1.12.20 Living the Liturgy: Eucharist

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On January 12th, Brian Zahnd joined us to share why the Eucharist is the central point of our service. This is the first week in a series focused on the core elements of our gatherings.

Kingdom Practices
This week, our kingdom practice is to respond to God’s invitation. In Brian’s teaching, did you sense God inviting you to embrace your work (whatever that may be) as sacred? In the grain and the grape, we learn that all of life is sacred. Or was God inviting you to expand your table? Is there someone with whom God is asking you to share a meal, a coffee, or a conversation?

Additional Resources
[amazon text=Water to Wine&asin=0692569189] by Brian Zahnd
[amazon text=Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God&asin=1601429517] by Brian Zahnd
[amazon text=Blessed Broken Given&asin=052565075X] by Glenn Packiam
[amazon text=For the Life of the World&asin=0881416177] by Alexander Schmemann

12.15.19 Invitation to be Present with God

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On 12.15.19, Sam Tinken continued our journey of practicing the presence of God this Advent season. How does the practice of waiting help us to find meaning in the moment?

Kingdom Practices
This week, how might we embrace the multitude of opportunities to wait in the presence of God? We might pause to notice God in the inevitable moments of waiting in the car or supermarket, or even as a we wait on a slow-moving child. How can we embrace waiting for some of the more significant hopes in our life, like recognition in our jobs or connection with our family? How are we being invited to embrace the waiting, set aside what distracts us from God, and lean into God’s deeply loving presence?

12.8.19 Invitation to be present with God

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On 12.8.19, Jason Feffer invited us to the practice expressed in the life of Brother Lawrence, the practice of the presence of God. How might we live fully present with God in our everyday life?

Kingdom Practices
Our invitation in this Advent season is to cultivate the practice of the presence of God. How might we direct our attention to God’s presence in the midst of the holiday errands, parties, and shopping? Would you consider some of the practical methods shared at the end of the podcast? Perhaps you will carry something with you to remind you throughout the day to notice God’s presence. Perhaps you will walk more slowly, or pray whenever you pass through a doorway. Or maybe you will rewrite a prayer of Brother Lawrence to suit your life this season. (“Lord of all pots and pans and things… make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.”)

11.24.19 Invitation to Doubt

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On 11.24.19, Eric Case helped us explore God’s invitation to doubt. What if faith and doubt are not opposed to one another? What of doubt is an inevitable part of the faith journey, and God only calls us to respond with the faith we do have, not the faith we don’t.

Kingdom Practices
In our practice, Eric invited us to examine how we may doubt God’s personal love for us. Are you willing to be honest with God about where you are today? Are you willing to be open to the possibility that God might want to reveal something to you that is more loving than you have considered before? Are you willing to believe God loves you and wants good things for you? This week, let’s continue to hold these questions before us, listening to what God might be showing us in this season.

11.17.19 Invitation to Wrestle with God

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We don’t often talk about doubt in church. Perhaps we don’t know what to do with doubt, or we are afraid of what it means to wrestle with God. But not only is doubt a normal part of our spiritual journey, times of wrestling can actually be some of the most fruitful seasons of our formation in Christlikeness.

As we begin our series exploring God’s invitation to wrestle, Carolyn Arends guided us so wonderfully in song, teaching, and practice. She shared about doubt from her own story and scripture.

Kingdom Practices
As we embrace the invitation to wrestle with God, how are you wrestling in this season? Where do you find doubt bubbling up from the gaps between what you expect from God and reality?

This week, would you continue to wrestle? Would you hold onto God as Jacob did? Would you consider what ‘center of strength’ you may need to surrender, and what you would ask for from God as you wrestle?

And if you don’t find yourself wrestling with God in this season, would you consider who in your life might be wrestling, and ask God how you might come alongside them in love and community?

11.3.19 Invitation to Respond (part 2)

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Sunday night, our journey of stillness and response continued as we listened for God’s invitation for us in this season. Brad and Ben shared their stories of how God has been inviting them into the work of reconciliation in the world, Brad in prison ministry and Ben living with intention in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. We then examined our stories and noticed where our hearts are broken by the injustice of our world as a way of listening to God’s invitation in our lives.

Kingdom Practices
Our hope in this series is that we have been listening to God’s voice. How are we being invited to join God’s work of reconciliation in the world? How has God invited you to respond? How has God refined that invitation in your life?

Sam shared three specific practices we might be invited into out of the night.
Being present to those around us so that we might serve and be formed by presence. Who might God be inviting you to be present to this week?
Reflecting on our relationships, and considering whether God is stretching us to build relationships with people who are different than us. Who might God be inviting you to reach out to this week?
Listen to your story and reflect on the moments of messiness and deep joy. What part of your story might God be inviting you to consider this week? (Check out One Life Maps for a great resource.)

10.27.19 Invitation to Respond (part 1)

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Sunday night, we continued our journey of stillness and response as we turned to examine how God might be inviting us to respond. How are you being invited to join the work of reconciliation God is already doing in the world? We are not leaving stillness behind. In fact, let’s continue to engage practices of stillness. (You may even choose to continue the outward Examenor abiding contemplation.) But let’s begin to listen for how we are being invited to join the work God is doing around us.

This week, David Bailey taught from the story of Esther and asked, “What does it look like for us to be a reconciling community in such a time as this?” It was an incredibly invitational and challenging night. The idea that God is inviting us to long for something that requires fasting and prayer continues to disturb my thoughts. This is the kind of teaching and practice that needs time, reflection, and space to listen to the Holy Spirit. If you couldn’t be with us, would you make some time this week to listen?

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to listen for God’s invitation. If you know where you are invited to join God’s workin this season, how is God refining that invitation? If you are unsure, you might return to the practice of Sunday night or even the outward Examen. And as we listen to the Spirit for our invitation, let’s continue to engage our practices of stillness.

10.6.19 Invitation to Stillness (part 1)

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Sunday night, we began a five-week journey of stillness and response. There is a temptation with the journey of formation to focus inward and remain there, but a wholistic experience of spiritual formation will always include an outward expression. Our formation is stunted if it does not result in us joining God’s redemptive work in the world. Jesus invites us to join this kingdom work, but he does not invite us to a life of constant activity and burnout.

How might we be present to God’s invitation to join the work of the kingdom and remain present as we join God’s work? This week, Father Michael Sparough shared the importance of both contemplation and activity, and he guided us in an outward Examen to help us cultivate a spirit of stillness as we discern and respond.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to practice this outward Examen daily. We are certainly discerning how the Lord is inviting us to join his kingdom work, but let’s not discern and move on. Let’s stay with the Examen for at least this week. Let’s commit to stillness with the Lord as we cultivate a spirit of presence. You may use this podcast of the practice with Father Michael.

9.22.19 Invitation to Find Solidarity with One Another

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Kingdom Practices
In our time of practice, we listened for God’s personal invitation to us. How might God be inviting each of us to cultivate a space of hospitality and belonging in our community? We noticed: the invitation, the practical steps we needed to take in response to God’s invitation, what roadblocks we may encounter, what we need to be aware of, and shared our desire with God in prayer. You can find the handout here.

Our Kingdom Practice for this week is to discern God’s invitation and to share it with someone. When you have some clarity about God’s personal invitation, would you share it with someone in our community?

6.2.19 Invitation to Retreat

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Sunday night, we began our journey discerning how God is inviting us to rhythm of retreat this summer. When God invites us into something, Ruth taught, we know we are wanted by God. We know we are loved by God. Ruth guided us through the Biblical basis of retreat and explored seven specific invitations of retreat: strategic withdrawal, resting in in God, a new rhythm, intimacy in God’s presence, to discern, relinquish, and recalibrate.

Then, Ruth led a helpful meditation. Which of these invitations do we sense God drawing us toward in this season? If you couldn’t be with us last night, please make some time this week to listen and join us on the journey.

Kingdom Practices
Last night was the beginning of our discerning God’s invitation. Do you sense God inviting you into a rhythm of retreat? Did one or more of the seven invitations stand out? Or maybe you are unsure. This week, would you continue to reflect on the invitation to retreat? If you heard something specific, continue to listen for how God may be refining the invitation. If you are still unsure, would you continue to prayerfully consider how you might make room for retreat this summer? How do you desire to experience God’s presence in retreat this summer?

Next week, we will get more specific with the invitation as Gail Donahue and Joan Kelley will guide us in the practical application of retreat. How do we enter retreat, what do we do on retreat, and how do we transition out of retreat? This will be a meaningful and helpful night as we settle into God’s invitation for the summer.