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Sunday Reflections, May 15, 2016: Engaging Scripture

It was a blustery Sunday in May, as only our unexpected Chicago weather could bring, that found the Practice starting our new series, “Living the Liturgy.” However, we still had much to celebrate as this Sunday was Pentecost, the historic “birthday” of the Church where the Spirit was given to the first disciples. Our hope was to join with the church all around the world in a liturgy that reflected this celebration.

The worship and readings tried to walk what we were talking, as we followed the Pentecost readings of the Lectionary interspersed with powerful refrains of worship. Perhaps my favorite moment was the assurance, where Sarah sang the words of Roman 8 promising our adoption through the Spirit while the whole room responded, “Venti Sancte Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit). It was beautiful, haunting, as if the room was joining with the voices of the Church around the world. I think what perhaps excites me most about this series, is the unique chance to draw our attention to those very “sacred rituals” called liturgy that church has been doing over and over again through space and time.

Though I am of course biased (as her husband), Jenna’s introduction to the series was simply spectacular. In the briefest of time, Jenna invited us in to what the brain teaches us about why liturgy matters. The more we repeat actions, the deeper those actions go in our brains and more creative capacity we have to engage and encounter God.

The real journey of the night however, began when Curtis turned our attention to what “Living the Liturgy” means for engaging Scripture. Scripture gives us a shared story and a shared language by which we are formed in the deepest parts of our being. Sharing and hearing these stories, such as Israel being retold the story of the Exodus over and over again, helps to shape the kind of people we become.

What better way to practice being shaped by a shared story than the practice of Lectio Divina, (or in this case, Oratio Divina!) an intentional divine listening to scripture that Kellye led us in. As Kellye reminded us, this practice of slowly and intentionally listening to a passage (for a word,  its meaning, and for its application in our lives), is one that we can take into our lives; reading with families, listening with friends, or even more intentionally engaging the lectionary that’s being read on Sunday.

Hearing the word then led to receiving the Eucharist, after which we concluded with worship, a doxology and a closing benediction. A few thoughts from kingdom practices for this week:

  • Keep reading and listening to the word. It is only in our setting aside time to engage Scripture that we can be shaped by the shared story and language of God’s people.
  • One way to do this is to follow the lectionary; Aaron mentioned an app call “iMissal” he uses to pull up the lectionary every morning. Another great website that contains the lectionary readings is HERE. Whatever way you can get into the Scriptures, we’re excited to engage them with you.
  • Practice Kids was a wonderful success as we have begun the experiment of caring for your children during the Practice, an experiment we’ll be continuing next Sunday May 22nd when we meet. We’d love to see you, your children, and any friends with children who might be interested in joining us!
  • Finally, the next couple of weeks have lots of exciting Sundays ahead. Next week (May 22nd), Jenna and I will be engaging Confession and Assurance. The following week, May 29th, we’ll be off for memorial day though we’ll be sharing with you a peace picnic liturgy for any interested, while June 5th will have Jonathan Martin and Nichole Nordeman engaging Eucharist, and June 12th will conclude our series with Kellye engaging Blessing through passing the peace and benediction. We can’t wait for you to join us on this journey!

Wherever you find yourself, may you find ways to live the liturgy this week!
Grace and Peace,
John and the Practice Team

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