Last night was a truly human and holy experience of worship, lament, and opening ourselves up to the real presence of Christ.
Most Sundays, our liturgy is based on four readings from the Revised Common Lectionary— the shared ordering of scripture texts based on the church calendar. In this way, we align our journey with the wider, global church. But this fall, as we learn to practice the Beatitudes, we’re taking a break from the lectionary to fully immerse ourselves in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last night, we moved to Matthew 6 and focused on the abundance of God. After Tony lead us in “Please Speak” and “Glory to God Forever”–and Erin guided us through the Nine Beats again–we read most of Matthew 6 together and paused to let God speak. May these challenging and comforting words of Christ form our hearts and minds.
After the opening liturgy, Jason Feffer invited us to cannonball into the deep end of “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. Rather than pushing us from behind, Jason courageously jumped first and shared his personal story of brokenness…masterful running from the pain…finally learning to weep…and beginning to experience the comfort that Christ offers. Friends, please don’t miss this one….
Last night offered a clear (and powerful) example of the Nine Beats framework that Mark Scandrette taught us. With each Beatitude, we humbly ask four questions…
(1) What is the deep ache that this Beatitude addresses?
(2) What is the illusion we chase to meet the ache without God?
(3) What is the Kingdom vision that Jesus offers instead?
(4) What practices help us bring our ache into Jesus’ Kingdom vision?
Jason bravely shared his journey through these four questions. What about you? (1) In what ways has life broken your heart? (family hurt, an injustice in the world, betrayal, sickness, etc) (2) How do you actively avoid feeling the depth of this pain? (busyness, addictions, distraction, etc) (3) What does it mean, in your actual life, that the Spirit of Christ is fully with you in the place of your deepest pain? (4) What is one concrete way to invite God to sit with you in the messy reality of your lament?
Here are three tangible practices…
one.Fast from distractions and lean into Jesus: Abstain from activities you use to distract yourself from pain and sadness and fill that space by leaning into Jesus. You may practice a prayer of imagination, journaling, silence, or anything else that helps you feel the emotions associated to your pain and share them with God.
two.Write a lament: Make some time in the next two weeks to write a personal prayer of lament and share it with a trusted friend. If it is helpful, use this pattern Jenna shared with us in February.
- Cry out to God (your address to God);
- Complaint (your anger, pain, heartache, or sadness);
- Affirmation of Trust (your remembrance of God’s presence in your past);
- Petition/Request (your deepest desire);
- Additional Argument (anything more, why God should intervene);
- Rage against Your Enemies (bringing your enemies before God);
- Assurance of Being Heard (what you need to feel heard);
- Promise to Offer Praise to God (the promise you can offer to God); and
- Assurance (the attribute of God you are thankful for in the moment).
three.Join a communal lament: Because we know pain is not only personal but extends into the world, find an opportunity to join in a communal lament. We are exploring an opportunity to attend a gathering together Columbus Day weekend. Stay tuned for more details.
Grace and peace, friends.
Aaron and The Practice Team