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What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

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About a year and a half ago, I mined the gospels for the questions Jesus asked the people he encountered during his life on earth.  Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, but I find questions fascinating.  And Jesus’ questions are no exception.  In fact, I have found them to be incredibly helpful in my own spiritual journey.  As I think about the practices we will focus on this Fall — silence and centering prayer; sabbath; and simplicity — one particular question Jesus asked came to mind immediately.  It’s the one he asks in this story from Mark 10:46-52:

Then they came to Jericho.  As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up!  On your feet!  He’s calling you.”  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The thing that got me first about this story wasn’t Jesus’ question, but how quickly Bartimaeus answered.  It seems that Jesus barely gets the question out before the answer comes. Bartimaeus knew exactly what he needed.  It got me thinking:  How would I answer this question if Jesus asked me?  Jesus asks this same question in a slightly different way in Matthew 20:21: “What is it you want?”  What is it I want?

In his book Befriending Our Desires, Philip Sheldrake says, “Desire lies at the very heart of what it is to be human.  There is an energy within all of us that haunts us and can either lead us to set out on a quest for something more or frustrate us with a nostalgia for what we do not have.”  He also says that God can be found at the heart of all desire.  I have come to believe this to be true in my own life and like Bartimaeus, I have encountered our grace-giving, healing, compassionate God at the heart of my desire.

This week, consider spending some time in silence with one or both of Jesus’ questions.  Try starting out by sitting in a comfortable, but attentive position, set a chime or gentle-sounding alarm that will let you know when 10-12 minutes has passed, take three or four deep breaths, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.  Imagine sitting with Jesus and him asking you:

What do you want me to do for you?  

What is it you want?

How did God speak to you as you sat silently and listened?

______________

by Kellye Fabian

Half way through our Summer Journey

By | Reflections, Summer Experience | One Comment

For the past two weeks we have been immersing ourselves in the experience of listening as a spiritual practice. We are learning to attune to ourselves, to one another, and most importantly, to God. Much is being harvested in silence. As we engage in listening as a spiritual practice, our curriculum is our present day stories. Listening to one another in community, we are learning to use listening guidelines that help us to invite souls out of hiding. We are using selected pieces of Listen to My Life as a tool to facilitate our learning.

Last night we used the My Life Now map from the Listen to My Life portfolio. We pondered our lingering questions for God and had time to share and listen to one another deeply in community.

What we are doing in The Practice and in this summer experience is affecting how we live and how we are able to recognize and respond to God in the midst of our stories.

Feel free to join us for one or both of the last two weeks as we use the Reviewing My Days map to help us engage in the spiritual practice of the Examen. We will continue to create space for deep sharing and listening.

“Our challenge is to unmask the divine in the natural and name the presence of God in our lives.” (David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself)

We’d love to hear about how this experience is going for you!

Sincerely,
Lori Shoults

—–

A couple resources to keep diving in…

article: “The Wisdom of Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story” by Sharon Swing

book:  Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

website:  One Life Maps

Listened To and Loved

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Week 1 of A Taste of Listen to My Life

 

So….how did your first experience with A Taste of Listen to My Life go?

Those I have talked to have used the words “holy,” “deeply connected,” “heard,” and “loved.”  I can’t help but think of the David Ausburger quote: “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”  I spent Sunday night listening and being listened to by a dear friend and left feeling totally loved by her and by God.  She didn’t give me advice, try to fix anything, or try to fill the silence.  She just listened.  Yesterday, as I thought about what happened in living rooms all over our community and in the facilitated gathering at church, I imagined God delighting in our collective practice of community and spiritual listening.

I’m looking forward to diving into the first map — My Life Now — over the next few days.  As I prepare to work on it each morning, I’ll be praying through Psalm 25:4-6, as suggested in the Map:

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

If you want a little preparation for next week’s time with your tribe, check out this talk by Brene Brown about the power of vulnerability.

We’d love to hear how it’s going so far and we’re praying that you feel God’s presence as you practice over the next few weeks!

Blessings and peace,

Kellye

So what are “tribes”?

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This week, we’ve been asking people about their experience with The Practice so far:  “What has been helpful? Not helpful? What do you sense God is doing and where do you think God may be leading us?”  (These have been FASCINATING conversations, and we’d be thrilled to hear your response also!  Feel free to email me any thoughts.)

One of the biggest questions so far:  What do you mean by “tribes?”

coffee

sharing a cup

Great question!  It’s become clear that I’ve done a poor job of explaining what we mean by this, so thanks so much for the chance to clarify…

Basically, all we’re saying is Don’t try to live the Christian life alone.  You can’t do it alone.  I can’t do it alone.  We need to live and walk and practice with at least one other person.  And this is why we’ve been encouraging everyone to “find your tribe”.

Does it have to be an official Practice community sanctioned tribe?  Certainly not.  Many of us have been in small groups for years…which is great.  Or some may want to be a part of another kind of tribe during the week, but just attend the Practice gathering on Sunday night.  That works too.  There is no one-size-fits-all for community.  But isolation is not an option.  We need to find a tribe that works for us.

One more thing.  Talking about community often unearths deep emotions.  We ALL long to be known and loved deeply, and we’ve ALL been know and loved imperfectly.  Whether it’s our family of origin, broken past relationships, or current loneliness, we ache for the kind of connection that is possible through Christ.  And it IS possible!  But it’s certainly not easy…or common…or quick.

Personally, I’ve only experienced this kind of deep, transforming community a couple times in my life.  It took a long time to build, was gloriously messy, and only lasted for a season.  I am profoundly thankful for those seasons, and have begun to see glimmers of this kind of connection again recently.

So let us take this very seriously, but not be discouraged.  And may we never give up.  God is community, God designed community, God desires that we be in community, and God will lead us into community.

Even in our search for connection, we are not alone.

many blessings to you,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Kingdom Practice: Reflecting on Relationships

By | Kingdom Practices, Reflections | No Comments
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Mindy Caliguire

Introduction.  This week we are continuing to grow in what it means to be in community.  Last night, Mindy Caliguire shared with us her vision and understanding of spiritual transformation in relationships, something she seeks to live and breathe.  In particular, Mindy shared her heart about the difference between “life on life” relationships and “life on curriculum” relationships, challenging us to “give a flying rip” about the life of another person!  What do your small group relationships look more like?

Mindy walked us through her diagram of what transformation can look like in a group as we move from learning together, to journeying together, to following together.

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She asked us to reflect on these four questions:

  • Who was (or is) pivotal in getting you established in your faith?
  • Who has helped (or is helping) you identify and practice the spiritual disciplines that bring you closer to God?
  • Who is the tribe or group that you are “following with”?
  • What is your desire in and for your relationships?

I have been thinking about these questions, and especially the last one, since last night.  As we move into our July and August “living-room Practice,” let’s spend some time thinking and praying about the last two questions in particular.

Reflecting on Relationships

(1) Lectio Divina.   We invite you to practice Lectio with Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and listen to what God is speaking to you. 

(2) Reflection Questions.  Spend some time reflecting and praying about these two questions:

Who is the tribe with whom I can learn, journey, and follow?

What is my desire in and for my relationships?

—–

Additional Resources

Books:  STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships, Mindy Caliguire.

Spiritual Friendship, Mindy Caliguire.

Video: Why I Love Small Groups, Mindy Caliguire.

—Kellye

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

By | Reflections | 2 Comments

Friends, as we experiment with our first “rule of life” this week, remember our central text…  

—–
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
—–

Our rule of life is simply a way to “walk with Jesus, work with Jesus, and watch how He does it.”  We are humbly creating space for God to sweep us into the streams of what God is already doing…in us and in the world.  Amen.  We have an important role to play in following Christ’s lead, but as we do, we discover that God is the one doing all the work!  For these are the unforced rhythms of Grace.

Sarah Bessey recently reflected on this passage.  It’s wonderful.  May her words keep us grounded this week in Jesus’ beautiful invitation – learning to live freely and lightly…

Catching up on the last Three Weeks

By | Reflections, Upcoming | 4 Comments
Father Michael leading The Examen

Father Michael leading The Examen

By God’s grace, some things have really come together over the last three weeks and we’re getting ready to explore our first shared “rule of life”.  Two reasons I’m writing this today…

First, if you want to catch up on the last three weeks of The Practice, we’re making the teachings available for free download.  (I’ve really wrestled with this because lecture is such a small part of our experience;  I don’t want to reduce The Practice to a set of spoken ideas.)  However, since we’re building our next season on the last three weeks, we want everyone to have the same foundation!  So please dig in…

04.27.14 “A Theology of Peacemaking” by Jon Huckins

05.04.14 “The Prayer of Examen” by Father Michael Sparough

05.11.14 “Practicing the Presence of God” by Kellye Fabian

And all the practices for these weeks are at practicetribe.com/blog.

Second, if you live anywhere near us, this Sunday is a big gathering.  Please join us!  We’ll reflect on where God has brought us, engage a couple practices that align us with His Kingdom, and share a vision for the future.  God willing, much of the next three months will spring from this Sunday.  Even if you’ve never been to a Practice, this could be a great introduction.  (Especially if you listen to a teaching or two above!)

As always, we gather in the Willow chapel from 7-9pm on Sunday nights.  You’re always welcome to practice with us.

Grace and Peace,
Aaron

The story of our first six weeks

By | Reflections | 2 Comments

Communion Table

Well it has been six weeks gathering together as a Practice tribe. What a start to this holy experiment. All week I’ve found myself looking back and thinking through the journey and would love to share a few reflections. Here’s how I’d tell the story…

We began with our shared desire:  We long to be a tribe who doesn’t just believe things about Jesus, but is willing to rearrange our lives to put his words into practice. In order for this to be true, we believe three things must be present at the end of our 18 month experiment: Vision, Practice, and Tribe.

[highlight color=”lightgrey”](1) Vision. We must begin with a ravishing view of the Kingdom of God. What did Jesus teach and invite us into? What does it look like for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven? We need to start with the Big Story.
(2) Practice. What are practical, concrete actions that help me align with God’s Kingdom among us?  What are the disciplines and habits that I can choose to put me in the flow of Grace…so that God can do in me what I could never do otherwise?
(3) Tribe. We can’t do this alone. We need to walk and practice together.[/highlight]

We’ve always known that a weekly service couldn’t accomplish this on it’s own. A two-hour gathering is only 1.2% of our time and can’t compete with how we spend the rest of the week. But a service “in service” of a community practicing the way of Jesus could be quite powerful. So with this in mind, our Sunday night gathering has become very important to this journey.

Meeting most Sunday nights, 7-9pm, we have tried to turn the Willow chapel into a holy living room.  Simple, reverent, and human.  We set up the chairs in the round because we desire to become a community, and placed the Eucharist table in the very center of the room because Christ is the very center of everything. It’s simple, of course, but hopefully the space preached louder than any words.

The vibe of the gathering was similarly understated and simple. We tried to do the minimal amount of programming required to create the most amount of Holy Space, and have been continuously amazed by how God met us in it.

Sequence 08

Week 1: The Invitation. On the first night, after an opening liturgy and a little bit of my story, Mindy guided us through a lectio divina engagement with our central text…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me
and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything 
heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me
and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

It was profoundly moving to hear God speak to us through this powerful text…even in our first gathering.  And in many ways, this invitation from Jesus set the trajectory for our whole journey.  O please, Jesus Christ, teach us Your unforced rhythms of Grace.  (Week one practice)

Week 2: The Kingdom of God.  To learn these rhythms of Grace, we began with Jesus’ central message: “The Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news!” But what does this mean? My friend Doug Pagitt brought a compelling and provocative perspective that raised more questions than it answered, and launched us into a week of wrestling, searching, and finding. We learned that God’s Kingdom is most often found in the daily interaction with “normal” life. O God, please give us eyes to see Your Kingdom everywhere. (Week 2 practice)

Week 3: Spiritual Formation.  Beginning to see God’s Kingdom all around us, we then asked: How do we become people who can join this Kingdom with our hands and feet? How do we become transformed into Christlikeness? Mindy brilliantly taught about this process and gave us the practice of the open chair. So much of The Practice is built on this teaching: Transformation is only possible through God’s Grace, and yet we have a critical role to play. O God of the Universe, please show us the small things we can do to align with Your immense power. (Week 3 practice)

Week 4: Forgiveness. For our fourth week, we said, “Alright, let’s bring it all together. Let’s dive into one of Jesus’ deep teachings about the Kingdom and see if, by Grace, we can begin to put his words into practice”. Since nearly 2/3 of Jesus’ teachings were directly or indirectly about forgiveness, we prayerfully entered into the difficult “parable of the unmerciful servant” from Matthew 18 and asked God to help us forgive from our hearts. This was so hard. Those seven days of practice were heavy, beautiful, difficult, and a taste of freedom for many of us…even as we know the journey will be long. Loving God, please forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Notes and Week 4 practice)

Week 5: Serving. With Jesus’ teaching “those who have been forgiven much, love much” still in our ears, we looked at Luke 4:16-21 where Jesus launched his ministry by reading: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Isaiah 61)” To join Jesus and align with God’s Kingdom is to do the things He’s already doing: bringing good news to the poor, sight to the blind, etc… and so we humbly said YES!  Together, our little tribe spent the rest of the night packing seeds for families in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and El Salvador. O God, please make us instruments of Your peace. (Week 5 practice)

Week 6: Gratitude and Longing. The final week was probably my favorite gathering of them all. After an opening liturgy focused on the original Palm Sunday, we had a bit of a “holy family meeting” focused on two questions: First: Where are you experiencing the unforced rhythms of Grace in your life? We spent time in silent reflection, small group conversation, and then shared our stories of gratitude…all shouting “Thanks be to God!”  Second: Where are you NOT experiencing this Grace, and deeply long for more? After honestly bringing these longings to God in solitude and groups, many courageously shared with the community, and we all joined them in solidarity with “Lord, have mercy.”  Finally, we brought our hearts of gratitude and longing to the communion table and reaffirmed that Christ is the Center of it all. Almighty God, please help us align our entire lives to Your Kingdom and learn to live the unforced rhythms of Grace. Thank You for the greatest invitation in history. We gladly say yes! Amen. (Week 6 practice)

There is so much more to say…but this is already a novel of a blog post. However, we’re excited to share more stories, questions, and reflections very soon.

We’re starting the next journey together this Sunday, April 27th.  Please join us!

It’s an honor and joy to be on this adventure with you all. Grace and peace…
Aaron