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:
- What was God stirring in you as you did the assessment?
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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