December 22, 2006
Scripture: Titus 3:1-9
Titus 3:1-9 was our opening passage this morning. After two readings of
this Scripture by Dan we all sat in silence, listening to what God might
whisper in our ears, noticing the shadows of the divine presence. One
thought that clearly stood for a few of us was that we must practice, seek,
and insist on these wonderful characteristics of humility, consideration,
obedience, peace, etc. Otherwise our faith becomes dusty and brittle and we
end up as slaves and lovers to passion, hatred, and envy. Debra had the
image of gears coming to a grinding halt. The image spoke of how quarreling
halts the well oiled life we seek with God. "Why isn¹t all this good stuff
happening now?" was an honest observation. Contraverseries, arguments, and
hatred are what we experience in our day-to-day life with our families,
schools, churches, and jobs. Where is God? For Steve there seemed to be a
bit of grace in the phrase "at one time you too were foolish." It seemed to
say that there really is hope for all of us, no matter how foolish we are.
After our time of Scripture prayer (lectio divina) we discussed what the
MICAH "program" would look like once the building is completed. We¹re
currently working on an executive summary that describes what the daily
rhythm of MICAH will consist of and what one will experience when they come
to MICAH. We were glad to welcome Preston to the MICAH meeting this
morning. Steve closed in prayer.
December 14, 2006
Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-7
We started our MICAH meeting with a check in time to see how everyone was doing and then we took a look at Isaiah 42:1-4, 6 and 7. One of the images that came to mind after two readings of the Isaiah passage was a huge gentle power that sweeps across the land. At first this coming "thing" doesn't appear to be significant because it¹s so soft and gentle (won't raise a voice or snuff out a smoldering wick). But after it passes it is easy to see that nothing is left unchanged. Everything is completely transformed.
After our time of prayer we discussed the "program" aspect of MICAH once the building is constructed. Who might come, how long they would stay, what we hope they will experience, how to get the word our, etc., were all points of discussion. It is exciting to see this gentle power slowly engulfing and transforming all in its path.
December 8, 2006
Debra, Dan, Steve, and Trey gathered for a conference call with the Shelter Architects this morning. We looked over and discussed four different plans of the future MICAH building. Shelter took time to talk about the shape, accessibility, layout, and unique features of each design. We shared our questions, concerns, likes, and dislikes and had an overall fun and productive meeting. Shelter gathered all our comments and thoughts and will contact us after another round of revision. The Shelter people are wonderful to work with.
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November 16, 2006
Debra, Dan, Corene, and Trey met with the Shelter group via conference call. We spent our meeting going over charts, diagrams, and schematics of the future MICAH building. Shelter’s ideas and insights are wonderful. We are excited about the possibilities of what may be as we continue to pray, look, and follow God’s path.
November 10, 2006
Scripture: Mark 7:1-8
As we prayerfully listened to this Mark passage what came to mind were all the rules and traditions that complicate our lives. One person had the image of a hunched over Pharisee loaded with a ridiculously massive pack of man-made traditions and rules. Bent over in pain the Pharisee looks at Jesus and his disciples and grunts, “You need to look like us.” The disciples, who are standing erect, just stare not really sure how to respond. Another person had the thought of how church people are more upset when church rules (traditions) are broken than when God’s rules are broken. There was also the interesting thought that following God helps one to focus on the present moment. The past and future seem to fade away as we live more freely and lightly in God’s presence.
Shelter architecture will soon be sending us information on the new building plans. They plan to “attend” our MICAH meeting next Thursday via speaker phone. We are looking forward to meeting with them. Steve said the North Star Cluster group will be meeting soon to discuss being part of the MICAH Sweat and Silence week next summer. Also we discussed how various community groups and organizations in the area may in some degree partner with MICAH in the future.
November 2, 2006
Scripture: Zechariah 9:9-10
During this time of silence from May through October we were continually praying and listening for where God was leading us. We now continue to record our journey of praying MICAH into being.
We started our MICAH meeting with a time of checking in to see how everyone was doing. We then read Zechariah 9:9-10 and took time to notice what we were hearing. Some things that caught our attention were a sense of the goodness of God in this passage. Palm Sunday came to mind, with kids walking up and down the isles waving palm branches. The phrase “commanding peace” stood out. It seemed that God was acting like a parent here, stopping the kids from fighting and hurting themselves. How is God commanding peace on humankind in our present time? Simplicity was something else that caught our attention. Getting rid of all the extras that work against peace. There’s the sense that when we have simplicity peace comes easier. A final thought that came to mind was the mechanics of this peace. How does it happen? Does a booming voice out of the sky say “NO” every time someone picks up a gun? Does God use a huge magnet to get rid of all weapons? Because left to ourselves we do not seek peace.
After this time of Scripture prayer we discussed some MICAH financial thoughts and closed with prayer.
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May 12, 2006
Steve, Dan, Debra at the meeting. Spent much of the time reflecting upon the master plan, our reactions, where to go next. We discussed the power of deciding to build, even before we don't know how. Is this where God is calling us? Feels like we need to 'jump' again. We planned for our day-long retreat, our first long meeting with Trey in attendance. The excitement builds for their arrival. We will have their house next week.
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April 27, 2006
Scripture: John 20:11-18
We noticed: 'w' sounds. Weeping, being a bit lost. It's a woman who sees and shares the gospel. Woman's intuitive sense. Open to reception. Irony
that no one will believe her because she's a woman! How hard it is to hear the gospel anew or through new things. Resurrection through weeping: the shadow of the cross. Historical narrative is like a deposition: just the facts please. But what incredible facts! It gets our curiosity going. Curiosity as a key to the spiritual life. Grief. Names her: recognition. God is real in recognition. How do we not recognize Him?
April 21, 2006
Scripture: Luke 24:28-31
We noticed: Flow/direction/movement. Noticing God's movement and God's coming and going. This is the basic work of discernment, the basic focus of MICAH and our life together. Yet it can be confusing. Somewhat chaotic even. ³stay with us²: something happens that we want more of. We desire to stay with jesus. Micah work as the practice of staying with Jesus. Radical responsibility of the Easter stories.
April 13, 2006
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-7
We noticed: Persevere. Encourage. Good medicine. Support of the great cloud of witnesses: a great comfort. They're there for good. Some language
is hard. Struggle with sin and discipline. What is discipline? It's a continual practice. Staying present to God: not turning away.
We prepare for Jon's visit, for the dinner with Liz, for Steve and Dustin. We are looking at what is next for the master plan.
April 6, 2006
Scripture:Isaiah 51: 4-6
We noticed: Image of dance in nature and with God. Disturbing images as well. Good news/bad news joke. Don’t bet the farm on the material world. Encouraging: God’s deliverance is there. “worn out garment”: the earth isn’t being cared for. Negative unsettling feeling (and speaks to the positive nature of the mission of micah as having a focus on our relationship to the earth). Anti-materialism: our world vs God’s presence. God’s speedy deliverance. Impermanence. Dance vanishes.
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March 30, 2006
Scripture: Hebrews 5:5-10
We noticed: Redemptive suffering as totally alien to our culture, especially church culture! “tears and loud cries” make Jesus human. But was Jesus not perfect? : “made perfect,” “high priest”? not lofty enough. Jesus as humble. What is ‘godly fear’? Fear as bad thing, but not in this case. Fear as motivator. Fear of God as awe of power of God. God is so powerful.
In the business part of the meeting we are aware of the gathering of power and energy as the Easter season and Spring unfold. We are excited about the Everetts coming, about the involvement of Steve Peterson and all that he brings. The unfolding of MICAH continues!
March 23, 2006
Scripture: Ephesians 2:1-10
We noticed: “prince of the power of the air” : sounds beautiful but it’s misleading. The organization of evil is very involved. But God is even more powerful. Grace – gift- sufficient – peacefulness in God’s grace being there. The end felt better than the beginning. Already done – already in the heavenly realms. “made alive” It’s true. In whatever way we are, in our being, God can make us alive.
March 16, 2006
Scripture: John 2:13-22
The reflective discussion that came out of this passage was whether it is easier to believe what you see? Both yes and no responses. There is also an intensity of feeling against sacrilege. We wish Jesus would shake things up, and others seem angry Jesus is disturbing but represents his humanity. There is a passion about faith.
March 9, 2006
Scripture: Luke 9:51-62
This time centered around thoughts of a great sense of commitment; Jesus as anti-institutional; and Jesus must see things in a very different way from us. Jesus is intensely focused, yet again, different from us.
March 2, 2006
Scripture: Psalms 141:1-5
A lot of imagery came out of this passage. Images of hands up: let go, focus, a peaceful position. MICAH as environment for this to happen. Lend ear: washed by God's guidance. Intimacy with God: OK to call out. Bible writers are like us, not super-human. Discernment between the Odainties and what is good: this discernment is endless. Psalms as songs: creativity, flow, artistic, like MICAH.
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February 23, 2006
Scripture: Isaiah 55:8-11
Some of our thoughts centered around the fact that we think we know God's thoughts but we don't. Issues of courage arises and we do the unexpected. There is creativity and an explosion of energy. Other reflections were that of "prospering" what God wants to happen is going to happen; words of encouragement; the image of walking the labyrinth and seeing the wheat flowing on the
plain below; and how different are things when we focus on God.
February 16, 2006
Scripture: 2 Kings 2:15-18
Thoughts around this scripture brought up issues of confusion, "I'm not sure what I was hearing." There was a sense of knowing verses not-knowing, an odd feeling to know something else. What's going on with God is different from what's going on in the real world. Another brought up the thought the perils of leadership positions, the power of peer pressure, and the three days in the wilderness - death and resurrection. Finally, the question of "What does it take for people to see things differently?"
February 9, 2006
Scripture: Mark 3:19b-22
As with last week, this passage contains much swirling, confusion, movement. There are the crowds, there's commotion and agitation, even to the point of sadness. And yet, there is this desire of Jesus to go home; and several reflected on the goodness of being at home. Then there is the interesting noticing that great holiness can appear as madness: Jesus in his tremendous goodness, bringing the reality of God to a world that doesn't know God, appears insane, or even evil. This seems to say something powerful about our ordinary view of reality.
February 2, 2006
Scripture: John 6: 15-21
We were all struck by the quality of movement in this passage: the people and Jesus are moving in different directions; Jesus moves into the boat and they are immediately where they want to go; there is upheaval and the spiritual life can be scary at times. Yet also we noticed the comfort of Jesus 'drawing near' and how in fact Jesus is probably always trying to draw near to us, even when we are going in the opposite direction. Finally, do we realize that when Christ comes into our lives, we really have arrived?
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January 19, 2006
Scripture: Mark 1:16-20
Today we were joined on speaker phone by Rev. Trey Everett from Mexico MO. It was wonderful to have in with us by electronic medium. We were also joined for the first time by Dustin Solberg, a writer and student in ecology at UND.
We noticed the sense of calling in this passage, the calling to a new way of life. It is interesting to contrast this to the pull in the Church to be the same. How did these men know that they were ready for this? Why did they respond? What is so incredibly appealing about Jesus’ presence? Also we noticed that they were ordinary and this ordinariness gives us a sense of hope.
As we transitioned to the business side of the meeting we began to review a draft of the Master Plan for the site. It’s so exciting to see our prayer, our work, our conversation take form. We are tremendously grateful for the creative work of the Shelter folks and their ability to listen and then respond with this vision.
January 26, 2006
Romans 13: 8-14
Today we were blessed to be joined by Rev. Brice Eichlersmith who is here on retreat for a week. We noticed the power and the beauty of this passage, it sums up so much in a short piece. There was a recognition of journey similar to the sense of journey you experience on the plains when you can see something so far away and then it takes awhile to get there. We are in the process of journeying to our salvation. There was also an appreciation of being ‘clothed in light’ and ‘putting on Jesus’ not only from the standpoint that such a transformation is wonderful but also that a person ‘clothed in light’ becomes on who is attractive because of the presence of Christ. What Paul describes here seems so dynamic and speaks of spiritual practice not simply a removed, or dry, intellectual assent.
Planning for the medical conference in May is going well, and several are coming to snowshoe with us. Everyone had a positive response to the Master plan draft. We want to make sure that the buildings continue to conform to, point to the power of God as experienced in the space of the site.
A Time of Quiet
For much of this time, we did not formally meet as a MICAH group. This period of time over Christmas and the New Year, felt like a ‘time apart’, a time of deep silence. Often in the expanse of the great plains it seems that projects, activities, ideas, even people, simply vanish. Suddenly it feels as if ‘nothing is happening’; perhaps the activity is done, or failed, were did it go? Then just as suddenly, the energy returns, and we are off and running again. Such is the nature of the Spirit which blows where it wills, and in the vast expanse of reality, our ability to wait in silence allows this free movement of God to capture our attention and become the prime mover in our lives.
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