This fall, we are going to invite you to consider making a Discipleship Covenant as part of our Stewardship season, because we recognize that Stewardship is not meant to simply be about raising funds for the church. Stewardship at its core is about each of us learning how to be good stewards of this life we have been given, and the grace and mercy that fills it in and through Jesus Christ. It’s about our discipleship – the life we live in response to and following after Jesus Christ.
We will ask you to make one commitment in each of three different areas. These commitments will make up you personal plan for growing spiritually during the coming year. The three areas include:
– a personal spiritual practice
– a communal connection
– a way of service
In our current sermon series, Re-Formation, we are using the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation as an opportunity to ask how we need to be re-formed – as individuals and as the Body of Christ.
We are looking at three core areas of our life that focus in on the big questions we often ask about our existence here on earth:
– our Identity, “Who am I?”
– our Community, “To whom do I belong?”
– our Purpose, “Why am I here?”
This past Sunday we spent time looking at how we form our identity, our sense of self in the world. We proclaimed that our true identity is as beloved sons and daughters of the Most High God. That’s why at Heritage we say that we are a church where people come to Know Christ’s Abundant Love – we want you to know with every fiber in your being that you are loved with a love that is abundant, unending, unfailing, and sure.
We are inviting you to consider committing to a personal spiritual practice in the year ahead as part of your discipleship covenant, because we believe that by doing something that connects you more deeply to your Creator you will grow in that true sense of self. That taking the time to strengthen your relationship to God will strengthen your knowledge of Christ’s love for you. That spending time with the One who made you, will help you step more fully into the truth of who you are.
So this week, I am writing to share some ideas of what your personal spiritual practice could be in the year ahead. This is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list – its just a bunch of ideas that hopefully will spark something for you that will lead to the right thing for you.
- Try practicing One Minute Meditations (developed by Tom Zanzig – a full description is at the end of this blog).
- Develop a time of quiet and prayer each morning – start small with just five minutes or so and grow it as you feel led. If you find yourself struggling to focus in the quiet try journalling your prayers. Don’t get stuck on making them formal – write whatever comes to mind – don’t worry about complete sentences – just put something on the page. If you are more of a visual/artistic person, use a journal to doodle or draw as you pray. Or find an adult coloring book and color as you pray if that helps to focus you. Try different things out and discover what is best for you.
- Find a daily devotional to use. Our adult Sunday School class will be using one for the upcoming season of Advent you could try, whether or not you can participate in the class. There are also so many electronic options, if that fits your lifestyle better as well. Or find one that will take you through an entire calendar year and plan to start it in January.
- Find a way to be in scripture some throughout the week. Spend some time studying the upcoming text for worship on Sunday, or start reading through the Psalms or one of the Gospels, taking in one Psalm or one story each time you come to the Bible. A simple way to engage scripture is to ask these questions each time you come to the Word:
- What does this scripture reveal about God?
- What does this scripture tell me about humanity?
- What does this scripture say about the relationship between the two – God and humanity – God and me?
- At the end of each day, spend time reflecting on your day. Lift up in thanksgiving what you are grateful for that day. Share with God your concern or worry over anything that feels unresolved from the day. Pray for a restful night and what lies ahead tomorrow.
These are just a handful of ideas to get you thinking. Pray over them, try some things out and find what might be the right fit for you. We will be giving you your Discipleship Covenant in worship on November 12th to return on our dedication Sunday, November 19th.
One Minute Meditations
Developed by Tom Zanzig
To begin, Tom invites you to sit and experience a minute of time – watch the second hand tick 60 times on a clock or set a timer on your phone and just realize how long a minute truly is. Then determine how many normal breaths you take in a given minute. Set a timer and breathe in and out in your natural rhythm, counting how many breaths you take in a minute. Then create a “mantra in the moment” a short prayer in response to whatever you happen to encounter, feel, or find yourself pondering right here, right now. Slowly and silently or quietly repeat the mantra with each breath you take in a minute. Zanzig suggests having an equal number of syllables for when you inhale and exhale – with usually no more than four syllables in each part of the word. Some examples he gives include:
– Gracious God, be here now.
– God of patience, be with me now.
– God of friendship, be with Bob now.
– God of healing, be with Isa.
My default if something specific to a given time does not arise, is the Jesus prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. If you are more of a visual person, you could try an image instead that has some in and out motion to it – like the waves on the beach for one example.
Zanzig has found that he can use the one-minute meditation in all kinds of ways – here are some that he shares in his book The Transformed Heart: Spirituality, Religion and the Struggle for Integrity.
- As a morning prayer to begin each day.
- To stay connected to a friend or relative – arrange to “meet” for one minute and hold each other in loving attention at a regular time each day.
- To pray for one in need – let a person who is ill or going through a difficult time know that you will hold them up in prayer at a particular time each day.
- In response to the news – when you hear of something concerning on the news, take a minute to pray for the situation, people involved and God’s work in the world.
- To deal with an addiction or habitual, negative emotions – I have started praying the Jesus prayer anytime I catch myself worrying over something I cannot change or control.