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A Super Bowl Practice

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The Super Bowl can give rise to any number of experiences and emotions: joy, loneliness, jealousy, fun, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. As we look forward to big game, let’s consider making these simple practices a part of our day.

Preparing for the game:
1. Spend a few minutes thinking about your plans for Sunday. In light of our worship experience on 1/29, is there a way you may be tempted to question your sense of belovedness? Maybe because of the commercials, the game itself, the people you’ll be interacting with, the people you won’t be? Spend a few moments praying the breath prayer, “God of Love, I belong to you.”

2. When we are grounded in our identity as God’s beloved children, we are free to reach out and help others experience their belovedness. Is there a person you can intentionally treat as a beloved child of God on Sunday? How can you tangibly share God’s love?

During the game:
1. Pay attention to your emotions, especially during the moments you anticipated being challenged. If you begin to notice your belovedness being called into question, recite the breath prayer, “God of Love, I belong to you.” The beauty of this is you can do it anytime, anywhere, even while the game goes on!

2. Look for an opportunity to intentionally treat another person as God’s beloved child. This might be what you thought of as you prepared for the game or some way the Holy Spirit leads you in the moment.

August at The Practice

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August update

Hey friends, we are so excited to come back together in the Chapel this month!

On August 7th and 14th, we will gather for the sake of our broken and beautiful world…learning to align our lives with God’s Movement of healing, peace, and the flourishing of all. Or, as we often say around The Practice: There is a grand river flowing toward the redemption and restoration of all things, and Christ invites us to swim WITH IT for the sake of the world. Will you say yes? Will you learn to swim with us?

AUGUST 7th: Prayer for the World With Images.  After a deep dive into our opening liturgy (with special guest artist/pastor Melissa Greene), Kellye Fabian will lead an extended time of prayer for the world using provocative and beautiful images. If you’ve experienced this before, you know how powerful it can be to connect our eyes with our hearts as we pray. Kellye will invite us to engage some of the world’s most pressing needs, of course, and then celebrate a few ways that God is already bringing hope and healing. Finally, we will bring these prayers to the Lord’s Table and end the night with Eucharist and worship.

AUGUST 14th: A Theology and Practice of “The Other”. On the second week, we’re thrilled to learn from Michael Rudzena, the pastor at Trinity Grace Tribeca (where our pal David Gungor leads worship).  Michael is brilliant, kind, and currently writing a book on a Theology of The Other. Jesus was very clear that our love for God is directly tied to our love for each other, so how do we learn to love our neighbor? What if this neighbor offends or frightens or disgusts us? How do we find and honor the image of God in our friends, strangers, enemies, and even ourselves?  I can’t think of a better topic to explore right now.

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

 

[AUGUST 21st – NO GATHERING]


AUGUST 28st: Practice Community Retreat
. Please join us at Bellarmine Retreat House for a day of prayer, teaching, solitude, and practice. Fr Michael Sparough, Joan Kelly, and Gail Donahue are partnering with us to create a whole day of holy space. Registration will open on August 7th. Space is limited, so please stay tuned!

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

 

In every way this month, may God’s Kingdom come and Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, Sunday 24, 2016: A Liturgy of Vocation

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Last night we took a journey through the whole arc of God’s work in the world, seeing the ways that God’s work parallels our own vocations (which, of course, go beyond what we might think of as “work” to include the whole of who we are in the world – both inside and outside a 9-to-5).

We began with Creation, where the ideal of our being in the world was laid out. Humanity was made to have dominion, to be rulers over God’s creation, wisely stewarding it, filling it, subduing it, forming it so that all things were more and more in rhythm with God’s eternal rhythms.

If you’re like me, those very words “subdue”, “rulers”, “dominion”, have negative, not positive, connotations. It is virtually impossible even to imagine a world in which humanity might exercise dominion over creation in a way that aligns with God’s purposes. It is impossible to imagine a world absent The Fall.

Where God’s plans for humanity called for a harmonious existence with both creation and Creator, the Fall left us naked and afraid, dissonant. Our vocations, rather than making beautiful music out of God’s creation, became “contested”, discordant.

God identifies the results of this discord – pain in our labors, both inside and outside the home, and enmity in our relationships. What was a calling to make beautiful things out of God’s creation turned to dust.

We paused in the midst of this discord last night, allowing the effect of The Fall on our own sense of being in the world to linger. The pain and disconnection we experience on a daily basis was artfully drawn out with a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1. Instead of a purpose harmonious with the eternal music of God, our vocations have become “utterly boring”. “Nothing changes”, life is just “the same old thing” over and over and over again. Judging by the number of people who stood in resonance with those feelings, I’d say we as a community are well acquainted with the ways our vocations have become contested, how The Fall has marred the good gift God gave.

But that, of course, is not the end of the story. The Bible speaks of a future filled with life and healing, a future that is – despite the effects of the Fall – breaking in to the present even as we speak. The Bible speaks of Redemption.

Katie generously shared her story with us – actually, let’s call it what it is, she PREACHED – calling our attention to the fact that our vocation is not found in this or that perfect job, fully aligned with our deepest passions. Rather, our vocation is to love and to develop the fruit of the Spirit, something we might do wherever we might find ourselves. The ‘how’ of our being in the world, Katie reminded us, matters just as much as the ‘what’. We can bear fruit in any number of scenarios. Listen to Katie’s beautiful words here.

And this, of course, is the grand vision of vocation that Jenna and John led us through these past three weeks. Our vocation is not limited to the paid work we do. It is not defined by how much we make, how much recognition we get, or how much passion we feel. Our vocation is not what we are, but how we are. How we do our jobs, yes, but also how we parent our kids, love our friends, interact with those whose paths we cross, shop, even (dare I say it?) drive.

Redemption is the ultimate truth of our vocations. God offers us healing, healing from the boring, painful, disconnected vocations we experience, vocations which might seem like our only option. He offers us an alternative, a life connected with his deep purposes in the world wherever we find ourselves. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.

Blessings,

Curtis Miller and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 8, 2015: Seven Practices for Sabbath

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As a master’s student, married to another master’s student, I often feel a little bit out of control, like my time is never really my own. I’m always working in service to the next paper, class, professor or class assignment, all the while hoping that if I finally complete my next obligation; maybe, just maybe then I’ll be free to read a book that isn’t required on my syllabus.

Last night Rabbi Moffic shared a phrase that has crept into my weary bones and whispered hope,

“Practicing Sabbath is an act of freedom, for a free person has control over their time.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like a free person when I look at my schedule, I feel like a prisoner, to my education, to my work, to my endless list of things I should get on top of. If anything, I’ve bought into a belief that working harder will one day make me free. I’d never stopped to consider that choosing to practice Sabbath in spite of my to do list, declared my status as a free person in Christ. When we start with freedom, the rest of our week is transformed. I like how Rabbi Moffic put it, “Many of us will find that we can accomplish so much more in 6 days, than we ever could in 7.” I was therefore so grateful, for Rabbi Moffic as he led us through practices for Sabbath Keeping.

The night began with the words of a beautiful prayer from The Roman Missal that I truly believe encapsulates the desire of our Tribe and why we gather every week. As Sunday is not the main event, I hope and pray that each of us could take these words into the rest of our week and make them our prayer each morning–

Father, pour out your Spirit upon you people,
And grant us a new vision of your glory,
A new experience of your power,
A new faithfulness to your Word,
And a new dedication to your service,
That your love may grow among us,
And your kingdom come,
We ask all this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

It was also such a wonderful gift to have Troy Hatfield and his talented friends Adam and Marie lead us in worship last night – in particular I loved singing new and different words to the tune of ‘Come thou font,’ such a beautiful collision of formation and innovation being held in the same space. I’m so familiar with the tune, yet as we sang different words, they stood out fresher, deeper and more penetrating as I wrapped my mind around them. In particular I loved the verse;

Let us sing for joy and gladness,
Seeing what our God has done.
Praise the one redeeming glory,
Praise the One who makes us one.

It truly felt to me that we were gathering and worshiping as one, around the One, Jesus Christ who unites and guides us all. We moved through our traditional liturgy together, praying for the world, confessing our sins, receiving assurance, and passing the peace of Christ to one another.

It was then that Rabbi Moffic got up to lead us deeper into how to practice a rhythm of Sabbath. As always, his perspective is so incredibly valuable, his familiarity and insight into Sabbath is so rich and flows out of the fact that he and his community are people who have made Sabbath a priority and who are reaping the beautiful benefits that God intended. You can listen to Rabbi Moffic’s message through our podcast or by clicking here below –

After casting a beautiful vision for what Sabbath is and why we should practice it (Sabbath is Heaven. Sabbath is Freedom. Sabbath is Rest.) Rabbi Moffic led us through seven practical ideas of how we can set Sabbath apart in our practice as separate and holy from the rest of our week:

  • Take a walk
  • Savor a special meal
  • Spend time with someone you love
  • Study the Bible
  • Light candles
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Take a nap

These suggestions are so simple and so practical, yet require so much intentionality to implement. I need to truly believe that I am free from my burden of work in order to exercise freedom and take a walk. Even if our practice begins small, I still believe this rhythm is a powerful practice of heaven, freedom and rest in our faith.

During our practice time we asked each of you to reflect upon the following question:

What are the rhythms & practices I can use to set apart my time of Sabbath as a holy space with God?

How did that journaling time go for you? What practices came to mind? Will you set Sabbath apart through study of God’s word? Through taking a walk? Through investing in those you love?

As I ponder the question, I feel led to try and resist working on homework on the Sabbath. So simple, yet such an act of freedom, heaven, and rest in my student schedule. I hope that each of you can identify something similar that helps you enter deeper into a rhythm of Sabbath.

We ended our time, as we always do. Gathered around Christ’s table for communion and ending with a benediction that sends us back out into the world in light of all we’ve received and learned.

I hope that you may find the courage to taste freedom, heaven, and rest this week. Own and declare the freedom available to you in Christ by practicing a rhythm of Sabbath and may you find that you can accomplish so much more in 6 days, than in 7 by aligning with the rhythm of your Maker.

Peace of Christ be with you,

Jenna and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 1, 2015: An Embodied Examen

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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

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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

Sunday Reflections, Communal Listening, October 11, 2015

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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

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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

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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.

Practice Resources: Discerning God’s Will

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The month of June is dedicated to discerning God’s Will (a life long task we know!) in our own lives and for the future of The Practice. For those who are interested, our leadership team has been reading through the following resource to help equip and give shape to the month of June – feel free to check it out and follow along the process we’ve been trying.

We also wanted to fuel any readers out there with a few excellent resources to help you better explore what discerning God’s will looks like. Here is the crash course:

Phew! You should get a degree in discernment if you make it through this reading list. May these resources help and above all may God’s Spirit be ever before you as you face into the decisions and mountains in your life.

 

Grace and Peace,

Jenna and The Practice Team