A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and Soul Care
Hi Everyone, I pray that you, even at this very moment are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.
I also pray you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and that you are all, even now, beginning to prepare for this upcoming Advent season, for the birth of Christ on Christmas day and Christ’s second coming.
Over the coming four weeks you will be offered the opportunity to participate in daily devotional meditations titled “The Slowing”.
How many of us feel as if this year just flew by? For me it has gone too fast. As I ponder the speed that we move throughout our days I can’t help but feel that we are missing something important. This year I hunger for a slowing. I deeply desire to become more contemplative. I want to spend more time simply enjoying each moment for what it is, a gift from God. And I know that this is a hunger that many of you feel as well during the hectic Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas seasons. What would it look like if we all just committed this year to simplicity, silence and solitude? What if we just STOP doing everything that makes us anxious, frustrated and busy and spend more time with one another in prayer, and meditation, around the glorious story of God who is with us, and who is calling us to a fuller awareness of the divine presence in our midst? What might happen if we allowed the joy and peace of Christ to overcome us? What if we intentionally turned our hearts, souls, minds and physical activity boldly and exclusively toward an awareness of Emmanuel, God with us, for the coming four weeks and beyond? I think that such a movement would transform us into those who can experience the slowing that magnifies the gift of life that God has bestowed upon us all. In so doing we might just discover, or rediscover, the things that give life true purpose and meaning. Maybe we will begin to see the rat race as the waste of precious time that it truly is. How might we make the gift of time be the gift we receive and give to others this Holy Season. The gift of precious time together, which we slowly unwrap and savor, is a gift full of discovery, purpose, meaning and memories. This gift is easy to give as it simply means to eliminate everything from our lives that takes us away from family, friends and loved ones. The gift of time is inherently accompanied by the need to slow down. Time is lost when time is rushed, but it is redeemed when felt and lived into. An awareness of the giftedness of time keeps us in the present moment. We know that we are withholding the gift from ourselves and others when we are looking back to time past or forward to time yet to come. All active experience is in present time, which includes our experience of God, others and even our very selves. The gift of time is really a gift of the reality of the moment by which we can slow down, know, and love at a deeper level. This is the greatest gift one can receive or give. It costs nothing while providing ample sacred space in which truth can unfold.
To enter into this slowing I suggest a journey. This is a physical journey to a quiet place as well as an inward journey to our inner most self. It is a journey of discovery, elimination and prioritization as we discover the things we have in our lives that cause chaos. Then we eliminate all that we discern to be a waste of time. Then we redeem that time by spending it in an extravagant way with God, other people and even with ourselves. We spend this time discovering new and old things about God, other people and ourselves. We do this intentionally as we live without haste, while we unwrap the gift of time that is being given to us by others and watch as the gift of time the gift of time we give is unwrapped by those we love and who love us.
Over the coming weeks our daily devotionals for this Advent Season will be focused on this slowing. To get the most out of this time I would like to suggest three practices or experiences.
Experience number one: Be in church on Sunday mornings to experience the unique worship and teaching that come during this season. Be in worship wherever you may go to church, or if church has not been a regular practice for you, find one especially for this Advent Season.
Experience number two: Do a daily devotional appropriate for the season. You will find just such a devotional in each of the next four weekly Awakening Letters.
Experience number three: Attend an Advent study at your church, or find one at a church near you. At Epworth, Tuesday nights, at 6:30pm, we will be gathering for a special time of worship and study for the four weeks of Advent.
Advent 2016 Daily Devotionals
Initial note: to make the most of these devotionals it is suggested that the disciple does their best to enter into the Scripture as if hearing it for the very first time, in the presence of the very first hearers. Allow yourself to feel the location, and the message in a sensory manner. In other words live God’s Word. I have found that this approach can move us into what can only be described as a timeless place, where we can truly experience the slowing we seek in God’s presence.
Monday, Day One, November 28th
Lord Jesus, help me to slow down and to truly experience Your sacred Word, giving myself permission to take time and to allow the Scriptures to move in and through my spirit, soul, mind and body. In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen
Read Isaiah 7:10-14 slowly: Do not rush. Savor each word. Listen to the prophetic voice spoken approximately 700 years prior to the birth of Jesus. You may want to read it several times, with no agenda but simply to hear God’s Word spoken into your heart. Allow the words to reverberate in your mind. Be open and aware of any thoughts and feelings; physically and emotionally without dwelling on them. Let yourself slowdown in God’s presence. Feel the slowing. When you feel fully recollected consider the thought that follows. Finally consider the questions provided. You may be drawn to journal your thoughts as you move through God’s Word. Be open to this direction as it comes upon you.
Thought: God tells Ahaz, whom He has spoken to before, to ask for something extravagant. Ahaz is shocked at such a thought. Isaiah then admonishes Ahaz for not obeying God and even tells him that God is going to give him a sign whether he likes it or not. Did Ahaz think that God had better things to do with His time than to listen for an extravagant request from him? Did Ahaz feel that God’s time was more important thus God shouldn’t be concerned with anything he might say? Isaiah even says that Ahaz is making God tired, which is a reference to Ahaz trying God’s patience. Then God tells Ahaz of the virgin birth of a Son who will be called Immanuel “God with Us”.
Up coming course:
Introduction to the Enneagram
This is an Eleven week (27.5 hour) course into the fantastic world ofthe Enneagram.
This class will include an in-depth look into all nine spaces as well as their subtypes, wings, triads and Holy ideas, with emphasis on its usefulness within the context of spiritual direction and self-care.
Syllabus is now available; firstname.lastname@example.org