Welcome Home

Three deer, a blue heron, the call of a pileated woodpecker
Welcome me home.

The wind in the leaves, the ripples on the lake, the silence of this place
Welcome me home.

The water of life, the greetings of old friends, the words of the liturgy
Welcome us home.

This place is our home.
This place is God’s home.
Welcome home.

Session six of Academy #41, Camp Sumatanga, Alabama.

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.

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.

Wednesday Morning Prayer During Lent

Join me for a short morning prayer service each Wednesday during Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 9:00 a.m. (CST) and continuing on Wednesdays through Holy Week, we will meet online for 15 minutes to pray together.

All are welcome.

We will be meeting through Zoom, a video and audio platform that you can use on your computer, your iPhone or iPad, or by calling in on your telephone.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/191740575

Dates:
Mar 6, 2019 9:00 AM (CST)
Mar 13, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)
Mar 20, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)
Mar 27, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)
Apr 3, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)
Apr 10, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)
Apr 17, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Time Zones:
10:00 a.m. Eastern time
9:00 am. Central time
8:00 a.m. Mountain time
7:00 a.m. Pacific time

Instructions for Using Zoom:

Learn how to join a zoom meeting on your PC or Mac. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362193-How-Do-I-Join-A-Meeting-

Learn how to join a zoom meeting on your iPhone or iPad. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362993-Getting-Started-with-iOS

Advent Hope

I’m sitting here reading about the world’s latest craziness. (What is going to happen next?!?) And I’m wondering where those the nice Advent feelings are that I used to be able locate inside myself. “Maybe, this year, there will be peace.” “Oh, look, there are the signs of hope (or joy, or love).” Right now, I’m not feeling very hopeful.

I remembered something I’d written about hope in The Uncluttered Heart and share it here:

Hope isn’t a simple, sweet sentiment or an unreachable goal. Hope’s a bit risky — it’s not based on and doesn’t rely on some kind of secret-handshake promise from God. Our hoping does not mean that everything will turn out the way we want it to.

Hope is, instead, a spiritual practice, appropriate any time but especially during the season of Advent. We wait and hope for the coming of Christ into the world. We hope even when it doesn’t feel like it’s going to make a difference. We hope because we are children of God, children of hope. …

When we hope, we align ourselves more closely with the God of the Universe — the eternal force of good, of hope and love and peace.

Carry these words in your heart today: I am God’s partner in hope.

From The Uncluttered Heart by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room. Used with Permission.

Prayer for the Pilgrims

I leave today for a retreat in Alabama, the first of eight weeks over the next two years. (This is the first session of a 2-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room.)

I will be leading daily prayer, one of my favorite things. Prayers upon waking and before sleeping. And a service of Eucharist before dinner.

We will be on this journey of faith, of hope, of drinking deeply of the gifts of the spirit, of the gifts of community, prayer, learning, and liturgy.

For all of us who travel, for those who labor to care for us on retreat, for all who tend the tasks at home so that we can be away. For all who long for retreat but do not have the resources to set apart time in their lives for such a journey. Bless all who are setting out on journeys of any kind throughout the world. Travel with each one. Amen.