Something for the Spirit

August 2017

Pearl
By Steve Garnaas-Holmes
www.unfoldinglight.net

Oh, traveler,
the treasure is not far away.
Oh, merchant,
the pearl is in your pocket.
How much of your life is attic junk?
Escape the trinkets that have been hoarding you.
What you can hold isn’t worth grasping.
What you can possess won’t last beyond the sale.
Don’t seek what you don’t already have.
Don’t covet what can be taken from you.
What you can’t hold in a breath
isn’t worth it.
Breathe in.
Sell all your treasures for that.
Once you’ve seen it shine,
it will surprise you what you’ll let go of for it.
Throw your arms around this world.
Buy the field of this whole grand life,
its weeds and rocks, its pains and mysteries,
all of yourself.
Look! Right now,
you are rich beyond belief.


July 2017

A Prayer for Those on Vacation 
By Steve Garnaas-Holmes
www.unfoldinglight.net

God of Sabbath, Master of infinite playfulness, bless those who are on vacation. Protect them from the worries of home. Guide them, that they may become lost in a new place, with no way but to wander. Shepherd them to still places. Watch over them, that they may not stumble into work or obligation. Grant them wonder, delight, renewal and release. Run the world without them. May their fireworks be grand, their campfires lovely, their beaches uncrowded, their traffic at peace. When they are renewed, bring them home safe, whole and changed. And may the savoring pace of their absence stay with them, by your grace. Amen.


June 2017

What is Pentecost? Why Does It Matter?
by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts

What is Pentecost?
For Christians, Pentecost is a holiday on which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early followers of Jesus. Before the events of the first Pentecost, which came a few weeks after Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were followers of Jesus, but no movement that could be meaningfully called “the church.” Thus, from an historical point of view, Pentecost is the day on which the church was started. This is also true from a spiritual perspective, since the Spirit brings the church into existence and enlivens it. Thus Pentecost is the church’s birthday.

To read the entire blog, click here.


May 2017

Good and gracious God,
Who loves and delights in all people,
we stand in awe before You, knowing that the spark of life within each person on earth is the spark of your divine life.

Differences among cultures and races are multicolored manifestations of Your Light.

May our hearts and minds be open to celebrate similarities and differences among our sisters and brothers.

We place our hopes for racial harmony in our committed action and in Your Presence in our Neighbor.

May all peoples live in Peace.

AMEN.

-from the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) “Denouncing Racism – A Resource Guide of Faith-Based Principles.”


April 2017

What Love Looks Like
by James MacDonald

Stefanie Olson shared this as an Opening Devotional at our February session meeting.

What does real love look like? The Apostle Paul tells us . . .
“Love is patient.” It waits for people to change. It’s long-tempered. It accepts people as they are, not as we want them to be.

Love is “kind.” This doesn’t mean passive endurance but active goodwill. Not just passively accepting people but actively accepting people…

“Love does not envy or boast.” Love is not jealous. Even when those around us seem to prosper and succeed more than we do, love isn’t jealous…

Love “endures all things.” Endure is actually a military term for driving a stake into the ground. Love does that. Love won’t retreat or back away. Love will be there for the other person and will stand its ground…

“Love never ends.” Love will never fail to accomplish God’s highest and best purposes…

To read the entire blog, CLICK HERE


February 2017

Let’s Fight the Good Fight – with Kindness
by Tom Rapsas
patheos.com
January 15, 2017

Could we be any more divided as a country? It seems like Americans are now standing on two sides of a divide as wide as the Grand Canyon—and it’s impossible to get inside the heads of the side that doesn’t agree with you. What are they thinking? I’m as outraged as anyone. But on a certain level, I know that’s not good. You see, like you, I’ve got friends and family members on the other side. And the easy thing to do right now is focus on how different we are, to take another’s well-intentioned beliefs and demonize them for it. So how do we handle what are for many of us are trying times? Yes, we need to stand up for what we believe in and fight the good fight, but I suggest that when we’re dealing with those closest to us, we do it with a little less outrage, and a little more kindness…

To read the entire blog, CLICK HERE


January 2017

Original Blessing
by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Daily Meditation blog
January 4, 2017

Why did Jesus come?
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It didn’t need changing. God has organically, inherently loved what God created from the moment God created it. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.

As our image of God changes, our image of God’s creation, including ourselves, changes as well. Jesus shows us what it looks like for God to be incarnate in humanity. Jesus holds together the human and the divine so that we might follow him and do the same.

To read the entire blog, CLICK HERE

 


December 2016

An Inappropriate Christmas
by Zach Christensen, Nov. 29, 2016

In Matthew 1:1-17, there is a genealogy of the family tree that led up to Jesus. Over the course of the genealogy, the writer deliberately includes the names of four women. In a patriarchal world that considered women to be second-class citizens or property, this was an extraordinarily radical thing to do (if you read all of the other genealogies in the Bible or from any literature from the time, none of them include women). More importantly, the women included are not what anyone would ever expect… Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba…

The early followers of Jesus realized that God can bring something holy out of any human shortcoming, inadequacy, or evil. If God was not hindered by these people, surely God has not bailed on you because of your mistakes…The message of Jesus is that no one is outside the love of God, that no one is beyond redemption, and that this God did not give up on the world.

To read the entire blog, click here.


November 2016

Spiritual Superfoods
by Ellen Debenport October 25, 2016
www.patheos.com
One of my friends who glows with vitality lent me a book about superfoods, those foods that are insanely good for us – blueberries, salmon, spinach, green tea, etc. Foods that seem to cure whatever ails you, from clearing out arteries to boosting the immune system to sharpening eyesight. So I was wondering, what would be the superfoods of spirituality? What are the spiritual practices that are so nourishing we should partake of them every day? …
Create quiet time: Call it prayer, meditation or just stillness. It might involve reading or music. It might include journaling in some form. A period of stillness, I believe, makes the day go more smoothly, whatever we encounter. It boosts our immunity to small irritations and niggling fears.
Practice denials and affirmations: These are tried-and-true spiritual superfoods to clear out toxins and build up strength. You don’t deny the reality of whatever is happening, but you can deny its power over you, whether brought about by people, events or circumstances. You get to choose how to feel about them. Then affirm what you know to be true: that you are part of the Infinite, you live in a universe of abundance, and there is order you cannot yet see.
Speak positive words: This is the equivalent of drinking fresh water throughout the day. It keeps you in the flow of universal well-being, constantly reminding you what’s true about your existence. What’s true? That good far outweighs anything we consider bad on this planet. And you attract more good every time you speak of it.
Hold a vision. Have some idea, some picture, of where your life is headed. Write the vision of your future life as if it has already happened, and read it every day. A vision allows you to take steps in the direction you want to go and measure your progress. Of course, you’ll leave room for the wonderful surprises — and perhaps challenges — you might never have desired consciously.
Move your feet: Action based on spiritual guidance is the equivalent of daily exercise. As you consciously connect with the divine in you, you might feel moved to take action, even in ways that surprise you. Action is never forced. Wait for clarity and inspiration, but be ready to move when called.
None of these spiritual superfoods are complicated. Many are old and familiar, like salmon and broccoli. But they can keep you strong and supple, day in and day out, so if you should ever encounter a catastrophic emergency, you are better equipped to survive it. When I think of eating healthy and getting exercise, I think of the dread word discipline. But it comes from the same root as disciple, a follower who adheres to a particular teaching. Just as we adhere to the wisdom of our bodies, we also can follow the promptings of the divine, so we may gratefully partake of the most nourishing and satisfying fruits of the spirit. We are filled from within.

 


September 2016

Noah’s Ark

   Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah’s Ark 

ONE: Don’t miss the boat.

TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat!

THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

SIX: Build your future on high ground.

SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.

EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.

TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.


August 2016
6 Ways to Create Your Own Sabbath
by Ellen Debenport, 7-19-16

The idea of a Sabbath is built into most of the world’s religions. It’s one of the Ten Commandments. The non-religious definition of “Sabbath” is simply a day of rest. Are you allowing a day of rest into your weeks?

“‘Remember the Sabbath’ is not simply a lifestyle suggestion. It is a time for sacred rest; a time to cease all mental and physical activity and let God be God in us. . . It is more than the absence of work – it is an inner knowing and faith that we have done our part and now we rest in the notion that God will do God’s part.” – Wayne Muller from his book Sabbath.

Debenport’s list includes things like a time of silence, exploring nature, putting away electronic devices for a “screen-free day.”

Read the entire blog


June 2016
The Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness: 8 Helpful Tips
May 27, 2016
by Janet Miller

You don’t have to be a Buddhist (or a hippy) to practice mindfulness, and you don’t have to spend hours sitting on the floor in meditation.
Practicing mindfulness is simply bringing awareness to yourself and your existence. By practicing mindfulness in your life, you can feel more focused, less stressed, and more happy. Here are eight ways to introduce mindfulness into your life.

Read the entire blog

 


May 2016

Speaking Up Spiritually: How and When
by Ellen Debenport  April 26, 2016

As I’ve said before, I believe those of us on a non-traditional, non-evangelical, even non-Christian spiritual path are shy about sharing our beliefs with other people.

For fear of being judged.
For fear of losing friends or family.
For fear of proselytizing.
Maybe even for fear we’re wrong.

So when is it a good idea to share your ideas about spiritual truth with someone, and when is it better left unsaid? I’ve come up with a rule of thumb, but let me elaborate first on why we’re shy, why people who have deep and profound experiences of the Presence might hesitate to share their point of view.

To read the entire blog, click here

 


April 2016

Practice Resurrection: The Call of Easter
blog and photo by Christine Valters Paintner

Lent is such a powerful season of pilgrimage through the desert, calling us to return to God with our whole hearts. We arrive at Easter eager to celebrate the reality of new life out of death, but sometimes forget this is another, even longer season, rather than a single day of celebration. What does 50 days of practicing resurrection look like? What would it mean to embark upon another pilgrimage to the heart of our own creativity in collaboration with the Great Artist at work, the one who brings newness from the old and discarded?

…One way to practice this is by making a commitment to a creative practice. When we step into creating without agenda or plans, it is a process that leads us on a journey of discovery. We must lean into the threshold place of not knowing how something will turn out. We must risk being vulnerable.

Creativity can teach us to step into the threshold, hold ourselves open, and receive what arises (rather than what we think should happen). It is a powerful way to practice resurrection of daily life. You do not need to travel far outwardly to make this kind of pilgrimage.


 

March 2016

Love Your Enemies for Lent
by Peggy Rosenthal

For years, during every Lent that coincides with a presidential campaign, my Lenten project has been to try to “love my enemies.”

Enemies in this case are the politicians whose views and words disgust me. Terrify me. Yet I know that these people are all children of God.

In years past, I’ve failed in this Lenten practice. My self-righteousness and judgmental nature have gotten the better of me. But I’m trying yet again, because I’m convinced that this practice can be good for my soul.

Lent is always a fresh opportunity to come closer to God, to become more like the person God wants me to be…

Read More..

 


February 2016

Claiming God’s Healing Light: Lenten Reflections on John 9
By Bruce Epperly, March 29, 2011

This week’s Lenten practice involves claiming the healing light of God. During Lent, we reflect on our brokenness, on the places in our lives where we need healing, and this can be painful. The challenges of mind, body, spirit, and relationships we face can seem insurmountable. Their chronic nature often stands in the way of claiming another, more joyful and healthy way of life. While healing is a process, and never fully completed, the story of the sight-impaired mind challenges us to say “yes” to God’s healing invitation and work day by day to move toward God’s healing light.

There are many ways to do this…

To read the entire blog, click here.
Click Here


 

January 2016

Pilgrimage of Resurrection: Seeing the World Anew

By Christine Valters Paintner, April 17, 2015

We walk by a thousand ordinary revelations every day in our busyness and preoccupation. What would it be like to move through our day, watching for what shimmers and then savoring them?

…Moments are holy doorways where we are lifted out of time and we encounter the sacred in the most ordinary of acts. Moments invite us to pause and linger because there is a different sense of time experienced. Moments are those openings we experience, where time suddenly loses its linear march and seems to wrap us in an experience of the eternal.

We are called to open ourselves to these moments of eternity, or better yet, to allow the moment to find us. We only need to make ourselves available to them, to receive them as the gifts that they are, rather than seek them out as something we are entitled to have.

To read the entire blog

Click Here


 

December 2015

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays
Linda Walter LCSW for Psychology Today

The holiday season can bring mixed emotions for many. For some, it’s their favorite time of year. For others, it brings feelings of sadness and loss. Seeing old friends and family members may be exciting or may bring up memories of disappointments.

Feeling depressed or anxious is not unusual during the holiday season. Upcoming dinners, parties, family or friend gatherings may cause a great deal of stress. These feelings may be even worse for those who have experienced divorce, lost a love one, are living far from family and friends, etc.

Here are some tips to “Beat the Holiday Blues”:
#1 Keep your regular routine.
#2 Think Moderation.
#3 Be realistic, try not to expect the “ideal” holiday.
#4 Stay connected.
#5 Throw guilt out the window.
#6 Don’t be alone, if you don’t want to.
#7 Focus on today, not yesterday.
#8 Just say no.
#9 Ask for help.
#10 Be good to yourself.

Remember, the holidays only come once a year and only last for a few weeks. If you follow these 10 tips, you might just find this year to be more joyful and less stressful.

Have a peaceful holiday season!


 

November 2015

The Forms of Stewardship
By Lester DeKoster and Gerard Berghoef

Stewardship is far more than the handling of our money. Stewardship is the handling of life, and time, and destiny. The basic forms of stewardship are twice defined: (1) by the opportunities for doing good that we learn to become aware of, and (2) by the gifts God has on deposit with us designed to meet such opportunities.

The Bible puts the basic forms of stewardship within everyone’s reach by speaking in terms of cups of cold water, going an extra mile, crusts of bread, a helping hand, the exercise of patience, and the like. Make a list sometime of the very ordinary forms of stewardship the Bible asks of us. It will become clear that basic stewardship is concerned with sweetening human relationships in our everyday world. Nothing momentous. Something like a genuine smile, nod, wave, kindly word, the steadying hand; and the sensitive heart, compassionate spirit, flowing out into acts of kindness, generosity, trust, and grace. Time invested in these virtues is time invested in heaven. None is beyond our reach—if the heart is aware, and the will bent to do God’s service wherever and whenever.

To read the entire blog, click here.


 

October 2015

3 Things Pope Francis Taught Us about Politics
September 24, 2015 by Frederick Schmidt

The address that Pope Francis gave before Congress was holistic and pro-life. He spoke to the needs of the poor, the dreams of the common man and woman, the preservation of the creation, the devastating impact of violence, the danger of fundamentalism, the fragile nature of the modern family, the death penalty, and the need to protect the unborn. He pointed us to the contemplative, Thomas Merton, and the activist, Dorothy Day. He spoke to the example of Martin Luther King. In short, he preached the Gospel.

But from the moment he began to wade into the specific elements of that picture, the members of Congress (who were generally more positive than usual) began to display the problem with political discourse. Grimacing at times and standing by party political alliance, our nation’s leadership applauded the parts of the speech that they approved. In responding in the way that they did, they displayed their inability — left and right — to listen to anything someone might say that diverges from the political positions that they have already embraced.

In other words, the speech was parsed and evaluated according to its political value. It wasn’t heard or absorbed.

To read the entire blog, from patheos.com, click below

3 Things…


September 2015

A Call for Christians to Act Like They Are Christians
– from the blog, “The God Article” by Mark Sandlin on the patheos.com website

Do not say that it is naïve to think we can love everyone, even our enemies. It is not naïve; it is Christian.

Do not say that it is politically naïve to be forgiving of those who hurt you. It is not naïve; it is Christian.

Do not say that it is naïve to ensure everyone’s basic needs are met, even for the least of these. It is not naïve; it is Christian…

Jesus never said that following in his way would be practical – he said that it would be difficult. Tell me that your faith is big enough to take the first step into matching your Sundays and your weekdays. Tell me that you are so committed to the teachings of Jesus that you will risk loving your enemy. Tell me that the image of Christ is carved out in every face you see and that you could never sit idly by as politicians and big business conspire to step on the least of these. Tell me that God’s love lives in you…

Tell me with your words.
Tell me with your actions.
Tell me with your political positions.
Tell me with your life.

To read the entire article, click here.


August 2015

Celtic spirituality has a strong emphasis on the journey of faith being a pilgrimage, which is called peregrination. Here’s a blog I think will be helpful in that regard. Rev. Todd

Pilgrimage: The Journey Home
If entered into mindfully and with a whole heart, each encounter on the road has the potential to transform. The pilgrim returns home not with all the answers, but with better questions.
…We sometimes think of the journey as a linear path to travel, when in reality we travel more in circles and spirals. We don’t arrive at the summit and proclaim ourselves done and complete. We arrive back at the desires that set us on the path in the first place, but perhaps with deeper wisdom or more doubts this time around.

Pilgrimage leads us home again, but that home is deep within each of us. We will cycle through our lives over and over, meeting old themes and habits again, being invited to release, to walk forward in trust, to embrace mystery many times.

You may feel like this journey is coming close to an end, when in reality it is just beginning. Now you carry the wisdom gleaned into the next cycle and season of your life.

To read the entire blog, click here


 

July 2015

Same-Sex Marriage: 7 Questions for the Victors
June 27, 2015 by Samuel James

“Today’s decision…will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” – Judge Samuel Alito in his dissenting opinion.

It was to very few’s surprise that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to find a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage… What’s next? I think the Court itself gave us the answer: Religious liberty. Emma Green at The Atlantic has a helpful rundown (click here) of the three most pressing religious liberty questions likely to come before the Court soon.

Recall that during oral arguments the government ominously indicated that the tax-exempt status of religious schools that refused to accommodate same-sex couples in campus policies and housing would be, in the Solicitor General’s words, “an issue.” As Green notes, this scenario would apply to a huge number of religious organizations. It very well may turn out that the decision legalizing same-sex marriage has fewer reverberations than the decisions that will follow.
Given that fact, I have seven questions for supporters of same-sex marriage, the folks celebrating a sweeping legal victory today.

To read the entire blog, click here.


 

June 2015

Several months ago our adult church school class discussed the concept of “mindfulness,” which involves living life in a way that we are more “present” in each moment and decision that is made, rather than just running on “automatic.”

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Click the link below to visit a very helpful website: mindfulness.org. It’s subtitled: Everything you need to know about Mindfulness on one website. It is one among many that you may find very helpful.

See More..


May 2015

Thin Places

The language of “thin place” is a Celtic metaphor that describes physical locations in which God is especially present. A retreat center or a quiet sanctuary would be obvious examples of potential thin places. In the metaphor, a “thin place” is a place where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin. It’s a place where we can sense the divine more readily. Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us — or, more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.

If you want to use the thin place metaphor, then perhaps you should say that the purpose of thin places is to help us realize that all places can be thin. Or, better yet, perhaps the purpose of a thin place is to train us to make the other places in our lives thinner. Moreover, when we realize that the Spirit of God dwells within us, we will come to believe that we are called to be thin places, as God makes God’s presence known through us.

To read a detailed article exploring the nature of ‘thin places,’ including in the scriptures, click the link below.
Read More…


 

April 2015

       God in a Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 March 2015

Giving up something-making a change in our lives- for Lent is tough. That’s partly because change can be so painful…

But if all things are impermanent, then we humans are impermanent as well. You don’t have to stay stuck in the same-old-same-old. You can change your story – you really can. We have that choice. Which is maybe what the Christian Lenten season is all about – acknowledging loss and darkness in preparation for renewal and light. In fact, maybe one of the things we can give up for Lent this year is one of those old, outgrown stories of ours.

To read the entire blog, go to http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wrestlingwithgod/2015/02/for-lent-try-giving-up-that-old-outworn-story-about-yourself/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Pan%20Patheos%2002.18.15%20(1)&utm_content=&spMailingID=48054301&spUserID=NDEwMTQ2ODU0MDQS1&spJobID=622245487&spReportId=NjIyMjQ1NDg3S0


 

February 2015

Marcus J. Borg
Liberal Scholar on Historical Jesus, Dies at 72
By Laurie Goodstein, 1-26-15, New York Times

Marcus J. Borg, a scholar who popularized a liberal intellectual approach to Christianity with his lectures and books about Jesus as a historical figure, died on Wednesday at his home in Powell Butte, Ore. He was 72.

Professor Borg was among a group of scholars, known as the Jesus Seminar, who set off an uproar with its very public efforts to discern collectively which of Jesus’ acts and utterances could be confirmed as historically true, and which were probably myths.

His studies of the New Testament led him not toward atheism but toward a deep belief in the spiritual life and in Jesus as a teacher, healer and prophet. Professor Borg became, in essence, a leading evangelist of what is often called progressive Christianity.

Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/marcus-borg-liberal-christian-scholar-dies-at-72.html?_r=1


January 2015

New Year, New Beginnings
By Christine Valters Paintner, December 21, 2009

More people are taking the celebration of New Year’s as a time for reflection on what has gone before, and for listening to their longing for what lies ahead. Here is a guide to celebrating the New Year in meaningful ways. It includes practices such as: Preparing; Reconciliation; Dream-Tending; Walking into the New Year; and Doing What You Love.

Know deep within that the God who keeps revealing new things to us, also fills us with hope for a future of peace.

Read more:
http://www.patheos.com//Resources/Additional-Resources/New-Year-New-Beginnings.html


December 2014

Surviving the Holidays

Here are four simple, but remarkably helpful suggestions that can aid you prepare for Christmas. Each can reflect the guiding presence of God. If followed, they can help you focus on the true meaning of this season. They are:

1.   Do less.
2.  Breathe more.
3.  Adjust your expectations.
4.  Focus on people, not stuff.

 


November 2014

“In this period of crisis today, it is important not to turn in on ourselves, burying our own talent, our spiritual, intellectual, and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us; but, rather to open ourselves, to be supportive, to be attentive to others. Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart, the ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn.”

 Pope Francis, April 24, 2013


October 2014

Wheel of the Year ~ Autumn Equinox 
by Jenya T. Beachy

The Autumn Equinox is a time of balance. We are at the point where day and night are of equal length. This is a good time to meditate on the principles of Light and Darkness, expansion and contraction. Soon it will be Winter, and we will be in our homes again, sitting by the hearth instead of around the fire circle outside. What does it mean to draw our tendrils back toward ourselves? To conserve our strength?

(This is a non-Christian reflection, but it contains some rich spirituality in connection with our relationship to the earth and the changing seasons, including the changes in our lives. It hearkens back to the Celtic tradition before Christianity. Rev. Todd)

Read more:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dirtheartwitch/2014/09/wheel-of-the-yearautumn-equinox-at-the-homestead/#ixzz3EGCitkC6


September 2014

Spiritual Practices to Eradicate Racism
by Michael W. Waters

Racism’s eradication must first occur within the heart. No amount of legislation nor laws passed can ever change the heart. As a matter of the heart, the fight to eradicate racism is a deeply personal, even spiritual, undertaking. Given this reality, spiritual practice is required to eliminate racism and to form an authentic and beautiful mosaic of diversity and mutual respect in our nation.

First, as spiritual practice, eradicating racism requires repentance. This is because racism is a sin.

Second, eradicating racism also requires forgiveness. Individuals and communities that have suffered under the scourge of racism must find strength from God to forgive their oppressors.

Finally, but most important, eradicating racism requires great courage. Whenever and wherever we see the ugly stain of racism, we must be willing to speak out against it. We cannot remain silent!

To read the entire article, click here.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/02/spiritual-practices-to-eradicate-racism/

 


 

August 2014

I Want My Religion Back – You Can Keep the Ugly Baggage
July 27, 2014 by Mark Sandlin

I don’t like telling people I’m a Christian. It’s not that I’m ashamed of being a Christian; I’m not – at all. It is just that the word “Christian” comes with so much ugly baggage. Telling someone I’m a Christian means I must immediately follow it up with, “but not that kind of Christian.”…

Jesus wasn’t a fan of ugly baggage. He confronted the Pharisees every time they tried to unload it onto him or others. If we want our religion back, we are going to have to do the same – standing up more consistently and begin challenging these power plays wrapped in religion…

And when they accuse us of being un-Christian (and they will), we must stand strong and tell them, “You no longer get to own that word. You have used it and abused it and crucified it on crosses of hate, greed, power and control. We are taking our religion back – way back. All the way back to the teachings of Jesus.”

To read the entire blog,  Click Here

 


July 2014

Prayer for Freedom
by the Latin American Council of Churches

God of mercy and hope, in the struggle for freedom grant us strength; in decisions about freedom grant us wisdom; in the practice of freedom grant us guidance; in the dangers of freedom grant us protection; in the life of freedom grant us joy and in the use of freedom grant us vision.

Amen


June 2014

40 Word Prayers: When I am Busy
by Bruce Reyes-Chow

“When I am Busy”
When I make my busyness an idol
God forgive me
Instead…
Let me face the tasks of the day with
a healthy perspective
a light touch
a posture of patience
a willingness to laugh
and a spirit of gratitude

Amen

 


May 2014

The Promise of Shared Brokenness
by Heather Kopp at soberboots.com

When folks gather around a system of shared beliefs, the price of acceptance in the group is usually agreement, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being right. Unfortunately, this often creates an atmosphere of fear and performance, which in turn invites conformity.

But when people gather around a shared need for healing, the price of acceptance in the group is usually vulnerability, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being real. This tends to foster an atmosphere of safety and participation, which in turn invites community.

To read the entire blog, click the link below.

http://soberboots.com


April 2014

The following was a devotional prepared by Gini Fox to begin the March meeting of the church Session.

A Celtic Prayer for the beginning of Lent:
May the Christ who walks on wounded feet
walk with us on the road.

May the Christ who serves with wounded hands
stretch out our hands to serve.

May the Christ who loves with a wounded heart
open our hearts to love.

May we see the face of Christ in everyone we meet.
And may everyone we meet
See the face of Christ in us.

I kept re-reading that as I prepared for tonight.  As a person who can hardly wait to get into my garden every year, my new year doesn’t really begin in January but rather as winter wanes.  I contemplate what plants I want to keep and what new things I want to do to make changes.   I think about how hard some of that might be.  Can I do it?   I sense that the earth begins to scrub off the dirt and drudge of winter to emerge with fresh, clean skin and I want to do the same.   I look at Lent in much the same way – a time of scrubbing off the old coat of my faith journey, wondering what has worked for me, and what changes I need to make.  I wonder how I am doing?  Who I have become?  Is my relationship with my friend Jesus growing?  In fact, where do I encounter Jesus?  Just on Sunday or more often?   Do I always recognize him or am I too busy?  Maybe there is a way of looking at ourselves so that we can be more authentic and thus be able to see the Christ in others, and maybe even in ourselves.  The God I experience wants that for all of us.

Richard Rohr speaks of splitting our Idealized Self from our Shadow Self.  Splitting your acceptable self from your unacceptable self, if you will.  We humans build a persona, a self-image that is based upon what most people want from us, reward us for, and what we choose to identify with.  At the same time, we repress and often totally deny our  “shadow self.”  Our shadow self is what we refuse to see about ourselves and what we do not want others to see.  Jesus simply calls it “the log in your own eye.”  It’s fully there, but you just can’t see it.  And even worse, this becomes the instrument by which we see others.  “The lamp of the body is the eye” Jesus says and you need to clean the lens to see truthfully.  Much of the work of spirituality is becoming aware of the biases, prejudices, and limitations through which we see the moment.  This process never ceases because one’s ego never becomes dormant.  Spring cleaning is often hard work.   Nelson Mandela says: In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education, but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow man – qualities within the reach of every soul.

As we grow from childhood, the split from the shadow self reaches full force in the teenage years, but many adults never recover.  Young people are eager to be acceptable to their peer group and to “look good,” but unfortunately a lifelong game will have begun.  Carl Jung said the people who look just on the outside are dreaming, but people who look inside are “awakening.”  Unfortunately, both the idealized self and the shadow self can blind a person to his or her best and deepest self.  This is the “field of both weeds and wheat” that Jesus speaks of in his parable and they have to grow together in the same field.   It is the place where we humans find ourselves,  often struggling as we balance our idealized and shadow selves.   Rumi, the Sufi poet beautifully says, “I will meet you there!   We need to say that, with love, to ourself.

As I journey through this time of new beginnings, this time of shedding my winter faith coat that has kept me warm, I want to unearth my faith, uncover my relationship with the Triune God who never leaves me, always loves me, and who wants me to go out into the world with my fresh, new, authentic self.  My cleaner eyes will hopefully let me see the sacred in everyone I meet.  I will find Jesus in unexpected places and maybe, just maybe,  someone will see God’s sacred love in me.

Grant us, our God, your grace, that seeing ourselves in the light of your holiness we may be cleansed of the pride and vain-glory which obscure our paths; and, knowing that from you no secrets are hid, we may perceive and confront those deceits and disguises by which we deceive ourselves and others.  May we worship you in spirit and in truth and in your light, see light.