Last week, Geri and I found spent 2 nights in Christchurch, NZ in the midst of a neighborhood devastated by the earthquake of Feb. 11, 2011. People talked about their losses at our conference much like we did in NYC after 9/11. 9/11 didn’t transform us as the church in NYC – long term. Why? I don’t believe we allowed God’s gift of losses to do its deep work in our soul. The following is an adaptation from The Emotionally Healthy Church: Updated and Revised, 2010. I lay it out here for my new friends in New Zealand as well as a pause for all pastors and leaders who are reading this today. Biblical grieving has three phases: 1. Phase 1: Pay Attention Deeply. The ancient Hebrews physically expressed their laments by tearing their clothes and utilizing sackcloth and ashes. During Noah’s generation, Scripture indicates God was grieved about the state of humanity (Gen. 6).. Read more.
We join the families of those twenty children as we watch their funerals – two yesterday and, probably, more today. Jeremiah wrote a book called Lamentations in the midst of his unspeakable horror. David wrote two-thirds of the Psalms out of his pain. Consider the words of Gerald Sittser. May they serve you as they have served me. In A Grace Disguised, after the horrific loss of his daughter, wife, and mother in a car accident, he wrote: “Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past…It is not therefore true that we become less through loss – unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left…Loss can also make us more. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I. Read more.
At the end of my summer vacation each year, I take a week for a retreat on the lovely grounds of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. About 60-70 men live there, dedicated to a life of prayer. I love the silence, the singing of the Psalms, the beauty of the landscape, the contrast to my life in New York City. One of the highlights for me continues to be a growing relationship with Father Dominic. He his a former Dominican priest with a PH.D in Thomas Aquinas.He taught at Georgetown University before sensing a call to a greater life of prayer. This led him out of the Dominican order to become a Trappist. He now serves as the prior of the monastery (i.e. the COO, or#2 person). We met each day for spiritual direction and a “conference.” He is engaged in many “un-monastic” things, such as strategic planning, running a business, dealing with. Read more.
A good friend recently encouraged me to post this 3-4 minute introductory video on the Daily Office. I love the Offices. They shape my days, my weeks, my months, my life. They have revolutionized my being with God the last seven and a half years. Take a look: Introducing the Daily Office The Daily Office differs from what we label today as “quiet time or devotions.” These normally take place once a day, in the mornings, with the emphasis on “getting filled up for a day,” or “interceding for the needs around me.” The Daily Office normally takes place at least twice a day, and is not so much a turning to God to get something; it is about being with God, about communion with Him. My aim is to pause for time with God in the morning, midday, evening and for Compline (right before bed). My morning Office normally is longer (45 min-1+hours),. Read more.
I want to encourage you this summer to approach your vacations as mini-sabbaticals in which you build into your time away the same principles of weekly Sabbaths (Stop, Rest, Delight, Contemplate). Instead, then, of being time when you might drift from Him and return home tired, you actually renew your communion with Jesus and yourself. My vacations and summers were revolutionized a number of years ago when I began to do this. It takes planning, forethought, and prayer, especially when you are taking children into account! But it is well worth it! Ask yourself: STOP – What do I need to do to really cease from all my work? REST – What kind of things will enable me to rest this vacation? DELIGHT – What will replenish my soil and fill me with energy, and to delight in God’s gifts? CONTEMPLATE- How can I build in time with God during this extended time? What. Read more.
I am often asked what I do for my Daily Offices. The answer is not too complex. I generally pause 3-4x a day – morning for a longer period, midday, evening and compline (right before going to bed). I have been meditation on and praying the psalms now for over 3 and a half years, using the schedule found in the end of the Book of Common Prayer. (I have also made it available as a download from our resources at the EHS and NLF website). I don’t keep to the daily schedule with dates but just keep moving along day by day. I think it works out to praying through the Psalter every 5-6 weeks. This is my bread and butter. I generally will take 2 ten to twenty minutes blocks of silence somewhere in my offices (almost always in the morning). I almost always have a devotional handy (like the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Read more.