Friday, September 09, 2005

The Joy of Community; the Peace of Solitude

Well, first off, thanks to everyone for responding in the way they did to last week’s blog. Do I feel better? Yes, I do, thanks to the responses that people made as well as this article by Tony Campolo. Am I still grieved by the incalculable loss of life? Very much so, but what I realize is that I can do nothing about that and could have done nothing about that. I can help alleviate the suffering in the small ways that I can.

btw, everyone should check out Theomoments. It's a blog by a guy comparing theology with jazz and doing some really different and interesting thinking. It's well worth the time to peruse it.

Well, I’m going to cop out a bit today and post the bulletin article that I wrote for this Sunday. You Otter Creekers are getting a sneak preview. It’s about the trip to the monastery that my wife and I took at the end of August.

Three weeks ago, 14 Otter Creek pilgrims journeyed down to Cullman, Alabama. We went to experience a time of peace with the sisters of the Sacred Heart Monastery, a Benedictine Spirituality Center. While there, we got to experience community with the Sisters. Saturday morning, all of us got up early enough to participate in the morning Lauds, a time of worship where we spoke psalms and hymns to each other. Just this simple act gave us a sense of the Spirit active within us. We also worked with Sister Adrian in learning a new form of prayer by making clay pears to hold clay seeds that represented our prayers.

Amid the heat and humidity, the 14 of us brainstormed ideas about the Wednesday Night Vespers service: began planning for stations and themes and thinking about direction and motivation. It was a great time of faith building and getting to know the people that work together every week on the Vespers service. Their hearts for leading people to a closer walk with Christ are apparent in the way they converse and talk about their struggles.

All of these times were wonderful and hold a special place as I got to share them with my brothers and sisters. But as wonderful as they were, the times of solitude were just as dear to me. On the grounds of the monastery, we were able to meditate on the Crucifixion of Jesus through the Stations of the Cross, to sit by a placid pond while reading or praying, and to walk a prayer labyrinth that symbolized life’s journey into faith and then sharing it with others. These were all great experiences that deeply affected me and Sheryl. And in doing them, a truth of the Christian walk became very apparent to me. Christianity is an intensely personal experience that is only properly done in community. A community where people can feel comfortable sharing their victories and failures, where the open hand of forgiveness is offered and the closed fist of judgment is withheld. That’s the kind of environment where transformation can take place.

That’s what we try to offer on Wednesday nights. We hope you can join us and contemplate your place in Christ with brothers and sisters.


judy thomas said...

You are so right about community, Phil. Thanks for the thoughts -- I am still treasuring the experience and gaining from the moments spent there. Judy

Brandon Scott said...

yeah...and I'm still bitter that I didn't get to go!

Tony Arnold said...

Me too! Brandon, you and I will just go to Gethsemani without them! Ha.


Malia said...

I want a station where you say a prayer and light a candle for someone like they do in the Catholic churches. I've always liked that, but have never had the opportunity to do that exercise.

Can we, can we, please, please, please?

Phil said...

Brandon, Tony,

Don't be painbows; be rainbows.

Preston said...


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