This season feels uncertain, a little chaotic, and unformed, but the Holy Spirit was certainly hovering over us last night. We began with a liturgy ordered on Genesis 1. Someone once told me a proper understanding of God as creator is essential for our journey as disciples. If our Creator can take the formless cosmos and bring order in creation, God can certainly do it in our lives.
Then Jonathan Martin brought the word of God to our community. I genuinely believe this was one of the richest messages Jonathan has ever brought us. We often expect God to meet our personal hopes for me and mine, but these hopes are too small. The only way for God to liberate our hope is through death and resurrection.
The way of the paschal mystery is surrender. We must to let go of our expectations. When we release how we think God should move, we make way for something more beautiful. God wants to do something wider than we could possibly imagine. The way to this wider hope leads through death, because in death, there is nothing left for us to do. Resurrection is our Creator’s job.
Lori helped us engage this journey by leading us in an imaginative prayer exercise through John 20:11-18, and then we turned to the practice that embodies the paschal mystery, the Holy Eucharist.
This summary cannot do the night justice, so please have a listen to the podcast.
Our kingdom practice for this week is to sit with whatever the Holy Spirit was stirring in you last night. Make time this week to sit in silence. Open your hands as you sit with God. Let your hands be a reflection of your heart’s posture. If the Holy Spirit was identifying ways you are clinging to the God you have known, hold your hands open as an act of surrender. If the Spirit was leading you toward the new ways God is making Himself known to you in this season, hold your hands open as a way of receiving new life.
We also invite you to join us in a season of discernment. On Wednesday night, we had a meeting to talk about options for The Practice moving forward. In our time together, we discussed three possibilities:
- What if we built a community of tables swimming in these deep waters with a monthly service? What if we gathered twice a month in community to pray, engage scripture, and share the Eucharist, and then we came together as a whole community once a month? In addition to these gatherings, we would create retreat experiences that would build into our community, and introduce others within Willow to these deeper streams. Or…
- What if The Practice branched off into a Willow Regional? Or…
- What if The Practice launched out with the blessing of Willow to plant a church?
As we enter this season of discernment, we are asking God, “What is your invitation to me and to this community in this season?” Will you join us in this prayer and wait on God’s response?
It looks like I’m the first person replying. The message did indeed bring a great deal of comfort and healing. The life following death, the resurrection following crucifixion, the larger plan of God can and does bring comfort to Christians, as well it should. Nonetheless, Christians must acknowledge sin where it exists. The crucifixion was sin. We are to put to death the “old man” because the old man is sinful. Sin should indeed be lamented, but it must also be discerned, confessed, forgiven, etc. The question for me is whether or not we are dealing with sin, and I may lack enough information to discern that. It appears to me that there were people in leadership who sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance and decided to proceed with The Practice as an experiment. Already I feel like I’m lacking some info. Does the Holy Spirit do experiments with the souls of His children? If so, what were the criteria to determine if the experiment succeeded? Were they the Spirit’s criteria? Please help me understand this. Now, I do understand that when 2 or more of His children come together in Christ’s name, Christ is present . And I do understand that Christ said He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. So He built HIs Church, and we saw a beautiful manifestation of it in The Practice. Did we not see Christ Himself there binding us together? Now, I don’t believe that the local church is the hope of the world; I never did. Perhaps the Chief Priests and the Pharisees had some of that kind of thinking regarding the synagogue and their teachings, but it’s fraught with danger. And I do believe that God can redeem the death of The Practice and even use it for the growth of His true Church. But I’m getting sidetracked. Let’s get back to the issue of sin in the death. Where in scripture are we taught that a true shepherd is ever to abandon his sheep or take away that which feeds them? Where are we taught that a discipler should abandon those he disciples, set a bad example for them, etc.? What is wrong with my theology? What information or understanding am I lacking? Have past bad experiences with churches distorted my understandings, or have they perhaps increased my concern about identifying sin and dealing with it rightly? I’m open to your help.