CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES

Jesus frequently stole away to sit with God in prayer. And in his other waking hours, was the Messiah.

Martin Luther relied on four hours of prayer a day. And in his free time, led the Great Reformation.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the advice of Howard Thurman, spent two straight weeks in contemplation. And went on to lead the Civil Rights Movement.

As followers of Jesus, Protestant descendants, and heirs of the essential, on-going and exhausting work of civil revolution and spiritual reformation, we are not running a 100 meter dash. No one – not even Jesus – remained energized for this work alone or without connecting regularly with God. Sheer force of will is insufficient: our body, mind, spirit and soul need sustenance for the long haul.

That’s why The Ministry Lab offers a Midweek Retreat: every Wednesday at 12:00/noon CST, you are invited to join with other clergy resting in God’s presence. Be filled up – re-energized, re-invigorated, freshly inspired – by the Fire of God. Restore and revive your weary soul and tired body. Let the Divine Breath breathe in you a deeper awareness and greater emotional and spiritual balance. Let the Advocate equip you to engage more fully and with greater awareness the essential work of justice.

Join the Midweek Retreat: rest and be renewed for 30 minutes. And in your spare time, transform our communities.

Contact Director Rev. Emily Meyer (ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu) for the zoom link.


CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES TO SHARE WITH YOUR CONGREGATION:

For those who feel they “can’t meditate” – or keep saying, “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom. 8:26) – Michel LeGribble Dates offers words of wisdom and encouragement.

The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society offers their Tree of Contemplative Practices along with links to descriptions of many of the practices. Notice if you currently have a contemplative practice or two built into your day – without even knowing it! Awareness is one of the roots of contemplation!


OnBeing offers A Care Package for Uncertain Times, a beautiful collection of podcasts, poetry, meditations and reflection for however you’re processing this moment. (Illustration by Jocelyn Tsaih)

John Dear wrote an article back in 2015 in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Included in the article is a link to a then-new book of Dr. King’s prayers and a few examples. The article is worthwhile, in and of itself, but don’t miss out on Thou, Dear God: Prayers that Open Hearts and Spirits, either.

Shalem Institute offers a Compassion Guided Meditation video for Contemplative Leadership.

ckpeterson77’s Lapping Waves at Sunset on Lake Superior is nine minutes of nature-induced respite.

Online Taizé Evening Prayer

For the last sixteen years, Minnehaha United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis has offered its Second Friday, October to May, service of sung prayers, Scripture, and Silence. With those gatherings no longer possible, so that people can still worship safely from afar, they have created an online Taizé Prayer service.
Here’s the link to the April video:

A podcast version is also available.

They are hoping to release additional Taizé services as they become available. For the latest, check:

The Meditation Chapel is a free “online multi-faith community of contemplatives” with 150 groups meeting every week. With “groups meeting throughout the day and night, you will be able to find a welcoming online meditation group that is convenient regardless of your faith tradition, schedule, or time zone”.

Faith+Lead offers weekly Dwelling in the Word gatherings for spiritual renewal. They follow the Revised Common Lectionary, so potentially inspiring for sermon prep!


Pilgrim Press shares their free pdf downloadable, A Way in the Wilderness: 14 Days of Spiritual Sustenance for Life in a Pandemic.

Diane Stephens Hogue from Presbyterian Today reminds us that Breath Prayer Eases Anxiousness: Ancient Practice Synchronizes Breathing with Sacred Words. It’s an excellent introduction to the ancient practice of Breath Prayer/Praying with Scripture and is easy to share with any age groups at home.

Sharon Seyfarth Garner shares her poem You Are Still Beloved, you can read along here. Upper Room also offers a free downloadable contemplative coloring (aka, mandala) to help Calm the Mind.

Sanctified Art shares visio divina contemplative readings/films on the gospel readings of Holy Week, along with online liturgies for Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday.

Share Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation email/blog and discuss.

Kitty O’Meara’s Daily Round post is proving to be deeply insightful and will foster wonderful spiritual conversations.

Faith Inkubators offers a pdf-format Pandemic Hope: A Family Devotional for Life During COVID-19.

These Days is coupled with free downloadable devotions for April from PCUSA Store.

MennoMedia offers a free downloadable version of A Time Such as This: Reflections on Covid-19, a collection of 56 devotionals.


TIPS, TUTORIALS AND SUPPORTS FOR LEADER’S SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING

The Ministry Lab offers a weekly Midweek Retreat free for all members. Contact Emily Meyer (ministrylab@unitedseminary.edu) to register and receive the zoom invite.

The Shalem Institute is offering a number of free online resources and courses to support mental and spiritual well-being for congregational leader; including a free online retreat day and Three Essentials for Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus, which seem particularly helpful.

Check out Faith+Lead’s Faithful Adaptations Webinar #3 on Spiritual Care.

MennoMedia offers calm and quiet amidst the storm in a free excerpt from Reconnect: Spiritual Restoration from Digital Distraction (forthcoming, Herald Press) in which author Ed Cyzewski offers insight into the “reactive mind” and how that mindset can interfere with prayer.

The Upper Room and the Academy for Spiritual Formation invite you to a free online learning opportunity with Dan Wolpert, author of Creating a Life with God. Explore how classical prayer practices can help you create a new life with God. Register here.

LeaderWise invites leaders to a weekly time for connection, reflection and resilience. Join the Thursday, 12:00/noon CST zoom here.