We began with some time for silent prayer. Out of the silence we moved into a conversation regarding the scheduling of events for the coming year. The most excitement was around the idea of health and spirituality retreats. We also talked about how the most energy right now is around the building project and the health center which seemed like important foundations for any planning of retreats. We do know that there are several groups who are already planning to come for some time during next summer. We are talking about offering some ongoing classes/retreat times starting in the late winter and going through next summer. We plan to tie in any retreats next summer with the building project on the site. We will get more information out as final arrangements are made. We also continued conversation regarding the new tri fold which is to come out soon as it is in the final steps of being created.
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We prayed with Luke 20:1-8 and the ideas and words that stood out for us were what comes from heaven and from earth and the wisdom to know the difference, Jesus answering with a question and leaving the people with a question, continuing to ask or search really is the point, this passage includes a common question which is what are the credentials or by what authority is this being done?, when we see something we don't understand we need authority to certify it, Jesus denies them an answer and it seems that God often denies us our answer until we give up those things that we hold onto (like the priests who had their own agenda). How these reflections inform us about the vision of Micah include us being asked many times 'by what authority' is Micah, also the internal questions of what authority, discernment through a group is more tricky than relying on another, outside authority, Jesus doesn't waffle as if he doesn't know because he has the authority and stays grounded in it,we must stay grounded in wisdom from the process of listening rather than focusing on outside questions. We then continued the conversation regarding our summer planning and getting publicity out early. We talked about the on-going conversation with the architect and plans for building next spring. Yeda is coming out in a couple of weeks and we are very excited about that visit. We discussed some of the details of that trip and divided up responsibilities. We prayed for our country on election day.
We began with silent prayer. We then focused on Yeda's visit, getting the word out about next summer, a proposal to put together a three year program, and talking about details of our friend Sarah's visit. We talked of priorities for Yeda's visit and the issues that most needed discussion as we prepare for breaking ground next year on our first building. We talked of the importance of the sustainable energy conversation. With regard to getting the word out about next summer we discussed the need within the larger church to have a program like ours to help clergy with stress and burnout. Is it possible to provide a basic, diagnostic health exam with the retreats so that they might have holistic feedback and treatment alternatives as they return home? How then do we tap into existing structures to let people know that this is available? We talked of the health and pension plan for the Presbyterians as well as the COM.
Today we prayed Lectio style with Isaiah 44:1-8. Some of the words, phrases, and images that arose included: springing up and the Spirit to descendants, image of things happening, a sense of time, fifty years from now something rich, being like you which stirred thoughts of the coming together of like-minded folks-a coalescing. How does this inform the vision of MICAH? It brought up a noticing of what has already sprung up, MICAh drawing people together, it seems more concrete now, the issue of time vs. state of the world (fast paced), the faith that God is at work and is an active part in the vision.
We began with a time of silent prayer. We then reflected on Yeda's visit, on the status of summer retreats and various conversations, as well as the update on the new MICAH tri fold flyers.
We began by praying with Luke 19:1-9. The images and words that stood out for us included: Jesus came and passed through and how this is often like the life of prayer, short and couldn't see, having dinner with sinners in contrast and opposition to social constructs, Jesus ministers to the upper class as well, rich more lost than someone on the streets, salvation comes, the problems of the world are due to not giving up our particular position in the world often related to material things, Jesus interested in Zach. because Zach is interested in changing. What does this have to do with MICAH? Being with people who are interested in changing or being changed seems to reinforce the vision of connecting with the healing, spirituality, and arts communities for often people interested in change come from these disciplines.It seems faithful to cater to those who really want the change. Sacrifice is also an overarching theme of the gospel, being a member costs (not just money) something, there is a commitment. What is sacrifice? Maybe it is a change or replacement for a better life. Maybe it means participating.
Today we prayed with Mark 10:35-45. There were many images and words that stood out for us: the voice of Jesus seems ludicrous in the context of our 'I'm #1' society, seems totally against the dominant culture of US professes to be #1 in every thing and makes no sense, one person was reminded of a World Council of Churches event in Africa where the Africans served people so well and yet it was the americans and europeans that were the ones who complained the loudest-it was embarrassing, Jesus seems to be saying to be yourself and bring your whole self because other spots are taken, the action of serving is timelessness and seems so important in facing into modern challenges, it seems very desirable but difficult to get to that point, noticing how some are bold enough to ask and others are judged- neither group seems to understand what it takes to get there, how often do we create power struggles?!, the jealousy of others wanting to be close, Jesus brings them (and us) back to the reality of serving and being mindful of God, indignant stood out and it seems to be a very human reaction, the challenge to be open and positive in the midst of it all. When we moved to how this all applies to MICAH we had these thoughts: we need to serve and humble ourselves to serve, we need to continue to listen to voice of God and not the world around us- especially not the dominant US culture, we need endurance and strength when being dumped on because that could be our role instead of glory and praise, spiritual humility leads to becoming more of who we really are which is a very healing process, letting go of aggression and being #1 and just being who God intends for us to be, there is a challenge in being suspect and not being in this dominant cultural group, the only way to truly be a 'success' is to listen to God and respond. We then talked about the fancy tri fold, talked about Yeda's visit and any on-going work that needs to be done, and checked in regarding hearing from people for next summer.
Today we prayed with Matthew 3:1-10. The images and insights are as follows: image of green vine growing in a barren land, the duality of wonderful things coming vs. high holy folks coming out to see John and having prove themselves or be hacked down- it's seems very intense, the path to God is made straight- it will get there, if people don't yield good fruit then they will be thrown into the fire, things that don't fit will drop away, the image of the Pharisees is bad from personal background and represents the people out in our community who think that they know it all but aren't walking the life style and just condemning MICAH- John the Baptist refers to this as a brood of vipers, the duality of everything and how there is good and bad in everything- it is tempting to one of the ways of looking at any one thing is the "right" or "good" way as opposed to the 'wrong' or 'bad' way- this is the heart of why the world has difficulties- we can't live in the gray of holding both views as important and thus one position is always wrong and persecuted- what if we could appreciate both positions? and if there are always (at least) two sides to everything what does that tell us? We then wrestled with how these inform the vision of MICAH: a point of turmoil for folks in the larger community is that we are attracting people from all different sides and people don't know what to do with that, image of vine is that voice speaking and living differently in the middle of the majority culture, the barren land of 'tradition' or ingrained ways of doing things, we must continue the journey of doing things differently that others might know there is a different way and see the contemplative life modeled. We then spoke of the new tri fold flyer, the calendar and beginning to hammer out dates for next summer, and said that we would have to begin to wrestle with strategy for working with four different municipalities when planning the building process.
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We prayed Lectio style with Jeremiah 31:31-34. What was stirred within us as we listened included every being knows right from wrong (a line from KPax the movie), all will know me, rediscovery of how we know God, this (our present) is the time frame that the passage is talking about, Is God not guiding us by the hand? Is it more subtle than that?, reflecting a basic goodness, a primal ability to stay on track, o great, here is another pie in the sky idea of how good things are going to be and how everyone knows God and what God is going to do that just isn't real, the balance between knowing God and how we really don't know God. Our reflections then on MICAH included staying focused on what the point is (process of staying in touch with God and living that out) and the temptation to get off the track very easily, dealing with fear in life -'do not be afraid' of scripture, M is a place of rediscovering that which we already know and discovering it in a lived way. We then talked at length of scheduling both short and long term as well as our progress and what is needed by the architect.
Today we prayed Lectio style with 2 Timothy 4:1-5. Some of words and phrases that stood out included: in the presence of God, it's available and here, be patient and how the patience and God's presence are linked, pay attention in all projects, be alert, people gathering, the question "what is sound doctrine?"-it is usually just what people agree with which implies that we are the ones that he is talking about because most folks just use passages to roast others who disagree with them, "keep your head" is an obligation to stay calm and not get wound up even in the midst of craziness. Ideas with respect to informing the vision of Micah included: staying in present and being mindful, offering this mindfulness to others, confronting the mistaken notion that Micah is this cult thing- constantly dealing with the dualisms of good(me) vs. bad (you), transformation in God's presence gets beyond haggling, Micah is an invitation and not a proselytizing, filling a need and creating a safe place to go to figure it out on your own, wrestling with true doctrine which is the presence of God- this vision is space to experience that.
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The staff gathered and began with a general reflection of holding the summer before God and waiting for what arose. Some of the reflections included that the numbers of people who came seemed to fit well with the organic nature of MICAH, the reflections of others, the excitement of Crookston in general and all the participation, the level of our working together, faces of those who came- real people finding real experiences and depth, and positive outside feedback. We then moved to an awareness ex amen over the summer. The openings that we noticed included the gratitude of people when they left, our own participation was a good experience, each retreat seemed fresh, it was a good block of time, numbers seemed solid and we were able to stay aware from worrying about financial implications, God fills spaces, we had folks come for all four of the retreats, the 'wow' of going out to the land, summer couldn't have gone better, being at the house for meals was really good, and last but not least, people came to little Crookston. Two concerns that were noted included the pull to the 'correct kind of programming' and we can't lose sight of original vision that starts in prayer and community. Blocks that we noticed were the struggle to find places to house folks, private space, self doubts, lack of clarity or curriculum-doing something new, balance of self/family/retreat, and anxiety. We talked for quite some time about what is next based on these reflections. We discussed next summer's programming, curriculum, buildings and the campus on site, engagement with the larger church, and other events that are upcoming.
We prayed with Psalm 46:4-11. Our attention was drawn to God is with us, be still and know, rivers make glad the city of God (Jerusalem was built on a underground river so that they always had water, we don't always know where the underground streams are, they pop out every once in a while which is like the spiritual life), the contrast stillness and all of God's activity, 'be still' begins saying with lots of words which can be just pared down to 'be'. We then reflected on how this seems to fit well with the vision here, who could have thought it could spring up here?, follow what God gives us, find stillness and live it and offer it to others. We planned for the Labyrinth Day on the 26th, talked of UMC and the items needed for the conversation with the architect.
The staff gathered and began with an awareness examen over the life of MICAH and our engagement with it. Some of the openings that we noticed were that MICAH seems to have a life of its own, that plans are coming together (sometimes even without us noticing that they are), the life of prayer has led to a sense of prayer more often, spiritual direction and leading worship, year long development, people have been coming and continue to come, more of a fit, there is a sense of spiritual indifference and not concerned about the outcome which is very freeing, conversations out west...people are amazed. Blocks included: the institutional church, the way things have been, the situation in the larger church seems to continue to get worse and worse, own negativity, overwhelmed and harried regarding getting the clinic up and running, disconnect between wanting the life of prayer and committing to it. We then talked of the future and what the fall and winter hold for us as individuals and for MICAH.
We gathered and our prayer practice was Lectio with Galatians 3:1-5. We heard that discernment is paying attention to what is before you, hear what you believe, faith in the process of Micah and what is emerging, how to share the process with others, what do we listen to, inner movement vs hearing or an outer movement.
We listened for God's word through Romans 10:8-13. The images and ideas that stood out for us were the exclusive formula for salvation vs. the radical inclusiveness of verse 12 (the us vs. them, humans trying to create exclusivity so that it becomes the self or our group vs. the world), the word is in your heart, God is right there and if we can pay attention to our faith all will be well, faith matters and it works, being saved causes pain and suffering to be alleviated. We talked of how this might be lived out in MICAH and talked of a new kind of church that is wary of denominational exclusivism, Micah is an inclusive place, how vastness can be so threatening to people, and the tribalism of churches and our world.
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We prayed with Luke 12:32 at our weekly meeting. Things that stood out for people where God being pleased to give the kingdom, do not be afraid and trusting in God, give possessions- where your treasure is there your heart is as well, the issue of need vs. want which leads to simplicity, and God wants to care for us. We talked of how this applies to the vision of MICAH and found that some thought that MICAH is to be a living reminder, a place that is alive with awakening. Some heard this as a call to simplicity and to live into simplicity. Others thought it meant that Micah was to be a place that embodies a receiving of the kingdom and treasure in heaven. We talked through the retreat that is coming up and responsibilities for it.
The MICAH staff took a day long retreat on the property to pray and talk about visioning, direction, and issues facing MICAH for the future. We talked of Erik's plans for staying a longer time here, finances, the health center and its immanent opening, communication, vision, our relationship with Presbytery, housing, what buildings will be the first for construction on our site, and what purpose that building would serve.
We welcomed four clergy/retired clergy from nearby Bemidji for a retreat on Spiritual Life and Leadership.
We prayed with Isaiah 5:1-7, the Song of the Vineyard. Images and ideas that caught our attention were justice to bloodshed, a sadness for God that we have drifted so far, we will be known by our fruits, do we work for the things that God longs for, can't get involved on such a large scale but what are small things that we can do? We then talked about what these have to do with the vision of Micah: a place to work on wilderness, a place to find fruits, creating time and space to listen for God's longing and what God wants, and a voice of accountability for the larger church that is drifting away from relationship with God.
Was cancelled due to illness and other obligations, but the staff met on the 26th to pray and plan for the retreat this next week. We have two people coming from California, two from the Presbytery, and a Lutheran group coming for a day to talk about a national event next summer.
We hosted our final retreat for the summer so much of the week was spent in prayer.
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The staff gathered with an awareness examen over the recent life of MICAH. We marveled together at all that had happened and all those who had attended the celebration and the weekend events. Openings to God included those as well as the gatherings around meals of locals and those who had traveled distances, the presence of people who are involved and had even flown in for the events, the presence of Beth our first retreatant the previous week, the view that was offered by those who came that seems to see the project in a very good and faithful light, and the growing awareness of MICAH and its ministry through the media, word of mouth, experience, and web site. We then talked of how to get the word out about the upcoming retreat as well as details concerning that retreat. We talked of the needs for the labyrinth project coming up in two weeks. This took most of our time. We closed with spoken prayer.
We did an awareness examen over the life of MICAH. The points of life for people included the participants over the celebration weekend, the energy of being a part of MICAH, ecumenical barriers being broken, laugher, people gathering, fellowship, shared meals, gathering to pray, Erik's arrival in Crookston, and the community planning of the celebration. This reflection led into touching base about rapping up details from the celebration and planning the intern's work a bit more clearly. We closed with prayer.
We prayed with Luke 10:38-42, the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha. The reflections varied and included: get so busy that we forget about God, 'frustrated and worried about so many things to take care of', daily life, she's worried about too many things, the 'better' label and what is better?, is there a way to balance work and silence, the two characters being present in me, God is with me in my work, Martha did the good things- the right thing- in offering hospitality but that hospitality came with strings attached, when we invite Jesus into our lives things don't go as we planned, and that hospitality is so Jesus can change us. How does this inform us about the vision of MICAH? This is what we are trying to teach and live, it is an inside vs. outside perspective which is a sign of inspiration and hope to people. this has caught people's imaginations and there have been unexpected results. We tend to be focused on tasks both big and small yet there is clearly something else going on. This reflection led into the conversation regarding the upcoming retreat and the needs for the labyrinth project as well as advertising. We closed with prayer.
Our retreat with six people from Missouri, North Dakota, and Crookston went very well. We called it Creating a Life with God with a focus on spiritual life and leadership. Out of our own experiences of different prayer practices we taught on spiritual leadership of all people of faith. The labyrinth project went very well, and a solid foundation has been laid for those who will come next. To see photos check out the photo gallery located under the News section of this web site.
We prayed with Luke 15: 8-10. Some of the words/phrases/images that stood out were: rejoice with me, rejoicing angels with God, power of one person repenting, rejoicing at being a child of God, implies that ministry is to every person even 'difficult' ones, the extravagant love of God, living in the midst of wealth, and looking inward to find salvation. We then asked what these had to do with MICAH and the vision of MICAH as it unfolds. We talked of MICAH being a place to grow roots so I can deepen so that I have energy and grace to welcome call folks, a place to be found and know God's celebrating over us and for us, and a simple life so don't get caught up in wealth. We then reflected on the retreat that had just been completed. Issues that came up were Erik's sensitivity was very helpful for folks attending, the prayerfulness of the time, really living the life of prayer in the midst of our daily lives, and the importance of getting information to Laura so she knows what is going on and where. We talked about the internship and Carissa's needs for information.
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Today we prayed with the passage from John 9: 35-41. Words and images that stood out for people were "I believe", the interplay between blindness and seeing, seeing with the idea of responsibility and accountability attached to it, and the courage it took the man (and us) to change. When we talked of MICAH we envisioned a place that would provide time and space to see past the stuff of life and get that place where we could really change towards health. It would also be a place where the leadership focuses on this kind of seeing and healing that then would be accessible to others. it will be a place open to miracles. We also talked of how the man was not "in" but was on the fringe of life and society. We then turned out attention to making preparations for the upcoming celebration on the land. We also talked of the retreats that we are offering this summer and what needs to happen for them as well. We closed with spoken prayer.
We prayed with Galatians 3:24-26. We talked about the radical nature of being one and leaving behind all those things that separate people. We talked about this passage as being one of the biggest struggles within the church and a teaching that the church often conveniently ignores. A reflection from the mission trip to Costa Rica was the commonality that was found by those who went on the trip and the connections with people through faith. When we talked about Micah it was clear that we hoped that Micah would be a place and a way of being that would model this oneness and connection with others, a community that could see past those things and issues that divide us. It was also noted that the contemplative process was the only process that was able to get to this place of oneness. We then planned for welcoming people for the kickoff celebration as well as welcoming our new intern to this process. We talked about what needed to happen in the next two weeks as well as planning for our first retreat that is happening next week. We divided responsibilities and closed with prayer.
The staff met and prayed in silence. Out of the silence we spent some time catching each other up on the various activities and communications that have been happening. We talked through the many upcoming events and the service for the kickoff celebration. We talked of the welcome for retreat next week as well as the outline for it. We planned for the communications still needed to invite folks to join us. We talked of the labyrinth project on the land as well as the garden that is going out there. We faded as it was late and closed with prayer.
Today we prayed with the scripture 2 Kings 4:1-7. What we heard included God providing for those who ask and believe, 'What can I do for you?', the importance of tending to the needs of others, go and pay your debts and how Jesus paid our debts, God creating out of nothing, God was the one who really paid the woman's debt, and God's action in the story and working through the oil which was simply oil- nothing more than itself. One person also was reminded of the cup runneth over passage and Jesus turning the water into wine. As we related this all to God's vision of MICAH we made the connection with God creating something from nothing, the importance of the community that makes it all possible, no one in the community has yet to say there are no more vessels, the main action remains God's, and the realization of this community as impoverished like that of the scripture. We then moved into the final organizational tasks before us as we approach the celebration weekend. We talked of the banners, sound system, content, golf carts, drivers, water, etc. It was wonderful to hear the enthusiasm and excitement of so many working on this together. We closed with spoken prayer.
The staff met to plan the content of the service itself. We began in silence and out of our own reflections and prayer times we pulled together the last details. You can see the liturgy that arose from this time on the reflection page. We closed with prayer, excitement and a little anxiety about all that lay ahead in the weekend.
We celebrated the weekend and all that had happened and how well it all went. We thanked those attending for their continued prayer and work. We prayed with 1Kings 19:9-13 and Elijah as he waits for and hears the still small voice of God. What stood out for us included: the term zealous being loaded and interesting as Elijah has a powerful vision of who God is and his own mission, Elijah knew what he was listening for and so wasn't distracted by all the big phenomena, being patient to hear God- Elijah kept waiting and God will answer, after the powerful phenomena the still small whisper, the time is distorted because the passage itself is pretty miserable and not very appealing yet goes pretty fast- it must have been terrifying to go through all the phenomena- and how hard it is to wait through all the junk that the world throws at us. The question was asked, where have we noticed that "still small whisper" in the midst of all that has happened in MICAH recently. It was noted that there seemed to be a seamlessness to the activities, there was a breaking down of barriers in a healthy way and clarity in interactions, the whisper seemed to be interwoven throughout, there seemed to be a quality of worship happening all the time, a peace, a welling up of the Spirit, and the power of smallness which is underestimated and lost in a culture of more and larger and faster. We began to talk about what is next with regards to the MICAH intern, the next retreat coming up in two weeks, and advertising for it.
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For our meeting today we prayed with the passage from Revelation 21:1-6. What we heard was the new order that God brings into being (or longs to bring into being) that stands in opposition to the old order of things. We talked of how prevalent the old order is and how easily we fall back into it. This old order is one of our egos and our needs rather than those of God. There was the question raised, 'when will this transformation happen?': people pray for years and follow as faithfully as possible yet it seems the old order remains both in society and active in our lives. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and this is clearly not what God has in mind. We also talked of the connection between the presence of God and this new order ("God will live with them" from the scripture). The transformation to the new has to do with the presence of God being known. We saw Micah as being a place that calls the old order and those in it (including ourselves) to accountability so that this new order may take root. We were challenged by the thought of looking in the mirror and saying, "I am the problem" and taking accountability for our complicity (behaviors, thoughts, actions or lack of action,...) with the old. It is also a place and a way of being that embodies that new order where God is known and healing happens. Most of the planning time was taken by talking more about the yurt going up on the land next month and the planning and work that needs to happen for that.
We prayed with the passage from Luke 9: 37-43 when Jesus cures the boy possessed by a demon. One image that arose was the church as the boy. It often seems that the Church has lost its connection with God and gets caught by some other spirit of competition, business, money, fear, etc. and just ends up thrashing around. It was also noticed that Jesus seems mean here. We wondered if that was because he is tired of needy folks when he is looking for those who would begin to live into the new way that he is talking about and teaching. Could it be that he is tired of being seen as just a 'fixer' instead of others taking action in his behalf. In the passage the disciples can't do it and so come to Jesus. Why can't they do it? Our reflection on MICAH then included the centrality of that relationship with God and not being co-dependant. It is about being open and honest and taking responsibility for life, health, and faith. Also, how do we facilitate people going straight to Jesus for their true needs? The yurt is coming so we planned out the construction that needs to be done before then. We also talked about the artist gathering out on the land on the 23rd.
Dan and Erik were leading a Sabbath retreat south of Minneapolis. It continued to reinforce the power and wonder of connecting with God through sacred community and prayer practices. Several of those attending said that they were planning on coming up to MICAH to visit, and the leadership team tentatively planned to hold similar retreat at this time next year but on the MICAH site. We took these as great signs of life and indications of what is possible. We hope that everyone might know the power and wonder of gathering people together in prayer. We continue to be transformed by this way of life and are grateful to all those who have made Sabbath possible over the years. We wait, attentive to God, for what is next.
There was great excitement today because the yurt has arrived, and we are in the process of finishing the platform for it. We prayed with John 5:1-9. Several words and phrases stood out for folks: "do you want to get well?', the man doesn't answer Jesus' question to him but talks about his own history of what is holding him back, an addiction to our own brokenness, he picked up his mat and walked, and that in the midst of his ministry to bring God's message to the world he hangs out with invalids and heals them. As we talked more it was noted that Jesus completely undercuts the man's excuses and all that has held him. What does all this mean for MICAH? We envision a place where it is easier to heal, a place of Spirit, a place of letting go of old baggage and past to embrace the life that God has for us. We see it to be a place arising out of the decay of the institutions that are crumbling around us and emerging with a sense of newness, freshness, Spirit, and hope. After the prayer time Erik and Dan zipped out to the site to work on the platform and get the yurt out there as well. You can see some of the pictures on the site photo pages of this web site.
Today's prayer practice was an awareness examen over the life of MICAH right now. In the prayer time several images arose for life and connectedness. One image was of the roots set down in Winter were providing the foundation for the growth of Spring. Events continue to pick up speed and this seems like a natural outgrowth of relationships that we have been building and giving energy to. The yurt was an image that continued to arise as a symbol of the reality of what is happening. There was a warning of mindfulness and balance in all that we are doing. There was a sense of being astounded at all that is happening. We were aware of the real longing for spiritual leadership in the churches and in the lives of individuals as well as a gratefulness for all the help that we are receiving from the larger community. As far as the awareness of separation and darkness, places where there wasn't life, there was one place of ongoing decision making that was noted. We then continued to talk about the architect, legal documents, updates on grants that are in the works, a potential building to purchase, summer retreats, the new thanks page on the web site, planning the worship part of the celebration service, and the FPC Sabbath event on Sunday.
We held the FPC Sabbath time out in the yurt. We joined several local artists who had come out for the day to paint, walk, draw, write, and rest. There were about 20 people out on the property!! Our group participate in a time of creative prayer with art supplies that included paints, clay, crayons, pastels, objects from nature (especially dandelions..), paper, and cotton balls. People walked outside as well as remaining inside the yurt to stay out of the wind. The stories and the creations were as varied as the people, and their amazing works brought laughter, tears, and sighs as they were revealed to others. It was a great time of prayer, rest, and community.
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Today was an absolutely gorgeous day so we went out on the land for our discernment time. We have been working to clear some of the dead wood out of a forested section and the resulting area under the trees is incredibly peaceful. We sat in silence for a bit simply to soak in it. We heard sandhill cranes and several other birds. We listened to the scripture from Deuteronomy 11:1, 11-15 and heard once again of God's provision. We talked of not using the possessive 'our' when talking about the land as it is God's. As soon as we begin being possessive then we can get into trouble as it can even get in the way of listening to the wisdom of the land itself. We marveled at how even the spoken word in that silence/fullness is more soothing. We also continued to marvel at how the land came under our care and the process by which we were able to buy it. As we looked at the cluttered woods we wondered how many people's lives were this cluttered. One talked of the Time magazine article about women who are choosing to stay home with their kids and how insane their lives were before that decision. It was hard for us to imagine that style of fast-paced life. What healing could happen for people if we could just get them to come and sit and pray for a time?!
We continued to talk about upcoming events and began to plan the service part of the kickoff event in June. We planned out what we would send to people via email and who needs directions and housing. We closed with spoken prayer and a great sense of the sacred in that place.
Today we prayed with Hebrews 12:1-3. One person was reminded of the contemplative song, "God keep our eyes fixed on Jesus". Another observed how we so easily become entangled in so much stuff but following Christ seems to offer a different way and cut through the entanglements. One person was attracted to the image of running the race and had the image of running in a winter parka which was very difficult and confining. When we are able to throw off those things that bind us we are much more free to 'run the race'. A simplicity of life helps this process. Another noted that Jesus kept his eye on goal of being with God and kept it simple. We then wrestled with the question, "What do these images and insights have to do with what MICAH is envisioned to be?" the answers ranged from being a living example of this simple life focused on Jesus, to inviting others to come and find Jesus, to living a life in a different way that means that we don't just jump helter skelter into projects (entanglements) but continue to form a way of being with God at the center, to MICAH may seem entangled now but will untangle later.
Blessings to you all in this Holy Week. May you know the richness, depth, and power of life with God.
Debra and Erik went out on the land for a sunrise service. It was a beautiful, peaceful morning. We sang and prayed and did some Lectio reflection. This was the first worship that we have organized on this piece of land but definitely not the last. May all know the power, joy, peace and life of this morning!!
Today we took a prayer walk out on the land. After reading from 1 Kings of God's encounter with Elija on the mountain (not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but then there was a stillness) we walked and prayed with "God reveal yourself to me" or the question, "God, how are you revealing yourself to me?"
End of April
There have been many comings and goings in April that have broken the rhythm of our more structured group prayer times. We have continued our morning and evening prayers consistently throughout this month which has continued to build our unity and our journey together. Much of the activity has also led to the neglect of this web site, so we will pick up our entries in May. Blessings to you in this time.
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Today we prayed Lectio style with Psalm 27. Some of the reflections centered around a process of seeking God's face and the difficulty (but also value) of that. We also mentioned how the culture of the US seems to stand in the way of that process. It was also noted that waiting is often romanticized, and waiting, especially for God, is often difficult and painful at points. We know we are to wait for God,and that must be taken seriously with much attention.
Today we went out to the site for our prayer time together. We walked and talked about the placement of the temporary housing structures for the Spring and Summer. A picture of the site for the first structures on the land is included here. We talked more of the legal structures of MICAH as well as the meeting with architects coming up this week. We reflected on this web site (so you might continue to notice some changes) and the structure of the retreats for this summer. We noticed once again the energy around conversations with people who are interested in having a retreat tailored to their specific calling or directions. We decided that we were open to that and excited about those possibilities.
Today we prayed with Luke 8:23-25 when Jesus calms the storm. One reflection centered around the calm of the water after the storm and the inevitable question of "who then is this?" in reference to Jesus. The other reflections centered around "Let us go over to the other side of the lake". It was noticed that a living faith and relationship with God really is a crossing over from one way of life to another. It is a giving up and renouncing of former ways of being and entering new and often foreign territory. It is not easy and often requires quite a lot of who we are. It was noted that this crossing over is also often accompanied by storms in our lives. Out of the prayer time we talked more about possible logos that a friend is working on for us and planning for our opening blessing service in June. We want to make sure and get out more details to people so that they can make plans.
Matthew 6:5-15 was our scripture passage today: part of Jesus' teachings on prayer. One person reflected on the issue of reward in prayer. Those who pray "to be seen by others' receive one kind of reward which is the focus of others and their feedback regarding their holiness. Those who pray with the intent of finding God are 'rewarded' with that relationship and a growing awareness of themselves. Another mentioned the suppression of the sacred feminine as most references from the scripture were in male language. It was also noted how interesting it is what people choose to hold onto out of scripture: what becomes sacred and what becomes profane. It is interesting that most churches have pastors that lead prayers by speaking many words, even going on and on, and this is standard and accepted. Silence is not as 'appreciated' in most mainline churches even thought this passage seems to speak in opposition to these trends. Another heard the statement of forgiving others as a part of being forgiven, of being open and kind to others. We talked of how these related to MICAH and its unfolding. We then talked at greater length of the kickoff celebration and service coming up in June: places on the land, activities, people, invitations, outlines, etc. We also talked of the yurt and getting that ordered so that it can be set up on site for functions beginning in the Spring .
We prayed with 1 John 2:28- 3:3. One was very intrigued with the last sentence, "But we know that when Christ appears , we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." there was great interest in this line, and we produced several translations to see how the passage compared in the NIV, RSV, and New English Bibles. It was the same. One of the reflections was that it is a fascinating commentary on the inward and outward states of being. Are we able to see him as he is because we have been transformed or is it that because he appears we are changed so that we then can see him as he is? Where and when does the change take place? An image came out of the passage for another person. It was an image of a cross tipping on its side ready to fall which was seen as the world around us. another person heard a strong connection between the adjectives used for God and the idea of the children of God. Another person mentioned that the transformation of people seemed to stand out throughout the passage. God is at work creating us anew. this was also tied to the experience of those who participate in Spiritual Practices. Something happens, God shows up and we are amazed. Transformation happens. As we reflected on what this all has to do with MICAH it was said that this was a place where these things happen, where people can experience this transformation, learn these practices and find more clarity in that interplay between the external and internal. We continued to make lists of responsibility for the kickoff event and talk about details. More information including maps and times will be available soon.
At our group gathering on Sunday we prayed with Micah 6:6-8. There were a variety of images and insights that came out of this passage. One person noticed that the requirements seem very simple yet are far from it as we try and live into them. Another noticed all the preparations of the first section that seem to build in their complexity yet these are followed with the 'simplicity' of what God really does require. Another person saw the juxtaposition of the 'religious' works in the first part to the faithful response shown to us by God in the second part. Another person had a vision of many rams up on the mountain. Another thought of the costs to the people of all the oil and the rams and the calves. What is the cost of our faith? The requirements of vs. 8 seem to be of insignificant financial cost yet of great cost from other respects. We then piled into the van and drove out to the MICAH site for a tour of the property. We talked of potential placement for various structures and the possibilities for each. We ordered our first yurt and it will be delivered in mid-May. God continues to be faithful.
Today we were excited to have our largest group yet for our weekly discernment meeting. We prayed with Philippians2:5-11. there were many different images, words, and thoughts that stood out for people. These included: having an attitude like Christ, humbling oneself and being like a servant (or slave) flies in the face of what the world around us values, the question of what does it mean to have the nature of a servant and why would Jesus choose that?, and God's Son is amazing. Also mentioned were the connection to original sin through confusing our status with God's status as well as the use of the second part of this passage through the ages for the abuse of those who see things differently than us, Bible beating, and the use of force to make people bow at Jesus' name. The first part of the scripture seems to condemn this force and abuse. It was also noted that often the larger church has used this and other passages for this force and abuse. We talked of how these images and understandings impact what MICAH is. this reminded people of our saying MICAH is ...renouncing violence... and the contemplative song "Ways of wisdom..all her paths are peace." the hope is that MICAH will be/is a place where people can come and find this 'right' awareness of their relationship with and to God as well as offering a living model of what it means to live this out in our world today. We brought the new people up to date with regards to what we have been doing. We looked at the invitation for the kickoff weekend and talked through responsibilities for that weekend. We looked at the work on the MICAH logo which received very favorable responses.
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Today we gathered at the church and prayed in the style of lectio divina with Matthew 13:44-46. We reflected on the value of the kingdom of God and also its closeness to us. We also talked about the radical giving up that occurs in the passage. What would we give up for the kingdom? What do we give up? Are we willing to give the kingdom such priority? We then tried to catch up some of the newer folks on the current events in the life of MICAH. One was very excited to do publicity and one had energy around web site development. We continue morning prayer at the church and have added evening prayer at home.
Today we did a prayer with art. We sat in silence with God to see what image would come up for us regarding MICAH, and then we (some of us just attempted to) drew them. The images ranged from a still pool with small flames of the Spirit around it to an image of full heads of wheat turning to the sun to a woman embracing others and the earth. Out of the images we began to talk about and plan for the uses of our the property. Where would structures go, what would be left in cultivation, where are boundary lines, where would silent retreat spaces be, etc.?
We took a prayer walk (on snowshoes) out on-site and shared reflective conversation as well as times of silence. The land is magnificent and very peaceful. A picture of where we were is on just below. It is interesting how our ideas, thoughts, and feelings change regarding land use when we are actually out there.
Today we prayed lectio style with the scripture Isaiah 61:1-4. We reflected on the call to bind up the brokenhearted and release people from darkness, the transformation that God works when we allow God's work to made known as opposed to our own, that even the ancient ruins are restored when we proclaim God's freedom. Our work is in the proclamation of the freedom and God extends that to do amazing and transformative things. We continued to speak of on-going events, and talked of the presentation to UMC campus ministry and the artists gathering in Grand Forks. Dan is off to Ontario to lead a prayer retreat this weekend.
We prayed with the newspaper this morning. We noticed the incredible amount of fear and violence that were all throughout the pages. We spoke of the need to be connected with events in the world yet how difficult it is not to be pummeled by negativity and violence that is presented. We talked of the movie Bowling for Columbine and how it presented the difference between the US and Canada and how violent and fearful this country is. We envision MICAH as a place that is away from the fear yet still connected to the rest of the world- maybe even more connected because of the grounding in peace.
Today we focused our time in an awareness prayer. What did we notice over the last week in our various conversations, retreats, and presentations? We noticed that our voices are becoming more clear about the Micah vision and the responses that we receive from people are becoming more clear as well. It seems that their is a longing for a place and way of life of which we are speaking. We also wondered if content is unimportant. People tend to address issues by doing new programs, yet they never really get at it. There is something wrong or disconnected with the process. That seems to be the key. the process that we are trying to stay grounded in is about listening to God and not getting caught up in the push for programs or demands for more by outside sources. What are we hearing? We must allow this to guide us.
This morning we prayed with Luke 9:18-25. Some of the reflections included that this seemed to echo one person's own wrestling with the person of Christ, not theological answers or pat repetitions, but the relationship with who is this person with whom I am in relationship? Another wondered why Jesus didn't want people to be told about him. Another reflected on the rigidity of formulations or definitions that people can analyze, categorize, and then put away so there is no wrestling or questioning. We wondered if this is how the larger church tends to be. 'Just believe' can simply take us out of the wrestling and relational aspects of Jesus.
Today we opened with silence then checked in with each other. How are people doing? What are you thinking about MICAH? We had talked last week a bit about having doubts at points but this week those had quieted a bit. It was interesting to note how the support of the community gathered in prayer keeps those voices of doubt from surfacing. We then talked a lot about housing options for this summer and the future. We feel like it is important to address the need of shelter out on site so that a prayerful presence can develop out there. We talked of the possibilities of two or three yurts of varying sizes to deal with these needs.
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