Dear First Pres Family,
Grace and peace to you.
We’ve been traveling together this summer with our worship theme “Living an Imperfect Life Well.” Each Sunday, I’ve offered a spiritual practice – a brief prayer or question – to carry into the week. As we are more than halfway through the series, I thought it might be helpful to put in one place all the spiritual practices we’ve mentioned so far – for ease of reference, if you’d like to go back and pray with any of them.
Here’s the ground we’ve covered:
Lean into Grace – As we began to think about how we might live our imperfect lives well, we leaned into grace and explored the freedom that we find in Christ to live lives of love – for the well-being of others and all creation. We were invited into a practice grounded in the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:
First, memorize the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control” – OR, if you’re not up for memorizing – write them down or print them up, and put them somewhere you’ll see them throughout the day.
And then, each day this week, pick one. Or you could pick one for the whole week. Pick one fruit of the Spirit and ask, “How will I live this out today?” Gentleness. How will I live that out? Generosity. How will I embody that? And carry that word as your prayer throughout the day – a prayer that can come to life in you – by the power of the Spirit alive in you.
Praying our Freedoms – In worship on the Fourth of July weekend, we considered how we live our imperfect lives at the intersection of faith and public life – our identity and citizenship in Christ, our lives located in the context of the United States. In the midst of national events, we sat in the tension of freedom and power. The practice suggested was a variation of the first week’s:
Consider the freedoms we have in our national Constitution, and select a particular freedom.
Ask how will we, individually and together, use and embody this freedom to work for the common good and the freedom of all?
Travel Light – We listened in as Jesus gave instructions to 70 disciples he was sending into the world, telling them to “travel light” – instructions that can be summarized:
“Pray.” Go. Travel light. Focus. Bring peace wherever you go. Share the Good News. Transcend barriers. Receive the hospitality that opens up to you. Heal the hurt you find. Shake off the dust. Keep moving into grace.
And we considered this practice for travelling light: :
In the next day or so, think about – and put in your words – what matters most.
Then, sit for a while and bring to mind something – or some things – that feel like they are weighing you down. What’s your baggage? What do you need to let go?
And then decide on a fixed time – maybe it’s one day – maybe two – maybe it’s every morning until lunch – a set time to let go of what is holding you back. And then let go of that. For a time. Live into that. Travel light.
And then, when the set time is complete, take some time to reflect on your experience. What do you notice? What difference do you feel?
Healing in the Small Things – We heard the story of Naaman’s healing in the river, and considered how God sends us a word of healing, not in our power and privilege, but in our shared vulnerability. St Teresa of Ávila’s spirituality known as the “Little Way,” invited us to notice and undertake “small actions, great love” –
As we move into the week, look for the healing in small things that may have gone unnoticed until now.
AND, embrace the practice of small things done in great love: What’s one small thing you can do? And then another? for the healing of others, towards the healing of the world.
Step Up/Step Back – Listening to the story of the Good Samaritan as it then flowed into the story of Mary and Martha, we heard an invitation into a rhythm of a life centered and grounded in love – (1) acting with compassion to meet the needs of the world, and (2) resting in the presence of the God who welcomes us all – “Go and do”/”Stop and listen.” The practice invited us to Step Up/Step Back:
First, ground yourselves in love. Know that you are God’s own beloved, God’s New Creation.
Then, as you move through your days, the invitation is ask these questions: Where do I need to step up? Where do I need to step back? In this moment, of this life, what do compassion, and love, and life require of me? And, where compassion says go and do: Step up. Where compassion says stop and listen: Step back. Step up. Step back.
“What does a good day look like for you?” – As we celebrated communion, we considered how in the Last Supper Jesus might embody an answer to the question, “What does a good day look like?” And we carried that into the week as our question for prayer: “What does a good day look like for you?”
We’ll continue our journey thinking of “Living an Imperfect Life Well” for the next few weeks. If any of these practices resonate or speak to you, try them out. Feel free. Take what you need, and leave the rest. Grace abounds.
 This practice for traveling light is adapted from Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, A Good Enough Life: 40ish Devotions for a Life of Imperfection (New York: Convergent Press, 2022), p.149.