And so as we stare down the next weeks, maybe months, in quarantine, I am inviting each and every one of you to embark on a journey to find freedom in constraint.
For there are gifts to be found here in the wilderness of lock-down that we wouldn't receive in more buoyant times. There are things to be learned here that we wouldn't learn except for our current realities. These are the unique kairos moments of invitation in every moment, every day, and every season. No matter how difficult the circumstances, the Spirit's invitation beckons.
As The Practicing Church, our mission remains the same. We want to join in the renewal of all things through practices that ground us in the love of God and neighbor. Transformation is the goal. We want to practice the Way of Jesus to come home to love and embody love to our neighbor. And so over the next eight weeks, we want to journey together to find an interior freedom that no constraint or circumstance can touch.
Are you ready?
These apocalyptic times are revealing much. About us. About our consolations and desolations. And about what it means to be the church. As a contemplative missional community, we have struggled with how we are to be the church in light of spacial distancing. So much of our ethos of hospitality, embodiment, service and faithful presence now seeming painfully elusive.
We know we don't want to create a product to consume. For church is not an event but a community where every member is responsible for their own spiritual formation with gifts to give and receive. And we are committed now more than ever to being the church and sharing a way of life that forms us in the way of love. Folks everywhere are rediscovering the value of the local and the beauty of the neighborhood in the midst of sheltering in place. It is confirming all we know to be true about living the gospel here on the ground in our everyday lives and participating in the flourishing of our neighborhoods.
And so we are committed to taking this journey with you to move from anger to consent, from despair to hope, and from fear to love. And in a season of intense distancing, we are going to lean into presence however we can. All of the details will be unfolding in the following weeks; but here is a brief outline.
1) WE WILL JOURNEY TOWARD INTERIOR FREEDOM.
We will collectively journey through the book and study guide for Interior Freedom. This is one of my favorite books and Father Jacques has much to teach us about freedom in constraint. We have ordered multiple copies and will be getting them to you upon arrival.
2) WE WILL ENGAGE IN PRACTICES OF FAITHFUL PRESENCE — LOVING GOD, NEIGHBOR AND OURSELVES EVERY WEEK.
- Present to God: We will choose solitude over isolation and engage in practices of communing with God.
- Present to our Neighbors: We will look for ways to continue to love our neighbors from checking in on vulnerable neighbors, to giving grocery cards to families in need, and offering our gifts to the community.
- Present to Ourselves: We will attend to our own souls and health during this time, being intentional to implement life-giving rhythms.
3) WE WILL JOURNEY TOGETHER.
- Partnering: We will each pair up with a partner to do weekly check-ins with our practices and book reflections - and well, just care for one another.
- Spiritual Direction: We love the work of spiritual direction where a spiritual companion accompanies one in the work of discernment in their life. If this is something you are missing or longing for, we can help connect you to a spiritual director.
- Weekly Rhythms: We will continue to gather weekly online every Sunday as well as practice a few other life-sustaining rhythms (upon your feedback) to keep us all centered and sane.
The truth is that as much grief as we are all holding in this time, we have a profound opportunity to grow in faith, hope, and love. And as confining as our circumstances might feel, there is an interior freedom we can cultivate that cannot be constrained. In these extraordinary times, I believe there is an extraordinary invitation.
Will you say yes and embark on the journey?
Join us this Sunday as we begin leaning in. The choice is yours.
Freedom awaits you.
by Jessica Ketola