With Comments from our All-Parish conversation, 9/8/2013
Story: Learning God’s story and finding ourselves in it
o Story holds community together. What would we have if we didn’t have story. Life would be so dull.
o In story we name beliefs, observations, questions, experiences. How do we hear each other’s stories beyond our “normal” or usual groups – expanding hearing and encouraging others?
o Stories are hugely important: they transmit information and tell us how others understand God, spirituality, etc. We should spend time understanding what stories are and how they are used religiously. Writing as a spiritual practice is important, too.
o How can we increase biblical literacy? How can we increase literacy of Anglican tradition?
o Everyone has a story… Plan time to reflect with one another.
o Getting to real meaning of scripture
o This is still a challenge for me. Ill keep working on it.
o Drawn to story (it’s the interpretation that is difficult)
o Faith Forum is a great venue for pursuing this. Mary Ellen Ashcroft’s class “Deepening Roots” really helps.
o I like learning about God’s story.
o I want to learn more about God’s story.
o Continue honoring scripture, tradition and reason as clues to God’s story. maybe we need to adopt some of the UCC “Comma” approach?
Prayer: Attending with openness to God and the world
o Allow more quiet time in worship for this. Maybe integrating Taizé with Sunday worship.
o This is a lack in my life. I want to learn about doing a better job with this.
o Concentrating on prayer
o Prayer has become absent in my life. How do I make it active again?
o What good is prayer? We pray for peace, but there is no peace. We pray for healing, yet we remain ill or injured.
o To learn what prayer can do for us. One must do it!
o Oh, how important it is – do have problems though and wish I felt more comfortable praying. Part of problem is so many needing prayer and memory failing me. Need tips to overcome this problem.
o A prayer practice of Taizé is missed… Is this something we value enough to bring back to our worship?
o The Glue of Life
o How can we integrate pray time more into our routine of busy days?
o How do I pray?
o Prayers should be part of our life even though our lives are so busy.
o Easy to give prayers of thankfulness. Harder to believe prayers of requests will really be answered. (“Ask and you will be given…”)
o Times of injury of any kind to self or others; distractions; asking for direction
o Classes on prayer would be helpful
·Simplicity: Decluttering our lives so we can be faithfully present to God and one another
o If you can’t get into this the others are hard to follow.
o So important—I’m trying
o Less mess = more focus on things left
o This practice makes me feel light and free! (less stuff)
o How are we simple at St. Matt’s?
o How does St. Matthew’s express simplicity?
o As I get older, this becomes more important
o What are simple ways to practice simplicity?
o Making “space” for God both in my daily routine and in cleanliness of home, car, and work area. Hard…overwhelming…learning how to push myself and take baby steps. Years of mess takes time.
o How could we practice this as a church community?
o Let go of stuff and spend more time focusing on God
o I’ve been re-ordering my life around The Rule of St. Benedict. It’s a good way to understand priorities and what can be discarded.
o How can we practice simplicity in a culture that promotes the idea of being overworked and scheduled?
·Discernment: Reflecting together on what God is up to in our lives and neighborhood using scripture, tradition, and reason.
o The rector has “forced” us to practice this. Spiritual practices must be practiced.
o How to ask God to aid us in discernment, how to listen to God’s response.
o How do we know we have gotten a word from God?
o Would it be helpful to identify 2 of our 8 areas of “way” as most important?
o New churches don’t seem to spend much time on this. They start, like a business, with a mission statement. Love it or leave it.
o How do we integrate the practices into a cohesive and distinctively Christian whole? For example, how does prayer enhance generosity?
o Need sessions dealing with and aiding discernment and what God wants me to do.
·Reconciliation: Joining God’s movement to heal and bring people into relationship across differences
o How does one go about the process of forgiveness? Not why (we know all the reasons!), how.
o This is important, but I hadn’t thought about it as a spiritual practice. I would like to know more…
o I’d love to see a shared event with our neighbors at the Tibetan-American Foundation of Minnesota.
o Why are there not more questions on reconciliation?
o Glad to see an emphasis here instead of conversion
o When we are truly loving and grateful, then we can be open to being part of reconciliation
o How can we learn more about other faith traditions and our similarities/differences?
o We have so many rich human resources for this, yet we rarely make the most of these opportunities.
·Hospitality: Opening space in our hearts and lives to give and receive in relationship with neighbors and strangers in need
o How do we seek the hospitality of strangers, like Jesus did every day, as we walk with him on the road?
o Continue to emphasize this
o Is there a range of ways to express this? Of all the practices, this one seems to be more “set” as to how it is lived out as a community. But how can an individual live this out?
o 1. Kinds of people of similar interests; 2. Those who show disinterest of trust
o Being aware of overextending our commitments to an unsustainable level.
o How can we practice more hospitality in our community? (one other person agrees)
o What are examples of hospitality that we don’t always recognize?
o Hospitality is for me: care. All follows from this for me!
o Hospitality is community and critical
o Sharing humor and joy is as powerful as anything!
o Giving hospitality is always easier; I am in control and in the “power” role.
o How do I make hospitality more a part of my home and my community? (another person writes “good” on this post-it)
o I find it difficult to offer hospitality to people of other cultures or socioeconomic backgrounds, but I find it very fulfilling when I do.
·Generosity: Trusting in God’s abundance and sharing what God has entrusted to us
o Tough to trust!
o Provide opportunities to reach out to the stranger and express God’s love.
o Being truly grateful for what we are giving (given?). And telling God so!
o Get much satisfaction when I take/make time to concentrate on generosity – most beneficial and fulfilling.
o How can we use service opportunities as a way of explicitly becoming more spiritual, e.g., have a practicum (?) discussion after a service opportunity.
o In what area(s) is St. Matthew’s lacking in generosity?
o Generosity is most interesting to me right now using Lisa’s suggested ‘living richly’ reflective practice.
·Gratitude: Living lives of thanksgiving for everything God has given us, and breaking bread with others in this spirit.
o I am lucky that I have much to be thankful for.
o Having space and time to fellowship with one another outside of Sunday mornings – to express God’s love.
o Small “reminders” or “sign posts” might be helpful to keep this practice in front of us. (This could be applied to many of these.)
o For me, “gratitude” is very complex. To give thanks to God for what I am/have implies God’s will…for those who have less. To give thanks for opportunity to change world? No problem.
o Remembering to be grateful for everything.
o Enjoyed, appreciated class on gratitude and try to remember each day to concentrate on this, though confess to failing on some.
o Is there a physical way to express this?
o Gratitude enfolds all the others.
o Being happy and thankful about things in life.
What is missing?
o Engagement with the big philosophical/theological questions of our time – e.g., the nature of human consciousness. Buddhism is very engaged with such matters (cf. the Dalai Lama) – Christianity needs to be too.
o A place to disagree and openly discuss doubt.
o Integration and flow of these practices, that they not live separately.
o What about creativity? This is a large part of our church tradition and who we are at St. Matt’s. Or is this a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, which, of course, everything is in this exercise, but the animating force is important.
o Reason can be included in the discernment category (?)
o Reaching out and embracing those from other religious traditions
o Where do music and the visual arts fit?
o How to reach out and embrace others and the thoughts and traditions of other religions.
o Study and questioning (several people agree)