In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, singing is mentioned as one of the practices of the early church. So many folks say they aren’t singers, but they still ‘make a joyful noise’. There are many hymns within the 66 books of Scripture – of course the book of Psalms, but Bible historians believe that several passages in Paul’s letters are the lyrics to hymns of the
new church (for instance, Philippians 2: 6-11).
What are some of your favorite songs to sing in worship? Classical pieces? Ira Sankey and Fanny Crosby evangelical pieces? Contemporary works? Meditative melodies from Iona? Most are written to be sung in groups, and right now we can’t always do that. But we can still sing.
Slow down. Start with some song that brings you comfort or joy. Really pay attention to what you are singing; listen to the words. Perhaps move out of your comfort zone and find other genres to let speak to your heart. Maybe search for them on itunes? Ask other friends for suggestions?
Disciples of Christ are big fans of communion, so much so that we took the symbol of the chalice as our image. For us, the table is always available to everyone. It is not our table; it is the table of the Lord. It is not up to us to decide who gets to be fed and who does not. It is not up to us to try to be worthy enough; we can never be worthy enough but the one who
invites us is worthy enough and that covers the matter.
Some folks say they ‘receive’ communion; some folks say they ‘take’ communion. Some folks call it the ‘Lord’s supper’; some folks call it ‘eucharist’. Words have meaning. But the most important word in communion is the Word Made Flesh – in the gospel we call John, Jesus is called the Word made Flesh, and it is almost beyond human comprehension to understand that. But we have this ritual, this wonderful tangible act, that allows us to physically enact what our souls need to survive: to take the Word made flesh to nurture us.
Slow down. Next time you have a glass or cup in your hand,
remember the Word. Next time you eat a piece of toast or a biscuit,
remember the Word. And say ‘thank you’.
One of our tenets as Disciples of Christ is our understanding that we can each read and study the Scripture on our own. Of course, it is always better to read it with the guidance and companionship of the Holy Spirit. And, of course, it is better to actually READ it.
I am not a fan of New Year resolutions; maybe it’s just my personality, but they seem to be a setup for failure though I know others for whom they work. Often around New Year there are plans available everywhere for reading the Bible through in one year or conversely taking an entire year to work through one gospel. There is no one right way, I suppose; there are 66 books and some are easier than others to grasp. But what I would encourage is not so much a plan as intentionally starting.
Slow Down. Read a few chapters of a gospel – perhaps begin with Matthew, since it bridges the testaments; perhaps begin with Mark, since it is the shortest and earliest one written. Let it take as long as it takes. You will know when to move on. The goal is not to check boxes, but to better know the heart of God. We’ll hear more about this when we are back in
corporate worship. And we will be. Here again, it will take as long as it takes.
Do you remember your baptism? Were you sprinkled, or dipped, or immersed? Were you baptized as an infant and later confirmed, or did you practice believer’s baptism? In our denomination we usually celebrate believer’s baptism, but for us the issue isn’t the amount of water as much as the state of the relationship. When receiving a new member into a congregation, I ask ‘are you satisfied with your baptism?’. If the member says they are, that’s good enough for me.
My dear friend is a spiritual director – her name is Susan Brown (mildlymystical.com). She says that believer’s baptism is a visible sign of acknowledging God’s grace consciously. When we were baptized, we recognized something that was already true. For most of us, that included a public profession of faith; we said out loud what we felt in our hearts. On this Tuesday of Holy Week, slow down. Remember what declaring that love and trust felt like. Remember that we responded as an individual to the depth of God’s grace. Be still today, and rest and renew in that grace.
We begin this Holy Week still in a mode of physical distancing. For
many of us, this has been a time of frustration or discomfort. For others, it
has been a time of intense work and fatigue. For still others, it has been an
opportunity to grow and learn.
Today, we spend a little time thinking about prayer. Have you prayed
much this week? God’s shoulders are large and God’s heart is love itself –
so whether you have cried or yelled or been grateful or asked ‘why’ a
hundred times, God has heard and continues to love us.
On this Monday of Holy Week, let us remember the words of Mother
Teresa: God speaks in the silence of our hearts. Listening is the
beginning of prayer. Slow Down. Spend time today in quiet prayer and
meditation. Spend time listening and paying attention to what God is saying
The three best prayers: “Help”. Thanks”. “Wow”. -Anne LaMott