Welcome

Christ Presbyterian is a spiritual incubator, caring for members as we listen for the voice of the Spirit calling us to service.  We affirm that as a spiritual community we seek growth, not perfection, and welcome all in love.  We are hopeful that each of you will form a stronger bond with God and the community of Christ on your journey.

Thought for Contemplation

A Prayer for Jubilee

Oh, Christ, may we see you in the poverty of your manger and of our global neighbors. For all our failures to work for justice, we hope daily for your fresh forgiveness. Empower us by your grace and your example to live the Jubilee, bringing economic restoration to the poor and liberation for the oppressed. Change us radically, fill us with fortitude, and open our minds, hearts and wallets for the sake of your will that the hungry be fed—until the day when all suffering shall cease in the culmination of your gracious reign. Amen.

Marva Dawn

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Nothing is Lost
“As I turned to leave, I looked down. Beside my foot, a sprout of greenery was clawing its way through the pristine nothingness to begin anew. It was later that I realized my haven had sent me a message, and it had shown me that nothing is ever completely lost, unless you cease searching.”
J.D. Stroube, Epiphany, 21st century
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The Most Important Thing to Briing
“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”
Rachel Naomi Remen, 21st century
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No Peace
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 20th century
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God’s Book
“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book, the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead God set before your eyes the things that God had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”
Augustine of Hippo, 5th century
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A longer thought today but it describes well what I was learning to practice at the Enneagram retreat last week. Letting go is glorious.
Paster Susan
Letting Go into God
To Western or comfortable people, surrender and letting go sounds like losing. But it’s actually accessing a deeper, broader sense of the self, which is already whole, already content, already filled with abundant life. This is the part of you that has always loved God and said “Yes” to God. It’s the part of you that is Love, and all we have to do is let go andfall into it. It’s already there. Once you move your identity to that level of deep inner contentment and compassion, you realize that you’re drawing upon a Life that is larger than your own, and from a deeper Abundance. Once you learn to do that, why would you ever again settle for some scarcity model for life?But sadly, we continually do just that. The scarcity model is the way we’re trained to think: “I am not enough. This is not enough. I do not have enough.” So we try to attain more and more, and climb higher and higher. Thomas Merton said we may spend our whole life climbing the ladder of success, only to discover that when we get to the top our ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. Wow!A daily practice of contemplative prayer can help you fall into the Big Truth that we all share, the Big Truth that is God, that is Grace itself, where you are overwhelmed by more than enoughness! The spiritual journey is about living more and more in that abundant place where you don’t have to wrap yourself around your hurts, your defeats, your failures; but you can get practiced in letting go and saying “That’s not me. I don’t need that. I’ve met a better self, a truer self.”
Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis,
disc 6 (CD),
and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, p. xvii
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Sanctuary
“My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way. There was sanctuary in a library, there is sanctuary now, from the war, from the storms of our family and our own anxious minds. Libraries are like the mountain, or the meadows behind the goat ladyís house: sacred space.”
Anne Lamott, 21st century
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Receive the Story
As healers we have to receive the story of our fellow human beings with a compassionate heart, a heart that does not judge or condemn but recognizes how the stranger’s story connects with our own…. Our most important question as healers is not, “What to say or to do?” but, “How to develop enough inner space where the story can be received?”Henri J. M. Nouwen
Source: Reaching Out
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Living by Assumption
We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world—to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it.Wendell Berry
Source: The Art of the Commonplace
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What Can I Do?
The Sufi tell of the disciple who asked the elder, “Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?”“As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”“Then, of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?”“To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”Joan Chittister
Source: New Designs
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Connectedness
Jesus is brought into being through Community and participates in the co-creation of it…. Hence what is truly Christological, that is truly revealing of divine incarnation and salvific power in human life, must reside in connectedness and not in single individuals.Rita Nakashima Brock
Source: Journeys by Heart
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Worship Service
Phrases like Worship Service or Service of Worship are tautological. To worship God means to serve him. Basically there are two ways to do it. One way is to do things for him that he needs to have done– run errands for him, carry messages for him, fight on his side, freed his lambs, and so on. the other way is to do things for him that you need to do– sing songs for him, tell him what’s on your mind and in your heart, in general rejoice in him and make a fool of yourself for him the way lovers have always mad fools of themselves for the one they love.A Quaker Meeting, a Pontifical High Mass, the Family Service at First Presbyterian, a Holy Roller Happening– unless there is an element of joy and foolishness in the proceedings, the time would be better spent doing something else.~Frederick Buechner
Worship Service 7-13-14
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The Master
He who has come to men
dwells where we cannot tell
nor sight reveal him,
until the hour has struck
when the small heart does break
with hunger for him;those who do merit least,
those whom no tongue does praise
the first to know him,
and on the face of earth
the poorest village street
blossoming for him.Jane Tyson Clement
Source: No One Can Stem the Tide
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Please pray for the violence to end in Gaza and the West Bank which are under attack.  God have mercy.
A Dangerous Man
Jesus wasn’t just a naïve dreamer who hiked around Galilee mouthing sweet platitudes. He fearlessly confronted a world that was no less filled with danger than is ours…. And yet he commanded, repeatedly and unequivocally, “Put down your swords, and love your enemies.” This man was dangerous. What if the people gathered around him actually started taking him seriously?Don Mosley
Source: Faith Beyond Borders
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Already Ours
When Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, he was not prophesying about some easy, danger-free perfection that will someday appear. He was talking about a state of being, a way of living at ease among the joys and sorrows of our world…. This state of being is not something alien or mystical. We don’t need to earn it. It is already ours.
Stephen Mitchell
Source: The Gospel According to Jesus
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Pointing Toward
Jesus pointed to something he called God’s domain, something he did not create, something he did not control. I want to discover what Jesus saw, or heard, or sensed that was so enchanting, so mesmerizing, so challenging that it held Jesus in its spell. And I do not want to be misled by what his followers did: instead of looking to see what he saw, his devoted disciples tended to stare at the pointing finger.Robert W. Funk
Source: Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millennium
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Mercy
“Mercy is the golden chain by which society is bound together.”William Blake, 19th century
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Wage Peace
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.
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Good for Us
What is good for the world will be good for us. That requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.Wendell Berry
Source: The Art of the Commonplace
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Suffering Exists
I am not saying that suffering exists in order for God to reveal himself. I am only saying that where suffering exists and is consciously accepted, there divine love shines forth brightly…. I have often suspected that the most profound product of this world is tears. I don’t mean that to be morbid. Rather, I mean that tears express that vulnerability in which we can endure having our heart broken and go right on loving.Cynthia Bourgeault
Source: The Wisdom Jesus
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Cry and Die
To call a local church into the mission of Jesus is to call its members into two behaviors. First we cry. Then we die. We let our hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God. Then we die to the comfortable patterns of life that insulate us emotionally and geographically from those for whom Christ died.
Ben Campbell Johnson Glenn McDonald
Source: Imagining a Church in the Spirit
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Heaven
“The connections we make in the course of a life – maybe that’s what heaven is.”
Fred Rogers, 20th century
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How Things Are
I used to think that we are where we are for a preordained reason. But I no longer believe that is true. We are where we are, and it is up to us whether there is a purpose in it or not. Places, circumstances, and encounters aren’t inherently meaningful; we make them meaningful, we give them purpose.Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Source: God’s Echo
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Dreams
“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”- Marsha Norman
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An important Thought as I head to Capitol Hill today to lobby on behalf of the poor in our country.
“Just as there are no little people or unimportant lives, there is no insignificant work.”
- Yelena Bonner
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Planting Trees
The Talmud tells the story of an old man who was planting a carob tree when a king rode by. “Old man,” the king called out, “how old are you?” “Seventy years, your majesty,” the man replied.“How many years will it take before that tree will bear fruit?” the king asked. “Perhaps seventy years,” the man answered.Mockingly, the king went on, “Do you really expect to eat of the fruit of that tree?”“Of course not,” the man said, “but just as I found fruit trees when I was born, so do I plant trees that future generations may eat from them.”The Talmud
Source: God’s Echo by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
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Today I am among the people of a well-meaning organization, RESULTS: the Power to End Poverty, from around the US and the world, as a servant of Christ in Washington DC.         ~ Pastor Susan”If the church is the body of Christ [who was disguised in servant form], why would we think the world would be able to pick us out of a crowd of other well-meaning organizations?”Mark Galli, 21st century
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Interesting Thought for Contemplation as the RESULTS team prepares to speak to our congressmen on Capitol Hill. We have arrived safe in DC. Please pray for us to be effective.Pastor Susan”The freedom of affluence opposes and contradicts the freedom of community life.”Wendell Berry, 20th century
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The Fruits of the SpiritThe way God’s Spirit manifests itself most convincingly is through its fruits: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). These fruits speak for themselves. It is therefore always better to raise the question “How can I grow in the Spirit?” than the question “How can I make others believe in the Spirit?”Henri Nouwen
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Heaven on Earth
“Earth’s crammed with heaven…But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 19th century
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The Eternity of NatureThe eternity which I detect in Nature I predicate of myself also. How many springs I have had this same experience! I am encouraged, for I recognize this steady persistency and recovery of Nature as a quality of myself.Henry David Thoreau
Source: Journal entry 1856
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Community of Saints
“Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God.”Stanley Hauerwas, 20th century
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Making Contact
I believe
The greatest gift
I can conceive of having
from anyone
is
to be seen by them,
heard by them,
to be understood
and
touched by them.
The greatest gift
I can give
is
to see, hear, understand
and to touch
another person.
When this is done
I feel
contact has been made.Virginia Satir
Source: Making Contact
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Communion
The artist helps us to interpret, understand and communicate feeling. When the artist is successful we are led into communion with ourselves and with the world, and the solitary work becomes a communal work. For want of this we walk on parched land.Elizabeth O’Connor
Source: Servant Leaders Servant Structures
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The Gift of Ears
The Christian church came into being at Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit on that occasion is generally called the gift of tongues, but it might equally as well be called the gift of ears…. As writers, readers, human beings, we cannot speak to or understand each other unless we are first prepared to listen. Of all the gifts that the Holy Spirit is able to bestow, the one for which we should first and most earnestly pray is humility of ear.W. H. Auden
Source: Words and the Word
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End the Silence
Speaking to each other involves risk. It’s often difficult to extend ourselves, to let down our guard, especially with those we fear or avoid…. Strangely, what we say is not that important. We have ended the silence that keeps us apart.Margaret Wheatley
Source: Turning to One Another
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Empowered to Speak
The Spirit that Jesus gives us empowers us to speak. Often when we are expected to speak in front of people who intimidate us, we are nervous and self-conscious. But if we live in the Spirit, we don’t have to worry about what to say. We will find ourselves ready to speak when the need is there. “When they take you before … authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say” (Luke 12:11-12).We waste much of our time in anxious preparation. Let’s claim the truth that the Spirit that Jesus gave us will speak in us and speak convincingly.Henri Nouwen
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Why Not Wake Up?
Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch!
Go out and walk in the rain!
If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?
Wake up, wake up!
You have slept millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?Kabir
Source: The Kabir Book by Robert Bly
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The Problem of Life
Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and “one body,” will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another…. Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time. It is seen, above all, in my own integration in Christ.Thomas Merton
Source: No Man Is an Island
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God Made Truth with Many Doors
“God made Truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.”
–Khalil Gibran
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What people remember
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Maya Angelou
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A Frayed and Fallen WorldI am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down.Annie Dillard
Source: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
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What to Do in the DarknessGo slowly
Consent to it
But don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
And growth
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Practice trust
Watch for dawnMarilyn Chandler McEntyre
Source: Weavings
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A Network of MutualityWe must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made.Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: A Knock at Midnight
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From Desmond Tutu’s Forgiveness Challenge via The Charter for Compassion. No author listed.Prayer before the prayerI want to be willing to forgive,
But I dare not ask for the will to forgive in case You give it to me
and I am not yet ready.I am not yet ready for my heart to soften.I am not yet ready to be vulnerable again;not yet ready to see that there is humanity in my tormentor’s eyes,or that the one who hurt me may also have cried.I am not yet ready for the journey.I am not yet interested in the path..I am at the prayer before the prayer of forgiveness.Grant me the will to want to forgive.Grant it to me – not yet- but soon.
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The Work We DoThe work we do is only our love
for Jesus in action.
And that action is our wholehearted
and free service—the gift of the poorest
of the poor—to Christ in the distressing
disguise of the poor.If we pray the work…
if we do it to Jesus
if we do it for Jesus
if we do it with Jesus…
that’s what makes us content.Mother Teresa
Source: Words to Love By
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‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’
“We can’t sit back and celebrate Martin King and ask when will there be another like him. No, no my dear young friends. We must join our voices with that blessed poet June Jordan and demonstrate that ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’”- Vincent Harding
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Trying to LoveI find that it is better to love badly and faultily than not to try to love at all. God does not have to have perfect instruments, and the Holy One can use our feeble and faltering attempts at love and transform them. My task is to keep on trying to love, to be faithful in my continuing attempt, not necessarily to be successfulMorton Kelsey
Source: Companions on the Inner Way
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Love MoreNo, it is not easy to grasp that the only way to suffer less is to love more, especially in politics. At the risk of seeming weaker. Yes, at the risk of seeming weaker I shall not build an atomic bomb, I shall not give my enemy a whack in the eye to show that I am stronger, I shall not make war, I shall not squash my tomatoes and apples with a tractor to keep the price up, I shall not destroy forests to build factories, I shall not poison the sea. If love is the rule of my politics and the thrust of my action, yes, I really shall suffer less and I shall cause less suffering in others.Carlo Carretto
Source: Why O Lord?
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Bound Together
God’s life and our lives are bound together, as a vine with branches, as a body with members. So corporate are we that no one can give a cup of cold water to the least person in the world without giving it to God.Rufus Jones
Source: The Double Search
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We Saints“Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while often unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God.”Stanley Hauerwas, 20th century
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A Noiseless Patient SpiderA noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.Walt Whitman
Source: Leaves of Grass
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No RushThe theology of progress forces us to act before we are ready. We speak before we know what to say. We respond before we feel the truth of what we know. In the process, we inadvertently create suffering, heaping imprecision upon inaccuracy, until we are all buried under a mountain of misperception. But Sabbath says, Be still. Stop. There is no rush to get to the end, because we are never finished. Take time to rest, and eat, and drink, and be refreshed. And in the gentle rhythm of that refreshment, listen to the sound the heart makes as it speaks the quiet truth of what is needed.Wayne Muller
Source: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest
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The Church’s VoiceWherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”…. Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: Letter from Birmingham Jail
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We Give Thanks This Day
For the expanding grandeur of Creation, worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies, filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations: We give thanks this day. For this fragile planet earth, its times and tides, its sunsets and seasons: We give thanks this day. For the joy of human life, its wonders and surprises, its hopes and achievements: We give thanks this day. For our human community, our common past and future hope, our oneness transcending all separation, our capacity to work for peace and justice in the midst of hostility and oppression: We give thanks this day. For high hopes and noble causes, for faith without fanaticism, for understanding of views not shared: We give thanks this day. For all who have labored and suffered for a fairer world, who have lived so that others might live in dignity and freedom: We give thanks this day. For human liberty and sacred rites; for opportunities to change and grow, to affirm and choose: We give thanks this day. We pray that we may live not by our fears but by our hopes, not by our words but by our deeds. [We Give Thanks This Day - O. Eugene Pickett]
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This thought seems to say it all after the wonderful community celebration and discernment yesterday at Christ Church.
Community “Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.” Jean Vanier, 20th century
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Let Everything Happen God speaks to each of us as he makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me. Flare up like flame and make big shadows I can move in. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. Don’t let yourself lose me. Nearby is the country they call life. You will know it by its seriousness. Give me your hand. Rainer Maria Rilke Source: Book of Hours: Love Poems to God (translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
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Oceans I have a feeling that my boat has struck, down there in the depths, against a great thing. And nothing happens! Nothing…silence…waves… Nothing happens? Or has everything happened, and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life? Juan Ramon Jimenez Source: translated by Robert Bly
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God’s Spies “…and we’ll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies,… And take upon ‘s the mystery of things, As if we were God’s spies…” William Shakespeare, 17th century, “King Lear”
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The Pioneering Spirit When the church starts to be the church, it will constantly be adventuring out into places where there are no tried and tested ways. If the church in our day has few prophetic voices to sound above the noises of the street, perhaps in large part it is because the pioneering spirit has become foreign to it. It shows little willingness to explore new ways. Where it does it has often been called an experiment. We would say that the church of Christ is never an experiment, but wherever that church is true to its mission it will be experimenting, pioneering, blazing new paths, seeking how to speak the reconciling Word of God to its own age. Elizabeth O’Connor Source: Call to Commitment
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Pause to Wonder The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein Source: What I Believe
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The Mystery Beyond Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for the transcendence, for the reverence everywhere to the mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine … to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. Abraham Heschel Source: I Asked for Wonder
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Both … And It is worse than you think it is and you are freer than you think you are. The powers are raging beyond your control and they are already overcome in Christ. The division is an uncrossable spiritual chasm and it has been crossed. William Stringfellow Source: Conference on Religion and Race (1963)
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Gestures of Love A gesture of love is anything we do that helps others discover their humanity. Any act where we turn to one another. Open our hearts. Extend ourselves. Listen. Any time we’re patient. Curious. Quiet. Engaged. Margaret Wheatley Source: Turning to One Another
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Resurrection means… “For me the meaning of the Resurrection is the possibility of possibility. The great perhaps. Perhaps: the open-endedness that gives the lie to death. That opens up the story.” Mary Gordon, 21st century
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“Easter says…” “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” -Clarence W. Hall Prayer of the Day Transcendent God, you are the ground of our being and give life to all the world. Thank you for this divine love that undergirds the faith we strive to live with you, as revealed to us in Christ. We pray for openness to your grace and that we may see concrete signs of God’s loving presence in our lives. Amen.
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Death Into Life We feel small and weak, but we are gathered together to signify the power of God who transforms death into life. That is our hope, that God is doing the impossible: changing death to life inside of each of us, and that perhaps, through our community, each one of us can be agents in the world of this transformation of brokenness into wholeness, and of death into life. Jean Vanier Source: Brokenness to Community
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Daybreak The community of persons closest to us has the power to keep us in the tomb of fear or to call us into the daybreak of hope. Do those around us call us to huddle more closely together and bolt the doors of our upper room? Or do they help us throw the doors open because we have experienced together the freeing call to action which is the Spirit of Jesus in our midst? Sr. Lauretta Mather
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Resurrection as Faithfulness The resurrection does not solve our problems about dying and death. It is not the happy ending to our life’s struggle, nor is it the big surprise that God has kept in store for us. No, the resurrection is the expression of God’s faithfulness…. The resurrection is God’s way of revealing to us that nothing that belongs to God will ever go to waste. What belongs to God will never get lost. Henri J. M. Nouwen Source: Our Greatest Gift
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This Present Moment Jesus, risen and alive—not a soul or a memory, a ghost or a force, but the beginning of the transformed universe—is no longer present in a place. He is rather, we might say, present to a place…. This present moment is the first moment of the Resurrection of Jesus, for there is no passage of time in the realm of God, and Jesus has not changed in any way since that first moment. Donald Spoto Source: The Hidden Jesus
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Suggested practice for day 40 of Lent.

Holy (Black) Saturday 

Pray for your enemies.

_____ Suggested practice for day 39 of Lent

Good Friday

No TV day

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

Transformative Suffering Redemptive Suffering Friday, April 18, 2014 The “cross,” rightly understood, is precisely and always untoresurrection. It’s as if God were holding up the crucifixion as a cosmic object lesson, saying: “I know this is what you’re experiencing. Don’t run from it. Learn from it, as I did. Hang there for a while, as I did. It will be your teacher. Rather than losing life, it is gaining life. It is the way through.” The mystery of the cross has the power to teach us that our suffering is not our own and my life is not about “me.” Redemptive suffering is, I believe, a radical call to a deeper life and deeper faith that affects not only the self, but also others. We should pray for the grace to bear our sufferings as Christ bore his for us. Hopefully, a time will come when the life of Christ will be so triumphant in us that we care more about others than about our own selves, or better, when there is no longer such a sharp distinction between my self and the other self. Remember that conversion is more than anything else a reconstituted sense of the self. As Paul puts it, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The suffering that we carry is our solidarity with the one, universal longing of all humanity, and thus it can teach us great compassion for and patience with both ourselves and others (see Colossians 1:24). Adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 178-179 Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. ____ Suggested practice for day 38 of Lent

Maunday Thursday

Attend the Passover dinner and Tenebrea at CPC tonight (6:30pm)

or another worship service in your area.

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Partnering with God Thursday, April 17, 2014 Many people rightly question how there can be a good God or a just God in the presence of so much evil and suffering in the world—about which “God” appears to do nothing. Exactly how is God loving and sustaining what God created? That is our dilemma. I believe—if I am to believe Jesus—that God is suffering love. If we are created in God’s image, and if there is this much suffering in the world, then God must also be suffering. How else can we understand the revelation of the cross and that our central Christian logo is a naked, bleeding, suffering man? Many of the happiest and most peaceful people I know love “a crucified God” who walks with crucified people, and thus reveals and “redeems” their plight as his own. For them, Jesus is not observing human suffering from a distance; he is somehow in human suffering with us and for us. He includes our suffering in the co-redemption of the world, as “all creation groans in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Is this possible? Could it be true that we “make up in our own bodies all that still has to be undergone for the sake of the Whole Body” (Colossians 1:24)? Are we somehow partners with the Divine? At our best, we surely are. Adapted from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, pp. 120-122 and Job and the Mystery of Suffering, p. 181

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Suggested practice for day 37 of Lent

Eat mindfully today

http://zenhabits.net/mindful-eating/

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Suffering Can Bring Us to God Wednesday, April 16, 2014 The genius of Jesus’ ministry is that he reveals that God uses tragedy, suffering, pain, betrayal, and death itself, not to wound you, but in fact to bring you to God. So there are no dead ends. Everything can be transmuted and everything can be used. After all, on the cross, God took the worst thing, the killing of God, and made it into the best thing—the redemption of the world! If you gaze upon the mystery of the cross long enough, your dualistic mind breaks down, and you become slow to call things totally good or totally bad. You realize that God uses the bad for good, and that many people who call themselves good may in fact not be so good. At the cross you learn humility, patience, compassion, and all of the Christian virtues that really matter. Jesus says, “There’s only one sign I’m going to give you: the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Luke 11:29, Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the beast, into a place where you can’t fix it, you can’t control it, and you can’t explain it or understand it. That’s where transformation most easily happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God. Suffering is the only thing strong enough to destabilize the imperial ego. It has to be led to the edge of its own resources, so it learns to call upon the Deeper Resource of who it truly is, which is the God Self, the True Self, the Christ Self, the Buddha Self—use the words you want. It is who we are in God and who God is in us. At this place you are indestructible! Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered (MP3 download) and A New Way of Seeing, A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul, Disc 2 (CD, MP3 download) _____ Suggested practice for day 36 of Lent

Read a poem

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Holding the Pain Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Don’t get rid of the pain until you’ve learned its lessons. When you hold the pain consciously and trust fully, you are in a very special liminal space. This is a great teaching moment where you have the possibility of breaking through to a deeper level of faith and consciousness. Hold the pain of being human until God transforms you through it. And then you will be an instrument of transformation for others. As an example of holding the pain, picture Mary standing at the foot of the cross. Standing would not be the normal posture of a Jewish woman who is supposed to wail and lament and show pain externally. She’s holding the pain instead, as also symbolized in Michelangelo’s Pietà. Mary is in complete solidarity with the mystery of life and death. She’s trying to say, “There’s something deeper happening here. How can I absorb it just as Jesus is absorbing it, instead of returning it in kind?” Until you find a way to be a transformer, you will pass the pain onto others. Jesus on the cross and Mary standing by the cross are images of transformative religion. They are never transmitting the pain to others. All the hostility that had been directed toward them—the hatred, the accusations, the malice—none of it is returned. They hold the suffering until it becomes resurrection! That’s the core mystery. It takes our whole life to comprehend this, and then to become God’s “new creation” (Galatians 6:15). The imperial ego hates such seeming diminishment. Unfortunately, we have the natural instinct to fix pain, to control it, or even, foolishly, to try to understand it. The ego always insists on understanding. That’s why Jesus praises a certain quality even more than love, and he calls it faith. It is the ability to stand in liminal space, to stand on the threshold, to hold the contraries, until you move to a deeper level where it all eventually makes sense in the great scheme of God and grace. Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered (MP3 download) Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. _____ Suggested practice for day 35 of Lent.

Offer someone a sincere apology

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Transforming Our Pain Monday April 14, 2014 All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others. If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals, so that we don’t just keep handing the pain on to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble. Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 25-26 and Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 90-91 Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. _____ Suggested practice for day 34 of Lent.

Take a walk

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Suggested practice for day 33 of Lent.

Read John 8:1-11

http://bible.oremus.org

A Purification

At the start of spring I open a trench in the ground. I put into it the winter’s accumulation of paper, pages I do not want to read again, useless words, fragments, errors. And I put into it the contents of the outhouse: light of the sun, growth of the ground, finished with one of their journeys. To the sky, to the wind, then, and to the faithful trees, I confess my sins: that I have not been happy enough, considering my good luck; have listened to too much noise; have been inattentive to wonders; have lusted after praise. And then upon the gathered refuse of mind and body, I close the trench, folding shut again the dark, the deathless earth. Beneath that seal the old escapes into the new. Wendell Berry Source: Collected Poems: 1957-1982

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Suggested practice for day 32 of Lent.

Pray for peace

Hope
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.
 ~ Anne Lamott

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Suggested practice for day 31 of Lent.

Educate yourself about a saint www.catholic.org/saints

Layers of Violence and Tenderness

“People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”

Eudora Welty, 20th century

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Suggested practice for day 30 of Lent.

No sugar day

Where else is there sweetness in you life?

My Symphony To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurrying never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. William Ellergy Channing Source: Masterpieces of Religious Verse

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Suggested practice for day 29 of Lent

Confess a secret

Forgiveness
“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
 
Mark Twain, 19th century

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Suggested practice for day 28 of Lent

Bake something

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Suggested practice for day 27 of Lent.

Write a Thank You note to a mentor

Keeping Quiet Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; let’s stop for one second and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go. Pablo Neruda Source: translated by Alistair Reid in Extravagaria

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Suggested practice for day 26 of Lent.

Light an actual candle

I am…

“I am a servant of the Truth not the functionary of the body. I am a lion of the Truth, not the lion of passions”

– Rumi

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Suggested practice for day 25 of Lent

Light a virtual candle

http://rejesus.co.uk/spirituality/post_prayer/

The Length and the Width I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. Diane Ackerman

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Suggested practice for day 24 of Lent

No shopping day

Flowers “The earth laughs in flowers.”

—e.e. cummings

_____ Suggested practice for day 23 of Lent

Read Psalm 121

http://bible.oremus.org

Hungry for God We have food to share with a world that is hungry, even famished. Spiritual wanderers—those spiritually starved and denied—show up at our doors, not because they like our buildings or even because they like us, but because they are hungry. Hungry for forgiveness, for rest and peace. Hungry for mercy and grace. Hungry to explore and grow. Hungry for the good news of new life, of abundant life. Hungry for God to do a new thing. Amy Oden Source: God’s Welcome: Hospitality for a Gospel-Hungry World _____ Suggested practice for day 22 of Lent

Try morning and evening prayer

http://dailyoffice.wordpress.com

_____ Suggested practice for day 21 of Lent

Introduce yourself to a neighbor

Time to Stop

Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report. We stop because it is time to stop. Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop—because our work is never completely done. Wayne Muller Source: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest _____ Suggested practice for day 20 of Lent

Tell someone what you are grateful for

Worn Smooth Like a jagged rock thrown into a flowing stream, the church once “troubled the waters.” Now, however, it seems as if the church has slowly, often imperceptibly been worn so smooth by the culture that it no longer creates any disturbance at all. Charles Campbell Source: The Word on the Street

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Suggested practice for day 19 of Lent

Ask for help

Love and Fear

Love makes us vulnerable and open, but then we can be hurt through rejection and separation. We may crave love, but then be frightened of losing our liberty and creativity. We want to belong to a group, but we fear a certain death in the group because we may not be seen as unique. We want love, but fear the dependence and commitment it implies; we fear being used, manipulated, smothered and spoiled. We are all so ambivalent toward love. Jean Vanier Source: Community and Growth

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Suggested practice for day 18 of Lent.

Internet diet

Everything you want

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

Jack Canfield

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Suggested practice for day 17 of Lent.

Forgive someone.

Trying Hard

We try so hard as Christians. We think such long thoughts, manipulate such long words, and both listen to and preach such long sermons. Each one of us somewhere, somehow, has known, if only for a moment or so, something of what it is to feel the shattering love of God, and once that has happened, we can never rest easy again for trying somehow to set that love forth not only in words, myriads of words, but in our lives themselves. Frederick Buechner Source: The Magnificent Defeat

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Suggestion for YESTERDAY day 16 of Lent. Oops.

Invest in a canvas shopping bag

_____ Suggested practice for day 15 of Lent.

Bring your own mug for your coffee today.

Fire What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So building fires require attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that make fire possible. We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. Judy Brown Source: Teaching With Fire edited by Intrator and Scribner

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Suggested practice for day 14 of Lent.

Pay a few sincere compliments

Only by Love Only by love can people see me, and know me, and come unto me. Those who work for me, who love me, whose End Supreme I am, free from attachment to all things, and with love for all creation, they in truth come to me. Bhagavad Gita _____ Suggested practice for day 13 of Lent

Read Psalm 139

http://bible.oremus.org

A Never-ending Call God’s call, vocation, is twofold. God calls us saying, ‘Come, follow me.’ We arrive and then we must follow. We find but must go on seeking. God’s call is a never-ending call, to the unknown, to adventure, to follow him in the night, in solitude. It is a call incessantly to go further, and further. For it is not static but dynamic (as creation also is dynamic) and reaching him means going on and on. God’s call is like the call to become an explorer; it is an invitation to adventure. Ernesto Cardenal Source: Love

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Suggested practice for day 12 of Lent

Pray for people and situations in the news today

To Be

We mostly spend [life] conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do. Craving, clutching and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual, even on the religious plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of the spiritual life. Evelyn Underhill Source: The Spiritual Life

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Suggested practice for day 11 of Lent

Call an old friend

God’s Vision

Christian spirituality means eating together, sharing together, drinking together, talking with each other, receiving each other, experiencing God’s presence through each other, and in doing so, proclaiming the gospel as God’s alternative vision for everyone. Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza Source: In Memory of Her

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Suggested practice for day 10 of Lent

Bring some food for the Food Bank to church tomorrow

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Suggested practice for day 9 of Lent

Do someone else’s chore

Prayer Is an Egg

Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head up and down. Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside. Rumi Source: translated by Coleman Barks

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Suggested practice for day 8 of Lent
No complaining day!
Calling Out to God
The secret essence of the soul that knows the truth is calling out to God: Beloved … strip me of the consolations of my complacent spirituality. Plunge me into the darkness where I cannot rely on any of my old tricks for maintaining my separation. Let me give up on trying to convince myself that my own spiritual deeds are bound to be pleasing to you. Take all my juicy spiritual feelings, Beloved, and dry them up, and then please light them on fire. Take my lofty spiritual concepts and plunge them into darkness, and then burn them. Let me only love you, Beloved. Let me quietly and with unutterable simplicity just love you.Mirabai Starr Source: Dark Night of the Soul: St. John of the Cross
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Suggested practice for day 7 of Lent
Select 5 items of clothing to donate to CPC’s  (our your local) clothing collection bin
Is Now
Eternity is not to be pursued. Run, and it shortens; arrive, and it is shut: Forward or backward, nothing but the folds Of time; that you will tighten, fumbling them.Eternity is only to be entered Standing. It is everywhere and still. Slow, and it opens: stop, and it is whole As love about your head, that rests and sees.Eternity is now or not at all: Waited for, a wisp: remembered, shadows. Eternity is solid as the sun: As present; as familiar; as immense.Mark Van Doren Source: Collected and New Poems 1924-1963
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Suggested practice for day 6 of Lent

Look out the window until you see something beautiful you hadn’t seen before.

To Be Radical

The more radical a person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.

Paulo Freire Source: Preface to Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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Suggested practice for day 5 of Lent

Take 5 minutes of silence at noon

Simply Surrender
St. Therese of Lisieux

Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude. Source: The Story of a Soul _____ Suggested practice for day 4 of Lent

Give a donation to a

non-profit of your choosing

images-6_____ Suggested practice for day 3 of Lent

Don’t turn on you car radio today.

Listen. Pray. Love. Listen to the Spirit…. Love…love…love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbor’s feet. Go without fear into the depth of man’s heart. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest. Catherine Doherty Source: The Little Mandate _____ On this second day of Lent we suggest this practice:

Pray today with a friend or loved one.

Calling Us to Wholeness The salient fact about the community we yearn for, and that calls us into wholeness, is that it cannot exist for itself. It exists only in relationship to the world. In recent years we have awakened to the fact that the people of this world are largely destitute—without food and clothing and shelter, and without structures that nourish an inward life. Unless a group of persons reach beyond themselves to touch and be touched by some of this need, its members will not know community. Elizabeth O’Connor Source: The New Community

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Please join us at Christ Presbyterian Church tonight at 7:30pm for our ASH WEDNESDAY TAIZE WORSHIP. Begin the Lenten journey toward Resurrection with Scripture, Silence, Prayer and Song.

In Disguise Souls who can recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and the most mortifying things that happen to them in their lives, honor everything equally with delight and rejoicing, and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid. Jean Pierre de Caussade Source: The Sacrament of the Present Moment _____ The Consequence Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience. Eugene Peterson Source: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction _____ Finding One’s Own Happiness I have been intensely and imaginatively happy in the quietest places. I have been filled with life from within in a cold waiting room in a deserted railway junction. I have been completely alive sitting on an iron seat under an ugly lamppost at a third-rate watering place. In short, I have experienced the mere excitement of existence in places that would commonly be called as dull as ditch-water. G. K. Chesterton Source: The Spice of Life _____ Welcome Morning There is joy in all: in the hair I brush each morning, in the Cannon towel, newly washed, that I rub my body with each morning, in the chapel of eggs I cook each morning, in the outcry from the kettle that heats my coffee each morning, in the spoon and the chair that cry “hello there, Anne” each morning, in the godhead of the table that I set my silver, plate, cup upon each morning. All this is God, right here in my pea-green house each morning and I mean, though often forget, to give thanks to faint down by the kitchen table in a prayer of rejoicing as the holy birds at the kitchen window peck into their marriage of seeds. So while I think of it, let me paint a thank-you on my palm for this God, this laughter of the morning, lest it go unspoken. The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young. Anne Sexton Source: The Awful Rowing Toward God _____ Discrimination “If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything … that smacks of discrimination or slander.” -Mary McLeod Bethune _____ God Incognito We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake. C. S. Lewis Source: Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer _____ What Life Does I often want to say to people, ‘you have neat, tight expectations of what life ought to give you, but you won’t get it. That isn’t what life does. Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.’ But some wouldn’t hear, and some would shatter themselves on principle. Florida Scott-Maxwell Source: The Measure of My Days _____ To Love at All To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become breakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. C. S. Lewis Source: The Four Loves _____ The Word I Hear Why am I drawn to desert and mountain fierceness? What impels me to its unmitigated honesty, its dreadful capacity to strip bare, its long, compelling silence? It’s the frail hope that in finding myself brought to the edge…I may hear a word whispered in its loneliness. The word is ‘love,’ spoken pointedly and undeniably to me. It may have been uttered many times in the past but I’m fully able to hear it only in that silence. Belden Lane Source: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes _____ Grains of God I must learn to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to ‘leave myself’ in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. If I were looking for God, every event and every moment would sow, in my will, grains of God’s life that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest. Thomas Merton Source: New Seeds of Contemplation _____ Fixing the Whole World “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes, 20th century A very comforting thought on Pastor Susan’s return from Palestine.  Go to Pastor Susan’s Blog to read about her olive tree planting trip. _____ May the suffering be suffering free… “May suffering ones be suffering free and the fear-struck fearless be. May the grieving shed all grief — and the sick find health relief.” -Zen chant _____ A Love Like That The sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky. Hafiz Source: translated by Daniel Ladinsky _____ Receiving Love Receiving love brings us to a place of vulnerability. That is why it is so difficult. So often we live in the illusion that it is much easier to love than to be loved. We may think we can exercise a bit of control in loving another, but there is no control in being loved. The ones who truly love us walk into our hearts, often unnoticed, unannounced, and then reveal to us how genuinely loveable we are. And nothing feels more vulnerable than that. Judy Cannato Source: Field of Compassion _____ Waging Peace “Wage peace. Never has the word seemed so fresh and precious: Have a cup of tea and rejoice. Act as if armistice has already arrived. Celebrate today.” -Judyth Hill I’ll be waging peace on Valentine’s day planting olive trees in Palestine again today. ~Pastor Susan _____ Closing Doors Our growing capacity to look the other way when confronted by poverty in the public sphere lead us to accept not only the segregation of our neighborhoods and public places, but also the segregation of our consciousness and being. When we close the door or turn away from the stranger, a door closes in us as well. Stanley Saunders and Charles Campbell Source: The Word on the Street _____ When I say it’s you I like “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” Fred Rogers, 20th century _____ Who You Are Your problem is, you don’t know who you are. Let me tell you who you are. You are a ray of God’s own light. You say you seek God, but a ray of light doesn’t seek the sun; it’s coming from the sun. You are a branch on the vine of God. A branch doesn’t seek the vine; it’s already part of the vine. A wave doesn’t look for the ocean; it’s already full of ocean. Martin Laird Source: Into the Silent Land _____ The Important Question “The important question to ask is not, “What do you believe?” but “What difference does it make that you believe?” Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” Verna J. Dozier, 20th century _____ Keeping Faith It is not difficult to keep faith with a God of justice when the freedom movements are successful. But it is when the revolution fails, despair sets in, and the dreams are shattered—and, on a personal level, when people have to face a future of unemployment, poverty, and isolated caring for severely disabled dependents—that the discovery of a God who suffers with is, who becomes vulnerable with is, is what sustains our hope. Mary Grey Source: The Outrageous Pursuit of Hope Very important thought for Pastor Susan who is in Occupied Palestine this week.  See her Pastor’s blog. _____ Threshold In invisible line surrounds us. Though unseen it’s as real as one that is drawn in the sand. Cross it, and we are in a new realm entanglement in a love affair, blessedness of God’s life and grace. Mary crossed the threshold with her “fiat,” Abelard and Heloise in their embrace, the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence. Each of us decides—perhaps each day— to cross or remain behind that invisible line, that threshold into a new horizon that forever changes our destiny. Robert Morneau Source: The Color of Gratitude and Other Spiritual Surprises _____ Living Is a Great Deal More Living is a great deal more than simply not dying. It is carrying out a mission, committing oneself to fashion some meaning that will attain eternity. Time does not create enough space for us to completely realize the meaning of life. Our desires, our hopes, our love, our capacity to communicate, and our powers of understanding surpass and transcend everything that might present itself to us. In wanting the world, human beings seek the Absolute that is God and that surpasses the limits of this world. Leonardo Boff Source: Way of the Cross—Way of Justice _____ A Pilgrim Church Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene because it bears the force of love…. The Christian religion does not have a merely horizontal meaning, or a merely spiritualized meaning that overlooks the wretchedness that surrounds it. It is a looking at God, and from God at one’s neighbor as a brother or sister, and an awareness that “whatever you did to one of these, you did to me.” Archbishop Oscar Romero Source: The Violence of Love _____ Peace with Your Enemy “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Nelson Mandela, 20th century _____ People are like stained-glass windows “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the [night] sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 20th century _____ Surprise Me One can move into life with openness. It is as if one says to the world, and to life, and to one’s self, and to God, “Surprise me!” This simple shift of attitude can make the difference between boredom and beauty. Gerald May Source: Simply Sane _____ Choosing Joy Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice. Henri Nouwen _____ Only Light Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. Martin Luther King Jr. Source: Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community? ____ Christianity and the Future “Christianity is wholly and entirely confident hope, a stretching out to what is ahead, and a readiness for a fresh start. Future is not just something or other to do with Christianity. It is the essential element of the faith which is specifically Christian.” -Jürgen Moltmann _____ Mindful Every day I see or I hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It is what I was born for— to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world— to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant— but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations, Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these— the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass? Mary Oliver Source: Why I Wake Early _____ The world and the church are changing “[T]he world and the church are changing more rapidly than we can comprehend some things are the same: the world and the church desperately need [our] energy, imagination, passion, impatience, intelligence, and love one of the great biblical themes is that God calls all of us to walk into the future without knowing exactly where we are headed, to let go of old securities and certainties and trust the God who promises to be with us wherever we go.” John Buchanan, 21st century _____

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__ One Persistent Demand Part of being human is to experience moments of true perception about those things that touch you so intimately that suddenly you see…. Such moments don’t come often. Hold on to them. Cherish them until they become so much a part of you as to be second nature. For there is only one persistent demand made upon us by the Spirit. It is that we are receptive. That we keep our eyes open, our minds unclosed. It is, in short, that we retain all our lives our sense of wonder. Michael Mayne Source: The Sunrise of Wonder _____ Invest Life “I must not just live my life; I will not just spend my life. I will invest my life.” Helen Keller, 20th century _____ Is Now Eternity is not to be pursued. Run, and it shortens; arrive, and it is shut: Forward or backward, nothing but the folds Of time; that you will tighten, fumbling them. Eternity is only to be entered Standing. It is everywhere and still. Slow, and it opens: stop, and it is whole As love about your head, that rests and sees. Eternity is now or not at all: Waited for, a wisp: remembered, shadows. Eternity is solid as the sun: As present; as familiar; as immense. Mark Van Doren Source: Collected and New Poems 1924-1963 _____ Transformative vision of God [Jesus] proposed a transformative vision of God. God isn’t the one who condemns to poor and weak. God isn’t the one who favors the rich and righteous. God isn’t the one who ordains the rich to be in the castle and the poor to be in the gutter. God is the one who loves everyone, including the people the rest of us think don’t count. – Brian McLaren _____ Justice and power  Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just. Blaise Pascal, 17th century _____ Turn and Give Thanks I turn to God and give thanks for whatever gifts I am able to appreciate: perhaps just the breath in my lungs or how dearly God loves me…. What I manage to be grateful for may be very small, but that little glimpse may be enough to open the door to gratitude. The more grateful I feel, the more that interior abundance naturally wants to overflow into acts of generosity. Because God is so generous to me, I want to be generous to others. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas Source: Newsletter of the Shalem Institute Fall 2006 _____ Expecting Mystery A sense of Mystery can take us beyond disappointment and judgment to a place of expectancy. It opens in us an attitude of listening and respect. If everyone has in them the dimension of the unknown, possibility is present at all times. Wisdom is possible at all times. The Mystery in anyone may speak to them and heal them in the grocery store. It may speak to us and heal us too. Knowing this enables us to listen to life from the place in us that is Mystery also. Rachel Naomi Remen Source: My Grandfather’s Blessings _____ Fallow Time There is a fallow time for the spirit when the soil is barren…. Face it! Then resolutely dig out dead roots, clear the ground, … work out new designs by dreaming daring dreams and great and creative planning. The time is not wasted. The time of fallowness is a time of rest and restoration, of filling up and replenishing. It is the moment when the meaning of all things can be searched out, tracked down, and made to yield the secret of living. Thank God for the fallow time! Howard Thurman Source: Deep Is the Hunger

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The Real Voyage
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”Marcel Proust, 20th century
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“All the goods of this world are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire that perpetually burns within us for an infinite and perfect good.”
Simone Weil, 20th century
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Gratitude
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 20th century
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Secular and Sacred
There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.
Madeleine L’Engle
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Activate Our Hearts
Lord Jesus, assuage our blindness and activate our hearts, so that we may find your presence hidden in ourselves. May we unveil the mystery of Christ-with-us and work toward the true restoration of the whole world in your image. Let your light shine in our hearts so that we may always know the truth of your love. Amen.
Thomas Merton
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No Boundary
Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane.
Thich Nhat Hanh Source: Peace Is Every Step
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Happy New Year
New Year Prayer ____
“It’s not addition that makes one holy but subtraction: stripping the illusions, letting go of pretense, exposing the false self, breaking open the heart and the understanding, not taking my private self too seriously.”
Richard Rohr, 20th century
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Symbol of Christ-- the Light of the World

Symbol of Christ– the Light of the World

I will light candles this Christmas. Candles of joy, despite all the sadness. Candles of hope where despair keeps watch. Candles of courage where fear is ever present. Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days. Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens. Candles of love to inspire all of my living. Candles that will burn all the year long. ~ Howard Thurman