Last night at The Practice was such a wonderful end to our Living the Liturgy series., an exploration of the sacred rituals we practice each and every Sunday that shape our daily lives.

In this series we wanted to pull back the curtain and look at why practicing sacred rituals in our liturgy on Sundays is so formative for our daily lives. In the past three weeks we’ve been on quite a journey through scripture, confession & assurance, and the Eucharist – last night we ended our journey with an exploration of blessing and sending, the heart of our weekly passing of the peace and the benediction.

The night began on a more serious and somber note as our community took space in the liturgy to pray for Orlando as a community. The Book of Common Prayer has a heartbreaking and profound prayer that is to be used in times of crisis and heartache – so it was apt that we prayed that prayer along with a lament for gun violence and support for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who have felt vulnerable and targeted since the event.

After holding up Orlando in this holy space, we continued through our opening liturgy with communal readings from scripture, immersing ourselves in the shared story of God’s people, the confession and assurance, and the passing of the peace.

Last night was also our final “Neuroscience with Jenna” experience – a look at the brain science behind how liturgy literally shapes our brain through ancient understanding of how our minds are formed. (I will say here that it has been such a blast sharing these insights with you all and seeing your enthusiasm for the connections between psychology and liturgy, thank you all for your encouragement!)

Before we turned to the message and practice for the evening, we updated our community on a last minute change of plan. As many of you know, our dear friend and faithful pastor to the Practice community, Kellye Fabian was scheduled to teach last night, but a last minute family emergency meant that our whole team agreed she needed to be present with her family rather than with all of us.

So to keep you all in the loop – Kellye will still record her beautiful message that she prepared for us this week and we will post it online and on the Practice Podcast as soon as it’s ready.

In the meantime – I got to step in and fill our teaching time with a little vision behind where the passing of the peace and the benediction come from, and how they shape us in our daily lives. Most importantly for last night’s practice – was the connection that in order to be a blessing to others, we must first be connected to how deeply blessed we ourselves are. You can listen to last night’s message here below, or through the Practice Podcast:

By exploring the passage of Jesus’ baptism – we got a picture of how even Jesus sought to be blessed and affirmed by the Father before beginning his ministry.

The most beautiful thing that stood out to me as I was preparing yesterday is this – that before God asks us to bless others – He first wants to bless us. That before God asks us to be sent out into the world to be a blessing – he first sent his son Jesus Christ to bless us. God is the great and grand initiator in our lives, and the passing of the peace and the benediction are ultimately deepened and will ultimately shape you to your core, only when you first grasp what it means to be blessed. The greatest motivator in this life is not fear, terror or pain – but love, joy and belonging in God.

Out of the message, John led us in a time of imaginative prayer (also included in the podcast!) in which we were invited to imagine ourselves in the place of Jesus as he received a blessing from God in the river Jordan that day. John masterfully and pastorally guided us into a space in which we were able to ask, what words of blessing do I desire to hear God speak to me?

After our time of prayer, we were invited to write down the words we desired to hear from God on a provided card and then approach a station around the room in which we could speak aloud our desire for blessing to a server and have them as a representative of the Church and of God, read a blessing over each of us, speaking truth to us about how God feels toward each of us.

There are no other words to say other than it truly was such a blessing to be blessed. To have the words of blessing spoken over us individually in a way that brought it home.

Curtis then led us to the table and we ended our service with communion with one another, partaking of the bread and cup that are at the center of why we gather.

The Kingdom Practices for this week are as follows:

  1. Keep those words of blessing that you wrote down with you, and allow God to speak them to you over and over again this week. Let the blessing be massaged deeper into your being, that you would serve out of your deep beloved-ness.
  2. Consider the ways in which you might be able to offer words of blessing to another this week – how can the blessing you’ve received overflow into the lives of others?
  3. Please remember that we are not meeting on June 19 (Father’s Day). Instead our resident liturgist and theologian John Perrine has created a Father’s Day home table liturgy that you can use at home with your family to meaningfully celebrate the day together.
  4. Finally – we have a lot of updates to share with you about our summer schedule, so please keep an eye on the e-mail and the blog for more information about shaping a summer experiment and other ways to engage this July.

Phew, what a night. What a gift to have friends like you all who are along for the journey.

May the peace of Christ be with you friends,

Jenna & The Practice Team