For Lovers of Weavings Journal

I’m excited about two recently released books with connections to Weavings.

The Upper Room Disciplines 2020, a lectionary-based daily devotional, features 53 writers who were contributors to Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. I’m honored to be one of them, writing the meditations for the week of October 12–18, 2020. Marjorie J. Thompson writes the foreword for the book. The 53 authors include many friends and beloved writers, among them: Kathleen Flood, Luther Smith, J. Barrie Shepherd, Wendy Wright, Roberta Bondi, Michael Downey, Rachel Hackenberg, Don Saliers, Jan Johnson, Kristen Vincent, Gerrit Dawson, Marilyn McEntyre, Mark Burrows, Deborah Smith Douglas, and Kara Lassen Oliver. Available now at your favorite bookseller.

The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent Reader. This daily Advent reader incorporates articles from Weavings. Writers include Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Sue Monk Kidd, Wendell Berry, Wendy M. Wright, and other writers. Now available.

Community

I wrote this article for The Upper Room’s “From the Center” newsletter. Sign up for this monthly resource of soul care for spiritual leaders.

I have the honor to serve as worship leader for our Upper Room Two-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation retreat in Alabama. I plan and lead the 14 services we hold during our weeks together (a week each quarter).

We are people from all over the U.S. — different ages, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, races, and backgrounds. We are knit together as a community over this time of retreat. Our format in community is a monastic (Benedictine) pattern of prayer that brings us together three times a day for morning prayer, afternoon Eucharist, and night prayer. At the end of night prayer, we go into the great silence, which is broken at the start of morning prayer the next morning. This shared participation in a common rhythm creates deep connections between us. It is the “container” that holds our community together as we hunger, learn, and struggle with what it means to be followers of Christ in this broken world.

At our last gathering, we rented a 60-passenger bus and went on a civil rights pilgrimage into downtown Birmingham, Alabama. We visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. We walked together through the displays that told the stories of those brave saints and martyrs who marched for civil rights in the decades of the 1950s and 60s. We walked across the street and stood in the Kelly Ingram Park, where, in the first week of May 1963, children and high school students were met by police dogs, fire hoses, and arrest.

We met, finally, in the sanctuary of 16th Street Baptist Church to hold our service of Eucharist. This is the church where, on Sunday, September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded under the steps of the church, killing four girls and injuring 22. During our service in the sanctuary of that holy place, we sang together and heard the scriptures read and the Word proclaimed. We broke the bread and poured the cup. We remembered the brokenness of Christ, the brokenness of our history, the brokenness of these days. And we affirmed the hope that we carry as followers of the One who came to bring peace, to scatter love, to bind up wounds and whisper comfort.

At the end of that long day, we arrived back at the retreat center tired, full, teary, grateful, and troubled. We met for night prayer and prayed the familiar words:

“We have wounded your love.
O God, heal us.
We stumble in the darkness.
Light of the world, transfigure us.
We forget that we are your home.
Spirit of God, dwell in us.”

-From “Prayer of Confession” (Night Prayer), A New Zealand Prayer Book: He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (New Zealand: William Collins Publishers Ltd., 1989), 168.

The liturgy, the community of love and trust and struggle that we experience together … all these things have become the “container” that allows us to journey together into uncomfortable places and inconvenient truths.

Back here at home in between our sessions, I miss these people, my siblings in Christ. I miss the shared commitment to daily prayer and worship. I hunger for the authentic relationships that develop in this special community. I yearn to find a community like the Academy in this place where I live the rest of the year.

I hope and pray for this: In the fractured, contentious, hateful times of this day, may we find communities of love, trust, and liturgy where we can be nurtured, sustained, challenged, and loved.

This article was reblogged from The Upper Room.

The Abyss of Divine Love

I’m at my annual conference — Mountain Sky — in session in Billings, Montana. There is so much uncertainty, anxiety, and pain in this place. And yet there is such love and joy that comes from being together in the beloved community. Wherever we are, wherever we are going, we go with this community of beloveds.

These words from Tilden Edwards have spoken to me and to this time of uncertainty in the church. Prayers for all those who are working to try to help us find our way.

Edwards writes about the process of discernment. [From pp. 64-65 in Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Copyright © 2001 by Tilden Edwards.]

In approaching the Spirit’s movements … [we are called to] a habitual leaning into our souls in God, with a quality of trust in the abyss of divine love there, wanting to see our desires transformed in the light of God’s desire for us. We rest attentively in that abyss ultimately without knowing anything except our desires to embody those qualities of soul in our lives. …

Often we are not given … clear sight and [must] rest in our trust that we will be given enough of what we need to see as we go along. … Sometimes decisions need to be made without clear sight, but with just enough light to take a first step in one direction or another, trusting that the Spirit will shape our path with us as we go along. …

[The discernment process] may well not provide clear specific discernment, but over time … it can provide a way of approaching decisions that frees us from a focus on “getting it right,” that is, finding out just what God wants, or else we will be lost. Instead, we become free for a focus on an ongoing divine/human dance together … one that keeps us living out of our deep souls no matter how vague our sense of what decision to make. …

When we live out of our souls in trust, we become looser about knowing, and willing for a blind walk when that is what is given.

Let us trust in Divine Love to guide our steps in these days of struggle. May we allow our spirits to sink into the abyss of divine love, trusting that we will be given “enough of what we need to see as we go along.”

A Party for Jack’s Book!

My friends at The Upper Room are throwing a party to celebrate Jack’s new book of Blessings.

It’s Wednesday, May 22, 2-3 (CDT) at The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN. There will be refreshments for two and four-legged critters.

Come and join the party!!!

P.S. Come in the morning for the Taizé service (10:45 a.m. in the Chapel). We can all get lunch and then go to the party.

Holy Week at The Upper Room

Such an honor to be leading The Upper Room in worship during Holy Week. I hope you will consider joining me Wednesday or Thursday.

For Friends Far Away
An online gathering on Holy Wednesday: Prayer and Practice

9:00 a.m. (Central Time) – Prayer and practice using Zoom, an online tool for meeting with others. Join us: https://zoom.us/j/191740575. (That would be 10:00 a.m., Eastern; 8:00 a.m., Mountain; 7:00 a.m., Pacific)

For Nashville Area Friends
Services in the Chapel

Holy Wednesday:
10:45 a.m. — Morning prayer in the chapel

Maundy Thursday:
10:45 a.m. — Service of Eucharist in The Upper Room Chapel

1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN.