My congregation is doing a 6-week sermon/study series based on the book by John Ortberg, If you Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. I’ve been familiar with this book for quite some time, but I don’t think I’ve read it. The book is based on the story of Peter walking on water, and the basic premise is that to really experience the fullness of what it means to follow the call of Jesus, we need to step beyond the safety and security of what they know and walk directly into the storm.
So this first week we were invited to ponder what boat we are in that maybe Jesus is calling us out of. Ortberg says, “Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship” (p. 17).
As I was pondering this for myself, I began to wonder…what if the church (structured religious institution) is my boat? What if I’m missing out on something bigger because all I can see is what I’m doing now…which is good and important and genuinely matters. But is there somewhere beyond this to which I am being called? Continue reading The Boat…
At a Deaconess Board Retreat, this question was posed:
“Think of one person in your context…what is that person teaching you?”
The first person who came to mind for me was a 4 yr. old in my congregation. When she’s there on a Sunday morning, this little girl sits with her parents until the children’s sermon. When it’s time for the children’s sermon, she runs up and sits directly next to the pastor on the steps of the altar space. She listens intently to the children’s sermon, with her own stream of comments and questions that show she’s thinking…sometimes about what the pastor is talking about. At the end of the children’s sermon, the pastor says, “if you are age 3-grade 5, you can follow Sr. Michelle to KidsTown.” I start walking down the aisle, and as I get to the baptismal font near the entrance to the sanctuary, almost every week I hear this voice calling out, “Michelle! Wait for me!” I turn around and see this 4 yr. old running down the aisle, passing the other kids to get to the front of the line, where she slips her hand into mine and says, “I’m coming to KidsTown today.”
So what is this 4 yr. old teaching me about my call, about my ministry, or about what God is saying to me at this time?
Continue reading What is she teaching you?
I would claim that I’m not one for the more ‘spiritual’ spiritual practices–like yoga, contemplative prayer, holy stretching, etc. I can remember snickering and scoffing at such practices in college and as a younger adult.
Inevitably, when I found myself in a context where we were invited to sit straight in our chairs, breathe deeply, place palms gently on legs, focus on your breath, etc… I would get nervous. Surely someone is watching me try to do this, I would think. I wonder what they think of me? I wouldn’t be able to silence the voice(s) in my head running through a plethora of headline-esque thoughts that would make the CNN news ticker look calm.
And then I went to the Taize monestery in France. Taize worship/prayer is all about silence and repetitious singing. One simple chorus over and over, followed by long periods of silence. Continue reading Deep Breathing and such