The following is from Rich Villodas, our associate lead pastor at New Life. Rich, along with Geri and two other staff, spent 5 days together at a spiritual formation academy last week. His reflections provide a unique perspective (that of an outstanding, 34 year old leader/pastor) on the application of EHS to a large growing church. Last week, Geri Scazzero, Phil Varghese and Rosy Kandathil and I, completed a 5-day intensive spiritual formation retreat. The retreat was put together by the Academy for Spiritual Formation. The retreat was in Wichita, Kansas (my first time in KS). I wanted to capture some highlights and reflections as a way to remind myself of the deep work that God did in me this week, as well as to share some learnings/highlights to our New Life community. So, here are my top 10 highlights from this past week: 1) The Faculty: Marjorie Thompson and Robert Mulholland know Jesus. I mean, really know Jesus. They have. Read more.
Having too much to do in too little time is normal. Leighton Ford, my wise mentor for over 30 years, once told me: “Pete, the problem is that if you are faithful to Christ over the long-haul, the demands on your time and energy will only increase as you get older. This problem of having too much to do in too little time is never going away.” The great challenge is to lead yourself first. Consider the following reflections (written to myself) from my journal: Be calm and clear about yourself. You can only be clear about where you are and your own “true self in Christ.” Your inner tensions today are a call from God for additional time for prayer and reflection to wrestle with your “inner demons” so that you can to listen to His will and priorities (See Matthew 4:1-11). Hold onto what God has given you to do and do. Read more.
Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us but our hands are too full to receive them. Roslyn H. Wright, a Director of Field Education at Whitley College in Australia, visited me in NYC recently. The following are reflections out of her work with seminary students around “Incarnational goal setting”: 1. God’s calls us to courageously lead out of our ‘true self.’ “The problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self” (Thomas Merton). God gives to each of us a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” with a unique working out of that gift in the Body and the world. The forces, internal and external, that move us away from that place of leading from within are enormous. 2. Prayer, particularly the Examen, along with a trusted community, is the foundation for. Read more.
I received a letter recently that I wrote to myself after a 3 day retreat over seven months ago. It reminded me again that I am the most difficult person for me to lead! The following are a few rich nuggets of gold from this short letter: 1. Remember what you are all about. (In my case, it was to take 30-50% of my time to write). 2. Guard your spirit from trifles, fast from overconsuming, and forget what others think. (See “The Woodcarver” story). 3. Feel your own weight and density. There is no need to wear other people’s faces (See the poem, “Now I Become Myself”). 4. Go to the fields and be lovely. Come back when you are through with blooming. (See the poem entitled, “Camas Lillies). 5. Stay the course and be kind to yourself. For a free sermon I preached on what it means to live a life where. Read more.
What is the churches’ task in the world? What does it look like to bring Jesus Christ to a community? A city? I received a glimpse of that through what turned out to be my favorite book of the year — Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. She reports on three years of her life lived in Annawadi, a slum 200 yards from Mumbai’s Airport in India. 3000 people from different castes, cultures, regions of India, and religions live there. Most go through rich people’s garbage to make a living. It is a true “undercity” as most do not have the language skills, education, social connections or caste privileges to find stable work in the “overcity” of Mumbai. By focusing on this relatively “undercity,” Boo provides a brilliant look at the complexities of poverty in global cities by examining just one small enclave. New York too. Read more.
“There is a mysterious attraction to interior silence in the depth of our beings. The attraction is like amagnet that draws us to silence.” Thomas Keating. The high point for Geri and I during our Sabbatical was a 10 day Post Intensive Prayer Retreat at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. We had dinner with a group of 23 people, introduced ourselves, and then entered the Grand Silence, one that would last the next 9 days. No talking. No eye contact. Geri and I had just spent a week in the desert of Colorado but this total immersion began to break something up in me that I am still not sure I can describe. It remains a bit inexplicable. Jesus told Peter: “When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you. Read more.