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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lent - Blessed Letting Go

Fasting Blessing
by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin (Director - Kirtland Spiritual Formation Center)

Blessed is the space made
From letting go
Blessed is each yearning
For what you’ve given
That reminds you of
Why you have given it

Blessed is what the space can mean
As it grows inside you
Sturdy for holding
What you never imagined
You could hold

Blessed is all that enters
The inward space
As it is being cleared
The way the Spirit
Stretches outward
Within you
And breathes deep
A joyful sigh of liberation

Blessed is the emptying
The heart-focused release
The desire to love
More than the desire to have

Blessed is the space made
That expands as you see
How the One you seek
Comes to your threshold

In a thousand faces and forms
Waiting to be received

Blessed is the emptiness
Blessed is the openness
Blessed is the letting go

My reflections upon this "Fasting Blessing" enabled me to understand more deeply the meaning of Lent. Dwelling upon these words I sense the space, the yearning, the spirit and am at peace within; leading me to be more willing to let go of more. Subscribe to the Centre for continued Lenten practices and be blessed with a closer walk with God.

submitted by Kerry Richards

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mystical or Reality

In Community of Christ what is Spiritual Formation?

Spiritual formation awakens disciples to the Divine Presence in the midst of everyday life. Through spiritual practices, and worship we learn to listen for God’s Spirit and discern invitations to share God’s love. (Church website)

Discernment, a practice of spiritual formation is a continual learning curve for me of which I barely scratch the surface. Speaking from my personal experience as one who tends to be a “doer” when I should be listening, I have experienced throughout my life varying degrees of self-reliance in ministry and mission. One may perceive they are engaging appropriately in ministry but there are subtle and perhaps even dramatic differences between the course of application I might think is required or to pursue vs that which the Spirit may nudge me to do. Much of ministry I fear to say, is predicated on the illusion of human competence being the source of knowledge, method and manner of applying ministry. Beyond that, this self-reliance also overlooks the spiritually intuitive notion of when ministry is needed by someone or missional opportunities are opportune at any given moment.

This reality is beyond human knowing. Ministry in its purest sense is attunement to the spirit, being present to insightful impressions that connect our ministry with people’s lives. Further, beyond the recognition of required ministry is the sense of compassion, empathy and love felt for that person. Even further, perhaps words of comfort, affirmation, counsel or hope, may accompany the impression to provide personal ministry that resonates in the life of the individual. Sometimes there is healing. And finally, there is empowerment in knowing the spirit is with me in ministry to engage in the actions that have been discerned for ministry. The fullness of the discernment experience is far reaching and impactful in ways we would never know without participation in trusting the Spirit to be present in our ministry.

The encounter for the minister and disciple is rich beyond words with blessing to be part of God’s loving ministries of grace. To be solely self-reliant upon our illusive sufficiencies is a poor imitation of Christ’s empowerment of his disciples. And so I ask myself, how important is spiritual formation?  Endearingly needed within our calling as disciples!

submitted by Kerry Richards

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Labyrinth of Life

Many of us have walked the labyrinths at Ziontario, Noronto, Encounter or elsewhere in our spiritual formation. I have done so twice before myself. This past week I, with 15 others journeyed upon a labyrinth in the Temple. One of our companions shared that this was his first time and his first impression was….. intellectually and logically, these rows of winding pathways did not make sense. How could this be a meaningful spiritual practice? How could this simple exercise be more than a physical walk and be no doubt boring? But….Upon completing the journey in perhaps 30 minutes within the 40’x40’ canvas creation he said this was one of the most powerful spiritual encounters of his life.

For me, all of my previous labyrinth walks had been solo journeys, going inward in my prayerful moments of traversing the winding paths. With many others in our group the experience of the labyrinth became an interactive encounter both with the Divine and also with those on the trek alongside me. The way into the centre is a time of release, emptying oneself, becoming vulnerable to the Spirit. Arriving at the labyrinth centrepoint, I was expectant of receiving, listening, discerning, being mindful of the impress of the Spirit within and around me. On the pathway leaving the centre I was sensing a sending forth, a knowing direction for living my life in ministry. All of these transforming encounters occurred richly. The moments spent within were sacred and sacramental.

The presence of others on this pilgrimage became a blessing. As each person approached me on adjacent paths we “felt” in very real discerning ways….. affirming words, deep communion within a gaze, hand touches, embraces, shared meaning that transcended usual fellowship with a purity of heart and sacred oneness. Peace was experienced, a passive joy bubbled up from within and the journey felt like “home.” In our sharing following this spiritual exercise of entering the realms of the Divine one with another, it was evident every single person was attuned to the spirit in new ways; that we were transformed and sent forth with passion to be a witness of this grace and invite others to know personal encounter with the Holy.

As a church we are so blessed to have recent prophetic reaffirmation of spiritual formation as our foundational journey to “be” in preparation to “do”. Each of us are incomplete disciples without daily encounter with our compassionate Creator. I urge you to not miss this reality in your life. I invite you to reach out in soul emptying vulnerability that opens you to “presence, peace and passion” We can shed the illusions of our culture and become individually transformed into a prophetic people of blessing. Trust that our individual calling is not an illusion; that our movement borne out of anguished prayer is the model for every single one of us. Let us present ourselves in utmost humility to God who waits upon us and breach the barrier of illusion. Trust in the words, “Be still and know that I am God”. 

submitted by Kerry Richards