Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Philip Gulley, a Quaker pastor, wrote a book that is one of my favourites called Front Porch Tales. I have always found the stories in it to be down to earth and spirit lifting and I want to share one with you now.
People all over the world have looked for ways to connect to the spirit for thousands of years. Prehistoric cultures left artifacts that supported them in their beliefs in their spiritual world. Down through the ages and into the 21st century we continue our search for the divine, to invite God into our lives.
One of the challenges of a spiritual journey is making time for the Holy – allowing time for the divine to enter. Not too many of us have God penciled into our schedules and calendars. By the end of the day, most of us have not given God, or anything spiritual, a thought. We typically save that work for Sunday morning when we have a time and place for that kind of thinking. Still, many of us yearn to have God in our lives. One way to do this is to choose a spiritual practice and set aside time in our schedules; sacrosanct time that we guard jealously.
A spiritual practice is about being intentional in making room for the Holy. It feels daunting, and a little self indulgent with our busy schedules and set routines. Our constant busyness does not leave time for us to hear the Spirit or to observe where the divine is active in our life. If we want to create a connection to God, it is important to have space to see and hear what God has to say to us.
The Spiritual practices described here are not meant to be onerous; they allow us a chance to try different pathways to meet the divine in our lives. Explore what works personally.
Some might try out several spiritual practices, while others might feel drawn to a single one. Do check them out to find those that most resonate. And then – Make Time For The Divine.
Bible Intake is a way of reading the Bible that helps you to integrate what you read with what is going on in your life.
Choose scriptural passages from the many reading plans available. A suggested reading from Psalms is provided below.
For this spiritual practice, read the Bible using the SOAP method:
Scripture - Read any portion for the day.
Observation - Write a brief description of what is going on in the passage you read.
Application - Write about ways your life will be different today because of what you have read. Consider: lessons to be learned, examples to be followed or avoided, promises to be claimed and enjoyed, or a character trait of God that was revealed in the passage.
Prayer –Write out or say a prayer for yourself and others based on what you read today.
Reading the Psalms by Theme:
Because the book of Psalms portrays all of the human emotions, reading through the book of Psalms is great for a simple pick-me-up. When you’re going through a hard time, the book of Psalms can serve as a comfort and encouragement. Besides relating to human emotions, the Psalms can be grouped by various themes: the church, thanksgiving, prayer, worship, characteristics of God, etc. Chapters of Psalms that speak to the topic on the left.
Take time in your day to walk outside for an intentional walk in creation. Really notice one small thing (a branch on a tree, a bird in a bush, a cloud in the sky, a flower, etc.).
The world is truly a lofty and beautiful place, with God in every crack and crevice; if we pay attention, we can fall into a still, humble and prayerful space.
This is a practice of going out into the world and savouring everything that comes across our path, opening all our senses to what is – taking a walk in the cathedral of the world.
Find or purchase a large container; canning jars, cookie jars or large vases work well. Each day write out on slips of paper at least three things for which you are grateful. Include some details of why you are thankful for those persons or things, if you like. Pray about them, then place them in the container. At the end of each week, read through what you wrote on the slips. Give thanks to God for the blessings you have recorded. You can either keep the slips of paper and add to the jar each day, or throw them out at the end of the week and start the next week with new gratitude items.
Alternatively, you can keep a Gratitude Journal. Find or purchase any notebook, large or small, and record in it each day at least three things for which you are grateful. Pray about those entries each day. The advantage of keeping a journal is that you can go back over days, months, even years to review entries that may record what has been going on with you at various times. Remember to thank God for the blessings you have received.
Lectio Divina – Reading the Divine
>Choose a passage from the Bible that speaks to you.
Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Do some deep breathing to relax yourself.
Read the scripture passage or story out loud once.
Take time to ponder the question: “What word or phrase from the passage speaks to me?”
Read the same passage out loud slowly again.
Take a few minutes to ponder the question: “Why does the word or phrase I identified resonate with me right now?”
Read the passage a third time.
Consider the question: “What do I feel God may be telling me at this moment?”
Read the passage a final time.
This exercise is followed up well by recording your answer to the third question and by praying about it.
The word “mandala” is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean “circle”, a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself – a comic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.
As you colour the mandala, reflect on the circle of your life with God. How balanced is your life in areas of family/friends, romance/ significant other, health, money, career, physical environment, fun/recreation, and spiritual growth? If you were to draw a circle and place each of these items on it, would your circle be round or somewhat bumpy, being lower on some areas than other. How are you connected to God who can help give balance to our lives?
Find/purchase a journal or scrapbook. Each day write down things you are both thankful for and concerned about. You may wish to draw images or paste in photos, newspaper articles or other reminders of the day. Review the entries periodically and let that be your prayer focus for the day.
Find a quiet space in which to sit. Place a candle where you can see it. Take a few deep breaths and bring to mind one thing for which you would like to pray. It may be a prayer for peace, justice, equality, happiness, forgiveness, your congregation, a family member or friend, or for your own important issue. When you are ready, light your candle and offer the prayer in silence or out loud. The flame will help keep you focused and remind you of the warmth and comfort of God.
Prayer for Life
Make a copy of this prayer and put it somewhere that you will see it each morning or evening or both, then pray it out loud slowly.
I am alive.
I am seeing, hearing, breathing, touching, moving, tasting, loving.
I am alive.
I am seeing God, hearing God, breathing God, touching God, tasting God, loving God, living God.
I am alive.
I know that God is seeing me, hearing me, breathing me, touching me, moving me, loving me.
I am alive.
Every time I seek, I am found; every time I speak, I am heard; every time I breath, I am breathed; every time I touch, I am touched; every time I move, I am moved; every time I love, I am loved.
The Woodwark Student Bursary Fund was established by the Reverend Kenneth Woodwark and his wife Ida in memory of their parents. The objective of the fund is to provide financial awards to one or more candidates who are undertaking full-time studies directed toward full-time service in the United Church of Canada. Preference is given to candidates who are members of Woodroffe United Church and, failing that, first preference is given to candidates within the Ottawa Presbytery. Consideration shall not be limited to candidates for the ordained ministry.
The fund is administered by the Memorial Sub-Committee of the Woodroffe United Church Worship Committee.