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Praying to Love

For many Christians, a supernatural theistic God is a daily reality in their lives, but for many others, this kind of God is simply not there. They long to feel God’s presence and God’s love, but instead they experience emptiness and isolation. They worship God in church, but find that God is not present in the sanctuary. They pray fervently to God in private moments, but realize that their prayers often go unanswered. In the end, there is only silence.2 The biblical character of Job cried out to God in despair, “I cry to you God, but you do not answer. I stand before you, and you don’t even bother to look.”3

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On Prayer and Pentecost

When prayers in Jesus’s name go unanswered, and when unrelenting “knocking on heaven’s door” produces no result – even when bargains are offered (“I’ll stop smoking”) – instead of confronting the possibility that God is not going to intervene, the failure is treated as a “test of faith” that “God has a better plan for me.” But the transformation of human thought is far more powerful than petitions to a discredited god. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, first given by John’s Jesus, descends in tongues of flames on the Christian community gathered in Jerusalem. They are empowered to tell the story of Jesus in every language of the known world. Peter quotes the prophet Joel, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Paul proclaims, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The imagery of fire represents the outpouring of the presence of sacred being and of creative power. No magic is required.

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More Things are Wrought: A Jungian Excursion

As part of this evolving universe we have our personal psyches, our individual mix of influences that shape and mold our lives and nourish our unique creativity. Amongst the multitude of forces that work within us is a central energy pushing us toward integration and wholeness. This integrating and creative force Jung called the Self.

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A Few Thoughts on Prayer

The indication here is that the answer to prayerful request is not the new bike, not health, peace, or justice, not any of the results that we usually pray for. It is, rather, the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is this gift? It is a heightened awareness of who God is, who you are, and who your neighbor is. The answer to prayer, quite simply, is a level of consciousness that is more in tune with God’s ever-abiding love. Inasmuch as prayer leads to this result, prayer is its own answer! As that awareness grows, we will become ever more conscious of God’s presence. God is always for us, in every way we can imagine and those we can’t. Our task is to become ever more aware of this love, and talking to God can assist that process.

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Jesus’ Prayer Promise in John 14:13-14: In What Sense Is It True?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
I’m sure most reading this recognize that this is not some universal blanket promise. So we have to ask, “On what level is this true?” Or, “Is it true on any level?”

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Topics: Spiritual Exploration & Practice. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus. Seasons & Special Events: Pentecost. Ages: All Ages. Texts: John. Resource Types: Articles.

The Evolving Faith of a Liberal Christian Minister (8): What I Believe about Prayer

This current series of sermons offers me the opportunity to examine and reflect upon my own faith – and I share those reflections with you, not to tell you what you should believe, but to challenge you to examine your own religious convictions.

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Would We Recognize Jesus If He Came Today?

The idea of a second coming of Christ is a mystery, if not explicitly controversial. Jesus’ followers apparently believed he would return during their lifetime after he was crucified. When that didn’t happen, later followers gradually changed the belief into an indefinite “someday.” After two thousand years of waiting, most Christians no longer look for it to happen in their lifetimes and acknowledge that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically about his return. It is just as likely that those words were put into Jesus’ mouth by the gospel writers themselves. Wishful thinking?

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Ages and Ages: Divisionary (Do the Right Thing) Music Video

Do the right thing, do the right thing, do it all the time, do it all the time. Make yourself right, never mind them. Don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering. I hear a higher calling, better here than there I guess so long.

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The Soul of the Psalms: from ashes to alleluias

Structured for Lent, but practical for any time of the year, this new resource examines the lament psalms for their connections to contemporary experiences. The introduction acquaints the reader with Dr. Walter Brueggemann’s analysis of the psalms into the categories of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. A contemporary psalm/poem for each entry discerns the emotional tenor of the psalms and makes it relevant for the challenges of contemporary life and relationships.

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry, Spiritual Exploration & Practice, and Theology & Religious Education. 8 Points: Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Lent. Ages: Adult. Texts: Psalms. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Books, Poetry, and Readings.

Never to Part (John 14:1-12)

Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He is not telling them to not be sad, but rather, to not be frustrated and fearful. Jesus himself struggled with this according to John’s account. Three times John says Jesus was troubled: at the death of Lazarus, when he contemplated his own death, and when he realized that his own disciples would betray and desert him in his final hour.

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Should some Progressive Christians call themselves Jesusists instead?

I recently received some direct feedback asking why I (or anyone with similar views as me) felt the need to keep the word “Christian” in my religious designation. They asked “why not just call myself something different all together to avoid confusion, and keep the word Christian sacred for people who believe all of the cornerstone creeds of Christianity?” He referenced my manifesto: Am I a Christian? where I say that I don’t require bible inerrancy, virgin birth, a trinitiarian God, fulfilled prophecies, or a literal resurrection, to identify with Christianity … And he asked why not just call myself a “Jesusist” or something totally different to remove any ambiguity?

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One Breath, V.2

One breath; one breath at time.
A breath-on-breath is all we get,
and you cannot take it with you

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Topics: New Thought/New Age, Spiritual Exploration & Practice, and Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Resource Types: Readings.

Keep the Channel Open

Written by Martha Graham

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
That is translated through you into action,
And because there is only one of you in all time,
This expression is unique.

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Ritual Within Sacred Community – eBulletin

This month we continue our dialogue on Sacred Community as we delve into the topic of Ritual. How important is ritual in sacred community? How can we evolve our rituals so they are meaningful and relevant? And in what ways are we inspired by sharing rituals with our community? This and more…

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How Important Are Our Beliefs- eBulletin

As we gather to support each other in sacred community, or as we search for sacred community, shared beliefs and common ideas have great value. But is it essential that we all agree on what we believe to be true?

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My Kind of Atheist- Book Review

Book Review of Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty and Find Peace, by Frank Schaeffer

Although this book is very much about Schaeffer’s own journey to freedom, there’s enough of the good theologian and good biblical scholar in him to delight those of us who can never get enough of that kind of thing. He does a lot with the figure of Jesus as the only lens through which to grasp what God might be like, if God existed (the key God-marker in Jesus, according to Schaeffer: “non-judgmental co-suffering empathy”). He notes that Jesus violated every religious taboo of his time and place: touching dead people, touching lepers, touching women and letting women touch him.

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