Today we prayed with the passage from Luke 1:44-55. This is from Mary's Magnificat. She proclaimed her soul glorifying the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God her savior. This is a very profound statement for such a young girl. It is not what we typically expect to hear from a young teenager. She was very meek and humble. It is an example of how the bible teaches us to be. She was not a powerful and prestigious figure one might imagine for such a tremendous life of events.
During the reflection one was drawn to the choice or lack of choice that Mary was given. It is interesting to reflect on Mary's situation. Would Mary have just jumped up and volunteered to be the mother of Jesus? Probable not. In her situation, would you have volunteered? There is a certain amount of anxiety and fear from new and different things that often close doors to opportunities before they can open. However, when a situation is just put in our midst very different circumstance unfold. We should be more open to the events in our life that may happening around us and use them as opportunities to spread God's love.
This piece is a beautiful expression of Mary's faith in God and hope for the world. Mary's life must have been difficult. However, she remained faithful and trusted in her strength that came from God. She did this even if she didn't completely understand the work in the world God was doing through her.
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The scripture we prayed with today was from Luke 8:16-18. The two pieces of the reading brought to mind a contrast of the times in our life when we are away from God and doing things on our own. There are times when we feel in control and then there are times when we need God close and want him close. We need to be more conscience of God’s light with us always.
Giving and taking from the end of this verse may have meant spiritual gifts rather than material items. One noticed the emphasis or focus on carefully listening and truly hearing what God is trying to say. It is often easy to stray toward ones own wants and needs rather than God’s call. Careful discernment is an important tool to use. The light was viewed as openness or sharing of your faith. This can also be related to more personal concernsor situations in our lives. It is better to have things out in the open and shared. Sharing can be used as a support with others instead of a lonely place. If you try to conceal or hide your troubles this will often cause more harm or even destroy your surroundings. Hiding a candle under a bed is just inviting a tragedy. If our faith is like a flame it should burn brightly and glow spreading light to all those around us.
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Today we prayed with scripture from the book of Mark 1:35-45. Most of the group's attention was drawn the number of people who followed Jesus and how many attempts were made to seek him out. He was followed by the disciples, religious leaders, the sick and also many common folks. It was noted that even Jesus made a specific effort to make a personal connection with his Father with intentional prayer time. It is an important quality of successful leaders to have this horizontal one on one divine relationship before they can share their wisdom in a vertical way that is pleasing to God.
In the story, Jesus told the man he healed to show himself to the priest and offer sacrifices. This made Jesus appear humble as if he was not looking for credit or acknowledgment for his gift to the man. Another wondered if Jesus was frustrated when the healed man did not follow his command to not tell anyone. The man told everyone even when Jesus gave him a strong warning not to. Did this bother Jesus or did he know the nature of man and expect him to do this?
Another was drawn to the attraction to Jesus. He was offering very valuable gifts for nothing in return. This is a concept that is very difficult for us to understand. When this is tried in modern churches it is a very unpopular and often a skeptical situation. Do we lose sight of what Jesus did? Why is if so hard to follow this example? There is great value to what Jesus has to offer and the crowds of all types of people were and are still drawn to him.
We prayed with a passage from James 3: 13-18. It continues to be amazing how scripture written thousands of years ago has meaning and relevance on the things happening in our everyday lives. One noticed how jealousy and envy can enter into their life as an element of human nature. However, wisdom from studying God's word can help you identify these times and help you back away and allow yourself to grow. Another was drawn toward the meekness of wisdom. Our worldly view is often much different. The reflection focused on how there is a difference between earthly emphasis and the Divine peaceful wisdom. Birds in nature, following their inner call during migration was shared as an expression of wisdom. One noticed the list used to describe wisdom. Also how this description of wisdom was very even and calm. This is much different than how wisdom is usually expressed. He also noticed how a personal approach with a calm and even mindset yields results that flow smoothly. Wisdom is a very powerful tool and should be used to promote God's will not ones personal gains.
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During this period of time we didn't stop praying, but we did stop recording our prayer journal! As a summary, I would say that we continued to see that God is calling us into this ministry of prayer, the spiritual life and leadership, and healing. As God speaks to us through scripture, the people around us, the power of the land, and silence, we hear how these ministries interact and build upon one another, not separate and exclusive, but rather integrated and complementary.
We were particularly blessed by the people who journeyed here during the summer to pray, work, and live with us. We also continue to be grateful for the ways in which our prayer live nourishes us, sustains us, and reminds us not to become too caught up in MICAH as a project rather than as a gift from God that we are called to live into.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Thoughts that came to mind from this passage include: 1) like the word “freedom”. Hard concept to understand. Maybe the opposite of “slavery”. We are somehow enslaved to something. With Spirit -- we can be released from that. Becoming or changing. Becoming like God is a process -- ongoing. 2) “unveiled face” -- caught my attention. coming out from hiding from something. 3) lots of images. “Spirit” and “freedom” and “unveiled face”. Think of a magician, not that God is a magician -- someone drawing something up and transforming and does this from :”nothing” -- produces a free thing. One also remembers looking at cloud formations on beach and they looked like angels and they transformed into a gorgeous sunset. Felt “freedom” felt connected to a creative force -- God -- It was a spiritual thing. Another thought is sensation or image -- during prayer -- something deep within -- a feeling of being freed up from center -- the presence of God drawn up from your insides and setting it free. 4) heard the word Lord and Spirit. My understanding that in ancient aramaic “Lord” means Law and Spirit is the Love. These are two aspects of God but one and the same thing. I like that. When we turn our faces to God we reflect the image of God. 5) like this whole passage. sense of being freed to be who God has formed us to Be. Another thought the feeling that “we” spend so much time being enslaved by other’s images -- parent/society/we think what we are to be. But we are freed to Be the image of who God wants us to Be. -- the likeness of God -- cool! Good deal! The core of what MICAH is -- spiritual formation, health, art -- provide opportunities or spaces for people to be who they really are!
Question about what “veiled face” means. Moses went up to mountain and saw God face-to-face and Moses’ face shined. He put a veil on to not freak people out when he came down the mountain. Then when he went back up to talk to God he would take the veil off again.
Scripture: Luke 9:51-62
Prayer time thoughts on Scripture reading included: 1) “can’t get past this thought so will say it so then can open to another viewpoint” Sounds like Jesus is in “PMS”. He knew what was coming and was irritable. “not very nice”. One can’t say good by to loved ones? Can’t bury your father? 2) Image: sense in that “spiritual practice” can be extreme in relation to “normal existence”. This is true and difficult for us to hear. Old Buddhist practice -- one way to deal with nonattachment: visualize spouse as “rotted corpse”. (joke) Thought that the reason seems extreme -- our attachment to our fallen selves is pretty extreme. “having hard day -- couldn’t do it. “ Our normal lives” are so normal to us that we don’t see how powerful the pull is away from spiritual life. so other way feels extreme and irritating and harsh; conundrum in a way. Joke at Upper Room: Spiritual life not something people want to do. Lots of people don’t want to do -- difficult position financially. It is much like “selling spinach” -- good for you. 3) hard time with this passage told myself to sit with it and see what comes up. “Yes, but...” syndrome. But these “yes, buts...” are reasonable.
Message is that we can always come up with something. Always have an excuse. This passage has lots of “words”. Lots to listen to. -- “busy” passage. Leaves me with feeling: “huh?”! Truly a demonstration that things are not always clear. 4) reminded of other passages. That if you are “lukewarm” God will “spit you out!” This lukewarm-ness will dilute those around you. If you are not “hot” for God....
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Scripture: John 4:6-15
Thoughts that came from this time include: 1) reminded of the meditation class in the morning. Looking around at saw so many faces that were in pain. These people were “thirsty.” Also the idea that “what is this living water”? Can we really not thirst again? "I believe that prayer heals, etc, but do I Really believe it?" contradiction. 2) How “cool” it is to meet Jesus -- and have this conversation. She’s doing a mundane thing like getting water and then meets Jesus. Idea of “thirst” -- people hungry or thirsty spiritually. Personally -- tasted “living water” -- On a Journey -- developing relationship with God. Hope that people with thirst will meet Jesus and have living water. Hope that MICAH might provide this. Reflectively -- thirst for water -- never have to draw here again -- but of course will have to draw again. People who are spiritually rich -- Visit to Calcutta/Costa Rica -- people with so much faith -- their suffering did not seem so great. Thirst satisfied by “living water“.
Scripture: 1 Kings 19:4-9
Thoughts that surfaced from this time include: 1) Image: “retreat place” someone coming and going to rest someplace. Image of the “Angel” is the people facilitating the retreat -- provide nutrients while resting and to prepare for the experience, and ready to go on the experience. “What are you doing here?” reminded of the disciples asking Jesus and Jesus saying “Come and See.” Retreat theme: go on retreats. Micah exits and why? What for? What is it for? What are you doing? Why do we do the thing we do? Why go meet God? Why go on a retreat? 2) Angel will give us more chances. If we miss the chance to eat, we will be given and reminded to take another. And, we're given "cake!" Thought that the question posed to Elijah, “What are you doing here?” had to do with the fact that Elijah had arrived at the Mount of God -- which could signify that the whole of God -- the mountain that is God was rising above him, or that the mount of God meant that he was at the “base” or foundation of God. Anyway, instead of climbing the Mountain that he had arrived at after a long journey -- Elijah went into a cave which implied that he was hiding. Hiding at the Mount of God! God asked him, “Why are you in a cave hiding?” 3) This time reading the passage struck me as “funny”. God interrupts his sleep and gives him good for a journey -- and then sent him on his journey and then asks -- What are you doing here? God sets us on our journeys and then asks us. What are you doing here? And we answer -- Well, you sent me on this!” Interplay -- our responsibility -- or our responding to our situation. God’s action is to present us with certain situations. Dance with God being present and involved. God withdraws and lets us respond. Then shows up with something else. What are we doing in Crookston? You brought me here, you tell me --God not being co-dependent -- easy to lapse into depending role. It is a relationship. It’s not as if God will tell us what to do for everything but we have input. What’s the detour? Why are you in the cave?
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34
Reflections on this text included: 1) Noted places in body where she was tense. As she listened the tension rolled over into relaxation. Felt good to relax in faith. “God will take care of my needs just as God takes care of those in nature.” 2) Interesting. Reading applied to personal issues. It feels like tough things going on in work -- not letting that override into personal anxiety. What does this have to do with Bigger Picture? Is there a bigger reflection for church or Micah? Discernment process -- of prayer -- to understand what comes up next. Not to get wrapped up in anxiety of material details. To focus on kingdom of God. What will draw us closer to that? What needs to be done if God wants it done. “Word”: anxious -- personal struggle. Quiet silence to direct to a greater understanding. 3) Realize: anxious about something or something in the future -- something to do with our perception for what is the RIGHT thing to do or to have happen. If RIGHT things doesn’t happen we are upset about that. We need to let go what WE think is the right thing. Also struck with how incredibly challenging and impossible it seems-- but also how much energy it would free up if people didn’t worry about what’s going to happen. Flash: modern times -- adapt to what happens Bible history: worry about food and clothes. Humans haven’t changed that much at all. Image of “lifting up our feet and floating in the current”. 4) Familiar passage.
TRUST could be considered a cop out -- Don’t worry, Be happy. Easy to hear, difficult to apply. What’s the best model to put in practice? As children, lots of anxiety about going places -- comfort to children that mother and father is there -- that they can go to the parent. They TRUST parent -- know that they are safe. “Ye of little faith: -- tied up in doing the right thing -- peer pressure to rise to a certain level. Put God first and it will be okay.
This reading -- Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today’s troubles are enough. DO the stuff of the Day. When is the Best time to pray? Each person there tends to be a good time. How to make that time is the ongoing challenge. “Prayer time” is wasted time -- greedy to take that time. Supposed to be working. “Praying” isn’t working. Interesting: Seeking God’s Kingdom and God’s Righteousness -- Counter cultural mindset. Prayer shouldn’t be limited to ordained pastors. Hardest thing to convince church boards is to spend prayer time during Board meeting. “Won’t get our work done!” But opposite happens. People’s conversation is to release anxiety and get comfort. Too much time talking about nothing. They get something from that even though it is “really wasted time”. Prayer time focuses people’s attention. It allows them to get nourished in prayer. People no longer care about petty gripes -- no longer relevant. Meetings get shorter and more enjoyable. But how to get past” “Not going to get our work done!”? -- Try it. Results will speak for themselves. the guilt of “wasted time” will go away with Results. Application: If a firm is having problems -- start some kind of prayer time. Improve the collective health of organization.
Scripture: Joshua 3:14-17
Reflections on this passage include: 1) The image/words stood out -- crossing over. Also the river -- Jordan, flowing, ark, crossing over. 2) Brought to mind -- Moses crossing over the Red Sea and it parted. Made me this of the Tsunami victims -- what a lot of faith to face the wall of water. Also “magic” -- faith might be seen as hocus-pocus. Anyone who professes “faith” must have to defend their faith against these kind of perceptions. 3) Sense of movement. People setting out from tents; banks of the Jordan rising; people moving...lots of movement. Flash of groups of people with priests waiting -- sense of community moving together in nature. 4) Image of “crossing over” -- spiritual crossing over. Spiritual journey or transformation; both powerful and rich as an image. Reminded of a book "Spiral Staircase" by Karen Armstrong. The book is a nun’s journey in a convent, fascinating. So negative about converts/religion. Going through a transformation/journey -- coming to know Faith and God in a powerful way. Rejects one things and goes on to something different. Huge part of our Faith journey. We find a place to camp on the side of the river. “Set out from their tents." Reference to Book: "Thousand Sorrows" by Elizabeth King.
There was a sharing about a Tsunami Dream. Also: outgrow beliefs about God. Horrible place to be. Leave a set of beliefs behind yet nothing to go to until a new set replaces it. Eye opening -- when a freshman in college -- agnostic. Took Old Testament as literature class. Learned the historical aspects. As Faith develops -- able to use literal/historical stuff to weed through. Is it a myth? or did it really happen? Helps -- from a faith perspective. Includes the “magic” of God and Spirituality.
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Scripture: 1Corinthians 6-16
Reflections on this reading include: 1) Word that stood out was “wisdom”. Don’t always recognize the perfection of what is unfolding at the time but that God’s Wisdom -- the Spirit is there in the Process. 2) Letter from Paul to the Corinthians. The Corinthians are saying: We talk to people -- they look at us with blank stares -- they humiliate us -- what should we do? And Paul says “It’s normal.” They want to get the job done! they are goal oriented. Paul says Be patient, you can’t think that other way. 3. “Openness” is the word though not in passage. Open to different wisdom or different ways of seeing things. That when one is open, one can Receive rather than have things “thought up by us.” How to create that Openness? Paul got zapped, but what creates that Openness? 4) Reference from Spirit of God rather than Spirit of human. That is Wisdom; from Spirit of God is that “wisdom that comes from great depths“. Thought that there are so many words in the passage that first reading it was hard to make sense of the whole. The first part, in own personal sense was a message about the war in Iraq. The message to out people in power -- how much I pray for Peace -- this passage could be a message for the people in Power.
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