent this season. I hope and pray that as you design a Lenten experiment of abstinence or engagement – you would do so out of a profound encouragement that the power that conquered death is available to each and every one of us.

We ended our liturgy with the song, ‘Everything’ by Tim Hughes – which in some ways, was one of the first songs that tuned my heart to understand lament. There is a verse that has ministered to me many times,

God in my laughing
There in my weeping
God in my hurting
God in my healing

These words affirm that there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). There is a time for joy and laughter, but also a time for weeping and hurt. It is my profound desire that you would learn through out upcoming engagement with lament, to pay attention to what time you are in. Are you in a time for laughing? Are you in a time for weeping? Are you in a time to take up or engage something new? Or are you in a time to abstain or give up something painful?

If I am honest with each of you, it was hard for me to be at The Practice last night. I was sad. I still feel sad. I have been hurting. I have been weeping, and I am yearning for healing and new life to spring forth out of rotting places in my daily living. It can be so hard to be sad in a place we associate with worship and thanksgiving to God. Yet it was so healing and so safe to realize that God was with me in the lament, in the bread and in the juice. God is there in our weeping. He is there in our hurting. And He will be there in our healing. I hope you can take the risk with me, to keep showing up this Lenten season as we experiment and lament together.

Like Aaron said at the beginning of the night, as we engage the painful realities of our life and bring them before God, “God doesn’t always fix the issue, but He does something more profound: God weeps with us. And then invites us to join His work of healing.”

Will you join us in God’s work of healing both your soul and the world? I can’t wait to dive into the good, hard work ahead.

Grace and Peace to you,

Jenna Perrine and The Practice Team

Practice Resources: Dying to Self

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This past Sunday, John Perrine led us into the difficult Lenten theme of Dying to Self. Be sure to read all about it here.

This journey of dying to self has been fraught with a lot of unhelpful teaching for most of us. For some of us the invitation to die to self has been a shaming command to kill all our desires. For others, we don’t know what to die to and what to nourish. It is a difficult but deeply important part of our spiritual formation, so no matter where you are in the journey remember –  you are not alone, let’s keep pressing on together.

We’ve gathered a helpful jumble of websites, online articles, books and videos to help you better explore the journey of dying to self. If you read one thing today I hope it’s Lynne Hybel’s article on what do we die to. I found it immensely helpful this Lenten season.

Happy Reading!
Peace and comfort to all of you,

Jenna and The Practice Team

Resources

Here are some excellent web articles worth exploring as you ponder Dying to Self

 

It should come as no surprise that our beloved Matriarch has indeed explored and wrestled well with this concept of dying to self. In this helpful blog post, Lynne shares her story of dying to self and explores the helpful distinction between what needs to die and what needs to live.

We love Pete Scazzero and the good work he and his team are doing over at Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. By clicking this link you’ll be taken to a wealth of resources that help you to identify the false self – the self we need to die to! There is a great mix of sermons, articles and exercises to help you on your journey.

The Just Life is a Chicago based non-profit that partners with churches to communicate God’s heart for Justice. As they explore where the heart of just comes from, check out this helpful collection of Scripture passages on dying to self and a beautiful prayer litany on humility.

Inherent in a discussion on Dying to Self, is growing in your own self insight and awareness. If you don’t know yourself and haven’t explored inward, how can you begin the process of identifying the old and the new self? Philosophy father Socrates once shared, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The sentiment of self reflection is important, in doing so we identify sinfulness, truth, growth and weakness. Here are some recommended resources to help you in the process of knowing yourself well, so that you can put off the old and put on the new self:

 

This book should be a cornerstone in your spiritual reading. It encourages and provides wonderful insight into knowing the true self.

As a lover of psychology and counseling – I just have to recommend this great read that essentially explores the neuroscience of sin. So helpful for the journey of dying to self – especially Chapter 12 “The Repair of Resurrection” p.221-234.

No one has modeled a life of sacrifice in this Western culture and day and age, more humbly or beautifully than Shane Claiborne. This exploration of how to be an ‘ordinary radical’ were some of the first ideas that truly challenged my journey of dying that I may truly live. A must read.

  • Click here to watch this short video by Dallas Willard is entitled, “The Cost to Follow Jesus” taken from his series ‘What Jesus said about following him.’Dallas Willard is a giant in Spiritual Formation literature and explores with great insight and wisdom how we are to weigh the cost of following Christ.
The Cross

Message: “The Gift of Repentance”

By | Lent, Sunday Messages, The Practice Podcast | No Comments

Kellye Fabian shared this important and helpful message on the Lenten theme of Repentance during our exploration of Lent. This message is a wonderful invitation for us to embrace the postures of repentance modeled by David from Psalm 51.

If you missed this message or would like to listen to it again – we are excited to share that it is now available online!

To download the audio of her message click here, or you can listen online here below!

 

God be with you as you work out the good gift of repentance with your father who loves you.

Blessings,

Jenna and The Practice Tribe