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Holy Week Resources

By | Articles, Holy Week, Resources, Sermons, Videos | No Comments

We’re continuing to share resources throughout the beautiful journey of Holy Week. Enjoy and explore today’s recommended article, sermon and visual liturgy to aid you in your worship this Holy Week.

I was speaking with a friend today who encouraged me to make this extraordinary week of preparation for Easter extraordinary in my own life through my worship and practices. How amazing to realize just how extraordinary and momentous this week has always been in the life of the church – and what a privilege to celebrate it freely and joyfully! However you feel led this Holy week, may you find ways to make this extraordinary week extraordinary in your life.

Grace and Peace to you!

Jenna and The Practice Team



Recommended Resources

The King We Needed, But Never Wanted  by Marshall Segal on Desiring God

Check out this challenging article that explores the call to Calvary – to follow Jesus so that we may die, and rise again!

“To truly live, we must surrender to the King we really needed, not the one we might have imagined for ourselves.” – Marshall Segal

The Crucifixion by Tim Keller

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus howled this agonized cry ast his execution. How could any good come from such a seemingly horrible end? Check out this sermon in which Tim Keller ponders the depths of what is surely most horrible, yet most wonderful question ever asked.

Leaving Ourselves at the Altar by The Work of The People

Over the past months we’ve recommended a variety of visual liturgies created by our talented friends over at TWOTP – check out this beautiful visual liturgy of “An Easter Benediction” by Kelly Ann Hall

Holy Week Events

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Holy Week is here!

As promised, this week we will be posting every day with resources, opportunities and reflections to help you celebrate and prepare for Easter.

Last year was the first time I ever really celebrated Easter by participating in Holy Week and I am incredibly glad that I did! It was a transforming time in my faith that truly exploded the depth of Easter for me in new and wonderful ways. The goal is not to become really, really busy this week – instead, we encourage you to align yourself with the historic beauty that is Holy Week in whatever way draws you closest to Christ and causes you to throw yourself upon Him once more this Easter.

So May you journey with Christ this week, be it in your quiet times, your conversations, your prayer life or your available time. Unfortunately The Practice will not be meeting this week or on Easter Sunday, but don’t let that stop you from exploring and experiencing Holy Week!

Willow Creek is hosting an incredible Easter weekend that we encourage you all to attend and experience this Good Friday and Easter weekend. We have also been scavenging around the Barrington suburbs area for other services and events you might be interested in attending as part of your worship this week and have provided a few recommended services and events in the tabs below.

However you choose to worship and celebrate – remember that Easter is the heart of our entire faith. The entire season of Lent has been building to this glorious moment of Resurrection – may every heart prepare Christ room this week and may you celebrate – He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Hosanna in the Highest!

Jenna and The Practice Team

Holy Week 2015 Services

Stations of the Cross is a procession service with participants moving from “station” to “station” where actions of Jesus last day are identified with scripted dialogue and prayers. Taize songs which carry participants between stations at the evening service.

What if you woke up one morning knowing that it was your last day on earth? That’s what happened to the thief on the cross, who died a few feet from Jesus. Heaven, How I Got Here by Colin S. Smith is the thief’s story, told from his perspective, as he looks back from Heaven on the day that changed his eternity and the faith that can change yours. The Orchard is partnering with actor Stephen Baldwin, who will play the role of the thief in these one-man performances. Tickets are $10

For those of you who enjoy classical sacred music – As part of their full calendar of Holy Week celebrations, Kings College in Cambridge are hosting a live concert of Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Whilst it is unlikely that any of us will be in England to attend in person at 7:30pm UK time- BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting the concert live and you can listen online at 1:30pm (CDT)  here.

I found most helpful this translation of the text that the concert will cover.

In this service,  join Jesus’ disciples at the Last Supper, partaking in the events that took place the night before Jesus was crucified. Follow Christ’s words and actions as you wash one other’s feet and remember him through Communion.

Worship includes Holy Communion, the Rite of Footwashing, and stripping of the altar.

From the crucifixion to the resurrection, the Easter holiday encompasses the full dichotomy of the human story. Experience a journey from lost to found, from brokenness to wholeness, from darkness to light at Willow’s Good Friday and Easter services.

In this ancient devotional service, walk with Christ through that last hours of his life, reflecting on his sufferings, death, and burial through music and prayer. The 1pm stations will include choral music.

  • Easter Service, 1:30pm / 4:00pm / 7:00pm @ Willow Creek, Barrington IL

From the crucifixion to the resurrection, the Easter holiday encompasses the full dichotomy of the human story. Experience a journey from lost to found, from brokenness to wholeness, from darkness to light at Willow’s Good Friday and Easter services.

  • Easter Vigil, 12 noon / 3:00pm @ Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton IL

This service is a festival of art, music, and story, taking the viewers on a dramatic, creative, poignant, and sometimes hilarious journey through the stories of the Old Testament that point to Christ. Please visit churchrez.org/holyweek to reserve your free seats. Childcare for five and under available during the service.

From the crucifixion to the resurrection, the Easter holiday encompasses the full dichotomy of the human story. Experience a journey from lost to found, from brokenness to wholeness, from darkness to light at Willow’s Good Friday and Easter services.

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


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.
Communion Table

Practice Resources: The Examen

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This past Sunday we took a wonderful dive into the season of Lent with Father Michael as he led us through the transformative practice of The Examen. We wanted to share these resources with the community so that you could go deeper in your own learning and so that you could share with others this wonderful tool for spiritual formation.



An excellent place to explore and learn more about the practice of The Examen is through the wonderful resources provided through the website www.ignatianspirituality.com

If you click here you’ll be taken to their extensive web page all about The Examen including helpful resources such as:

  • What is The Examen?
  • How you can make The Examen part of your day
  • Videos, Audio files and articles
  • Reflections on practicing The Examen
Of course we have to recommend the incredible resource that we shared with all of you last Sunday night created by our very own Aaron Niequist. His most recent creative project ‘A New Liturgy No 6: The Examen’ could not have come at a more crucial time to our community this Lenten Season!


Aaron has created a beautiful recording of Fr Michael guiding us through The Examen – just as we’ve experienced at The Practice. His New Liturgy includes a stunning musical score and three original songs that truly immerse you in the experience of The Examen, connecting us to God in a deep and daily way. For those of you who were there last Sunday, it was a joy to put one of these in your hands, but if you want to order another, recommend it to a friend or if you couldn’t make it and you don’t want to miss out – be sure to check it out at the New Liturgy website here.

Here is a taste for those of you who are new to Aaron’s work through A New Liturgy

The fabulous ministry 24-7 Prayer are also using The Examen to explore Lent this season (check it out here). You have to check out their beautiful weekly video podcasts and companion guides that explore daily scriptures, further teaching, discussion points and challenges to transform lessons learned from The Examen into action. Their videos are released every Monday and can be found on their YoutubeFacebook and Twitter pages or can be downloaded straight to your phone, laptop or tablet by subscribing via iTunes.

Message: “Lent and The Examen”

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Fr Michael

Fr Michael

On Sunday (03.08.15) night, Fr Michael Sparough SJ gave one of the most insightful, winsome, and compelling messages I’ve heard in a long time.  The way he talked about Lent both stretched and deepened how I engage this holy season.  And, of course, his invitation into The Examen was brilliant.

May his words invite us deep into active practice.  And may the practice invite us deep into the heart of God, for the sake of the world.

Here is the message (and Examen meditation)…

Download his message here.

Grace and peace,

Father Michael leading The Examen

Fr Michael on What is Lent?

By | Lent, Resources, Videos | No Comments

Our beloved friend of The Practice, Fr Michael will be joining us this Sunday to give us his much needed insight and clarity into the season of Lent and to teach and guide us through the practice of The Examen.

We are so excited to gather with you this Lenten Season and begin to explore some of the deep themes and invitations that Lent draws out. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful insight from a man who is far from a novice when it comes to practicing Lent…

“If we want to really enter into the joy of the power of the Lord’s resurrection, we need to prepare for it.”

-Fr Michael, SJ


Join us this Sunday, 6pm in The Chapel to hear more. We can’t wait to see you.

Jenna and The Practice Team

Lent – Week 2

By | Books, Lent, Music, Reflections, Resources | 2 Comments
Weeks until Easter

Beloved Practice family, how have you been using this season of Lent to prepare for Easter? As I think about the five weeks left between today and Easter Sunday, I still feel like there is a lot of preparation left to do. I don’t know about you, but being new to Lent can still cause me to worry that I’m not doing it well enough…not trying hard enough. When I think about how prepared I should be for Easter and how I’m feeling today…I can get overwhelmed. It can be difficult to prepare for work in the morning, let alone the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior!

In the moments I feel overwhelmed however, I have to remember, this isn’t a performance. God isn’t arching an eyebrow in disapproval every time my Lenten journey goes less than perfectly. The point is to prepare, to re-center, to use every moment I realize I’ve forgotten Lent as an opportunity to come back to the heart of Lent. Slowly, but oh so surely, we can discipline our wandering hearts to bind to Christ.

Last week, I found a tool that I think will help me focus and reorder my desires in a more concrete way. I was browsing in an incredible bookstore in the basement of a beautiful old stone church in Greenwich, when I saw a little bowl of something they called, ‘comfort crosses.’

I am the type of person that fiddles when trying to focus on the uncomfortable. If I’m anxious in a conversation, you can be sure to see me tearing my paper napkin into little flakes of paper, or fiddling with my wedding ring, or constantly tucking my hair behind my ear.

The comfort crosses caught my eye because they had completely smooth edges and were made of soft olive wood in the shape of the cross. When I picked it up, I instantly began to fiddle with it, holding and re-holding it in my hand, running my thumb along the smooth edges again and again. It was truly comforting, and it pointed me back to my preparation of Lent and to my focus on the cross.

Comfort Cross

As I’ve been setting aside time to reorder and focus my wandering heart on God, holding this little piece of wood has helped me in my practice as I’ve prayed and practiced the examen. It’s kept me focused on the cross and kept me comforted when Lent begins to overwhelm or make me anxious.

Whatever it is that can help you refocus, recenter, or be reminded of the reason for this season, I encourage you to take the risk and try it. Maybe it’s remembering to pray every time you see a clock or check your phone. Maybe each morning before you start the car or hold the keys in your hand, you can take a moment and remember the cross. Remember how that without it, we are dust, and prepare your heart to receive Christ once more in Easter.

As promised, here are a few more lenten resources for you to consider this week as you figure out your practice. Keep checking back for more reflections, opportunities and resources as we post throughout the week.

Blessings and peace to you,



Joan Kelley and Gail Donahue would love to have you join them this week at one of their two Sacred day-long retreats.  They have a beautiful day planned with a good mix of community time and individual solitude time all around the parable of the prodigal. We believe solitude is one of those unforced rhythms of grace that is foundational to our soul health.

If you would like to join them, either Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, just go to the website www.mylifeissacred.com and use the discount code “PRACTICE30” to get $30 off the price.

We feel that this would be an excellent opportunity for any of you seeking God in solitude, silence and reflection this Lenten Season.

I highly recommend that you sign up for this daily e-mail devotional offered by Biola University called The Lent Project. Just visit their website and you’ll understand why! It is a beautiful daily calendar offering mixed media interaction in the build up to Easter. If you’re inbox is full and you can’t commit to another e-mail, you can still visit their website and have access to all the beautiful resources there. I truly love this resource because it breaks down all the music, artwork, devotional theology and readings in a meaningful yet clear way. Sign up today!
  • Lent Reflections by The Transforming Center
    This beautiful 40 page booklet offered by The Transforming Center is designed to help small groups, spiritual friends, and individuals walk through the Lenten season together. It includes reflections by Ruth Haley Barton and  is a perfect tool to introduce people to the practice of following the lectionary through the seasons of the Church year.
  • Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent by Orbis Books
    This is a truly unparalleled collection of some of the most beloved spiritual writers reflections on the themes of Easter and Lent. A wonderful resource for daily devotionals, readings or family discussions.
  • We can hardly go a week without mentioning our dear friends The Brilliance. They released this excellent Lent EP full of beautiful songs specifically for Lent. The deep words and immersive sound would make an excellent tool in your Lenten Journey.
  • If you’re interested in something a little different, I’d love to recommend the choral music of Eric Whitacre. In particular the haunting piece entitled, “When David Heard.” If you are a fan of choral music at all then it is worth giving this piece a listen. For me it is a haunting lament that draws me back to the cross. The intent was for the choir to sound as though they are weeping throughout the music – a dark and sobering piece for Lent.

Practice Resources: And Forgive Us Our Trespasses…

By | Books, Forgiveness, Resources, The Lord's Prayer | No Comments

It is such a joy and a privilege to gather and share these resources that will hopefully take our tribe deeper and deeper into all we are learning and experiencing at The Practice. If we remember that Sunday is not the main event – rather Monday through Saturday is, lets not leave our learning, our shaping or our understanding solely to what we hear on Sunday. May these resources provide a path to  help take us all deeper into a dialogue of transformation, growth and unforced rhythms of grace.

This past Sunday Deirdre did a beautiful and profound job of guiding us through what it means to pray “And Forgive Us Our Trespasses…” Here are a few recommended books, sermons and videos to help any of you who love to connect with God this way, to deepen your understanding and expand your experience.


Recommended Resources

Recommended Reading

Recommended Videos

  • Les Miserables, “I Give You Back To God.” Scene
    For those of you who have read or seen any screen adaption of the beautiful novel Les Miserables, we could think of no greater picture of the father in the prodigal son, than the Priest as he interacts with Jean Valjean in this scene.As you watch, pay attention to how the punishment in this case is deserved, yet the incredible mercy of the Priest still forgives and releases Jean Valjean. In many ways, I feel that we can glimpse our forgiveness from God in this scene.
“The Prodigal Sons.” by Tim Keller 

In this teaching on the parable of the Prodigal Sons, Tim Keller shares how Jesus redefines God as Father, redefines sin, and redefines salvation. We recommend this sermon as an invitation to know the initiating love of the Father that leads us to learn to repent for something besides sins.


"We urgently need the mediation of another's eyes to love ourselves and accept ourselves. The eyes may be those of a parent, a friend, a spiritual director; but above all they are those of God our Father. The look in his eyes is the purest, truest, tenderest, most loving, and most hope-filled in this world. The greatest gift given those who seek God's face by persevering in prayer may be that one day they will perceive something of this divine look upon themselves; they will feel themselves loved so tenderly that they will receive the grace of accepting themselves in depth." (p. 36)

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe

May the wisdom of those who are in this journey with us, nourish, inform and help guide you as you learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Blessings on your week!

Grace and Peace.

Jenna and The Practice Team

Good News

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Notice. Pray. Live. Hopefully this week has been full of opportunities to notice God’s presence through his kingdom coming in the now of our everyday lives. Perhaps however, for some of us, the noticing has only led to moments of absence or places where God’s presence couldn’t feel farther away. Whether this week has been full of life in the now or not-yet, we wanted to offer an encouraging word from one of our trusted guides in what it means to notice, pray and live the kingdom of God in our lives. N.T. Wright in his new book entitled, Simply Good News, offers us an encouraging word by reminding us what the good news that we share in is all about: 

“So how might we in turn summarize the good news—both the good news announced by Jesus and the good news that his first followers announced when they talked about him later on?

The good news is that the one true God has now taken charge of the world, in and through Jesus and his death and resurrection….The good news was, and is, that all this has happened in and through Jesus; that one day it will happen, completely and utterly, to all creation; and that we humans, every single one of us, whoever we are, can be caught up in that transformation here and now. This is the Christian gospel. Do not allow yourself to be fobbed off with anything less.” (N.T. Wright, pg. 53)

What incredibly good news! The one true God has taken charge of the world through Jesus and is inviting us to participate with him in its transformation, even as eagerly yearn for Christ to come again. As N.T. Wright so eloquently urged, do not be “fobbed off” with anything less friends, for you and I have a role to play.  If any would like to read further, we highly recommend that you pick up N.T. Wright’s new book on Amazon as a great way to dive further in to the grand story of Jesus that is, quite simply, good news.
Happy Reading – and may we all continue the practice of notice, pray, and live until God’s kingdom fully comes! 

Grace and Peace,

John and the Practice team