May 30, 2017
Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news. Archives Here ...
Our Annual Conference Spiritual Formation Gathering and FREE lunch will be held again this year on Tuesday, June 13th after the morning session has concluded. We will meet in the Upper Room of the Pavilion at the dock. This will be a time of fellowship and an opportunity to quiet your mind and heart in the midst of the busyness of the week. A light lunch of finger foods will be provided at no cost. Please let us know if you plan to attend and direct questions at 330-456-0486, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Hope to see you at noon!
The Gift of Constraints
by James K.A. Smith
Let’s face it: all of us inhabit institutions that we would have built differently. We inherited policies and procedures and even physical plants with aspects that we’d happily do without. Sometimes we bristle under the constraints put upon us by founders and historical bodies that could know nothing of our contemporary challenges.
Many of us have probably daydreamed what it would be like to be free of such constraints -- to “re-imagine” the institution from scratch. Then, we tell ourselves, we’d really be free to push forward our mission and vision. But now, in the real world, these constraints are like millstones, anchors dragging on the bottom as we try to steer the ship forward into new waters. . .
Listening with Our Ears, Not Our Mouths
by Anthony B. Robinson
“This is going to be hard for me,” said Mary, an energetic member of the congregation who had asked me to assist in a project described as “taking the pulse of our church” and “planning for the next chapter of our life.” Though I had known Mary for less than an hour, I was inclined to agree. She was clearly an extrovert and a bright person who thrived on a rapid-fire exchange of thoughts and ideas.
What Mary figured would be tough was following the “no cross talk” guideline I had proposed as the modus operandi.
“No cross talk” is a standard practice in 12-step or recovery groups. It works like this: when a person in the group talks about his or her recovery, or the temptations faced or the hope and healing found, others in the group do not address the person directly or comment on what’s been said. Only the person who has the floor speaks (within an agreed-upon time limit). Others listen.
“Dave,” for example, introduces himself and launches into whatever it is he needs to say about the topic of the meeting. He doesn’t talk about a previous speaker’s comments. He speaks only for himself. When he finishes, Dave may thank the others, and they may respond with “Thanks, Dave.” That’s it. Another speaker begins, or there may be silence until someone else is ready to speak.
“No cross talk” means that people don’t make comments that may cause the person speaking to feel unsafe or inadequate. Comments like “I don’t think you really understand,” or “When you’ve been around longer, you’ll get it,” or the one often heard in church conversations, “We’ve tried that before.”
Pentecost: The Evolution of the Temple
by Richard Rohr
The brilliant Anglican theologian, N. T. Wright, concludes that we have largely missed Paul’s major theme. After Luther, many thought Paul’s great idea was “justification by faith” (Protestants) versus “works righteousness” (Catholics). It makes a nice dualistic split, but Wright believes the great and supreme idea of Paul is that the new temple of God is the human person. In this insight, he offers us a superb example of thin-slicing the texts and finding the golden thread. Once you see it, you cannot not see it.
The first stone temple of the Jewish people was built around 950 BC. On the day of the dedication of “Solomon’s Temple,” the Shekinah glory of YHWH (fire and cloud from heaven) descended and filled the Temple (1 Kings 8:10-13), just as it had once filled the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 40:34-35). This became the assurance of the abiding and localized divine presence of YHWH for the Jewish people. This naturally made Solomon’s Temple both the center and centering place of the whole world, in Jewish thinking.
When the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and took the Jews into exile (587 BC), it no doubt prompted a crisis of faith. The Temple was where God lived! People like Ezra and Nehemiah eventually convinced the people that they must go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple so God could be with them again. Yet Wright points out there is no account of the fire and glory of God ever descending on this rebuilt temple (515 BC). And this “Second Temple” is the only temple Jesus would have ever known and loved.
The absence of visible Shekinah glory must have been a bit of an embarrassment and worry for the Jewish people. Wright says it could explain the growth of Pharisaism, a belief strong in Jesus’ time that if liturgical and moral laws were obeyed more perfectly—absolute ritual, priesthood, and Sabbath purity—then the Glory of God would return to the Temple. This is the common pattern in moralistic religion: our impurity supposedly keeps God away. They tried so hard, but the fire never descended. They must have wondered, “Are we really God’s favorite and chosen people?” (This is a common question for all of us in early-stage religion.)
Knowledge of this history now gives new and even more meaning to what we call the Pentecost event (Acts 2:1-13). On that day, the fire from heaven descended, not on a building, but on people! And all peoples—not just Jews—were baptized and received the Spirit (Acts 2:38-41). Paul understood this and spent much of his life drawing out the immense consequences. In that moment, Christianity began to see itself as a universal rather than a tribal or regional religion, which is why they very soon called themselves “catholic” (universal) as early as the year 108 AD. Paul loved to say, “You are the Temple!” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21-22), and of course this morphs into his entire doctrine of corporate humanity as the very Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-30).
Love, Not Atonement
by Richard Rohr
All the great religions of the world talk a lot about death, so there must be an essential lesson to be learned here. But throughout much of religious history our emphasis has been on killing the wrong thing and avoiding the truth: it’s you who has to die, or rather, who you think you are—your false self. It's never someone else!
Historically we moved from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice to various modes of seeming self-sacrifice, usually involving the body. For many religions, including immature Christianity, God was distant and scary, an angry deity who must be placated. God was not someone with whom you fell in love or with whom you could imagine sharing intimacy or tenderness.
The common Christian reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (common in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God the Father (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109). Theologians later developed a “substitutionary atonement theory”—the strange idea that before God could love us God needed and demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to ''atone'' for our sin. As a result, our theology became more transactional than transformational.
Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, or blood sacrifice (understandably used in the New Testament written by observant Jews). He was instead inspired by the cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the first chapter of John's Gospel. For Duns Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness, but the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made” (Ephesians 1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the divine incarnation; rather, God’s motivation was infinite divine love and full self-revelation! For Duns Scotus, God never merely reacts, but always freely acts out of free and unmerited love.
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. God’s abundance and compassion make any scarcity economy of merit or atonement unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) all notions of human and animal sacrifice and replaced them with his new infinite economy of grace. Jesus was meant to be a game changer for religion and the human psyche.
This grounds Christianity in love and freedom from the very beginning; it creates a very coherent and utterly attractive religion, which draws people toward lives of inner depth, prayer, reconciliation, healing, and universal “at-one-ment,” instead of mere sacrificial atonement. Nothing “changed” on Calvary but everything was revealed—an eternally outpouring love. Jesus switched the engines of history: instead of us needing to spill blood to get to God, we have God spilling blood to get to us!
Watch for notice of other spiritual formation opportunities.
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchlor-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joy Gordon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth – email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Carol Topping - firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
Imagine Yourself Happy
by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Imagery training can boost everyday wellbeing, a new study shows.
Flashbacks of traumatic scenes—such as a bombing or death of a loved one—are one of the hallmarks for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Mentally healthy people are also affected emotionally by images that we encounter in our day-to-day lives. For example, you might replay an embarrassing moment at work, and feel increased anxiety about your job, or envision a relaxing Sunday spent at the beach, and feel more relaxed. A new study looked at how guided imagery could be used to tweak the images, leading to greater happiness.
Guided imagery is a technique that been used by psychotherapists and other trained practitioners to treat a range of issues, such as insomnia, chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder and grief.
5 Ways to Organize Your Phone to Unhijack Your Mind
by Stephany Tlalka
Your phone’s slick, minimalist shell betrays a cacophony of alerts from apps, notifications from non-humans, and icons your fingers barely intended to graze. Yet there you are, ten minutes later, not even using the toilet at that point.
How better tech could protect us from distraction
by Tristan Harris
How often does technology interrupt us from what we really mean to be doing? At work and at play, we spend a startling amount of time distracted by pings and pop-ups -- instead of helping us spend our time well, it often feels like our tech is stealing it away from us. Design thinker Tristan Harris offers thoughtful new ideas for technology that creates more meaningful interaction. He asks: "What does the future of technology look like when you're designing for the deepest human values?"
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Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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