HOLY IN-BETWEEN

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: “Entering the silence” is based on a practice of the Seneca (First People) Nation. The imagery is adapted from the words of Twylah Nitsch:

Close your eyes. Breathe out three times.
Listen and hear the Silence…Listen and see the Silence.
Listen and taste the Silence…Listen and smell the Silence.
Breathe out one time. Listen and embrace the Silence.
When you are finished, open your eyes.

Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This is the in-between time- when no promise of resurrection can ease the grief and fear rising as swells within the soul. This is the time for feeling, really feeling, the disbelief, the anguish, as you walk away from the tomb where all your hope has been laid. This is the time for keeping vigil, for waiting… for what?

This is the time between death and resurrection where some hallowed space in us is opening a way for something new that we cannot yet see or even imagine.

Joan Chittister suggests that this in-between time is exactly where we are called to be, and that it is also holy.

“The spirituality of religious life today is neither the spirituality of the cross nor the spirituality of the resurrection. The spirituality of our time is the spirituality of Holy Saturday: a spirituality of confusion and consternation, of ineffectiveness and powerlessness, of faith in darkness and the power of hope. It is a spirituality that carries on when carrying on seems most futile.” P.41, The Fire In These Ashes

These may be the moments when we experience most profoundly the counter-cultural nature of discipleship, the ineffective way of love that is transforming our lives with this perplexing downward motion. God-with-us crucified.

I cannot even begin to imagine the heart-wrenching agony of the disciples who had literally left everything to follow the One they just watched die a violent and infuriatingly unjust death. I don’t want to speculate on the details of the mystery that occurred between losing hope and finding it again- but it feels like this holy day has something to say to us now about the power of life in God’s spirit that continues even when we feel like everything is ending.

Sister Chittister challenges us to discover the full meaning of this time: “This isn’t a time for quitting simply because the past is past and the present is unclear. This is not a time for not beginning just because the journey is uncharted. In fact, what an older generation promised a lifetime ago may only now be beginning to come to pass, to make its demands, to reveal its meaning.” P.41, The Fire In These Ashes

What if what we try so hard to avoid and escape actually contains the future we have been longing for? What if in this ending is a new beginning already unfolding within us, around us? What if the point of the past was to prepare us for this time, not to cling to what was and make an idol of it? What if we are invited to be fully present in this in-between space so that our hearts will be ready to live with Christ the resurrection life?

On Holy Saturday, we are confronted with the depth of our commitment to Christ even when what feels good and familiar about the life of faith appears to be gone. “The question, of course, is for what did we hope when we committed ourselves to such a way as this? For certainty? For approval? For clarity? Surely the answer is far deeper than that.” Joan Chittister, P.178, The Fire In These Ashes

It is this deeper answer in each of us that sustains in the dark, uncertain moments of our faith. The Lenten wilderness has been preparing us for this day. We have been slowly releasing our attachments to success, security, and power for the downward love way to wind into our hearts resurrection potential.

This is the time between death and resurrection where some hallowed space in us is opening a way for something new that we cannot yet see or even imagine.

Keep vigil. Be expectant. Mourn if you must. Unlock these fear doors in the heart.

In the darkness of the tomb is mystery, a continuing.

This in-between space is also holy.

A Place of Confrontation

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: Turn off the radio, TV, phone, or computer, and simply work or rest in silence. As you hear the sounds of life around you, allow yourself to be filled with awe and gratitude at the presence of God’s Spirit in diverse ways.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

Today’s post is a reflection on the practice of silence written by Dustin Davis, a member of the Community of Christ Spiritual Formation Team. May your Good Friday be holy confrontational and blessed!

A Place of Confrontation
by Dustin Davis

In my experience there are two levels of silence. The first level is a more superficial type of silence. It’s characterized by the relief that comes when a loud noise passes. Living in a city as big as Los Angeles I experience noise followed by this type of silence all the time when a circling helicopter finally flies into the distance, when screaming sirens continue down the street out of earshot or when a honking car alarm mercifully halts. Indeed, whenever I travel back to Missouri I’m struck by the silence, particularly at night. It’s restful, and it’s peaceful.

The other, and deeper, level of silence doesn’t happen spontaneously. In fact, I have to be rather intentional about it. I have to purposefully turn off the radio and tv, remove my cell phone to another room and attempt the often impossible task of quieting my own thoughts. I have to make space for this type of silence, and it’s in this place that I do my best to listen to the still small voice that is God. This kind of silence, although it may bring me peace, isn’t peaceful at all. It’s a place of confrontation.

During Lent this year I’ve been reading The Last Week by Marcus Borg. In it he examines each day, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, of Jesus’s life as narrated in the gospel of Mark. It’s been a fascinating journey, and one of the points that Borg makes abundantly clear is that the last week of Jesus’s life, what we experience this week as Holy Week, is a time of extreme confrontation with the unjust systems of the Roman empire and with those who collude and are complicit within those systems. Borg says, “As Mark tells the story, was Jesus guilty of nonviolent resistance to imperial Roman oppression and local Jewish collaboration? Oh, yes. Mark’s story of Jesus’s final week is a sequence of public demonstrations against and confrontations with the domination system. And, as all know, it killed him.”

Silence, real and deep silence, can be a scary thing. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so difficult to achieve. We wouldn’t have the countless options for distraction that we do today. It’s only in this place where we can sense God truly calling us that we are confronted with our own unjust actions and complicity in the status quo. When we put away the phones and the music and the other noise that fills our lives, our fears and insecurities and vulnerabilities raise to the top, and we hear God’s loving voice nudging us to reconciliation, to love deeper, risk greater, to seek the kingdom. This requires within us to change and to die, and we don’t often do so willingly. However, as Jesus shows us time and time again, this is the path of the disciple that we must all take.

So often we confuse the peace we seek with the simple absence of unwanted or loud noises. It’s giving up chocolate for Lent and making it to the end without cheating only to binge the next day. It feels good, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. But we have to stop fooling ourselves and recognize that there is so much more.

The good news is that we know death is not the end. Even as Jerusalem was a place of confrontation and death for Jesus, it was also a place of resurrection. We cling to the Easter promise of new life beyond our imaginings, which is good and hopeful, but it’s only once we die and live again that it stops being just a promise or a story. Our suffering is transformed into new life, into the reality we call God’s Kingdom. Only then can we call ourselves an Easter people and say we believe in the resurrection!

PETITION

Lenten Practice: Silence
Daily Act: Before you begin your day of work or activity, silently offer this prayer (taken from Psalm 46:10), which is best said with a rhythmic chanting of the words and a pause for contemplation after each line. You may choose to end the day with this same prayer.

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.

Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“HOLY MYSTERY, I AM SPEECHLESS IN YOUR PRESENCE.”

Today’s post is written by David Brock, Community of Christ Presiding Evangelist.
What prayers do you utter in the holy week moments of your life?

Petition
By David Brock

Our most primal prayers are those of petition, God.
In moments of panic we blurt out our brief,
passionate pleas and toss out our bargaining chips:
Protect our perfect or imperfectly parented child.
Make up the difference in our hastily prepared sermon.
Cover us as we approach our next looming deadline.

With sighs too deep for words, we plead
for a cure at the bedside of a loved one.
In a groan from our deepest interior, we join
the psalmist in a longing for cleansed heart
and renewed spirit; the prophet’s heart of flesh
in exchange for one of stone.

Please stop this interminable internal ache.
Let us see but a shadow’s promise of light
in the world’s heart of darkness, We beseech
Thee, God of grace. We are ministers of vision
who cannot see far enough on our own;
people of capacity who cannot be or do
all that is needed without each other, or you.

Forgive us, we implore you.
Give us, and the world, your beauty
for our ashes, the oil of joy for tears;
a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.