Take Out – Re-Package Your Rituals

by Demi Prentiss and J. Fletcher Lowe on February 12, 2016

Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. Last week we offered ways to Break Out.  Another one of the ways we Christians can “get the hell out of church” (the title of the VP article) is to Take Out – to re-frame our habits of prayer and liturgy to offer a “to go” alternative. Can we shift our thinking – whenever and wherever we worship – so that we are focused on the Dismissal, which sends us out to be the Church in our worlds of home and work and community?

One “take-away” opportunity is to celebrate liturgy in a non-church setting. In recent years, commuters and college students have been treated to “ashes to go,” when clergy have appeared on train platforms, near elevators, and on college campuses offering to smudge foreheads on Ash Wednesday, reminding each person “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Eucharist in an outdoor setting or across the desk at a job site, baptism on the riverbank or in a swimming pool, and stations of the cross marking scenes of urban violence have all made news in the secular press. How do you expand your imagination to invite and welcome participation in such events, especially by those who are “not our flock”? How might you encourage reconnection once the event is over?

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Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes

by Nancy Davidge on February 11, 2016

If asked, how do you explain Ash Wednesday and/or Lent to friends? Our friends at Busted Halo are again sharing their video Ash Wednesday & Lent in Two Minutes. 

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Grow Christians: Practicing Faith at Home

by Richelle Thompson on February 9, 2016

I haven’t been intentional about bringing my kids to Ash Wednesday services. To be honest, I couldn’t fathom the idea of the priest—their father and my husband—crossing ashes on their forehead and saying, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

This says a lot more about my own spiritual maturity than it does theirs. I have had other talks with the children, but I’m not very good at talking about death. I know intellectually that mortality is a part of the cycle of life, and I believe in my heart that there is life after death. But I just haven’t figured out how to think and pray about that chasm, much less explain it to children.

But I am convicted of the importance after spending time reading and reflecting on two recent blog posts. Both are part of a new online initiative called Grow Christians, which aims to inspire and encourage people to practice their faith at home.

Ben Irwin explains why his family will talk about some of the hard concepts of Lent. “We’ll consider our mortality, our frailty, our vulnerability. We will lean into the darkness rather than run from it.
Because the painful yet glorious truth that Jesus demonstrated for us is this: the only path to resurrection runs through the grave.”

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Christian Formation, Worship, Youth & Young Adults

Allowing the Spirit to Do It's Work

by Jeremiah Sierra on February 8, 2016

When you write, you can’t control how others interpret your words. Not completely, anyway.
I was reminded of this after I wrote some reflections for Forward Day by Day. These are daily meditations on the lectionary that go out to Episcopalians all over the country. The responses I receive vary widely. Some people send me kind notes. Others use the reflections as a springboard for their own thoughts. After one mediation that briefly mentioned climate change, I received one long email questioning my belief that climate change is real. 

Ultimately, you can only put your work out there and hope that others will find it meaningful or useful, even if the words don’t always come across as you’d intended. 

This is true of every word we speak and our liturgy, as well. Take Ash Wednesday, for example. Some understand it as the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection. Some simply stop in the church to get their ashes before heading back out to work, a visible reminder of a deeply felt if not regularly practiced faith. Maybe they only go to church on Easter and Christmas. Others go to the Ash Wednesday Eucharist and will go again on Sunday, as they go every week.

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Break Out – Find the Faith-Life connections

by Demi Prentiss and J. Fletcher Lowe on February 5, 2016

Our recent Vestry Papers article urged church leaders to shift their focus from “inside” to “outside,” and from church-sponsored outreach to individuals understanding themselves as “on mission” in their everyday lives. One of the ways we Christians can “get the hell out of church” (the title of the VP article) is to Break Out – to seek fresh insights as to where we each find our ministries.

Our book Radical Sending – Go to Love and Serve, features a number of first-person stories answering the question, “How do you understand the connection between your faith and the life you live every day?”

In a story from the book, artist Roger Hutchison recognizes that he can share the spiritual and creative insights he finds through his painting. As detailed in his book The Painting Table, Hutchison developed a process for releasing people’s creativity to address their pain. And as illustrated in his recently released book Under the Fig Tree, the reflective process can lead us closer to God. In sharing his creative gifts, Hutchison has harnessed the process of making art to making a ministry – a ministry that has sprung directly from his gifts and passions.

Throughout my ordained ministry, I (Fletcher) have used workplace visits to explore with people the connection between their faith and their daily lives. In being asked to explain the connection, the storytellers have become more intentional in finding ways to express that connection. So Michaelle Justice, a speech-language pathologist, sees her faith embodied in her recognition of her baptismal promise to “respect the dignity of every human being.” And she finds herself fed spiritually, by her patients’ courage: “ … though I guide my patients through their therapy, it is their strength and determination that feed my faith.” (Read Justice’s full story here.)

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Discernment, Evangelism, Mission

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