Day 27: Communion and Connection

December 24, 2021

Day 27: Communion and Connection

When I first thought about Contemplative Prayer (and meditation, and contemplative kinds of things), I thought it was a solitary practice. And, so it can be. However, as I have seen – and journaled about, in these past weeks – contemplation does not HAVE to be solitary. You can contemplative in connection with others. Others in your prayer group, or congregation, or a single prayer partner or spiritual director.

I’m returning to Richard Foster. (Thank you for ALL your marvelous writing, Richard!) Really and truly, I appreciate Foster so much for his keen insights, his depth of knowledge, and how readily accessible his writing style is.

In his book Streams of Living Water, Foster talks of a number of different streams of the Christian faith. Different faith traditions, that flow from the same Source: Jesus Christ. As he talks about the Incarnational Tradition, Foster describes how foundational the Sacraments are to those who follow at tradition (or, faith stream). Communion, then, is a significant way for fellow believers to join with, worship with, and be with each other. Plus, when followers of Christ are also contemplatives, they can find a whole other facet of their faith and life together in their sharing of the sacrament of communion.

Which brings us to connection. Yes, Foster does talk about the Contemplative Tradition in this book, too. Yes, there is a strength to be found in the disciplines of the spiritual life, and this is well and good. However, another peril of this tradition and practice is neglecting life in community. “The contemplative stress upon our solitariness before God – can lead us into, especially in Western cultures, into an individualism that think only in terms of “God and me.” [1]

No matter whether introvert or extrovert, shrinking violet or happy-go-lucky, we all as Christians are to have communion – both vertically and horizontally. We are to value connection – both vertically and horizontally. Both features of the contemplative experience are important, Even, two sides of the same contemplative coin. Thank you for the reminder, Richard, as I strive to experience the Contemplative way of living and being.

Thank you for taking a trip with me in this Advent season, as I have journaled through experiences with the Tree of Contemplative Practices. Thank you to the website contemplativemind.org for making this excellent graphic available, too! And, I have really appreciated the memories this contemplative trip has stirred up within me. I hope and pray you may be encouraged to try one or two or even several of these excellent practices.

God’s blessings be yours as we enter the Christmas season. May you and your loved ones have a safe, happy and healthy new year, too. Peace be with you.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Foster, Richard J., Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (HarperCollins: United States of America, 1998), 55-56

Day 17: Vigils and Marches

December 14, 2021

Peace crane, Family Peace Fest 2017. Photo credit: Karen Kring

Day 17: Vigils and Marches

When I started thinking about this entry on the Tree of Contemplative Practices, what immediately came to mind was the Morton Grove Interfaith Walk in September 2016. The UCC church I pastor is located in Morton Grove, which is a multicultural, multi-ethnic, interfaith community in the suburbs of Chicago. Yes, I was an organizer (and walker!) in this Interfaith Walk through parts of Morton Grove.

This interfaith walk was a tremendous opportunity for different cultures, different faith traditions and different ethnicities to come together, learn about each other, and walk together on this Saturday morning. We centered it around three representative houses of faith, and in cooperation with the village of Morton Grove, walked from one to the next and the next. Fifty to sixty people of all ages participated, and had a wonderful opportunity to show the community that diversity matters. We rejoice in our diversity, and each individual is important and worthwhile.

The success of this interfaith walk continued a desire in me for work in the community. I began organizing and coordinating the Family Peace Fest for Hope and Harmony, which ran for four successive years, in cooperation with the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market and the Morton Grove Chamber of Commerce. The Family Peace Fest started in 2016, and the final year was 2019. (Sadly, we all know that the pandemic intervened, and a lot of worthwhile events did not happen in 2020.)

I had a vision for the inclusion for so many diverse cultures, ethnicities, and faith traditions in the wider community. And, it came to pass! We had the support of the Village of Morton Grove and the Morton Grove Library, too, with a special selection of children’s books on peace and diversity at the farmers’ market that day. Arts and crafts booths, activity booths, and the market, too! Many people were so pleased with the event. It was a lot of work! And yes, I am so happy it happened for four years.

What next, you may ask? I do not know. God willing, I am open to whatever God leads me to do for the community where I serve.

Writing on the Peace mural from St. Paul’s UCC, Downers Grove. Photo credit: Janyce Boss.

Dear God, thank You for the Interfaith Walk and the Family Peace Fests. Thank You for the witness we all gave to the greater community and the Village of Morton Grove. Thank You for so many people who participated, who came and learned more, and who had their eyes and hearts opened more. Thank You for the many things I learned, too. Please continue to come alongside all of our neighbors and friends who were involved. Bless them, Lord! And, may Your name continue to be lifted up. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )