Do you ever consider how and if your spiritual life is growing deeper or is kind of stuck? I do. Some days I feel like I’m going through the motions. At times like that:
Prayer feels perfunctory; I want my prayer life to present God with an open heart, but some days….
Preaching -- that darned blank sheet of paper stays blank for FAR too long and I get frustrated, even when I’ve been preparing and reflecting on that week’s worship theme for a long time, usually about 6 months! I want to offer insightful and faith-full reflections on the scripture, but some days….
Pastoral care feels like a duty; I want to be a caring, loving pastor, ready to share communion and love with our homebound folks or to provide loving care to someone who is truly burdened or grieving or lonely; but some days….
God doesn’t seem to be anywhere nearby, much less close and whispering in that still, small voice. I want to be close to God and know that when God feels absent, it’s not God that moved; but some days….
Thankfully, those days are unusual, but they do happen, and sometimes they happen over an extended period of time. It feels dark and certainly not hope-filled.
I hope that you will join me in our Lenten worship series born out of a work by Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Allow me to introduce you. Henri (pronounced “Henry”) Nouwen was born and educated in Holland, where he was ordained priest in 1957. He is a well-known spiritual giant of the 20th century whose reflections are deeply insightful and spiritual, a professor who taught at Harvard and Yale. In his later years of ministry, Nouwen served as a personal caregiver to Adam, a man with mental limitations in the L’Arche-Daybreak community in Toronto, and he wrote his reflections on the spirituality of caring for him. In an interview about his time with Adam, Nouwen said:
I…realized that handicapped people didn’t love or care for me because I write books or take trips. They don’t know that. If they express love, it comes from God. When I came to L’Arche, my whole life was tired. But God said, “I love you. I want you to hold you.” Finally God had the chance to really hug me and lay divine hands onto my heart through this community.
This Lenten season, I hope that you will enter into worship with an open heart and mind, to receive the gifts of spiritual growth. After an introductory service on March 1 (along with communion), each worship service will be experiential, drawing us into the theme of the day’s service. There will be time for quiet reflection and other spiritual exercises or music to help us reflect, with brief verbal introductions to point the way.
Come open – come ready to delve and drink deeply of the well that will call you into a deeper relationship with God. As we open our hearts and minds, we will be more ready to meet God:
Our inclination is to show our Lord only what we feel comfortable with. But the more we dare to reveal our whole trembling self to Him, the more we will be able to sense that His love, which is perfect love, casts out all our fears.
We have ordered more books since all that we purchased have been distributed. I hope that you will read it – slowly. Take your time. I’ve been reading chapters several times, each time finding something new and moving deeper into my understanding of Nouwen’s thought and my relationship with God.
Blessings on you,