Resisting the Kingdom

Seasonal Rhythm

Lent has been described as “an invitation to make space for your soul”.   Why do we give things up?  The suggestion is not to punish ourselves but rather to “make space for our souls”.  We give things up to make space.  Get the feeling you are too caught up?  What practices do you need to initiate to make space?  Some quiet space, still space, resting space?  How can you make space this lent?

Weekly Rhythm

Here is a quiet practice given to us by Chris Erdman.

Find a quiet place and sit down (or lie down) and spend a dozen or more minutes with God. Not the kind of prayer when you talk at God (there’s place for that). But the prayer that listens deeply. Yields. Is simply present to God. Being with the Mystery. Communion.

What do you do?

Begin this way . . . step one of three.

Sit (or lie) still. Alert. Become aware of your body. Find places of tension with you. (I carry my tension in my jaw and cheeks. My gut too.) Find the tension and release it gently. Let your body, settle into a natural stillness. Now let your breath fall into a natural rhythm. Don’t control it. Let it comes to a natural in and out rhythm, as if you were sleeping.  Feel the life in your body.  The Orthodox Fathers searched inwardly until they could feel their heart beating. Tough. But most beginners can feel a sense of aliveness in their hands.

You seek God alone. But your body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit. The fullness of God dwells in your body, scandalous as that may be. The Incarnation teaches us to honor the body; so does Christian thought and practice. If you’re going to meet God, you will meet God by becoming more aware of your body, letting your body be that vessel of encounter. If you’re not in your body, you’ll not meet God. You’ll be everywhere else but the one place God’s come to meet you.

Sit still. Sit straight. Breathe. Relax. And as you do you may begin to gently let a prayer (like the Jesus Prayer) rise and fall with your breath. In . . . “Jesus.” Out . . . “Mercy.” Or something similar.

Don’t fret if your thoughts drag you away. They’ll try. When they do, simply and undramatically return to your senses—follow your breath into your body, and corral the mind with a simple prayer.  Classically, this is the purgative or cleansing step.  With each breath, confess your tension.  Confess the difficulty you have getting still.  Confess the thoughts, ideas, images that want to lead you anywhere but here.  Confess your need for God.  Let go. Release.  Unburden.

Begin with 10 minutes and work up to 25 minutes.

(www.chriserdman.com)

Daily Rhythm

 Devotional Diary 15 – 21 February 2016

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org Sunday 21 February 2016 Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. God establishes a covenant with Abram to make him a “father of many nations.”

Psalm 27.  When we embrace the covenant God makes with us in baptism, we can sing “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Philippians 3:17-4:1.Our citizenship (the strongest Roman analogy to covenant) is in heaven, and the power of God manifest  in Christ’s resurrection will transform us to be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory.

Luke 13:31-35. Jesus laments over the resistance of “Jerusalem” to the word of God.

This week’s focus: Making a difference by going into the world as a Kingdom of God person. For our confession we revisit our 21-day cycle of confession (found under the Confession focus for each day).

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of love.

Confession: In what areas am I envious?  Does this envy “drive” my life in any areas?  How does this indicate restlessness within my own spirit?  How can my relationship with God help me with my envy?

The Word: Use above readings or your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Reflect on your surroundings through the Kingdom of God window.  Focus on God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.  Ponder the values of God’s Kingdom: His love, righteousness, justice and peace.  Think of His care for the outcast and poor and despised.  List any prayer concerns that are raised up by God’s Spirit within your heart.  Using this exercise make a list of prayer concerns that you can pray into each day this week.  You are invited to write these into the shared focus points for each day.  If needs be, come back to this reflective exercise and renew your list during the week.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:  Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of joy.

Confession: Does a seething anger just wait to rise up within my heart?   Do I find that I am quite controlled until I unexpectedly burst out in a rage?  Do I drive my car aggressively?  Ask God to allow you to acknowledge your anger and release its hold over your life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of all hope.

Confession: In the face of crying needs we often choose not to notice or even deliberately ignore them.  Ask God to open your heart to His call to serve.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of comfort.

Confession: Lord, make me aware of the pride in my life.  Pride that keeps me aloof and apart.  Pride that is rooted in insecurity and a need to prove myself.  Pride that makes me humiliate other human beings.  Lord, help me to make myself vulnerable and to serve rather than be served.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of peace.

Confession: Lord forgive me for alienated myself from this world that you love.  Help me to reach out in love and care.  Help me to make a difference.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of trust and faith.

Confession: Lord forgive me when I invest huge resources for my own entertainment but will be resentful about a minor offering to alleviate another’s deep suffering.  Lord God, I pray for a generous heart.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of praise and worship.

Confession: Lord forgive me when I give all for my own ambitions and loose your call to share in love in important relationships in my life.  Help me to count the cost of loving and discover new joy in giving.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)