Sunday, August 26, 2007

reading scripture

The Bible is filled with stories, poems, letter and histories, conveying the sacred stories of our Jewish and Christian ancestors to us. Reading the Bible is a way of connecting to that story.

Although it can be confusing, it also can give life. Reading scripture can allow the Word of God to come to you through the words printed on the Bible’s pages.

Start with something that feels familiar: a Psalm if you are ready for a poem that reads like a prayer. Matthew, Mark, Luke or John if you want to read the story of Jesus. Imagine the person who first wrote these words, as well as all those who have read them before you, now.

Say this prayer before you begin:
Holy God, open my heart as I read your scriptures, that these words might bring your good news to me now.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

speaking out

Belonging in Christ changes our identity. Claiming life as children of God means rethinking how we relate to others. Sometimes, it demands we speak up on behalf of others. On behalf of justice and peace.

Christian faith is not a private matter; it affects everything about how we live in the world. So, as a way of growing in faith, we invite you to practice speaking out.

You might practice this when a conversation makes you uncomfortable, because someone is being judged or condemned or stereotyped. Dare to speak up, because it matters to you as a child of our God whose love knows no bounds.

You might also practice this when people seem complacent, or see only their own problems. Speak out on behalf of someone whose life yours can affect, but who might more easily seem invisible. Share the stories of people half a world away who work to make the clothes you wear, or who are affected by the policies of our government. Write a letter to a government official about an issue that Jesus taught you to care about.

As you do so, remember that Jesus said whenever we act kindly to the “least of these” in our midst, we are sharing kindness with him.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


The act of giving does not benefit only the one who receives something; giving changes the person who gives. Just as setting aside time for prayer marks the importance God claims in the movements of our day, giving of our own resources marks the way we understand that all we have comes from God. Choosing to give to others allows us the joy of knowing there are things we value beyond ourselves.

Our biblical traditions ask us to practice tithing—give ten percent of everything we earn to God. The practice of setting aside a portion of what we make, to be dedicated to God, can help us reframe all the ways we use money. Regular giving marks our own choice to use what we have received for God’s work in the world.

Plus, there are few things more fun than giving gifts to people we love (especially when we’ve picked out something really good). What if we experienced that same joy in giving to God (who loves us abundantly)?

The next time you are able, give money to something beyond yourself—to the church or to some cause that Jesus would choose. As you give, say this prayer:
God, my provider, I thank you for giving me all that I have. As I choose to give to others, I let go of my claim to this money. Help me spend all my life in seeking after the fullness of your love. Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Some people say we are closest to God when we experience love. Not just romantic love but that bond of connection that can be forged between family members or friends.
It’s that sense of freeing ourselves and trusting in the unconditional care and acceptance of another.

The same can be true for play. When we are able to free ourselves to truly play, to have fun for the sake of fun, to free ourselves from concerns over what needs to be done next and simply be in a moment of play, we can experience joy, we can experience God.

Delight in life. Delight in the joy of others. Delight in a freedom from boundaries of age or rank or time. Delight in a freedom from daily anxieties. Delight.

Play might look like running into the ocean to meet the waves and yelling “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” each time they crash over you.

Play might look like baking a favorite cake or bread alone or with others and not caring how much flour falls to the floor or covers you. Delight in the stirring. Delight in the kneading. Delight in the mess.

Play might look like a favorite sport or a tenderly tended garden.

Play often sounds like laughter, but it can also sound like a welcome silence or a favorite musician.

Take time this week to delight in something. Alone or in communion with others.

And when you experience those moments of joy, take another moment to thank God. Thank God for life and breathe and the delight of play.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

picture postcards

Picture Prayers

Images convey meaning with tremendous power and depth. For millennia, people have used images as a way of praying.

Orthodox Christians use icons as a way of entering into divine space—the images become portals to God. Roman Catholic Christians began using stained glass to light cathedral spaces, coloring light in ways that marked it as transcendent. Paintings and frescoes give us ways of seeing and imagining the divine.

Images can also call us to prayer. Even more than words, they can give form to the prayers of our hearts, as we lift them to God.

We invite you to find images of people or situations you wish to hold in prayer. Place them somewhere you will see them regularly.

When you pass those pictures, give your attention to God. Even without words, your heart and your eyes can convey gratitude, care and concern.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

keeping sabbath

The practice of keeping Sabbath honors our respect of God and creation -- just as Genesis tells of how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we are commanded to honor God by working six days and resting on the seventh.

Sabbath is not just a day off. It is a way to mark our belonging in God, humility in the face of the divine, and to remember that God does the work through us (and we can't do it all on our own).

For many religious people, Sabbath-keeping begins at sundown on Friday, and extends to sundown on Saturday. Most Christians, however, celebrate Sabbath on Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection. On the Sabbath, no work is to be done (not even laundry). Instead, time is set aside for noticing and remember the things of beauty in our lives.

We invite you to mark Sabbath whenever you are able. Marking it regularly -- every Sunday, for example -- helps, but you can start anytime. Keeping Sabbath (and, perhaps, sharing a good, already-cooked meal during) works well in the company of others.

Set aside a block of time when you will rest from work of any kind. Begin your time of Sabbath by lighting a candle, and saying a prayer:

God, of your goodness, give me yourself. For you are enough for me. And I may ask nothing that is less, that may be of honor to you. And if I ask anything that is less, I am always in want. For only in you I have all. Amen. (Julian of Norwich)

Let your candle burn throughout your time of Sabbath. Extinguish it when you are done, saying another prayer:

God, for your goodness, I give you thanks. As I leave this Sabbath rest, may I remember myself always enlivened by you.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


St Ignatius of Loyola taught the examen as part of his Spiritual Exercises. It is a way of connecting with the presence of God in our lives and discerning the direction in which we should go. The simplest form of the examen consists in asking two questions:
For what moment today am I most grateful?
For what moment today am I least grateful?
These questions help us identify moments of consolation – that for which we are most grateful – and desolation – that for which we are least grateful. Ignatius expected that God would speak to us through these moments of deepest feelings and yearnings. We should aim to do more of what brings us consolation, and to listen to and respond to what brings us desolation. Done regularly over a period of time, the examen can guide our lives and help us to make wise choices.

Doing the examen
Find a quiet place where you can sit and relax. Take a moment to quiet yourself and to breathe deeply. You may find it helpful to light a candle
to remind you of the presence of God.
Ask God to bring to your heart the moment for which you are most grateful. Reflect on what made it so special. Stay with this moment and breathe in the gratitude and life that it brought to you.
Ask God to bring to your heart the moment for which you are least grateful. Reflect on what made it so difficult. Stay with your feelings and ask God to fill you with his love. Give thanks for what you have just experienced.
adapted from