St. Paul’s conviction that we are “rooted and grounded in God’s love” suggests that there is a larger space, a deeper union, and a greater joy that we can experience as we entrust ourselves to “the breadth, length, height, and depth,” of God’s expansive Love. With this conviction, EDOW’s Diocesan Retreat Committee is offering a weekend Fall Silent Retreat at the Claggett Center in Adamstown, MD, from 3 pm on Friday, October 20 to 1 pm on Sunday, October 22, 2023.
A silent retreat allows us to slow down, quiet the mind, breathe deeply and pay attention to the wonders around us. October is an especially wonderful time at Claggett to experience the raw beauty of harvested fields and cool temperatures, the porches with rocking chairs and the outdoor labyrinth with vistas of South Mountain State Park, and the colorful fall foliage surrounding the lovely environs.
Our retreat director, The Rev. Carole Crumley, is the retired senior program director of Shalem Institute and former canon educator and founder of the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage at Washington National Cathedral. A sought-after retreat and conference leader, Carole continues to teach and lead pilgrimages to sacred sites in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. Carole is a lover of storytelling, moveable feasts, and country music.
The Claggett Center is fully accessible. Online Registration is open now and ends on October 10, 2023. For more information and to register, click on this link: https://learn.edow.org/library/rooted-and-grounded-in-love-a-silent-retreat-201904/511199/about/
Presented by Marjorie Centofanti and the Rev. Tim Grayson
Learn how praying without words, in a deep silence and openness, enables you to connect with the Divine. Come to realize the beauty of holiness using what modern contemplative Thomas Keating often called “God’s first language.”
Our retreat combines talks, discussions and two group practice sessions with time for questions afterward. Presented by Contemplative Outreach of Maryland and Washington, this retreat is open to anyone, whether you have a longtime Centering practice or have never tried this form of prayer.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have taken place . . . I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
How well do you know Jesus’ life story and his teachings?
If you’re like many people who attend an Episcopal congregation (and the majority of Americans who identify as Christian), the honest answer is, “not very well.” You’ve heard a lot of the Bible read to you on Sunday mornings, and you can call to mind some of the events of Jesus’ life. Even so, you’ve never internalized the arc of his life, the body of his teachings, and the nuanced ways that the four authors of the gospel accounts interpret Jesus’s story. Without a regular practice of reading and reflecting on Jesus’ life and teachings, you’ve likely not had the experience of God speaking to you through the words of Scripture.
Of course, none of what I’ve written thus far may be true for you. Perhaps you once read the Bible and prayed regularly at an earlier stage of your life, but for any number of reasons–including the ways that some biblical passages have been used to cause harm–you stopped.
Or maybe you have years of Bible study under your belt and a regular practice of prayer and reflection on Jesus’ life and teachings. You know how every time you sit down with those famillar stories, they have the power to speak to you afresh. You also know that the life of faith is never static, that there is always a next faithful step.
What might be that next faithful step for you?
We’ve entered the season of Lent, the forty days patterned after the time Jesus spent in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. Forty days to consider his life before we commemorate His death on the cross.
His life matters. In the words of the late Rachel Held Evans, “Jesus did not simply die to save us from our sins; Jesus lived to save us from our sins. His life and teachings show us the way to liberation.”1
Here’s my invitation to you this Lent: Pick one of the four gospel accounts–Matthew, Mark, Luke or John–and read it as you would a short story. Read it to learn the arc of Jesus’ life as told through the author’s particular lens. It won’t take long–you could read the Gospel of Mark in about ninety minutes; one of the other three would require at most another hour.
You’ll be surprised at how vivid Jesus is in each account, and how brief his life. Pay attention to what inspires or surprises you. Should you find yourself, as most of us do, confused or troubled by some of what you read, ask your priest (or bishop) for a good commentary on that particular gospel, so as to gain a better understanding of its context, worldview and what the author was trying to convey about Jesus.
Then go back and read that same gospel slowly, a section at a time each day during Lent until you finish it again. Settle in a quiet place and ask God to speak to you through the words you read. Write down your impressions or questions.
Most importantly, listen for God’s word for you through the text. You may go for days without hearing anything. Then one day, a particular passage or phrase might seem to jump off the page and into your heart, and then you’ll know what it feels like to be spoken to through the words of Scripture. Or days later, an image or word from the text may come into your mind unannounced, as a source of illumination or strength for some troubled area of your life. It may not happen, because such things are not in our control. This is not a performance, but a spiritual practice meant to open us to receive whatever might come to us in a time of quiet reflection on Jesus’ life.
Which gospel account should you read? Whichever one draws you in.
Because it’s the gospel text we’ll hear most Sundays this year (except for Lent 1), I’m going to read and pray my way through the Gospel according to John. In many ways, the Jesus portrayed in John is very different from the Jesus portrayed in the other three, in ways that I’ll write about later in Lent.
Please let me know if you accept my invitation and which gospel you’ll read. Feel free to share your impressions and ask any questions that arise for you, and I’ll do my best to respond. I’d also love to know if and how you sense God speaking to you through your prayerful reading. We can learn together and cheer each other on as we make our own journey with Jesus through Lent.
1Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2018)
Lord, teach us to number our days, that we might set our hearts toward wisdom.
I spent New Years’ Day at my dying father-in-law’s bedside. Mostly he slept. Sometimes he would wake up to ask my husband for help in readjusting his pillow, or about a concern he had about the house. When one of our nephews stopped by, he wanted him to ensure that his electric tools were sold for a good price, and he wanted advice about the stock market.
Even in death we hold onto life, for life is all we know.
Every two hours or so, he’d call my name: “Mariann!” “Right here, Ed,” I’d reply. Then he would ask a question of faith–what was waiting on the other side of death, what crossing over would be like, and how on earth to imagine eternity. “It doesn’t sound very appealing,” he confessed. He wasn’t looking for answers, but assurance that I trusted the mystery of it all, and so could he.
As Ed lay sleeping, I thought about my hopes and intentions for the new year.
Death puts life in perspective.
In my email inbox and on social media, I read other people’s new year’s resolutions, those whose lives and leadership I admire, some emphatically declared that they were not taking on anything new. Life was stressful enough, thank you very much. Nadia Bolz-Weber offered her yearly reminder that “there is no resolution, that if kept, will make you more worthy of love.”1
One Instagram post, however, took me to a place I hadn’t expected. It was from Rich Villodas, a pastor of a large multi-racial church in Queens, NY, and author of several books including The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values that Root Us in the Way of Jesus and Good and Beautiful and Kind: Becoming Whole in a Fractured World–the kind books I’m inclined to buy for titles alone (and, I confess, that I did).
Villodas New Year’s Instagram post read like this:
Resolutions are good, but a Rule of Life is better.
Resolutions are often about goals that require a lot of willpower.
A rule is about submitting to the Spirit empowered rhythms, practices,
and relationships that reorder our hearts and form our wills.
His next post read:
Here are 4 questions to help you build a Rule of Life:
- What are the spiritual disciplines that you need to anchor you in a life with God?
- What are the practices of self-care you need to care for your body and nurture your soul?
- What core relationships do you need in this season of life to support you on your journey?
- What are the gifts, passions and burdens within that God wants you to express for the blessing of others?
There is no mention here of what you and I should do, but rather what we need. The last question wonders what God wants to draw from our life’s gifts, passions, and burdens so as to be a blessing to others. What a concept–that God could use our burdens as a means of blessing.
I’m still working on my answers to these questions, and I wonder what they evoke in you. There is such a generosity and gentleness about them, but there’s also, if we’re honest, a catch. For we may not always be able to give ourselves what we need, or to receive what’s needed from others. What do we do then?
Seared into my memory from our early days of parenting was the time our pediatrician looked at me kindly and said, “You need more rest.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, for in that season, there was little rest to be had. So, too, at other times, when what we need seems impossible to attain. And we must acknowledge that countless people around the world, and in our communities, are not able to have their survival needs met through no fault of their own.
Still there is something to be said for giving voice to our needs in prayer, and to trust, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, that “the Holy Spirit intercedes for with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) Perhaps it’s best to focus on one need, and to seek guidance in prayer and conversation with a trusted few. Moreover, the question of what others need in order to live whole lives might stir our curiosity for new ways of doing what we assume must be done, and inspire us to be persons of solidarity and empathy.
In upcoming reflections, I will return to the questions of faith that many of you have asked me. In responding, my focus will be on the practices of faith that help us to receive from the One who, as the Book of Common Prayer assures us, “is always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve.”
In the meantime, I wonder, what do you need?
1Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Facebook post