That’s what church should be. A daily exercise in leadership development. The story of our faith in Scripture lays out a myriad of prophets, common folk getting things done, a community of people following Jesus and sharing the good news, scrappy early churches. We need people with the capacity to show up after their day (or night) jobs and be leaders. Our faith literally depends upon it.
Let me suggest an alternative telling of the covenant peoples’ story for today. We are not in exile in Babylon any more. We left years ago and didn’t notice. And we’re unsure about how to make our way home.
Today’s most popular contemporary myths and stories centering around power, and the right use vs. the abuse of power, mirror a similar theology of power presented in scripture.
It is my experience that whenever things go wrong, people frequently start looking for causes. They start looking for something to blame in order to cut the source of decline from their midst. But what if there is no one thing, or even no one, to blame?
Over the generations, prayer has shaped their common life together. To become part of this congregation means that you are committing to praying for the community and, perhaps even more difficult for some, you are willing to be prayed for.
Giving ourselves permission and invitation to ponder, we realized that as captivating as our originally conceived and fashioned VBS had been, it too had become a reliable, nearly institutionalized model. We began to ask ourselves the big wondering questions of how we could best use our time and energies both to strengthen the bonds within our church and to serve God and the community.
As the church, we often become disconnected from the God-given gifts and graces – hopes and healing – trials and truths in our past. But there are many testimonies of faithful Christians. In the West African Akan culture of Ghana, Liberia, and Benin, there is a collection of Adinkra symbols that are connected to brilliant words of deep wisdom and spirituality.
The good news is that one does not need to perch themselves hundreds of feet above the ground to discover stillness, simplicity, and silence. In fact, although I may have first uncovered fleeting moments of clarity in the mountains, it is through contemplative practice that I am able to let those moments continue to transform and work through me towards a unity with the divine.
Yes, Christianity and Hinduism follow separate teachings and figures, but the thought kept creeping upon my psyche… How was this any different from what I had left behind?
One pathway for integrating aspects of the contemplative movement into a congregation is to lead weekly contemplative prayer groups using the ancient Christian prayer form of lectio divina. During lectio, we hear the word of God through scripture, silently meditate, reflect, and share how we experienced God during the prayer.