Monday, June 25, 2012

Basic Discipleship IV - Serve

We are finishing our second round of Back to Basics classes at Christ Church Cathedral. Basic Discipleship is the lynchpin course -- during the five weeks we learn about and experience the spiritual practices of prayer, worship, learning, serving and giving -- and build a community of support and accountability for integrating them into our lives. For each week of the class, I'm posting a very truncated summation of the ideas we discussed and the homework given. It's not meant to be a substitute for the class ... but I hope it will whet your appetite. 

We started in small groups.
Q1: Prayer: How is it going? What are you noticing? Barriers/gifts?
Q2: Learning: How did you incorporate it into your life. What did you notice? Did you do an inventory of your life of what is “junk food” and what is “only the finest”? What did you notice.

We shared the story of Gordon Cosby, founder of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. Gordon had been preaching since he was a 15-year­-old in Lynchburg, VA. Raised Southern Baptist, he went into the seminary and then became an Army chaplain in Europe in World War II, an experience that reshaped his faith perspective.

He said he came back feeling that denomination and race were artificial constructs and that people should live in regular life as they would in war-­-willing to lay down their lives for their neighbors, viewing their faith as an urgent tool to change the world. He and his wife, Mary, began to craft an unusual church structure: Members had to commit to an inward journey of daily quiet prayer, meditation and courses on Christianity as well as an outward journey of social justice work. People would be held accountable by working in small groups.

Never more than 200 members, the church actually seemed to discourage growth. You can only join for one year at a time. If you do not re-­apply each year, your membership automatically lapses. You have to attend the School of Christian Living one evening a week for two years before you can move from apprentice membership to full membership. No congregation has ever taken more seriously the path of discipleship.

What were the results? Hundreds of faith-­based ministries have been started over the years, including a community health center, a residential treatment center for women with AIDS, hundreds of units of low-­cost housing, a jobs program that placed 800 unemployed individuals last year, FLOC (For the Love of Children, a movement that revamped how foster care is done in DC), Alabaster Jar (a movement of artists who are people of faith and express faith in their art), the influential Wellspring retreat center, a small college, and Potter's House, what many consider the original Christian coffeehouse ministry which still operates in the Adams-­Morgan neighborhood on Columbia.

Cosby interpreted the call to discipleship as the integration of two journeys in community-­-an inward journey to grow in love of God, self and others and an outward journey to help mend some part of creation.

The foundation was small groups – but they discovered the groups need a mission focus or they become support groups. Nothing wrong with support groups, it's just not discipleship.

The inward journey without the outward journey becomes self-­centered.

The outward journey without the inward journey becomes rootless activism.

Service is not just because we’re “supposed to” or to earn points to heaven. Original sin is self-focus/putting self in place of God. Life in Christ is “love God with heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as your self. It is God/Christ-­focused (inward journey) and other-­focused (outward journey). Self-­focus is seductive. Jesus really did say “get over yourself.”

This is true from the early church. It comes through perhaps most clearly in Philippians 2 (click here to read):

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus – Inward journey

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross. - Outward journey.

Therefore, God highly exalted. - The combination of the inward journey and the outward journey is glory.

The outward journey is about one word -­ Kenosis - self-emptying. We are called to live kenotically.

How do we empty ourselves? By making a big internal shift: Our lives are not our own but are given to us to be given away. That’s radical thinking. We think of MY LIFE. But that’s not the baptized life. The baptized life is dying with Christ and rising to new life -­-­ the resurrected life. We die to the old way of “my life” and we rise to the new life of “God gave me this life to live kenotically, to give it away.”

When we believe we own our lives, we believe we have to protect it. We believe it is a scarce resource that we have to hoard. That invites fear. But our lives are not our own, they are God’s ... and that means our life springs from an infinite abundance. “I have come that they might have life and have it in abundance.” We don’t need to fear losing our lives ... in fact we are told that we have to lose them to save it “Whomever will save their life will lose it, and whomever will lose their life for my sake will save it.”

Giving our lives away is our salvation, but we are afraid so we do it as if it were painful extractive surgery. We give of ourselves with eyedroppers. God is inviting us to give like a firehose.

But we do it. And we do it more than we know. We serve, we give ourselves away all the time. A lot of times in the church we think that things only "count" as Christian service if they are church ministries. Not true. The primary locus of ministry is not the church but the world.

We then did a service inventory. Everyone named every ministry or organization or act of service they had participated in the past year. It easily filled up a sheet of easel paper.

This isn't to say "OK, we're all cool, we're fine with service, what's next." It's to expand our thoughts of what service is.

Frederick Buechner said, "Service is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Most of us are well aware of the world’s deep hunger. It’s all over the place. The challenge for us is to help each other find the deep gladness. The sense of deep connection.

"We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.” Archbishop Oscar Romero

That is a process of discernment. What is it that we are called to do very well? What is that place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet?

At Church of the Savior, the small groups gathered around a mutually discerned mission. They gathered not around geography or time they wanted to meet or any other criteria save sharing that hinge point of deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.

This week’s homework: 
*1 hour of worship 
*1 hour of learning 
*Ponder and listen to where your deep longing is. Spend time looking at the world’s deep hunger. Come back with an idea of where God might be calling you to give your life away.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Basic Discipleship III - Learn

We are finishing our second round of Back to Basics classes at Christ Church Cathedral. Basic Discipleship is the lynchpin course -- during the five weeks we learn about and experience the spiritual practices of prayer, worship, learning, serving and giving -- and build a community of support and accountability for integrating them into our lives. For each week of the class, I'm posting a very truncated summation of the ideas we discussed and the homework given. It's not meant to be a substitute for the class ... but I hope it will whet your appetite. 

We started off for 15 minutes in small groups talking about these questions, then came back to the large group for sharing.

I - Check in on prayer – how is it going? What are you noticing? Barriers/gifts? What was it like to pray on the question “Jesus, who are you?” 

II - process the worship experience from last week. Describe it to any in your group who weren’t there. What did you notice? How did it feel? What about our Cathedral liturgy most feels like communal worship and not individual prayer? Did you experience Sunday worship differently after last week?

Guiding Scripture
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

We have everything we need. Our creation story tells us that God has given us all we need and we lack for nothing. We have access to wisdom. It is all around us. As Eucharistic Prayer C says “From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill.” We are made in God’s image. We have forgotten that. We have exalted ourselves instead of God, but we can still get back to that place where we God is at the center of our lives and life. It’s about believing what’s inside us already that we might not know is there.

We need to remember what we have forgotten. We need to return to God. That’s what discipleship is about.

Remember the five spiritual practices or "holy habits" and how they relate to the Great Commandment:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength – Pray/Worship

Love your neighbor as yourself – Serve/Give

Learn is the hinge.  Learn is that growing in relationship to God.  Learn is the reflection that balances action. It takes attentiveness and intention.

Two primary texts for learning:

1) The text of life – attentiveness to the wisdom of God emerging around us

 2) Intentional study for which the sole purpose is learning.

It’s the difference between learning on the job and professional development. Both are critical. Frame this in terms of Isaiah 55 – God wooing the people of Israel – saying “this is my dream for you. This is the abundant life I offer” (think John 10:10).

Sometimes it helps to hear it a different way. Here is the way a modern translation – Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” translates it: 

Note a couple things:

*This is for everyone. Growth is for everyone. God is for everyone.

*Don’t spend your money on junk food. (You are what you eat).

Read Galatians 5:16-26. What do you take into your body? Not just food but all the different messages. What do you read, watch, listen to? It all shapes you. It all makes you either self-centered or Christ-centered. Is what you take into your body fostering the fruits of the Spirit or is it leading you into what Paul calls the works of the flesh? Be aware! What we need is here … but a lot of stuff we don’t need is here, too. Be discerning. Help each other.

Our whole economic system is based on convincing us we need poison and that we have to sell all we have to buy it – not just our money, but our time, our focus, our all. Eat only the best. Fill yourself only with the finest

*Seek a wisdom that is higher than our own. It is within us, but it is buried deep. Hays Rockwell used to say "The image of God is in every person, but sometimes it is in deep, deep disguise." Seek it out. Seek it out in conversation. Seek it out in intentional study. Slow down. Reflect. Ask questions. What do you notice?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This is about looking for a different way of thinking. How might Christ see this? Where is Jesus in this for me? For my community? For the world?

The “holy habit” of Learn takes two forms:
-the text of life
-other texts intentionally chosen and time spent with.

Not just action (buzzing through it) but time in reflection. Small pieces.

We went into small group for 15 minutes more and talked about these questions, then back to large group for sharing:

*What in your life is junk food and what is “only the finest”? Is a little junk food OK? What does your diet look like?

*What is your learning style? Do you learn best reading? Conversation? Movies? Taking a walk and thinking? Be sure what you choose is something that allows challenge and difference to come into your life (“my thoughts are not your thoughts.”)

Assignment for next week.
*Pray minimum of 10 minutes a day.
*Pray for your prayer partner every day, call them on Tuesday and Friday.
*Continue prayerful work if you choose.
*One hour of worship a week.
*One hour of intentional learning (you can break it up any way you like).

When you talk with your prayer partner, ask them: "Tell me about what you are learning." not just “are you doing it?”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What does God dream for Christ Church Cathedral?

Jesus said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
Over the next six weeks, meetings will be held in the homes of 13 Cathedral parishioners that are critical to our future together.

The meetings are for us to answer one question together: “What are the core values we believe Jesus dreams for us to live out as Christ Church Cathedral?” Put another way … “What are the mustard seeds for Christ Church Cathedral?”

Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed planted in fertile ground -- something small and basic that grows into something amazing and beautiful. Naming the values Jesus dreams for us to embrace and embody is identifying those mustard seeds which will, when planted in us, by God’s grace transform Christ Church Cathedral from the glory of the past to the glory of the future.

The values we discern will not be put in some document and stuck on a shelf to gather dust. They will be front and center as together we chart the course for the years ahead. With them in hand, we will look at how we can be fertile ground to embrace them, and we will ask God to use them to bless and challenge us as we become the Cathedral God dreams for us to be.

One final note. We are calling these meetings “Shared Values and Joy at Christ Church Cathedral.” Why? Because this is about joy! It is joy to be together! It is joy to follow Jesus! It is joy to dream about what God might dream for us!  

Please make a point to come to one of these meetings …  and dream … and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CCC outside our walls -- Noonday Prayer at One Met Square

Today at 12:05 pm, as I do every Wednesday, I led a brief noonday prayer service on the ground floor of One Metropolitan Square. It's a 10-minute service adapted from our Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. It includes a psalm, a Gospel reading with a two-minute silent meditation on a question I pose after the reading (today we used the parable of the mustard seed from Mark, and I invited people to ask Christ to make them receptive to God's word taking root in their heart and great things coming from it), the Lord's Prayer and a time for open intercession, prayer and praise.

We've been doing the service for more than a year now. The group that comes is fairly small (12-15 regulars, average weekly attendance is usually around 6-11) and fairly diverse (from a law partner and lawyers to a maintenance man and one of the guys who shines shoes in the lobby). During Lent we get more people. During the summer, fewer.

I began the service at the suggestion and with the help of Jack Danforth, after a conversation we had about how Christ Church Cathedral could be more of a presence downtown for those who work here. And if that is the goal, it has in some ways worked. I ... and through me, Christ Church Cathedral ... now have a relationship with Bryan Cave, a law firm that is the largest tenant in the building. When they needed someone to lead a memorial service for a former partner a few months ago, they were able to call on me and I was able to help them put something together and lead it. That's a good thing. That's Christ Church Cathedral being a spiritual resource.

But the real value of this little prayer service is how it is deepening the faith of the people who come. They talk about how it has made a big difference even taking 10 minutes in the middle of the week. A small group of us now have lunch once a month after the service and talk about our prayer lives and our common effort to adopt a habit of daily Bible reading. Today, one of our regulars stopped me on the way out and excitedly asked me some questions about something he had been reading in the Gospel of Matthew. He was reading the Bible... and it was getting him excited. You just can't beat that!
None of these people are "Cathedral members" and only a couple are Episcopalians. Almost all of them are members of some community of faith ... and this isn't about trying to get them to leave those communities and come to the Cathedral on Sunday.  But it is about the mission of the Church writ large. This is about "restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." And even on those Wednesdays when it has been only me and one other person, I walk out of there knowing that we have been the church downtown ... and I've gotta believe God is smiling.

If you're downtown on a Wednesday at 12:05, come on by. We're in the Old Kemoll's restaurant space on the first floor of OMS (Broadway and Olive). It's Christ Church Cathedral outside our walls. And I hope it's only the beginning.

What do you think? What do you think of this outreach? What else could/should we be doing? Is there any outreach to downtown that you'd like to help with?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Basic Discipleship II - Worship

We are finishing our second round of Back to Basics classes at Christ Church Cathedral. Basic Discipleship is the lynchpin course -- during the five weeks we learn about and experience the spiritual practices of prayer, worship, learning, serving and giving -- and build a community of support and accountability for integrating them into our lives. For each week of the class, I'm posting a very truncated summation of the ideas we discussed and the homework given. It's not meant to be a substitute for the class ... but I hope it will whet your appetite.

Opening Prayer -  Quiet our minds, O God, and gladden our hearts; that, as we come together to worship you, we may be open to your presence and find that this place is the very gate of heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Part I – Who Do You Say That I Am?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-20)

The purpose of the church is to follow Jesus.

The five spiritual practices we are studying and embracing are about following Jesus. Following Jesus means getting to know Jesus and loving Jesus. Peter’s answer was – Jesus, you are my everything. That is really the answer we want God to grow inside us. That is one of the destinations of our pilgrimage.

If I asked you that question right now – Who do you say Jesus is -- we would probably have as many different answers as there are people in this room. And that’s absolutely what I would expect. This isn’t about learning to parrot the right answer. It’s asking the question that is critical -- the key is answering it honestly and asking Jesus to keep loving us and keep us growing toward him.

We then went into table groups to discuss the homework. What were people's experiences of setting up their prayer space, praying a minimum of 10 minutes a day, having one act of prayerful work a day. Initial challenges/benefits? What did you notice?

Part II - Worship 

Prayer is personal. Worship is corporate. Both are important.

People sometimes say, “I can go to church in my garden.” – no. you might PRAY in our garden, but unless you have some people over, you don’t worship in your garden. Even monks and nuns worship together.

Prayer is important – like sailors with celestial navigation it is that daily orienting ourselves toward God. Resting in your true identity as created in God’s image and beloved. Listening for God’s voice in your life. On a daily basis, placing God at the center.

Prayer is the individual centered on God. Worship is the whole community together centered on God.

Why is corporate worship important?

1) Jesus said it is. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, you will be in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) We believe in God as Trinity. Love is dynamic. Has to have an object. We don’t just pray as one because even God isn’t one. We come together in relationship because that’s how God came to us. Incarnational. Relational.

2) Because we are never Christians by ourselves. The basic unit of Christianity is never one. Even our God is three! We are the body of Christ not individually but together. (1 Corinthians 12:27). We gather for worship because it is not just about sustaining each of us as individuals but it is about sustaining us as the body of Christ. It is the meal and the conversation and all the nourishment that helps this body live.

3) Community provides a necessary orthodoxy. It makes it harder (though certainly not impossible) to make God in our image instead of acting more like we are made in God’s. A community of faith that has to come together around one table makes it much more difficult to have a theology of comfort where we take one from column A and one from column B. Communities can do this, too, though … which is why we need to be vigilant and prayerful and study and serve and give!

4) Scripture tells us God is revealed -when we center ourselves on God -when we give our lives away -through the people we would least expect, usually not people of our choosing. Worship is a place where that happens.

5) Worship has a motion of gathering and sending. It mirrors the life we are to lead. In the Pentecost Gospel. Jesus comes among them, gathers them, then breathes holy spirit on them and sends them out “as the Father has sent me so I send you.”

Look at what happens in worship. We gather as a community and lay our lives together on the table with Christ. Then those lives get mixed up with one another and Christ's life and become something new. We each receive that new life and then we become something new -- we BECOME the Body of Christ. We are more than just ourselves. There is a piece of everyone else in us and also there is Christ in us. And then the deacon sends us out into the world to love and serve in Jesus' name. That's the motion of the Eucharist and our lives -- gather and lay our lives on the table ... be sent and go into the world and serve and give.

6) Worship includes prayer but worship is not just prayer. Good worship will be prayerful. Good worship will connect you both to the Christ in each other and to the Christ outside us. It's not just "me and Jesus time" but there is a personal experience. Good worship has horizontal and vertical elements.

7) Changing behaviors is the hardest thing to do. Need communities of support and accountability. We do as a group what we do as individuals – offer our lives to God.

It is rare to have conversations about liturgy that are not about personal preference ...  but that is exactly what we need to do. Worship is not about a personal religious experience. That may happen, but it's not the point. Worship is about a communal centering in Christ and experience of Christ ... and also the community creating an offering of love of beauty for God.

It's incredibly difficult to embrace worship as communal when we don't have a practice of daily prayer. Most people look to worship to fill the prayer need because they don't have the daily habit ... and that's where most fights over liturgy happen, because we're worried about what "feeds me" instead of what helps make us the Body of Christ.

I heard Archbishop Rowan Williams give a lecture on the Body of Christ. He said we lay our lives on the table together. When we do that and when we receive the Eucharist we have to have peripheral vision. We have to see that it isn't just me being fed but people on either side of me are, too ... and we need to ask ourselves "how is my life that I am laying on the table tied up with that life over there?How are we offering a common life? How can I help them offer that? How can I be a part of that person being fed?

We then went down to the altar in the sanctuary. Everyone had brought a small symbol that represented something they were going through in their life right now. We took turns explaining the object and laying it on the table. Then we had Eucharist, blessing not just the bread and the wine but ourselves ... those lives we had laid on the table. We gave each other communion and affirmed that all we had shared was now a life we share. And we now know a little better how to pray for one another, how to love one another, and how to be the Body of Christ together. 


*10 minutes a day of prayer – focus on question “Jesus, who are you?” Use the confession of Peter reading from Matthew as a focus if you like. But concentrate on listening.

*Prayerful work each day.

*New prayer partner. Check in Tuesday and Saturday.

*One hour of worship a week. (Sunday is the easiest!)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Basic Discipleship I - Intro & Pray

We are finishing our second round of Back to Basics classes at Christ Church Cathedral. Basic Discipleship is the lynchpin course -- during the five weeks we learn about and experience the spiritual practices of prayer, worship, learning, serving and giving -- and build a community of support and accountability for integrating them into our lives. For each week of the class, I'm going to post a very truncated summation of the ideas we discussed and the homework given. It's not meant to be a substitute for the class ... but I hope it will whet your appetite.

I'm thinking of offering Basic Discipleship twice a year. Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in. And if you would EVER like to talk more with me about any of this PLEASE DO! I would LOVE it!

As Christians, we have an image of who God dreams for us to be. It’s best encapsulated in Jesus’ words in John 10:10. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” and later, in Jesus final prayer with his disciples, he says, “And this is eternal (abundant) life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

God’s dream for us is zoe, it is life that is rich and deep and overflowing in every direction. And that kind of life is the life of deeply, intimately knowing God, and our path to knowing God is the path of Jesus. Discipleship … following Christ having a life that is deep and rich and overflowing in all directions. And it is that deep and that rich because why? Because we are growing closer and closer and more and more intimate in relationship with God in Christ. Because step by step, little by little, our lives are being moved in line with the life of God.

The root of “discipleship” is “discipline.” It is habits. Our habits shape who we are and who we are becoming. Some of the hardest things to do are to eliminate bad old habits and establish new good habits. The best chance a habit has of being quit or developed is if you have relationships of support and accountability. The primary reason the church exists is discipleship, is changing our lives Godward so we can live these incredibly abundant, zoe lives. And we do it together, in relationships of support and accountability.

That’s what Basic Discipleship is. It is about us as a group looking at the “holy habits” that, over time, will draw us deeper into the heart of God and will bring deep joy to our lives.

So what are they? Pray. Worship. Learn. Serve. Give.

A good way to frame these scripturally is to look at the summary of the law in Matthew.

A lawyer asked Jesus a question, to test him, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law.” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. 

If you were in basic Bible or Basic Christianity, you’ll recognize the first one. Original sin is putting anything in the place of God. God is at the center, not us, not anyone or anything else. A life in response to God being at the center is a life lived as God incarnate, as Jesus, lived – a life given away for the sake of the world … love your neighbor as yourself.

These five “holy habits” or disciplines are about doing this.

Pray and Worship – putting God at the center

Serve and Give – living and loving as Christ, giving your life away for the sake of the world.

Learn – the hinge. It infuses everything. We learn from not just studying but from everything we do. It’s the Benedictine idea of seeing all of life as theological text. Looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. You can learn about God from the text of a book but also from the text of washing dishes or playing with your child. Learning is about intentionality.

In this class, we’ll take one a week and dive in depth. We’ll also look at how we can support each other and hold each other accountable. At the end people in the class will have the opportunity to form discipleship groups that will continue this.

Prayer (everyone was sent into small groups – what is your experience of prayer. Be honest. What has been wonderful. What has been frustrating. Back to large group to share. )

BCP definition – Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.

Responding to God - God starts the conversation by breathing life into us in creation.

By thought and deed - not just traditional prayer but prayerful work, work as a love offering.

With or without words - this is the "sighs too deep for words" that Paul writes about in Romans.

This is not only how our part of prayer works but how God’s does .. by thought and deed, with or without words.

We're going to look at two types of prayer -- Focused Prayer and Prayerful Work. Each one can be talked about in terms of relationship.

Focused prayer. Time with no purpose or intention other than being with God. Sailors used celestial navigation, charting their course by the north star. But to do that they would need to continually be checking that star. Prayer is celestial navigation. It is intentionally taking the time to focus on God. Relationships need deeply intentional tending. They need focus.

What can spending this time together look like? It can be silent prayer. Using a form from the prayer book. Petition. Using the Daily office readings. Journaling. Just sitting in God’s presence saying “thank you” or “I love you.” Whatever you choose will feel strange at first, so don’t let that throw you. This is about getting in habit.

Prayerful work. Prayerful work is prayer in action not word. It is taking a task and viewing it as an offering of love.  Prayer can be offering the simplest most mundane task to God as a love offering. Very Benedictine. Worshipful work. Prayerful work.
Homework! - Begin a discipline of two types of prayer. Start small. Because we are creatures of habit who are highly influenced by our natural rhythms, our environment and our relationships, we need three things to make this work:

*A Time
*A Space
*Relationships of Support and Accountability.

Part I: Find or create a prayer space in your home or workspace. Try to make it a space you use for nothing else so that when you go there you are naturally drawn to prayer. Don’t make it your bed or your favorite napping chair. Make it a place where when you are there you are naturally drawn to prayer. By next week have that place chosen, if not perfected.

Part II: Spend 10 minutes a day in prayer. It can be silent prayer. Using a form from the prayer book. Petition. Using the Daily office readings. Journaling. Just sitting in God’s presence saying “thank you” or “I love you.” Whatever you choose will feel strange at first, so don’t let that throw you. This is about getting in habit. See handout for helps. 

Part III: Once a day pick one activity – the simpler and more mundane the better – and do it solely as a love offering to God. It can be washing your hair or brushing your teeth. It can be doing the dishes. It can be anything. What matters is the intentional adoration you cultivate and offer while doing it.

Part IV: Draw a name from the basket. That is your prayer partner for this week. Pray for them every day. Then twice a week – on Saturday and on Monday - phone them, remind them that you have been praying for them and ask them if they have chosen their prayer space, if they’ve been spending 10 minutes a day in prayer and if they’ve been doing their prayerful work. If the answer is no, ask “how can I help you say yes the next time I ask you?” I’ll be sending out email reminders Saturday and Monday morning to remind you to do this. The idea is that knowing this person will be calling will be part of the incentive to start and maintain the habit. But it is support and accountability, not shame and accountability, hence the “how can I help?”