Thanks to all of you who completed the survey on giving and engagement! Over 50% of you said you want a Community of Christ app. So, a team is meeting with church leaders to make it a reality. We will keep you posted on Community of Christ Young Adults as their work progresses!
You are making a difference!
Read about how it all started, with Parker and the team, in “More than Just Money – An Opportunity to Contribute“
Visit this page to find out what opportunities wait for you: http://www.graceland.edu/employment/open-positions.cfm
By Kris Judd, Staff Pastor; Janné Grover, Disciple Formation Ministries; and Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries
Re-posted from: Community of Christ website
Photo by: Adam Wade
A rich blessing of a Lenten journey is using ancient practices to guide us into what is new. Though the path ahead is not easy or certain, an accumulation of wisdom from generations past can help us live even deeper into the meaning of resurrection in each new time. In the spirit of the ancient and the new, we invite you to join us daily on this Lenten journey! We live once again through the stories of Christ—leading us to the cross and the anticipation of new life.
As a community all are invited to focus on a specific practice each week to help simplify our lives, focus on what matters most, and prepare for the wonder and transformation resurrection brings! These practices have been used throughout our broader Christian heritage to seek guidance, dwell in God’s presence, and open us even more to the new thing God is doing within each of us. Beginning with fasting as the foundational Lenten practice, each practice guides us ever deeper inward and ultimately outward. With each practice there is a recommended Lenten reflection hymn from Community of Christ Sings (CCS).
Blessings on our Lenten journey! May we travel with the knowledge that our community goes with us. We journey together seeking deeper connection, releasing what holds us back so we might really live.
View the Introduction to Lenten Practices video and watch this blog for weekly community spiritual practices for Lent.
Recommended Uses for Lenten Journey Practices
There are many ways the [upcoming] practices can be used. They are introduced as personal spiritual practices, but they can also be used in worship settings, small groups, classes, or family devotions. It is important to keep in mind there is no right practice, method, or result. Everyone’s journey will be different. The journey is not about the practices themselves, but how they lead us inward to a deeper awareness and connection to God, and how that finds outward expression in our lives as disciples. The importance of the journey is joining as community in these shared practices, engaging in conversations along the way, and being aware of how we are shaped and formed over time as individuals and as community.
- Designate a portion of worship each Sunday during Lent to introduce the practice for the upcoming week.
- Invite different people each week to introduce the practices. Involve people of all ages.
- Incorporate the recommended hymn as part of the introduction to the practice.
- To introduce the practices, you may choose to lead the congregation in the practice (if time and circumstances permit) or read the introduction to each practice.
- You may choose to incorporate the introduction to the practice with the Prayer for Peace, emphasizing the importance of social justice as part of Lent.
- Include a pastoral prayer for the congregation each week holding up the importance of the Lenten journey leading to the cross and the anticipation of new life.
Small Groups or Class Settings
- Small group meetings during Lent can be focused on the meaning of Lent and the use of intentional practices for spiritual formation.
- You may choose to lead the group in the recommended practices each week, or the time may be spent reflecting on individual experiences with the practices.
- Affirm the uniqueness of each one’s journey. Some may struggle with the discipline of the practices; others may find different ways of experiencing the Lenten journey.
- Engage in conversations about how the practices connect participants to the rich Christian tradition, how they are being led inward to a deeper awareness and connection to God, and how that finds outward expression in discipleship.
- Be present with and supportive of one another. It may be helpful to form partnerships within a larger group to intentionally support another as you journey together.
- Pay careful attention to the ways you are being drawn to issues of social justice. Discuss these as a group and find avenues for learning about and addressing such issues. Reflect on ways the group or congregation is being challenged to invest in relationships which promote mutuality and wholeness.
- Designate a time each day as a family to focus on the journey of Lent and its meaning.
- You may choose to engage in the practices as a family, or allow each family member to engage in the practices in their own way.
- Ask questions and learn from one another. Pay close attention to what children notice and the questions they ask.
- Young children learn through their feelings. Focus on feelings of love, kindness, and sharing, and take special care to avoid feelings of guilt. Older children will relate to making responsible choices, being good friends, and taking care of the world. Youth are learning what it means to be a member of a global community. They will relate to issues of social justice and how they can make a difference in the world.
- Everyone’s journey is unique, and everyone will respond to the practices in different ways. The following suggestions may be helpful with children and youth.
- Fasting—focus on Responsible Choices and making time and space for God.
- Prayer of Examen—review each day. When did you receive love? When did you share love?
- Holy Attention—encourage family members to focus on a friend in need or the country represented in the Daily Prayer for Peace (http://www.CofChrist.org/prayerpeace/2014_Country.asp).
- Centering Prayer—try simple breath prayers that help children focus on God and others. Encourage a different family member each day to come up with prayer words to use as the family does a breath prayer together.
- Lectio Divina—use different versions of the Isaiah 58:6–9 text to read each day. What do you learn from hearing this scripture passage repeated? What questions do you have about the scripture passage? What ideas do you have about being peacemakers?
- Silence—designate family time each day to “unplug” and be together in silence. Do not worry about long periods of silence together. Start with just a few minutes and talk about what is comfortable or not comfortable about being in silence. As you are able to increase the time, listen to how each member of the family responds to this time designated to just being silent with God.
I’m sitting on a plane listening to “Modern Jesus”, a song written and performed by ‘Portugal. The Man’, on repeat. I’m returning from a exceptionally spiritual experience, though not of the Christian brand. I spent two weeks over Christmas and New Years at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in the south of France. I can’t help but feel a connection to the song.
“Come on in,
Take a seat next to me,
You know we got,
We got what you need.
We may be liars, preaching to choirs,
But we can,
We can sell your dreams”
The lyrics feel almost disgusting. This is a picture of the proselytizing of Christianity, something remarkably absent from my experience at the Buddhist monestary. The sentiment that Christianity is often sold like a car by an aggressive, slimy, used car salesman is one that I can hardly deny. A stranger approaches (or traps you in your airplane seat), selling eternal bliss like a commodity.These salesmen advertise a Christianity which tends to resemble a 1950s shop that only serves certain races. This Christianity has a sign turning away unwed mothers, homosexuals, addicts, and other “sinners”. Forgiveness isn’t part of the marketing plan. Like Costco, this Christianity requires membership dues, in the form of baptism, Sunday worship, and bible study- but once you’ve paid up- you’re part of the club and pardoned from damnation. It’s a wonder anyone ever becomes Christian anymore! The only product these salesmen are toting isn’t even available until we’re dead!
It’s high time people start selling a Christianity that we want and need!
Gen Y is completely deprived of community. Our lives are communicated over email, text messaging, and Facebook. It’s safer that way. We don’t have to listen to politicians telling us lies. We don’t have to worry about being assaulted by someone having a bad day. We don’t have to make important decisions about the world. We’re armchair warriors, fighting with keyboards and ‘X’ing off the commentary we don’t care for. We NEED community. We need a loving community. We need a joyful community. We need a peaceful community. We need a hopeful community. Jesus said so. Buddha said so. Martin Luther King, Jr. said so. Maslow said so.
Let’s sell a Christian community where everyone is welcome!
My experience with the Community of Christ began that simply. An invite to come hang out at the Journey House Campus Ministry Center started it all. I needed friends, and there they were. Later, when I needed a peaceful place to live, the doors were opened to me. When I was hungry, food was offered. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, there it was. No one ever had to sell me a thing.
A community of joy, love, peace, and hope, is a product people NEED! It’s going to sell itself.
Photos by: Adam Wade
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries
Re-blogged from: Connect – Engage – Inspire
As we cycle through our Christian story, what will the season of Lent mean in your life this year? Lent is a journey of Christian simplicity. It is the time in the liturgical year that prepares us for Holy Week and Easter.
Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and author, describes Lent as a time that “calls each of us to renew our ongoing commitment to the implications of the Resurrection in our own lives, here and now.” The journey through Lent is the purging of “what is superfluous in our lives and the heightening, the intensifying, of what is meaningful.”
In a world that often measures worth by accumulation of wealth, success, and prestige, we are reminded during Lent that we follow the One who denied all of those things to demonstrate God’s kingdom vision. Lent offers us a yearly necessary pause to examine our lives in the light of the cross.
As we journey once again toward the cross, we strip ourselves of the distractions and distances we have placed between ourselves, God, others, and creation. Lent is a time of fasting, of radical emptying, so we can draw ever closer to the One we seek. We practice repentance and experience reconciliation. On Ash Wednesday, Christians come face-to-face with their own mortality—from dust we come, and to dust we will return. This has the power to cut to the heart of things as we consider this enduring question: What matters most?
This part of the story may be the hardest to understand and one of the most important. It evokes diverse theological perspectives and many lingering questions. It continues to be a reorientation of everything we thought we knew about power and success.
This Christ pattern of death and new life leads us through what we dread to what we love. It reminds us that things most worth our lives are not usually easy. At some point each of us who claims to follow Christ must stand before the cross. We respond to the call, “Come follow me,” remembering that resurrection hope sustains along the way.
Fasting: A Spiritual Practice
There are tremendous spiritual and social implications to living Lent. The practice of fasting confronts a culture that continually tries to get us to accumulate more than we need. I can hardly think of a more culturally subversive act than this: to utter aloud the word “enough.”
Our own rest from the race toward excess allows creation a rest, too. For a brief moment, we are not asking for anything other than what already is. We may see more clearly the beauty or injustice that surrounds us when we step outside ourselves and really notice what is there.
Fasting also connects us with those around the world who do not have regular opportunity to participate in what we have given up for this intentional time. If fasting from a meal, how do your own hunger pangs help you remember those who do not know where their next meal will come from?
To fast is to empty ourselves of that which distracts or separates us from relationship with God. Because we encounter God within ourselves and the world around us, relationship with God contains both of these dimensions. Fasting is an opportunity for deeper and more intentional connection. Giving something up simply for the sake of giving it up misses the point. It is what we do in the place of what we have given up that matters.
During this Lenten season, there will be practices and opportunities in the Herald and online for you to be intentional in your journey of emptying out and reconnecting with God. We invite you to journey with us in sacred community, practicing together, and anticipating the new thing God is doing within us!
Fasting with Intention
What will the season of Lent mean for you? Here are a few ideas for a meaningful Lenten fast:
- Inventory your time. How much do you spend browsing the web or watching television? What if you gave up 30–60 minutes a day and instead spent the time in practice and prayer?
- Fast in a way that makes a difference to the global community. Fast from an abundance of water usage, fuel consumption, or eating out. Fast from your daily latte at a coffee shop and instead donate the money to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.
- Fast from consumerism. What if during the season of Lent you chose to not buy anything that wasn’t a need?
- Fast from certain food items (meat, sugar, processed foods, etc.) to live in harmony with creation and your own body.
- Fast from energy usage. What if one night a week during Lent you turn off as much power as possible and live by candlelight, doing things that require minimal or no energy?
- Fast from negativity or judgment of others. What thoughts of peace could fill their place?
Earlier this week Catharine Craig shared a post of inspiration and a reminder of our worth. You are great. You are enough: Validation. Re-read her post about remembering our own worth and then try this reflection and spiritual practice on letting our light shine on others:
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” …I will…sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
—Psalm 4:6, 8
A song I enjoyed singing as a child was “This Little Light of Mine.” I remember being in the front of our church with the other children, singing my heart out. You remember that song, don’t you? “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
My infant son and I spend our mornings singing. We listen to music in ways not available when I was young. Now we turn on the Xbox and connect to Raffi Radio, a streaming online radio station. Lately, our playlist has included a jazzy version of that same tune I loved to belt out when I was 7. As an adult, the lyrics have a different meaning for me, and I have found a deeper inspiration when I sing to my baby. My expanded light:
This little light of mine
My mission is to let it shine
This little light of mine
A new voice I will find
This little light of mine
God grant me courage to shine
I am light, I am brave, See me shine
Won’t let apathy blow it out
Gonna work to make it shine
Not gonna let doubt shut it out
I trust in the Divine
Won’t let sadness snuff it out
Remember to let God shine
I am light, I am brave, See me shine
As adults we move beyond the innocence of our childhood, and songs and ideas evolve with us. Considering all the hurt, indifference, poverty, and darkness that shadow our world, this children’s hymn seems all the more important to sing, teach, reflect on, and expand with.
[This Little Light of Mine was written and composed in 1920 by Harry Dixon Loes (1895–1965).]
Prayer for Peace
Visionary God, may your light shine in us and through us. May our light overshadow doubt. May we focus our light on injustice and act for justice.
Spiritual Practice: Light
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. Reflect on the statement: “The light of God is in all things,” as you breathe gently in and out. The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.
Today, God, I will look at the world with the light of your love.