Saturday, May 27, 2006

Contemplative youth/everyone ministry (part 1)

It actually took me a few days to recover from attending the Contemplative Youth Ministry conference/retreat with Mark Yaconelli! I think I dialed down so much I couldn't get my purpose-drivenness back. You gotta know that is a good thing. I couldn't make myself read Purpose Driven Life, for real, but I do look forward to reading Yaconelli's new book from cover to cover. I loved what he had to say about basis of ministry and found it to be not just about youth, but about the entire church and mission of all of us who believe in the Jesus way. Because the focus of ministry is on God, and seeking to respond to God, the contemplative practices translate into a loving kind of ministry and being present to each individual, regardless of age. I like what he wrote in my book, "Jenny, may this book be a reminder that you have all you need." I believe he is referring to having love for God and love for youth/others-- and listening to God for what is needed within every context. He says:
When you take people who regularly spend time in the public square (meeting kids, ministering to families, interacting with the culture) and then slow them down, invite them to listen in prayer and silence...something breaks open. It seems to me that the Jesus-life breaks forth in us when we're in that tension between prayer and service, solitude on the mountain and chaos in the streets.
In a contemplative approach to ministry everything begins in prayer and discernment. All of our actions come out of listening to the Spirit and then following what you hear. My experience is that when we listen in prayer we're not drawn into isolation but rather our eyes are opened to the way in which God is weaving us together in community with people we previously considered "different" or "other." Real contemplation, real prayer and listening to the Spirit of Jesus leads to authentic action, action that isn't about our own ego or need to prove ourselves, action that is rooted and grounded in love.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tired but thankful

There's so much to write about, but I've been needing a few more winks of sleep and waiting for a couple extra ounces of energy. Hopefully I can adress some topics bit by bit because I'm getting behind! I want to talk about The Secret Message of Jesus, the Mark Yaconelli conference, and some recent group experiences, so stay tuned.

In the previous post I shared about the worship/prayer experience I helped to craft. It was good to hear the responses about how it touched people. I feel so glad to have a part in helping someone along on a healing journey, ministering freedom, igniting passion for God, or creating an atmosphere where hearts can open. What's cool for me right now is to have places where that's possible. It is a healing thing for me to be invited to artistically express worship within community. So even before I knew of any impact it had, I was simply thankful for the opportunity to be involved.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Drop the rocks

What is weighing down your backpack of life?

This evening I took part in a service at the Refuge to help people jettison their burdens and find freedom. Kathy shared her story (powerful!) and used the metaphor of a super-hero backpack full of rocks that got lighter with healing from God and supportive community. I put together my first powerpoint slideshow using the phrase Drop the rocks and float to the surface. Everyone's chair had a rock on it and Kathy invited them to drop their rock (and their burden) into a tub of water on the way to the communion table, where we celebrated what Jesus has done for us, paying the price, bearing our sins and burdens. On the table was a container with rocks, water, and floating candles, symbolizing the triumph of the light over our "rocks."







We ended with a celebration for Kathy, whose birthday falls on this day (Mother's Day!) A fitting picture of the redemption in the full circle of her story.

more from me later about this event...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Long way around

I don't know if the dots themselves connect, but I connected with some dots along the path this morning. Listening to this Dixie Chicks song about their "two long years" recalls my last five-plus long years. For me it's all about process and God's grace. In the same vein of thought, I found these apt words from Lisa :
The soul is self correcting at times. This amazes me. When our life isn't working, our soul cries loudly until we listen.
B. and I share an ability to plow through what needs to be done. This can cause great spiritual pain. We are so busy plowing that we aren't listening to our lives. We miss warning signs, red flags. Progress is plowing through or is it?
I am looking to redefine my definition of progress. Perhaps it is slowing down enough to notice what is really happening. Perhaps it is saying, "I can't do this." Perhaps it is screaming for help.
Perhaps it is also embracing the small steps, revelations, relationships, and changes as gifts. Any of these can feel like enemies at the time because of the discomfort involved. I am again experiencing a season of discomfort-- with change and transition challenging me to "step into liquid." (I haven't seen the movie, but I like the phrase.) Seems like nothing's happening, everything's on hold, and the unfulfilled potential of the last season and its losses are still being grieved and processed. Then, suddenly, there's a stirring of activity with flecks of hope glinting in the sunlight and the calm is disturbed. It rouses me and calls for a response. Yea or Nay? Retreat or step out? Things are much less certain, less orderly, less predictable than before. There's a learning curve to becoming. Curve means bend. Bending requires being flexible. Flexibility means able to yield to pressure. Pressure means discomfort. Discomfort means change. Change hopefully means growth. Growth means becoming. This process of progess seems like the long way around.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My kind of evening

Thanks to Real Live Preacher for this article. It touches many places in my heart.