Pneuma climatologists

“I don’t know, Bob,” I hedged. “I’m not sure it will work.”

I was chatting with Bob Ekblad, who is visiting GOHOP this week. We were preparing to minister at the Meeting Place, which is the congregation that has gathered around the chapel at Mission Services. Bob wanted us, during a time of worship, to lay hands on each member of the congregation, praying silently for the Holy Spirit to fill and bless them, before Bob began to teach.

“I’m not sure they will like someone touching them, especially a stranger. They might be really uncomfortable. Safety is an issue for lots of them, and they are kind of jumpy. But Rev. Sue is the team leader, so just check it out with her and see what she says.”

Sue didn’t share my skepticism and gave the go ahead, and before I knew it I found myself laying hands on my Mission Service friends, one at a time. I was amazed at their openness, and receptivity, and the reverent silence in the room as we moved quietly from one person to another, while Ellis played the guitar. I looked up from the one I was praying for, and my breath caught as I saw different ones weeping, soft and vulnerable.

In those moments the whole spiritual climate, the atmosphere of the room changed.

Later over dinner, one of our friends from the meeting, said, “Whooooa, that was intense!”

Something so simple. Silent prayer. An invocation of the Holy Spirit. Changing everything.

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48

Starting Friday night, January 31 at midnight (which I guess technically is Saturday), my MoveIn friends here in Hamilton are hosting 48 hours of worship, prayer, and street outreach at 500 James St., in the True City office.

We love these guys, and love the work they are doing in the city. They move to neighbourhoods (usually high rises) with a high density of new immigrants, and live, work, play and pray in that context. Incarnating the presence of Jesus and bringing forth His kingdom. Loving their neighbours in intentional and prayerful ways.

Here is the email blast they sent out…

Come and join the body of Christ in Hamilton in lifting up the name of Jesus and praying for God’s Kingdom to come bless and restore this city! God is worthy of all of our praise and adoration! He is glorious, lovely, merciful, just, holy and the Lord over all!

We will be praying and worshiping for a full 48 hours. There will be 2 hour time slots that will be posted on this event page in due time (so keep checking back), which will give a prayer focus for those 2 hours. There will be a worship leader and a prayer leader in the prayer room at all times. There is no need to sign up for specific times, come as the Spirit prompts you.

The 2nd day (Sunday) we will have outreaches after we have prayed in the prayer room. We will be filled up and sent out to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit in the streets of Hamilton (of course it is not an obligation that if you come to this prayer slot you must minister afterwards, but it will be a great chance to bless our city in the name of Jesus).

More information will be posted about the location and how to access the right door!

Feel free to extend this invitation to anyone who loves Jesus.

So look for it on Facebook. They will be posting more info as we get nearer.

It’s an answer to our prayers at GOHOP. For years we pray for …prayer. That the church would desire to dwell, gaze, and seek. Abide in His presence. We’ve especially focusing prayer on emergent leaders in the city, so we are delighted to see what God is raising up in our midst.

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Infused Prayer

This morning as I was munching my breakfast and reading the news, I started to feel God’s Presence on the periphery of my awareness. I set aside my IPad, turned out the lights, lit a candle, and set my heart before Him. I have come to learn that if He initiates a time of communion, it is definitely worthwhile to set everything else aside.

It’s hard to describe these kinds of encounters. The poets have made some attempts:

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival, 40
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.

~ William Wordsworth

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

~ John Donne

Thomas Dubay, in his book The Fire Within describes these typed of encounters infused prayer.   And quotes John of the Cross.

Infused contemplation…is a ‘loving awareness of God’…indeed, it becomes a “fire of loving wisdom. The prayer of which we are speaking can in no way be originated, intensified, or prolonged by anything we can do. It is divinely given in its entirety. This is the literal meaning of infused, a word stemming from the Latin infusers, infusium to our in, that which is poured in. John therefore writes of “a tranquil reception of this loving inflow…the touch of burning in the will…the touch of understanding in the intellect…an inflaming of love.

Dubay goes on to say because The Lord makes us aware of His presence in our deep centre through the effects that He produces there, we may say that in these effects of a new knowing-loving-delighting-yearning He Himself is flowing into us and thereby transforming us from glory to glory into His likeness.

A modern day mystic, Misty Edwards, expresses it this way

Eat, Pray, Paint!

Today our team was at Lectio House helping with the renovations, along with our friends Matt and Karen Lowe.

20140121-044640.jpgI will let them introduce themselves, although many of you know and love them already:

Matt Lowe and Karen Elliott Lowe have recently joined GOHOP’s staff team. Newly appointed pastor of little Bethel Community Church in east Hamilton, Karen was ordained with the Canadian Baptists of Ontario & Quebec in 2011, has served in several churches, with Sophia House, and is pursuing a certificate in spiritual direction. Matt, a freelance editor, writer, and professor, completed a Ph.D at McMaster Divinity College in 2011.

The Lowes have already been extensively involved in activities with GOHOP and other ministries in Hamilton for the past few years, participating in Spaghetti Tuesday dinners, helping to facilitate the Urban Monastic Internship, and cataloguing GOHOP’s library. In joining our staff, their focus is on helping those who minister in Hamilton to seek spiritual direction and to discover better patterns of rest and retreat.

Beginning in January 2013, they began envisioning a small urban centre for spiritual direction and retreats, where they would also live as co-directors. A process of prayerful and corporate discernment led them to buy a home north of Gage Park, which they have been busily renovating since July, often with help from GOHOP staff and other friends. They hope to open “Lectio House” in January of 2014.

Busily is the key word. The house, like many in the lower city, was a real “fixer upper”, and they have been HARD at work on it since the summer.

Anyways, as I was saying, some of the GOHOP team went over to help.

We started with food.

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Yum.

And then we prayed together for a bit.

And then we painted.

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Eat, pray, paint!

That’s how we roll!

Discernment and the Prayer of Indifference

As many ministries do, GOHOP sets time aside at the beginning of the year to listen to God together. Matt and Karen Lowe, who are founding Lectio House, an inner city retreat centre, led us through part of our process.

We began by listing the various dreams we had for GOHOP this year, things we would like to see happen.

They include:
– Two months of Prayer Truck this summer. One month at the Rock and one month on Barton East somewhere
– Another Pilgrimage
– Two weeks of 24-7 Prayer in February
– More community houses being formed and coming into relationship with each other
– More hours of prayer at the Vine. Expanded Vine hours
– Teaching prayer courses in lots of churches
– Expanding the Spiritual Formation department and making spiritual direction available to more people
– Visiting other prayer Communites
– A greater variety of styles and forms of prayer at the Vine

And many many other things. It was quite a lively brainstorming/sharing time!

And then we had a time of silence where we prayed the Prayer of Indifference, each in our own way.

Indifference? Waitaminit! We don’t want to be Indifferent! We want to be passionate! Full of zeal!

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But the Prayer of Indifference is a key practice that helps us not mistake our will for God’s will.

To discern between the good ideas and the God ideas.

In the Prayer of Indifference we let it all go. We lay down our dreams and desires, submit them to God; who is quite happy to refine our motives and intentions. His ways and thoughts are higher, and our minds cannot conceive all the amazing things He has in store for us, if we will only submit to Him.

My favorite Prayer of Indifference is an old Methodist Covenant. It articulates it far better than I ever could.

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.

“Where can she go?” More Notes from David Janzen, and Thoughts About the Wounds that Have Drawn me Into Community

Luke 7:36 – 8:3

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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Here is the key question.

Where can she go?

She is marked as a sinful woman. An outcast from society. Even if she were to step away from her lifestyle, there is no way she would be enfolded back into the community around her.

The next section of scripture intimates an answer.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases:Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Here we see a glimpse into Jesus’ community.

It’s likely she went with Jesus.  On the move, bearing witness of the kingdom of God.

He gathered people who because of their wounds were longing for community.

We had our monthly Community House meeting yesterday. I shared this story and then we talked with one a other about the wounds that have drawn us into community. It felt a bit risky, but I really wanted to draw us into deeper and more vulnerable sharing with each other.

Of course I’m not going to tell you their responses, but I can tell you a bit of mine.

What are my wounds? The ones that have drawn me into community life (living in an intentional community house)?

One of them is what I consider an almost pathological need to be competent. I need to be the strong one, the one who holds it all together. The one who can figure things out and find the way forward.

I had a revealing and difficult conversation with a friend the other day whose observation of my life was that I’ve created a neat little world around me where I can be in control.

Ouch.

I don’t know that I agree with their perspective fully, but I can see seeds of truth in it.

Maybe I got stuck at an early phase of development. I can hear the inner toddler in me cry “I can do it all by myself!”

And I can’t, of course. Life is too hard, too complex. With demands beyond my capacities.

So I need to be in community.

In one sense, it’s a very practical need. With six of us sharing responsibilities in the house, I only have to cook once a week and do 1/6 of home maintenance. That frees me up big time, for other responsibilities.

It also goes deeper. I need truth tellers, people who look beyond the public persona and see me, real and unvarnished. Who gently show me my blind spots. Who love me in my weakness. Where I can be safe and reveal my vulnerabilities.

To be the weak one.

I’m still absolutely terrible at it, but I know this is a good place for me to learn and grow.

My wounds brought me here, and I trust the presence of Jesus amongst us will heal us all, bit by bit.

My Largest Felting Project Ever!

My friends Sandy and Peter asked me to make a felting piece to go over their couch. I’ve been procrastinating, daunted by the size and scope of the project, but yesterday morning I woke up and said. “This is the day!”

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Laying a deep sheet and towel under it, to protect the table.

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Base layer.

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Starting to mess about with different ideas.

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The arteeste at work.

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Climbing on a stepladder for a birds eye view. Love my Crocs!

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Here it is, all felted. I’m going to add some needle felting embellishments once it dries, and then try and figure out a wall hanging system.

So what has this got to do with New Monasticism?

Monastic communities, through the ages, have been centres of creativity and the arts. We celebrate the Creator by co-creating!