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

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Breaking bread

The earliest Christians spent time praying, teaching and breaking bread together. Sharing common meals is central to who we are as followers of Christ even today.

When we share in the sacrament of Holy Communion, we remember how Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and shared it with others. Jesus did not invent the custom of sharing bread to mark and make community. He added new meaning onto an ancient practice.

To break bread with others is to share hospitality; to invite someone to share a meal around your table demonstrates trust and respect. The meal offers nourishment for bodies as well as friendships. When we share in welcoming and feeding others, Jesus is present.

Invite someone to dinner, who you have not invited before. As you plan what you will eat and drink, imagine that you are preparing a feast for Christ. Choose foods that have special meaning, that are nourishing, or that you love. As you prepare the meal, remember that you are setting a feast at which Christ will be present. Use this meal as an opportunity to demonstrate the love you feel toward God.

When it is time to share the meal, sit down together. Pause before you eat. Light a candle on the table, and speak a prayer aloud, such as this:

O God of us all, thank you for gathering us together around this table. Thank you for our guests today. We pray that you would remind us of your presence as we eat. As this food nourishes our bodies, we ask you to help nourish our souls as we share in your company. Amen.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

praying the news

We are surrounded by news. Headlines pop up on our computers, newsclips break into our television watching, stories fill our papers. Often, the news can feel overwhelming: too much violence, suffering, corruption, greed.

Prayer seeks to transform the world. We invite you to pray—not in spite of the news, or to get away from the news, but through the news.

Sit down somewhere where you can read the news, online or in print. Breathe deeply in, and out, quieting your spirit and remembering that this world is God’s.

Choose a story that your are drawn to. Read it. Remember all the people who are affected by this piece of news.

Write or speak a prayer, lifting up all those who are affected, and asking for God’s guidance and transformation. Close your prayer with these words:

O God of all creation, we give thanks that you are present in all the world, and in all of our histories. Continue to help us see your presence, and make us a part of shaping this world as you imagine it can be: a place of justice and of peace. Amen.

Monday, June 25, 2007


A labyrinth is a walking meditation with three stages – the journey in; the center; and the journey out. It is not like a maze with a choice of turns – it
has one path. Walking a labyrinth is a chance to pause, slow down, pray, encounter the divine and be re-energized for the next stage in life’s journey.
You can trace the path of the labyrinth in the picture with your finger as an aid to prayer and meditation or imagine the journey.

Entering the labyrinth
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.

You are on a journey towards the center of the labyrinth and back out again. As you walk reflect on your life’s journey and relationship with God; walk slowly.

Use the journey into the center to slow down, to let go of busyness and stress, and to prepare to meet with God. Sometimes you will be close to the center and sometimes close to the edge – are you close or far from God in your journey?

At the center this is holy space - a space to be with God in prayer. Listen – is there something God might be saying to you?

When you are ready begin the journey out – as you do, take your encounter with God with you back into the world.

Pray for the presence of God in the situations you are facing in everyday life.

As you finish the journey offer yourself afresh to God.

(words adapted from

Monday, June 18, 2007


Many of us at some point in our lives feel the need to be forgiven and to forgive ourselves. Yet it is easy to feel trapped, unable to get past mistakes we have made and the scars they leave.

At the heart of the Christian tradition is forgiveness - forgiveness from God and God’s help in allowing us to forgive ourselves and to change. This exercise uses our breathing to help us to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive ourselves.

Breathing exercise
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. Begin to take notice of your breathing – as you breathe in and as you breathe out.

Focus on the issue you feel burdening you. And then as you slowly breathe in and out pray these prayers. Think of the burden when you breathe out and God’s forgiveness and acceptance of you when you breathe in.

Breathe in love
Breathe out hate

Breathe in acceptance
Breathe out separation

Breathe in forgiveness
Breathe out blame

Breathe in peace
Breathe out anxiety

Breathe in life
Breathe out death

Breathe in gentleness
Breathe out tension

Breathe in God’s presence
Breathe in God’s acceptance and forgiveness

(Text adapted from

Thursday, June 7, 2007



Sharing our own stories from our encounters with God has been a part of Christian life since its beginning; the story of Jesus’ power has meaning as it changes the lives of those who seek to follow him.

Testimony is not coercing others to think just like you do. It is sharing authentically about what you have experienced.

God’s story is written as we live it in our own lives. Stories and testimony let us name that God is a part of who we are. Testimony invites us to add our own life’s stories to the living testament of God’s presence in our world.

Often, we tell others about great new restaurants we’ve found. Testimony gives us a chance to tell others about the faith that delights and sustains us.

Take time, when you are talking with others, to tell them ways that God is involved in your life. Share about times when God’s presence makes a difference to you, or when your faith challenges you to see something differently.

Take time, also, to ask others about how they experience the Divine. Let your stories sit together as testament to a mystery that goes beyond our understanding.