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Tag Archives: Desert Fathers

Summer Reading on Sabbath Vacation

A number of years ago Geri and I began structuring our vacations as mini-sabbaticals, taking the 4 principles of our weekly Sabbaths- Stop, Rest, Delight and Contemplate. One of the most delightful aspects of vacation for me is to read broadly. The following is a sample of what I have been reading the last few weeks. 1. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson.  This was my favorite read. I felt it was much better written than his Three Cups of Tea. It was so good I didn’t want it to end and put it down for 3 weeks before finishing.  I love Mortenson’s creativity and ability to think outside the box, his clear vision, and his willingness to take risks. God used this book to give me a love for the people of Afghanistan. 2. Russka: The Novel of Russia, Edward Rutherfurd. This outstanding historical novel on the founding and history of. Read more.

Practicing Silence

Last Sunday was a historic moment at New Life as had our first ever “Silent Sermon.” The following is a sheet I handed out to our congregation to provide guidelines for them to practice silence as  a spiritual discipline. To see the video, click here When God appeared to Elijah after his suicidal depression and flight from Jezebel, He told him to stand and wait for the presence of the Lord to pass by. But God did not appear in ways he had in the past. He was not in the wind (as with Job), an earthquake (as in Mount Sinai and the Ten Commandments), or fire (as in the burning bush with Moses). As we read in 1 Kings 19:12, God finally revealed Himself to Elijah in “a sound of sheer silence.” The English translation of God coming “in a still, small voice” does not capture the original Hebrew intent, but what could. Read more.

Silence

Today we will launch our first “Silent” sermon at New Life. I will introduce the theme of how God met Elijah in “the sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:10-18) for 5 minutes. This will be followed by a 25 minute power point slide show of images, quotes, and guided silence. We then will close it out with a few words and be dismissed in silence. (www.newlifefellowship.org). What better way to teach a biblical truth than actual experiencing it? I have been preparing for this by reading and gathering insights about silence for the past few months. I am convinced, more than ever, that silence remains one of the most powerful ways God transforms us.  As Kathleen Norris once said, “The ordinary, daily practice of silence is a prophetic stance in our world of noise. It is one of the greatest gifts we can offer the world.” The following are a few rich quotes around silence for you to ponder that. Read more.

Hiddenness, Obscurity, Contemplation and the Active Life

The following are a few of my recent questions, puzzles, and reflections around the working out of my active life as a Christian leader with a commitment to serve out of a foundation of a deep, interior, contemplative life. Much like Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings, some of this is disjointed as it comes out of my journal reflections, my puzzles in prayer with god, along with my readings over the past couple of months (This includes: Bernard of Clairvaux’s sermons on the Song of Songs, the Desert Fathers, Merton on St. Bernard, and Alicia Britt Chole’s little book Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours.) 90% percent of Jesus’ ministry, 29 years, was spent in obscurity, hiddenness, and the unseen. This was as important as his 3 active years. They provided the character foundation for Him to walk through the temptations of the wilderness and the pressures from the people around him.  These years also empowered Him to live an eternally fruitful. Read more.

Four Days with the Trappists: Part 3

Perhaps the most significant thing that emerged from me out of my four days with the Trappists revolved around the theme of “THE DIFFICULT LOVE OF LOVING OUR ENEMIES” This was the theme of Father Dominic’s conferences. His basic thesis was that if silence and solitude with God does not lead to greater love for our enemies, then it is not worth much. UGH! I have been serving as a leader seeking to build Christian community for over 22 years at New Life. I am under no illusions around the suffering involved in modeling the love of Christ as a church. When I discovered the monastic tradition over 7 years ago, what came alive in me was contemplation with God – apart from other people. While I love our people, the connection to a greater love for people has not been a major part of this 7+ year journey. Geri, more than once, has suggested to. Read more.

Four Days with the Trappists: Part 2

While I am a high extrovert who gathers energy from being with people, I love silence.  So the highlight, up till now on my yearly visits to the Trappists has been the rhythms of the Daily Office, especially Vigils at 3:30 in the morning! And when the chants conclude at about 4:10 am, I generally go back to my “cell” and try to follow them in meditation and prayer until Lauds (the 2nd office of the day) at 6 am. I love their emphasis on the ordinary, the obscure and simplicity of work. This year, however, God met me very powerfully in a new way – through my spiritual direction and conferences with Father Dominic, the prior of the monastery.  The prior would be like the COO or executive pastor of a large church. Formerly a professor at Georgetown University and a Dominican priest, he joined the Trappists 26 years ago to focus on. Read more.