Pray the News: A Spiritual Exercise

prayerA few weeks ago, during our meeting for worship we experienced a spiritual exercise that helped us “pray the news.” Here is the exercise for those wanted to add this to their devotional practices as we try and understand and process all that is going on in our world.

PRAY THE NEWS
Adapted from the Theology of Work Project
On the blog: “The High Calling”

PREP: Provide at least one Sunday Newspaper for each table (12) – (remove adds so less distraction).

As current events serve to polarize people further and further from one another, let’s consider how we, as people of faith might respond. What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?

Everything that happens in the world is an opportunity for us to move in love towards God and others. As Richard Rohr said: “If love is your actual and constant goal, you can never really fail.”

In response to injustice or tragedy in the news, some of us jump right into the thick of heated verbal battles. Others retreat to safer, quieter ground. Many wish to offer help, and long to be involved in making this world more reflective of the heart of Jesus. We are full of compassion and empathy when faced with suffering and inequity, but we feel overwhelmed and inadequate.

As people of faith, we may believe our options are limited: Polarize ourselves from each other by taking hard stances, or avoid the ugliness by insulating ourselves in personal safety. By taking hard stances we divide ourselves from others, instead of drawing each other into a Kingdom of love and grace. Conversely, by insulating ourselves, we risk surrender to apathy.

What if there is another way? What if, when engaging the news in our context, we first create space to meet with God in the midst of a hurting world?

Today we are going to experience a prayer exercise we call…

Praying the News

To begin, at your table, take some time to pass sections of the newspaper we have provided around to each person. Allow your section of the newspaper to sit on the table before you as you quiet your heart. Rest in your identity as God’s Beloved. After taking time to quiet yourself, follow these prompts for praying the news:

Choose one and read through a news story from your section of the paper. Then offer your initial reaction to God. What do you carry as you come into this time? Surrender that reaction to him and ask for a heart that reflects his. Take a few more minutes of quiet.

Who in the story do you feel yourself drawn towards? Who do you feel a resistance toward? Has your mind created a dichotomy between “us” and “them” or a “good vs. bad” mentality? Ask God for the humility to see that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Do you see anything rising up in you that is not of the spirit (i.e. hate, stressful striving, fear, impatience, arrogance, pride, ugliness, apathy, or impulsiveness with words or actions)?

Keep in mind that sorrow over the brokenness in the world mirrors God’s heart. Anger at injustice or brokenness can be the exact thing that moves us towards action, (unless it turns to self-righteousness and condemnation of others).

In what way can you move toward the kingdom in your own life with regard to the story you’ve just read or witnessed? How can you move in love towards your enemy? How can you seek to understand another’s perspective? What is your prayer towards this situation? How can you move that prayer into your hands and feet and life?

If you feel an anxious energy to act immediately, sit with this longer. Be sure you are being motivated by love. Your anxiousness may be an indicator of something other than love (i.e. self-protection, ego, etc.).

May we, Beloved children of God, move through each day, deeply rooted in the knowledge that “we live in God, we move in God; we exist in God” (Acts 17:28). From that place, may the wake of our lives be healing, mercy, and a fearless love.

Is Summer a Time for Growth and Maturity?

Children Playing in Sprinkler

The other day, I spent some time on the Britannica Encyclopedia website (www.britannica.com). For the younger folks, the Britannica Encyclopedia used to be a large set of multi-volume books that most classrooms or libraries had for student research. Actually, you could say it was Google before the internet. (Oh, the irony of looking up Britannica Encyclopedia on the internet.) What I 120315_TECH_encyclopediaB.jpg.CROP.original-originalwas doing was researching some background information about the season of “summer” which we just entered.

Here are some facts from the Britannica Encyclopedia:

  • Summer is the warmest season of the year between spring and autumn.
  • In the Northern Hemisphere, it is usually defined as the period between the summer solstice (year’s longest day), June 21 or 22, and the autumnal equinox (day and night equal in length) Sept. 22.
  • The temperature contrast between summer and the other seasons exists only in middle and high latitudes; temperatures in the equatorial regions generally vary little from month to month.

Most of this we probably all already knew, but as I read on, I discovered something very interesting. Did you know that:

The concept of summer in European languages is associated with growth and maturity.”

Obviously, the growth and maturity was most likely focused on plants and crops – not so much human growth and maturity. Yet it made me begin to think about Summer in our culture. We tell our children that Summer is the time to “turn off our brains” because school is out! We go on vacations where we relax and put our cares and worries aside. Summer is time to give education and learning a break and let our inner-child loose! If anything the season of Summer is just the opposite of the European concept.

Even though Summertime seems to be the opposite of a season for “growth and maturity,” I believe it should afford us some time for personal reflection. I like to take the Summer months to ask myself some deeper queries – ones that may actually allow me to grow and mature in my faith.  I call these queries a Personal Spiritual Inventory.

As I shared in a recent sermon, this Summer I would like to challenge each of us to do some personal reflection through asking the following queries:


  • What’s one joy and one struggle you experienced in your life, recently?
  • How would you describe your walk with God this past year?
  • Where do you feel you would most like to grow as a follower of Christ?
  • What is something new about God you’ve recently discovered?
  • How would you finish this sentence: I feel good about my walk with God when . . . ?
  • What have been some of the ups and downs of your spiritual life since you came to faith?
  • How has SFC helped you in your spiritual formation?
  • What do you need from this community to continue your maturity in Christ?

These queries may be the catalyst you and I need to prompt some needed growth in our spiritual journeys.  Take time to process each question (maybe take one questions a week) and let’s see if this Summer can be a season of growth and maturity in our faith!

Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+

Becoming Friends Summer Study for Kids

IMG_9275Introducing a special program for children and youth this summer –  The Becoming Friends class!

This class is for student’s grades 4-9 and will meet after church on Sundays from July 10th – Sept 4th. The program will last approximately an hour and a half to 2 hours.

We are excited to learn about what Quakers (Friends) believe about the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Worship, Baptism, Communion, Honesty, Peacemaking, and much more!

To make this class more relevant to today, each week we will be spending time with people who attend Silverton Friends Church and hear from them how God has worked and how He continues to be present in their daily lives.  As part of the program we plan to meet together and have a meal in the homes of different Silverton Friends’ attenders.


Join us for our first Becoming Friends study immediately after church on July 10th (we will be staying at SFC for the first gathering).  For more information, please contact Deborah Climer at the church office or by email.  Look forward to you joining us in Becoming Friends!

 

 

SFC at Volcanoes Opening Night!

SFC Volcanoes Baseball Family Night

Join Silverton Friends Church for our Second Annual Volcanoes Baseball Family Night to honor fathers, grandfathers, people that have been like-fathers, and mentors! We are bound to have lots of FUN as it is both Father’s Day Weekend and the Volcanoes Opening Night with postgame FIREWORKS!

WHEN: FRIDAY, JUNE 17

TIME: Doors open at 5pm, and the first pitch will be thrown at 6:35pm.

COST: Reserved tickets are only $10 each.

PERKS: Since it is Opening Weekend for the Volcanoes, each person who purchases a ticket will receive a FREE hat!

LOCATION: Volcanoes Stadium is located in Keizer Station directly off of Interstate 5 (Exit 260).

To order your tickets – contact or see one of the members of the Fellowship Committee: Rachel Lesire, Sue Henry (Sr.), Amy Mullins, LaDella Farmer, or Kriston Norris or call the Church Office 503.873.5131

Let’s make this a night of FUN with FAMILY and FRIENDS!

 

 

 

Good Habits of the Heart

 

Heart-treeA couple of Sundays ago, I shared in a sermon Parker Palmer’s “Five Habits of the Heart.” These were introduced to me at our recent Pastor’s Conference at Twin Rocks. Palmer says that they “are deeply ingrained ways of seeing, being and responding to life that involve our minds, our emotions, our self-image, and our concepts of meaning and purpose in life.”  I believe keeping these five habits ingrained in our being is part of what it is going to take for us to move into this new season as a meeting and followers of Christ together.  I again offer these five habits for you to reflect on, wrestle with, and help shape our life together as Christ-followers in this place. I suggest taking them and placing them somewhere you may return to them often and where you will be reminded to live them out.

1. An understanding that we are all in this together.

Despite our illusions of individualism and national superiority, we humans are a profoundly interconnected species—entwined with one another and with all forms of life, as the global economic and ecological crises reveal in vivid and frightening detail. We must embrace the simple fact that we are dependent upon and accountable to one another, and that includes the stranger, the “alien” other.

2. An appreciation of the value of “otherness.”

“…[W]e spend most of our lives in “tribes” or lifestyle enclaves—and that thinking of the world in terms of “us” and “them” is one of the many limitations of the human mind. The good news is that “us and them” does not have to mean “us versus them.” Instead, it can remind us of the ancient tradition of hospitality to the stranger…Hospitality rightly understood is premised on the notion that the stranger has much to teach us. Of course, we will not practice deep hospitality if we do not embrace the creative possibilities inherent in our differences.

3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.

Our lives are filled with contradictions—from the gap between our aspirations and our behavior, to observations and insights we cannot abide because they run counter to our convictions. If we fail to hold them creatively, these contradictions will shut us down and take us out of the action. [Rather,] the genius of the human heart lies in its capacity to use these tensions to generate insight, energy, and new life.

4. A sense of personal voice and agency.

Insight and energy give rise to new life as we speak out and act out our own version of truth, while checking and correcting it against the truths of others. … [It is] possible for us, young and old alike, to find our voices, learn how to speak them, and know the satisfaction that comes from contributing to positive change—if we have the support of a community.

5. A capacity to create community.

Without a community, it is nearly impossible to exercise the “power of one” in a manner that multiplies… The steady companionship of two or three kindred spirits can kindle the courage we need to speak and act…

From Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer

May God grant us wisdom as we make these habits part of our practice of living out the resurrected life in our neighborhoods and homes!

Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+

It’s Not Over: Re-create!

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Now that Easter has passed, many of us have simply moved on, put away the Easter decorations, checked all the plastic eggs for left-behind chocolate, and hope that a brightly colored hard-boiled egg is not still behind the couch – ugh! Sadly, with all the lead-up to Easter (and this year having Spring Break during Holy Week) church-goers can feel the same way. Easter is over, the celebration has ended, life goes on!

But that is not really true. 

If we pay attention to Easter and listen carefully to the scriptures and the story being told, we will realize that the day we call Easter has passed, but the resurrection has just begun! Resurrection is about life – new life! It is about new beginnings – not endings. It is not just another day for the church to remember, put away and get out next year. That is what many thought when Jesus was put in the tomb. They thought it was over. They went back to their old jobs and ways. They missed the point.

Resurrection is time for God’s creation to flourish. This year many are talking about Spring coming early, with trees, tulips, and life in full bloom. God is creating anew out of the death and dying all around us.  The same is true for our lives. The time after Easter should be a time for re-creation. We use the word recreation to talk about getting outside, playing, going camping, taking a hike, walking the beach, etc. What we are doing is allowing the rhythms of Jesus’ Resurrection to come alive in us.

Our bodies are refreshed, our Melatonin levels are raised, a newness of life brings joy to our hearts. This is what the Imago Dei (Image of God) within us does – it causes us to be co-creative beings with our God! Folks, you and I are people of re-creation! That is what we are called to after the resurrection.

The late renowned artist Keith Haring said this about our creativeness,

When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it is all about.

So you may have already put Easter away, but don’t do the same with resurrection. Join God and tap into some needed re-creation this Spring. Allow the rhythms of Jesus’ resurrection to come alive within you while also seeing them all around you. I suspect if we do, we will find more joy, beauty, and peace in our world.

Grace and peace, Pastor Bob+