was successfully added to your cart.

Category

Rhythm

Pastors Retreat in February

By | Rhythm, Upcoming | One Comment
Retreat

Retreat

Over the last two years, we’ve heard from a number of pastors, priests, and worship leaders who are on a similar journey–dreaming and experimenting with ways to align historic Christian practices with the modern world. It’s been deeply inspiring to hear what they are learning, and share about The Practice community. In this spirit, we’ve decided to host a small gathering where we pastors can deepen our “unforced rhythms of Grace” (guided by Fr Michael), and dream together about inviting our churches into this way of aligning our everyday lives with Christ for the sake of the world. February 14-16, 2015 at Bellarmine Retreat House. We’re really excited!

Pastors Retreat (Details & Registration)

The heart and schedule…

February 14-16th, 2015:  Two days of unforced rhythms of Grace.

The Living Christ invites us to follow him into unforced rhythms of Grace for the sake of the world. But the reality is, many of us in ministry don’t always live these unforced rhythms of Grace, and we’re not helping our communities live them either. Right beliefs are important but can only take us so far; we need to learn how to put Jesus’ invitation into practice.

Join us for two days of conversation, spiritual practice, and practical dreaming about what it means for us to each live our lives aligned to Christ in every moment, and help our church communities do the same.

———

•Sunday 6-7:30pm – Attend The Practice gathering together
•Sunday pm – Conversation, dessert, and drinks at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House
•Sunday night – Sleep at Bellarmine

•Monday 9-12 – Spiritual retreat with Fr Michael Sparough, SJ
•Monday 12-2 – Silent lunch and guided solo time
•Monday 2-5 – Group conversation: How do we live unforced rhythms while in ministry?
•Monday 7 – Eucharist service (w/ Jonathan Martin)
•Monday night – Sleep at Bellarmine

•Tuesday 9-12 – Group conversation: How do we invite our communities into unforced rhythms? What are the most helpful practices? How can our liturgy both ground and stretch us? What would it look like for a church to be a gymnasium for spiritual formation? What can we learn from the other Christian spiritual traditions? How does our inward journey launch us into action for the sake of the world?
•Tuesday noon – Done and head home

The cost is $250 per person — which includes meals, lodging, and everything except travel.

———

For those unfamiliar with Fr Michael, here’s a short conversation we had last year. This will give you a sense of how he’ll guide us on Monday morning…

———

If you are a pastor, priest, or worship-leader, please join us! We’re really excited to see what God will do within us, between us, and in our churches for the sake of the world.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 22, 2015: Communal Listening

By | Communal Listening, Rhythm, Sunday Reflections | No Comments

12247016_534821523340440_1295829816417704385_n

 

Last night, on a cold and blistery Sunday with winter’s first snow reminding us the season has changed, our tribe practiced a different kind of gathering; our second night of communal listening. From the start, the evening felt different; with just Aaron on the piano, there was a kind of intimacy and connectedness (and perhaps a slight nervousness!) for the time of sharing to come. As I looked around the room, my heart swelled with joy at the commitment of so many to brave souls to lean in to the shared value of practicing together.

One interesting component of the night was our return during the opening liturgy to the assessment which we took as a community at the beginning of the Fall. Lori reminded us that this assessment was not a test or tool of compassion but an invitation to be true with ourselves before God of how we’ve been doing. The time following of space and silence to answer the questions proved a helpful check in, in some ways for myself the first space I’ve had in the past weeks to really ask how I’m doing before God.

Finally came the time of sharing together. One important realization I think the Practice community has been learning this Fall is that we can’t do these practices alone. We need each other if we’re to ever push beyond an isolated approach to God and truly connect our Sunday to our Monday-Saturday lives. It was therefore so exciting to watch as the room picked up their chairs and spread out into corners of the room, together pondering the following questions:

  1. What was God stirring in you as you did the assessment?
  2. What is the next step God is inviting you to take into unforced rhythms of grace?

The room came alive! How incredible that many people who hadn’t even met before, were able to reflect, share, listen, and connect. I saw everything from laughter to tears, as hearts were opened and stories shared. After sharing together, a new (and possibly my favorite) component of the night was the way we received communion together in our groups. After a short liturgy of confession, assurance and the Eucharist, bread and juice were taken to our groups so that we could serve communion to each other. Curtis shared before about the beauty of our calling as a priesthood of all believers, and there was something so meaningful about seeing it lived out in each of the groups.

Our Kingdom Practices this week were all suggestions to help us practice and remember that Sunday is not the main event as we move into Thanksgiving holiday season:

  1. Be sure to sign up for our email list and keep checking back here on the blog as we provide and point you to great resources for Advent.
  2. Jason Feffer is leading a Sabbath practice group the next three Tuesdays for anyone who feels led to lean into a rhythm of Sabbath. You can find out all the details by clicking here.
  3. Our very own Kellye Fabian wrote a beautiful Thanksgiving Table Liturgy – like Aaron shared last night, so many of us want thanksgiving dinner to be a meaningful time, but we don’t always know how.  We hope this resource could be one way to create that space this thanksgiving. Download and print the pdf. here.
  4. John Egesdal is pulling together an experiment for those who connect best to God through nature. If you want to be included in this conversation, please email John here.
  5. Finally, in speaking of our families at thanksgiving – Aaron thoughtfully reminded us that at a certain point, someone will likely bring up Obama or ISIS or immigration or Trump, and that certain family member will likely say something that makes your blood boil. Our Kingdom Practice for you is to ask, What does it look like to align with God’s rhythms in that moment? The following truth is our prayer for each and every one of us as we navigate turkey dinners and social media this Thanksgiving:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
‭‭(Eph‬ ‭4:29-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Finally, our evening ended with a benediction

May we learn to listen to each other and in so doing, hear the stories of God.
May we learn to share our journeys, and in so doing remember that we are not alone.
May we continue to reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, and in so doing encounter the faithfulness of God.
And may we together, align the rhythms of our lives, to the unforced rhythms of God’s grace.
Now go in peace, my friend.

Go in peace,

John & The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 15, 2015: How to Practice Sabbath

By | Rhythm, Sunday Messages, Sunday Reflections, The Practice Podcast | No Comments

IMG_0120

And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to be holy. –Ezekiel 20:12

Speaking of set apart, that’s exactly what last night felt like to me—a night set apart; a place set apart. From the opening prayer for our world to the closing benediction, we were aware of God’s presence in a unique, palpable way. News of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut rattled us and tempted us to fear. But then as we joined our voices with the soulful, beauty of The Brilliance, we remembered what is true and a peace settled over and among us.

Jason Feffer opened our eyes to new ways of seeing and keeping the Sabbath (the only one of the ten commandments Christians brag about breaking). He began by reminding us of something we already know but regularly ignore—we all have rhythm. God built a rhythm into every element of the created world. If we look, we can see that we are part of these rhythms. And more specifically, the rhythm Jason wanted us to grasp last night was the rhythm of work and rest, the rhythm laid out in the creation story of Genesis 1 and 2. The most compelling part of this teaching for me was the idea that keeping Sabbath is not a weekly practice, but a daily practice. For three days, we look forward to Sabbath. On one day, we welcome the Sabbath. Then for three days, we remember the Sabbath.

Aligning with this rhythm requires intentionality, of course, and Jason gave us some helpful guidelines to consider as we dip our toe into the practice of Sabbath. He reminded us first and foremost that Sabbath is a balance between resting and engaging. Just resting can lead to legalism. Just engaging can lead to meaningless busyness. Here are his suggestions on some ways to balance the two:

Sabbath Rest

  • Rest from productivity (anything that you might put on a to-do list any other day of the week). For me, this is responding to emails.
  • Rest from busyness (anything that tends to create hurry or rushing). For me, this is grocery shopping and errand running.
  • Rest from control (anything that incites a need or desire to control your environment, relationships, or image). For me, this is Facebook and other social media.

Sabbath Joy

  • Engage in joyful activities (activities that bring you delight and laughter). For me, this is going to the bookstore and the movies with my daughter.
  • Engage in joyful connection with God (spiritual disciplines that you wish you had more time for during the week and spiritual pathways that usher you into God’s presence). For me, this is wandering around outside, breathing deeply, and noticing the details of creation.

(You can listen to Jason’s full message on our podcast or here below and access more resources on his website.)

This week our Kingdom Practice is to practice Sabbath. Pick one day in the coming week and set it apart. If it’s helpful, use the handout Jason gave us last night to reflect on the kinds of activities you feel God calling you to refrain from and those he is calling you to engage in so you experience his eternal, loving, centering rhythms of grace.

And for anyone who wants to join Jason in a three week “Practice Group” on Sabbath, click here for all the info.

May God grant you the grace you need to align every breath, moment, day, week and season to His eternal rhythms.

Blessings,

kellye signature

 

 

Kellye & The Practice Team

Sabbath as preparation for eternity

By | Books, Notes and quotes, Rhythm | No Comments

As we continue to explore the invitation of Sabbath-keeping as a community, take some time to really sit with these words from the great Abraham Joshua Heschel.  If you’re like me, you may need to read it multiple times…slowly and prayerfully.  So powerful…

“Shabbat comes with its own holiness; we enter not simply a day, but an atmosphere. My father cites the Zohar: the Sabbath is the name of God. We are within the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being within us. For my father, the question is how to perceive that holiness: not how much to observe, but how to observe. Strict adherence to the laws regulating Sabbath observance doesn’t suffice; the goal is creating the Sabbath as a foretaste of paradise. The Sabbath is a metaphor for paradise and a testimony to God’s presence; in our prayers, we anticipate a messianic era that will be a Sabbath, and each Shabbat prepares us for that experience: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.” It was on the seventh day that God gave the world a soul, and “[the world’s] survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.” The task, he writes, becomes how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit: “Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.”

(Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath)

Sunday Reflections, November 1, 2015: An Embodied Examen

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

l1002434

My fiancee, Katie, and I entered last night’s the Practice gathering and happened to sit next to Eric, who along with Jenna led us all on October 25 in exploring the intersection of brain science and spirituality. Eric asked Katie and me how long we’ve attended the Practice, and I realized it was about this time last year that we first started coming.

Back then, finding an ecumenical space dedicated to exploring the contemplative heritage of our own Christian tradition was nothing less than an answer to prayer. Now, almost a year into this journey with the Practice, my appreciation for these “sacred rhythms” has only deepened. Not only do we get to explore this rich heritage of Christian practices, but we all get to do it together. I’ve found more and more comfort in the way we journey together as a community when we gather, which is by using the sacred Christian “language” of the church known as the liturgy.

Our opening liturgy last night focused on seeking God and his fruits of justice and peace.

Jenna’s reading of Psalm 34 helped us call to mind the beauty of pursuing God, of seeking the Beloved and finding deliverance in him. Jason led us in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love…” St. Francis is something of a personal hero of mine because of his counterintuitively simple life. And he was so embodied and fully present that he saw the Kingdom of God in all that he saw–the healthy and lepers, the sun and moon, the sparrows and wolves, everything within the Church walls and everything without.

Doesn’t your soul thirst for such a holistic awareness?

Fr. Michael Sparough, a Jesuit priest, returned to the Practice last night to speak with us about embodied spirituality. You can listen to Fr. Michael’s message and our practice of embodiment by subscribing to the Practice podcast or by clicking the link below.

Fr. Michael led us in a practice and prayer of “the Examen,” a prayer nearly five centuries old that draws our attention to how God is speaking to us through our own experiences. This prayer, unlike much of the prayer I learned growing up, assumes that we are embodied creatures.

To be embodied means that our spiritual lives are lived out through our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. Fr. Michael began our time together by having us remove our shoes to remember that the Practice space, like all gatherings of God’s people, is holy ground. Fr. Michael led us through several physical postures and poses, e.g., palms down versus hands out, face downward versus face upward, crossing our arms versus spreading our arms in open receptivity. Through this exploration we began to sense how our body both reflects and directs our inward postures toward God. Fr. Michael showed us the importance of praying with our bodies what we were praying with our hearts.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been taught by some Christians that the body is evil. Or maybe you progressed to the point of thinking the body is “okay” but still more of a spiritual liability than a spiritual gift. But Fr. Michael reminded us that we are fully embodied creations, meaning our bodies are gifts we are called to also bring to the work God is doing in our lives of seeking justice and peace and the Kingdom of God.

Where does this positive emphasis on the body come from? The larger context is taking the Incarnation seriously, Fr. Michael said. If we believe God not only dwelt among us but became fully human and like us in all things but sin as Jesus Christ, then we cannot divorce the physical from the spiritual. Our bodies are a good gift from God. It does matter what we do with our bodies, whether that’s related to diet, exercise, rest, self-care, or any of the ways we practice abuse or neglect toward ourselves. The physical and spiritual are inherently linked.

The Examen helps us see this integrated wholeness and inherent goodness. The practice is a reflection on one’s day and how God was speaking during that day. But the practice starts positively, not negatively. Though it does have us call to mind the ways we failed to respond to God’s voice throughout the day, it first has us approach God with a spirit of gratitude. Fr. Michael articulated this powerfully: As gently as feeling a light fall on your face, so gently does God’s grace fall on us. We first recall that we are “bathed in the light of the Lord’s love.” If we start from this place of connection with God, we can then progress to reflecting on our experiences throughout the day and the ways we responded–or failed to respond–to God’s prompting in our daily lives.

Last, Aaron invited all of us to commit 10-20 minutes a day in practicing the Examen and reflecting on God speaking to us through our individual daily experiences. Would you commit with me to doing that? I know that such honest reflection is difficult and, at times, downright unattractive. But I also know that doing so allows us to “taste and see” with our whole beings, bodies and all, God’s goodness in our lives. Let’s choose to taste the goodness of God. Let’s practice the Examen together.

Peace and all good things,

Sam & The Practice Team

Today’s Sunday Reflection comes to us from Practice Tribe member Samuel Ogles, a gifted writer, & assistant editor and marketer for the Church Law and Tax Team at Christianity Today. He is a dedicated ecumenical Christian shaped by his current tradition of Catholicism as well as his Evangelical upbringing – you can read more of his gifted insights here.

Sunday Reflections, October 25, 2015 : Brain Science & Spirituality

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | One Comment

 

header

As the parent of a soon-to-be-three-year-old, I’m well versed in the universe of picture books. A current bedtime favorite is House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.   In it, Hermit Crab moves into a new, bigger shell and proceeds to make friends before in the end discovering that he has outgrown his new shell and needs to find another, bigger one.

It’s easy to think Jesus is like Hermit Crab. He is God, and when he came to earth he took on a “shell” of humanity, a shell that he outgrew sometime around Easter and left behind forever. Now, he’s back to being God again, without any of the pesky, physical, visceral trappings of humanity. This way of seeing Jesus, which is probably my default setting, is disastrous.

Last night, Eric and Jenna led us through a thought-provoking discussion of embodied spirituality, the intersections of brain science and spiritual practices. Then, Eric gave flesh to that discussion, leading us through a moving experience of what embodied spirituality actually means. But I was struck, too, by the way Jesus’ embodiedness wove its way throughout our time together.

We began by singing for Jesus to ‘speak’, we listened to the powerful voice of Sharon Irving sing the powerful plea for Jesus to ‘walk with me’. Through our Journey, Trials, Sorrows, Troubles, Jesus ‘walk’.

Please, walk.

Is it enough for Jesus to be a disembodied God when we’re in Troubles, Sorrows, Trials? Or do we lose something essential if we don’t know the embodied Jesus, the one who is truly, viscerally, really there, walking?

Eric’s words say we do lose something. As he told us, our brains can get stuck in a rut of telling us something is true when it’s patently false. Maybe this is unsurprising, since we live in a fallen world. But the message of hope Eric brought was that even though this is the case, it’s not the end of the story. Our brains – our fallen, mixed up, messed up brains – can actually be re-wired. They can be saved, healed, made whole.

How? When we engage with spiritual practices in our daily rhythms, we are opening ourselves up to the physical touch of the physical Jesus. God is touching our brains, rewiring them to be more in line with the truth: the truth about him, and the truth about us. Take a listen through our podcast or here below for more.

And then, the practice.   Eric walked us through a visualization that drove home the tangible, visceral, real-ness of Jesus. Jesus was, literally, speaking with us. He was, literally, walking with us through our Troubles, Sorrows, Trials. The many less-than-dry eyes testified to the real power at work in the Chapel last night. Jesus was there, not as a disembodied force, but as a real person. And that real person had real things to say to us.

I thought afterwards about why that experience was so moving for so many. Why was visualizing Jesus sitting, hugging, talking so powerful? Wouldn’t we all agree that Jesus is ‘with us’ always? What made this special?

Maybe we ‘believe’ that Jesus is always with us, but we mean the disembodied Jesus, Jesus as some sort of benign, ethereal presence vaguely smiling down at us. And maybe that’s fine most of the time. But I know for me, and maybe this is true for you too, the vaguely smiling Jesus floating around somewhere above me and to the right doesn’t cut it in the face of real pain. Because that pain is real; it’s physical; it hurts. And floating-somewhere-up-there Jesus doesn’t have a response beyond churchy platitudes.

But when I visualize Jesus sitting right there, hugging me, walking with me, watching my pain with me and then telling me the truth about it…that’s different.   I need a physical Jesus who can physically comfort my physical hurts, a visceral Jesus to soothe my visceral pain, a real Jesus to walk with me through real life. Thank God that’s the Jesus we have.

There was something extra beautiful about Communion last night, coming on the heels (I just accidently typed ‘heals’, maybe that’s better) of such an experience. Because there on the table were the physical, visceral, messy reminders of just how far our God went to be able to understand, to comfort, to heal our pain. God took on a body, a real body, then allowed it to be broken so we could be made whole. It’s easy for that real body to get lost, hazy, but communion grounds it back in reality.

And so, I thought it was fitting that almost the very last words of our liturgy last night came from a classic hymn, sung by the church for centuries, “I am His, and He is mine.” We are embodied creatures, loved, held, comforted by an embodied Jesus.

Grace and Peace to you,

Curtis & The Practice Team

 

resources

Recommended Reading

We have a wide variety of excellent books to recommend for any of you who want to dive deeper into the conversation around brain science, embodiment, and spiritual practices. We have included the book ‘Brain Lock’ that Eric mentioned in connection to his recovery from OCD as well as an excellent Christian perspective by Curt Thompson who integrates brain science with spiritual practices. We also have to point out the book “Outsmarting Yourself” by Karl Lehman for any of you who particularly resonated with how your past pain invades your present reality, and how to invite Christ into the healing process. Finally, the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ is an excellent resource when it comes to integrating what we feel in our bodies with our emotions, and spiritual growth.

Recommended Next Steps

Eric Connor mentioned during the night his involvement in creating a ‘Spin Therapy’ class. For those of you who are interested, here are the details of the upcoming classes:

  • Upcoming Spin Therapy ClassesSaturday, November 21, 10:30am & Saturday December 12, 10:30am.

    Combining aerobic exercise, Christian worship music, and purposeful guided visualization, this 60-minute cycling class seeks to create an immersive experience focused on generating insight and a deeper connection to God. Designed from recent research about neuroscience & physiology, this class is unlike anything you’ve experienced.

    • For more info or to register for a class contact shemafit@gmail.com
    • $5 per person
    • Happening at 410 E. Main Street, Barrington, IL

The Next Four Weeks

By | Rhythm, Upcoming | No Comments

This fall, we’re learning to align the rhythms of our lives to God’s “unforced rhythms of Grace,” for the sake of the world. It’s been quite a journey so far.  After naming our deep desires and exploring the foundational practice of SILENCE, we now move into the next two rhythms: Embodied Examen and Sabbath-keeping. Here’s why we’re so excited…

speakers final draft 1———
October 25th: Embodied Spirituality. We’ll explore what it means to be embodied spiritual beings. Many of us live largely in our heads–separated and even antagonistic toward our bodies–but God created us to be whole, integrated people. Bringing together neuroscience, psychological training, and our deep Christian tradition, Eric Connor and Jenna Perrine will engage the connections between our spiritual lives and our physical bodies, and help us put these connections into practice.

**Don’t miss our second “After-Party” this night, 7:30-8:30pm, for those who want to go deeper.**

November 1st: Embodied Examen. Building on the first week, Fr Michael Sparough SJ will return to teach us an “Embodied Examen.” As we examine our lives in God’s presence, we can become aware of what our bodies our telling us, since our bodies often know about our pain and joy before our brains do.  Fr Michael will teach us a practice to listen to God speak through our bodies.

November 8th: The Sabbath. This week, our friend Rabbi Evan Moffic will help us turn toward one of the most historic, difficult, and powerful spiritual practices: Sabbath-keeping. From his deep Jewish tradition, he will unpack the history and heart of The Sabbath, and teach us a number of concrete ways to practice it. Few people are able to connect our two faith traditions in such a beautiful and redemptive way, and we’re thrilled that Rabbi Moffic is part of the Practice extended family!

**Friday, Nov 13th, Rabbi Moffic has invited our community to join their community for a Shabbat service at their synagogue in Highland Park. Please join us!**

November 15th: The Sabbath. Finally, we’ll explore the nuts and bolts of Sabbath-keeping in our actual lives. Is it even possible to practice The Sabbath in 2015 in the NW Suburbs of Chicago? Jason Feffer will offer a strong “YES!,” along with tangible steps to align the rhythms of our lives to God’s original rhythm: 6 on and 1 off. Friends, many people live their whole lives apart from the incredible Sabbath gift that God is trying to give us. Don’t miss it!

Sunday nights at 6pm
Willow Creek Chapel
All are invited

Honored to be on this journey with you,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, Communal Listening, October 11, 2015

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | No Comments

So last Sunday night The Practice tried something a little different from our typical service, and invited our community to experiment with a night of communal listening.

John opened our time together by naming what was true, that for some of us, drawing close to share ourselves in community is an exciting invitation, and for others – it can be really scary and hard! I wanted to go around the room and high five everyone who took the risk to be with us and try out this experiment of listening and sharing what God has been doing in our lives.

Like John shared, one of the main heartbeats of why this night came about – was the huge realization that we cannot, and should not, walk this spiritual journey alone. Our team has reflected a number of times that whilst we do a lot of things at The Practice communally, like reading aloud together and practicing together, there is a big difference between participating in a communal exercise and actually being in community with one another.

After John shared the vision, we kicked off our opening liturgy a little differently by passing the peace of Christ to one another right at the beginning of the service – for me this set the tone for the rest of the evening, as I offered peace, shook hands, and gave hugs to those around me, I had a sense of joy that I would shortly be able to sit a while longer with some of these faces, with whom I do communal things all the time, but who I would love to know personally in community.

We journeyed through a shorter opening liturgy, reading and worshipping together as one to unite and prepare us, and then before we split up into groups, we made some space to practice silence one last time before breaking off to discuss it. I loved setting up this time of silence for two main reasons;

  1. It allowed us to center on God’s presence and remember that He is at the heart of what and why we share. I love the juxtaposition of practicing silence before sharing because it settles and sifts through the ‘inner noise’ that so often tumbles out of me without a filter so I can be present and connected to what God is saying.
  2. It allowed anyone in the room who had not yet practiced silence, to have a taste of how wonderful and messy this practice is. This way even new visitors were invited into the rhythms we’ve been teaching so that they could share and participate in sharing on what had just happened.

Then after this time of silence – the magic really happened. Our facilitators stood up and we self organized into groups of 6-8 around each facilitator to begin our time of communal listening. Our rhythm was simple yet effective, John asked us all a question from the front, we all spent 1 minute in silence to reflect upon it, then we shared for 10 minutes with one another our thoughts and responses.

And waow – for a bunch of introverts – the room certainly came alive with conversation, sharing and vulnerability. I was so touched and encouraged by the depths of sharing I experienced in my own group. As we shared similar struggles, joys, and invitations from God, I felt it deep in my soul, I am not alone. We are in this together.

The three questions we unpacked together as a room were:

  1. How has silence played a role in your life?
  2. What are the obstacles that keep you from practicing silence?
  3. What is one next step you sense God is inviting you to explore?

At the end of our discussions, John opened up space for us the various groups to share with the whole room, any themes or commonalities that stood out – and it was such a comfort to hear the common threads that seemed to be running through many of our discussions.

We heard that technology, social media & emails are a constant distraction, vying for our time.

We heard that the constant need to be productive is hard to fight.

We heard that silence, grants peace, perspective and joy in the midst of life’s noise.

It was beautiful, honest, messy community.

From there we approached the table for Eucharist – confessing our sins together, receiving full assurance of our forgiveness, and finally accepting and receiving the body and blood of Christ together. I love that no matter how experimental each week gets – ultimately our gathering revolves and centers around the table. We all got to share in the same body and blood of Christ together, being united in what Christ has done and is doing in our midst. It was the perfect testimony to the community we had just experienced.

As we closed in song, and Aaron invited us into Kingdom Practices – to take this sense of togetherness out with us into the world, to be ever reminded that we don’t have to do this alone – I was so filled up with joy and pride for our community.

We did it! We tried it! We sat across from one another and fumbled with words and thoughts to bare our messy, beautiful souls to one another and we not only survived, we thrived. I am excited for the seeds that are sown through these nights, I am hopeful for the connections we made that can flourish into deeper community, and I am grateful for the risk each person took to experiment in this way. If you are nervous about participating in nights like these, I’d love you to receive the reassurance that community is always messy, but so deeply worth the initial risk and uncomfortability. You may worry that you have nothing to contribute, or too much to contribute, but I promise you your very presence matters and ministers to the group. Showing up may be the hardest part – but we certainly hope to keep creating safe containers in which you can both know others and be known.

During our benediction, I asked each person to hold one hand out to receive the benediction, and to place one hand on the shoulder of someone in their group or someone they were standing beside. A symbol of both receiving, and blessing. As I read the simple blessing over the room I encouraged everyone to turn to one another at the end and repeat my words, “Go in peace,” to each other.

It was a holy space for me to see us bound together in that moment. So now, I share these words of benediction and blessing to you again, with the hope that you will carry them throughout the next two weeks, until we meet again, in the knowledge that you are not alone, we are in this with you.

May we learn to listen to each other and in so doing, hear the stories of God.

May we learn to share our journeys, and in so doing remember that we are not alone.

May we practice and pursue the gift of silence, and in so doing encounter the whispers of God.

And may we together, align the rhythms of our lives, to the unforced rhythms of God’s grace.

Now go in peace, my friend. Go in peace.

 

Blessings,

Jenna & The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, October 4, 2015: How To Practice Silence

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | No Comments

How To Practice A Rhythm Of Silence

Friends, it was so good to be with you last night at The Practice. It has been amazing to see each of you lean into this journey of learning to swim with God’s Rhythms of Grace towards the restoration and redemption of all things. Thank you for your courage, and thank you for your desire to face into God’s invitation together.

Our gathering began with the familiar words, Please speak, Your servant is listening, and in many ways these words are a beautiful picture of what we want to take place through practicing a rhythm of silence. It is in silence that we learn to listen, and it is in silence that God speaks to us, his servants.

One of my favorite parts of our opening liturgy last night, was the time we spent in prayer for our enemies. Kellye Fabian led us through three movements of prayer for a global enemy (a world leader or group that seeks to do us harm), a local enemy (a politician or public figure with whom you disagree) and a personal enemy (someone who has hurt you deeply). In between each time of prayer we sang the words,

Your love is everywhere
Your love is everywhere
Open me, open me. 

It was beautiful to bring our enemies before God, to pray for them, to release them to Him and then sit in the tension of his love in the midst of brokenness. Rather than hide my heart and my hurt from God, it was freeing to be real in his presence, to acknowledge my enemy, and to seek peace by praying for their healing and redemption.

Of course the main joy of last night was getting to hear from our fellow Practitioner Jason Feffer, as he shared his deep passion for practicing a rhythm of silence. You can listen to Jason’s message and our practice of silence through subscribing to our podcast or here below.

I was struck most in Jason’s message, by his thoughts on our ‘inner noise.’ Not only are we battling with the external noise of this life and all that entails, but for so many of us, the inner noise that grows loud as we seek out silence can be the hardest part of this discipline. I so loved his encouragement to keep trying, to realize that silence is a practice and a discipline, and that it is only through practicing it and through being disciplined to keep trying it, that we can invite God to speak and calm that inner noise.

Jason then led our tribe into ten whole minutes of silence as a community. I don’t know about you, but ten minutes is not the norm for me! I immediately felt the inner noise of my mind try to snatch my concentration in many directions, yet as the time went by, I slowly settled into the rhythm and felt present with God.

What about you? How was that time of silence? Were you discouraged? Did it fly by? Are you excited or nervous to try it again?

No matter how it went for you – lets keep trying friends. Lets keep pressing into the invitation to silence. I believe God wants to meet us in that space, if only to simply be with us. I believe that this practice can rewire our lives and strip away the noise for our good and for God’s glory.

If you’re interested to learn more about silence, Jason has a wonderful website full of his writing and resources called www.beingdisciples.com – please check it out for free resources and for more helpful next steps as we learn to swim together.

Finally, Kellye closed our time with this beautiful benediction, I hope these words carry with you into your life as you go about your week:

May you hear the invitation of Jesus anew or again: Follow Me.
May God grow roots of attentiveness deep in your soul.
May you have the courage to enter silence and find respite from the external and the internal noise.
And may you discover God’s deep, abiding love for you there.

It is my prayer for you all that you would make time this week to be silent with the Lord. Create 10 minutes of space to be in His presence, and may the cry of your heart be:

Please speak, your servant is listening. 

Blessings,
Jenna & The Practice Team

Resources: Practicing a Rhythm of Silence

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | No Comments

Dear friends,

We’re excited to share with you the following resources to help you deepen and better explore the journey we’ve started on together- aligning our rhythms with God and practicing a rhythm of silence. Don’t forget to read Chapter Two in Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms, to hear her weave the rhythm of silence into our daily lives.

As for our resources this week, I’m especially excited to share three incredible videos by Ruth Haley Barton and Ian Cron. They are wonderfully wise voices, and their insight into silence is so valuable, what a gift that we can watch them share their heart in such an intimate setting from the comfort of our computer screens – I highly recommend you take some time in your week to give them a view.

Below you’ll see the resource tabs for this week covering recommended books, videos and podcasts – all focused on the themes of rhythm, desire and silence. Check them out and enjoy.

Grace and Peace to you,

Jenna & The Practice Team

 

Recommended Resources 

This week we recommend you read Chapter two of this book to dive into Ruth’s thoughts on Silence as a Sacred Rhythm

This book is an even deeper dive into the practice of silence. If you are particularly resonating with practicing a rhythm of silence, or if you’ve been unsure of how to really unpack and incorporate it into your life – this is a great resource for you.

During our second week this series – Ruth Haley Barton helped us connect to our desire and how important it is for living out the Kingdom of God. In the most recent four podcast episodes of his podcast, Dan Allender (noted counselor and victimologist) has been dealing with the Design of Desire. This podcast series is all about the desire rooted deep in our humanity—where it comes from, how it manifests in our lives, and the war that is constantly waged against it.