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!

20140120-120358.jpg
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.

Community: Notes from David Janzen Workshop Part 1 (Sorry, it’s long)

Here are my notes from the first bit of David’s workshop last Saturday. Any mistakes and lack of clarity are due to my bad note taking!
Some of it is in point form, but I hope you can get the idea…

Our first tendency is to try and look at the wounds of community, and look at the blessings, and examine the cost benefit ratio. This is a consumerist attitude.  Best buy for least cost.  We want to get away from wounded people.  The result is no community.

20140116-061531.jpg
Jacob wrestling an angel.  How is wound and blessing linked?
What had Jacob been up to?   Exile from his family.  Family betrayal.  He is coming back to meet his brother.  Coming home.  Re-entering community. He is successful in his personal endeavours, but is entering into the crisis of his life.

Wounds are nasty but they open us up

Wound is a lot more immediate that his blessing.  Long suffering.  Walk into the blessing by faith

Wound comes about because he is striving with God. God loves to wrestle with human beings.

Jacobs wound marks his change in identity

Jacob and Esau meet.  Esau comes with blessing and forgiveness.  To see your face is like seeing the face of God.  Work through the wounds.  Step into something more powerful that means something to the descendants.

David went on to share a story in his book about Olivia, a child who experiences a mishap/wound in the context of community.

In the story Olivia has processes her pain. There is comfort, care, good information, support from community.  Enough love in the moment to cover it. She told her story long enough and was listened to, so the love void is filled.
Then he contrasted it with the experience of so many others. Being berated, punished, in the place of their wounds, instead of finding healing, the wound becomes a place of trauma.

The wound has within it a longing for God.  How do we empower people with disabilities to be fully themselves.  Some wounds are transformed into blessings.

What wounds lead us to community?
– Loneliness.  We already love you, stop trying so hard
– Growing up in a family that didn’t honour feelings
– Growing up in a mixed race community where there are no people like us
– Rejection of difference.  Longing where self is loved and confirmed
– Seeing injustices of world.  Wanted to be a part of putting things right
– Longing for words of affirmation

In Community
– We are loved and that gives us courage
– The disparity between public and private persona is eliminated (or reduced)

What wounds happen in community?
– These wounds will drive us apart unless we become disciple of Jesus
– Love absorbs the pain around and within us
– We’ve tasted a little bit of healing we know there’s more
– Wounds cause us to act in ways that drive people away

Anger
– The logic of anger.  Wounded animal who turns on the anger to make sure others stay away so they can be safe.
– We will have angry people among us.  We will be angry
– By His wounds we are healed.

What about the introverts?  
– A smaller circle of relationships. 5-6, not 20-30.  
– Introverts are most drawn to communities.  
– We need those long term deep relationships

The secret of L’Arche.  
– Community gathers around the core of people with disabilities.
– Catholic workers around people who are homeless/addicted.  
– They embody the wounded ness and weakness of Christ.

There is a kind of wisdom that grows up in a community that keeps us wrestling with God and one another

Many Streams Make One River – Bob and Gracie Ekblad coming to Hamilton

In just over a week, from January 25-30, GOHOP will be hosting Bob and Gracie Ekblad. Bob and Gracie will spend their time building up the GOHOP community. They will be visiting with with Mission Services, The Living Rock, Barnabas Prophetic group as well as meeting with a number different leaders in the Hamilton community.

Who are they? Bob is bridge-builder. As a pastor, practitioner and theologian, he weaves together different streams of the Church: the charismatic, contemplative, academic and social justice. He and his wife, Gracie, have given their lives to bring “the good news of God’s love and liberation in Jesus to the poor and outcasts.” His work includes, prison and gang outreach, teaching graduate students, running New Earth Refuge retreat centre, preaching, running a recovery house, leading English and Spanish services and running a family support centre. He is also the founder and director of The People’s Seminary and Tierra Nueva, a multi-faceted ministry in Honduras and Burlington, Washington. Having experienced work of the Holy Spirit in life-changing ways, Bob and Gracie’s work is profoundly infused and empowered the by the Holy Spirit. They seek healing, deliverance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit wherever they minister. Bob also teaches internationally on hearing God’s voice, reading the bible with people on the margins and on advocacy. He lives with his wife and three children in Burlington, Washington. For more information about Bob, visit www.bobekblad/about/.com.

20140114-055306.jpg
Come to Spaghetti Tuesday on the 28th and have dinner with Bob and Gracie, and stay tuned to hear where and when you can meet them over the course of the week.

Discernment and Centering Prayer

The other day in GOHOP’s staff meeting, we embarked on a discernment process regarding our ministry goals and activities for the new year.

We began the process with a time of centering prayer, which is a form of Christian meditation. Don’t worry everyone, we weren’t at tuning ourselves to the vibrations of the universe, or chanting ohms. But why should the New Agers get all the good prayer methodologies? We’ve got to reclaim what is ours, and has been ours for millennia. Centering prayer is an ancient monastic practice.

In centering prayer, we sit quietly, usually feet firmly planted on the floor, and back straight (no slouching!). We pick a simple phrase (often a short scripture passage), quietly attune ourselves to our breath, and then “breathe our prayer”. When we become mentally distracted (which for me is usually about a nanosecond in), we just bring ourselves back to our breathing prayer. For those who practice regularly, it is recommended you practice it twice a day for 20 minutes each time.

The goal is to quiet our hearts before God and to be attuned to His presence within and around us. To present ourselves before Him and commune with Him quietly.

The breathing prayer I encouraged our staff to use this time was “Abba, I am Yours alone.”

Why that one?

Abba

I wanted us to position ourselves before God in the posture of a child, beloved of the Father. When thinking about and planning for the future, it’s easy to get caught up in other identities, and to find ourselves driven by tasks and goals rather than drawn by grace. If GOHOP were to close today and we were no longer urban missionaries, what would we be? Simply His children, His beloved ones. I want our team to live and work out of that belovedness, not out of their job descriptions.

I am Yours alone

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about consecration these days, as we embark on a new year. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. We belong to God. What would it look like for me, for our team, to be fully and freely given over to Him? Holding nothing back? What would it look like for us to discard ego attachments to our positions, our accomplishments? I would love to find out.

After fifteen minutes of silent centering prayer, my phone alarm went off (I set it so I wouldn’t have to watch the clock). “Just like the ancients!” My friend Matt quipped.

Then we transitioned into the prayer of indifference, but more about that in a post to come…

20140109-091107.jpg