Communities of Restoration v. Communities of Retribution

If I had to choose a section of Scripture that best exemplifies the Community of Christ Redeemer Anglican Church over the past year, Galatians 6:1-3 would be that section.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

There are some who would read this passage and see it as a blank check to search out and ‘catch’ those secret sinners.  The warrant to go looking and to expose the evil people in our midst.  Unfortunately we have seen this play out innumerable times throughout the ages.  I think this is partially our own fault. Our english translation does not do justice to the original.  To get at the heart of this verse we should read;

“When anyone is ensnared, trapped, enslaved by their transgression, you who are spiritual (which is all of us since we have the Holy Spirit), must restore them in a spirit of gentleness (remember I said gentleness is fruit of the spirit right?). 

Paul is asking that the church at Galatia to be a community of restoration, not a community of retribution.  These verses came home to me in a profound way when I took leave from my parish to spend 40 days in a residential treatment facility.  I entered the facility severely depressed, anxious, and burnt out just as the church I helped plant was entering its third year.

There were a number of things happening beyond what one could see on Sunday mornings.  My relapse was the result of lots of small choices that began months if not years before I entered the Herrington Recovery House.

There are and will be a number of scenarios in which this is not the case.  There will be those who fail to recognize the situation they find themselves in, or those who understand but refuse to repent and turn back to God. But I was able to see my wrong because those closest to me made decisions that forced me to see that I had become enslaved by my transgressions.

My willingness to admit my wrong and seek help was not what made our community so unique or beautiful. What was unique and beautiful about our community was the choice to restore me and not condemn me.  Some only watched from the periphery, but my Bishop, my Dean, my staff, my vestry, my family and close friends engaged in the beautiful work of restoration. Deep sacrifices were made by all of those closest to me in order to help me come to myself again, including the church members and our staff.  My church continued to support me financially while in treatment, when I was released they asked me to take time I to begin the hard work of reconciling the many damaged lives I left in my wake.

It was definitely not painless, nor was I necessarily good at it.  For the first month home, I did not want to be seen.  I basically hid in my house.  But after much conversation, therapy, work with my sponsor, and prayer, I began to reach out to members of my congregation for one on one meetings. There was a lot of tears, a lot of anger and sadness expressed.  I spent forty days coming to terms with my own brokenness, and now I began the hard work of seeing what my brokenness had done to others.

I approached each conversation with a ton of anxiety and fear.  I had so many scenarios playing out in my head that included yelling, punching, and spitting.  Thankfully this did not happen (especially thankful for the not spitting).  They were very honest conversations, but never once did I feel like I was being looked down upon.  I cried a lot.  Others cried a lot.  I learned the full weight of what it means to be a priest and to hold the fragile and precious trust that so many in my congregation had given me.  The wounds ran deep, and I don’t think I nor they know just how deep.  What is more amazing to me is the fact that these people chose to express their anger, sadness, and fear instead of choosing to move on to another church.

It was an incredible act of faith for my congregation to restore me as their priest.  I hurt many people, I lied to many people, some of my relationships will never be the same because of what I have done.  But through it all, only one family left because of the damage I had done.  Our parish grew in my absence, in both size and health. No one had to stay.  In fact, there is no reason that the church plant should have survived at all.

I see so many pastors being ‘released’ for moral failure of one kind or another.  I’ve heard too many stories of pastors committing suicide when their failings were discovered.  I’m not saying every pastoral failure should have restoration to the pastorate as the appropriate end.  In my case, it seemed best to God and to my church that I be restored to my place as priest.

I love my church family.  My failure has not led to my disgrace, it has done just the opposite.  My failure has shown me what it means to be part of the family of God, to learn the meaning of mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  This experience changed me.  God loves me enough to let me fail if that is what it takes to learn the extent of His love for me.  I’m a slow learner, but I am eternally grateful that God did for me what I could not do for myself.  And I am even more grateful that my community chose to restore me in a spirit of gentleness. 

Mind The Gap: Priesthood and Protest

On Saturday evening, our city reached a tipping point.  The fear, frustration, and anger overflowed into the riots of Saturday night.  The violence continued last night, except the violence erupted in the midst of heavily armored sheriffs in riot gear with the national guard in the wings.  I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoon amidst the residents of Sherman Park, pastoral leaders, and community activists.  I felt compelled to be on the ground in Sherman Park  because of my belief in the Incarnation.  Sherman Park is not my parish, but there are certain events that transcend my immediate pastoral responsibilities.  The events of this weekend were one such occasion.

I returned again to Sherman Park to stand amongst African American leaders, civil servants, activists, and organizers.  The events of the past few days have me reflecting on my role as an Anglican Priest in the Kingdom of God.  The question to myself is this:

How do I remain first a citizen of the Kingdom, a servant of the King, while also being a peacemaker in the city of man?

Honestly, I feel tempted to align myself with those in the minority, the African American community.  But I’m also concerned about the temptation to be ‘caught up’ in the moment.  The expression of violence by many of the younger residents manifested in rioting, setting fires, shooting of guns, rolling cars, pulling white people from their cars because they are white…it is appalling.  Yet, it is just as appalling to see our civil servants dressed in riot gear, which only escalates an already volatile situation, and hearing that our governor not only activated the national guard but also released them into action on Sunday night.

My challenge as a priest is to remain a non-anxious presence.  My challenge as a priest is to ‘mind the gap’, stand in the tension and call for peace and calm from both parties.  If I align myself with one party to strongly, I minimize my voice with the other.  On the other hand, Jesus’ first sermon proclaimed: ‘liberty to the captives’ and ‘liberty to those who are oppressed’.  In 1st century Palestine, Israel was captive to the Roman occupation.  There was a very explicit oppressor.  In the United States, historically the oppression of African Americans has also been very overt, and at times encouraged.  Martin Luther King, Jr., writing just under 50 years ago had this to say about riots;

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear?…It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

Police violence against the African American community is not new.  I’m sure to many this isn’t a surprise, especially if you are black.  But for a majority of white people, this seems to be a new phenomenon.  It’s not.  It’s just now being seen for what it is because the minority has a voice and a medium to show what has been kept hidden by media.

As I priest, I have the difficult task of defending the powerless while at the same time, calling the powerless to a liberty that is beyond the liberty that can be found in any nation.  I am called to stand in the midst of my minority brothers and sisters and confess that to this date I have never had the experience of being powerless and oppressed, and it is possible that I never will as a white male.

As I priest, I feel compelled to defend the powerless from those who abuse power.  To stand alongside my African American brothers and sisters as they face officers, who for the “sake of peace and safety”, come with riot gear, tear gas, guns, and the law at their back.

As a priest, I also feel compelled to proclaim to those oppressed and captive,  that there is a place where they are equal, they are brothers and sisters, where justice and peace truly reigns, under a merciful and just king.  In the kingdom of God, I know the dividing walls of hostility have been torn down.

As a priest, I feel a need to also work hard to trust the rulers and authorities that God has placed over our city.  I have to believe that those with the riot gear, and armored vehicles, really do desire to restore the peace and safety of the community.  This is the harder call by far.

I don’t get to choose one side or the other.  I need to remind both sides that no one is ever all right, nor is one side all wrong.  Evil, selfish, and violent behavior is committed on both sides.  The root of violence is fear, and when we are driven by fear we act preemptively with violence so that we are ourselves to do not experience violence first. Only peace will reign when we all commit to turn our swords into plowshares, to say; “this is my part”.

Until the law enforcement can say; ‘we were wrong’ and until the rioters can say; “we were wrong”, we will not experience an environment where reconciliation can happen.

As a priest, I have to proclaim that there is a king that knew that we would never be able to fully understand or own our wrongness.  That we have a king who said; “Let me do it for you.”  I will own your wrongness, I will bear your oppression, I will take on the guilt of your oppressor.  I will bear the weight of pain and brokenness of this world, I will be the sin eater so that you can be with me and experience a peace that passes all understanding.

Peacemakers do not ignore oppression but they do accept that violence as the answer.  Law Enforcement lay down your guns, rioters lay down your guns.

Kyrie Elieson

Feet On Fire: A Story of Redemption

I used to joke about two endings that were possible as we endeavored to plant this church.  In one scenario I would be curled up in a fetal position at the end of my bed after a failed attempt at planting a church.  In the other scenario I would see myself standing before a church that did not exist before.  I never thought that I would experience both those scenarios at the same time!  On July 20th, 2015 I, Fr. Tony Bleything, entered Rogers Memorial Hospital’s residential treatment program for mental health and substance abuse.

You may be thinking; “Wait…what?” or, “Rehab, you were planting a church weren’t you?”  This is where the fetal position scenario comes into play.  One year after getting honest about my battles with my church leadership and others close to me my, I found myself right where I started, except a lot worse.  It wasn’t the drinking really, though I did relapse two times over that year, it was my emotional health.

When I entered Rogers Memorial Hospital I was diagnosed as a severe depressive with a secondary anxiety disorder.  In layman’s terms, burnt out.  I was at Rogers for 40 days (crazy right?).  Those 40 days of wilderness were the hardest thing my family has yet to face.  It devastated my wife, my kids, my friends, and my church.  By my second week at Rogers, I had to come to terms with the possibility of losing my marriage, my vocation, and my community all because of my actions.  But, praise be to God, this is where the scenario of standing in front of a church that didn’t exist before comes in (Remember…I said that before).

From the very beginning of my, let’s call it a meltdown, my family and I were very transparent.  Though I was not there the day my associate read a letter to the congregation written by my wife and I, it was relayed to me that it was very powerful service.  Lots of prayers were said, lots of tears were shed, and people left hopeful.  One parishioner said that the “Grace of God felt palpable.”

Through it all, my Bishop (The Right Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter) and my diocese (C4SO) were an incredible support system.  The Diocese gave extra to our church to help my associate devote more time in my absence. They provided a priest with a Doctorate in Pyschology as my pastoral care person, and the made regular visits to come and see us throughout my time away.  The most powerful thing to hear was; “You are the rector of this community, we want to help you get healthy and see you fully restored to the congregation.”

I did not return to the congregation in a full time capacity for six months so that I could take time to restore broken relationships with my family and my community.  I celebrated Eucharist for the first time on Christmas eve of 2015.  During my time away I had many one on one meetings with my parishioners.  They were hard meetings, but good.  Lots of tears were shed, many were able to freely express their anger, betrayal, frustration, and sadness they experienced because of my behavior.  In the end, we experienced true reconciliation, mercy and grace because of these meetings.

Honestly, most church plants, if this happened, would shut their doors and call it quits.  Christ Redeemer continued in my absence with a lot of help coming from people in the church.  I have been honest with my past from the beginning and have often talked about my desire for people to experience a church that allows them to ‘fall apart in community’.  I experienced exactly that reality.  All my greatest fears were set before me (loss of family, vocation, community) and in the end, none were taken and they are stronger now because of this trauma.

I’m thankful for my relapse, I know that it was God doing for me what I was unable to do for myself.  I never want to go through it again, and through prayer, the grace of God and healthier rhythms of work and rest…I won’t.

In one of the Apostle John’s Letters (the first to be exact) he writes; “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”.  Amen, right!

If you are around us at home, you will often here this; “You are my child, there is nothing you can say or do that will ever make me love you less”.  Believe it friend.

 

Liturgy, Learning to Dance, and Good Shoes

Many at Christ Redeemer have grown up in some form of non-denominational (free church) worship setting.  When they come and worship with us, there are a variety of questions.  There is one question that is asked more than any other;  “Doesn’t saying the same thing every week, eventually, make it meaningless?”

C.S. Lewis, in his work Letters To Malcom, gives brief attention to this question of Liturgy becoming rote before turning to more personal forms of prayer.  We Anglicans tend to like how Lewis relays things:

…Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value.  And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best — if you like, it “works” best — when, through long familiarity, we don’t have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about the worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was “for what does it serve?” “‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.”A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try expirements on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”

 

Want to come and dance with us?  We’d love to teach you the steps.

Defining Terms: Am I Really A Racist?

**Guest Writer: Eric Anderson

You can also read this post on his Tumblr Page

For those who attend Christ Redeemer Anglican Church (and were there this Sunday), you’ll remember a challenge put forth by Father Tony. He challenged the white people in our congregation (which is most of us) to take a perspective of assuming we are racist (vs assuming we are not racist), and to explore that further. I appreciated Tony’s challenge to us, and emailed him this morning with some thoughts. He asked that I put these thoughts up on a blog, so that others can read and discuss. I hope this helps anyone looking to dig deeper into the rat’s nest of racism in America.

In 2012 after Trayvon Martin was killed, I read a lot of articles and tweets urging white people to stop trying to dodge being called a racist, and instead explore the ways they already are racist. This sounded compelling to me, but I had a very difficult time with it. I honestly could not come up with any ways I was a racist. So I began trying to deconstruct everything I thought I knew about racism and the struggle faced by black America. I’ve grown to learn that when white people get defensive about being called a racist, it’s probably because they’re using a different definition of “racist” and “racism.” White people (including myself) often conflate 3 key terms, Prejudice, Bigotry and Racism:

Prejudice

Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind their words and actions. A person of any racial group can be prejudiced towards a person of any other racial group. There is no power dynamic involved.

Bigotry

Bigotry is stronger than prejudice, a more severe mindset and often accompanied by discriminatory behavior. It’s arrogant and mean-spirited, but requires neither systems nor power to engage in.

Racism

Racism is the system that allows the racial group that’s already in power to retain power. Since arriving on U.S. soil white people have used their power to create preferential access to survival resources (housing, education, jobs, food, health, legal protection, etc.) for white people while simultaneously impeding people of color’s access to these same resources. Though “reverse racism” is a term I sometimes hear, it has never existed in America. White people are the only racial group to have ever established and retained power in the United States.

 

The terms I use to differentiate things that are often clumped together come from Debby Irving’s website (debbyirving.com), and they have helped me come to terms with my own racism. When I was trying to explore the ways I was racist and coming up empty, it’s because I was confusing “racism” with “bigotry.” Ex:) “I don’t discriminate against anyone based on skin color/economic status, I don’t use racial slurs, etc” means I’m not racist, right? No, it simply means I’m not a bigot. But I am absolutely a racist. My skin color alone ensures that I benefit from an entire system of better access and preferential treatment. That is racism.

Once I understood these definitions, I was able to freely declare without shame or guilt that I am a racist. It’s nothing I chose, but rather a system I was born into. The only thing I can do is attempt to change the system from the inside-out.

In my email to Father Tony, I thanked him again for challenging the white people in our congregation to assume they are racist. At the same time, I imagine a lot of people are having difficulty with this challenge, either because they are using the wrong definition of the word “racism,” and/or because they simply don’t know where to start. As I mentioned, I’ve been on my own journey of deconstructing everything I was taught about our history, the history of people of color in this country, and racism. I have an abundant amount of articles, documentaries, books, and music that have helped me along. I would love to share these with anyone who finds themselves unsure of how to take those first steps.

PEACE LOVE LIGHT

-eric

“Could you not wait with me one hour?” Keeping Watch with Christ on Maundy Thursday

Gethsemane

The three holy days of the paschal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil) are the center of the church’s worshiping life because they recall the center of Christian salvation: Christ’s death and resurrection for us. The liturgies of the Triduum together form a unity (a fact which is signalled by the absence of dismissals and opening salutations: each liturgy begins where the other left off). In order to most fully experience the glories of Easter, we must first contemplate the horrors of Good Friday and dwell in Holy Saturday’s silence. In order to understand Good Friday, though, we must learn from Christ how he interprets his approaching death on Maundy Thursday: by giving us his body and blood in the Eucharist, and by washing our feet.

By an ancient tradition, there is no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday. Instead, we make our communion from the elements consecrated at the Maundy Thursday Eucharist. And so, on Maundy Thursday, after our celebration of the Eucharist, we will reserve the blessed sacrament for our communion on Good Friday, and Christ’s body and blood will lie in repose on a side altar.

The altar of repose extends to us an invitation.

After the last supper, Jesus spent the night in Gethsemane, praying to his Father in agony (Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46). As he prays, his disciples fall asleep, much to Jesus’s disappointment. He had hoped that they would stay awake and keep watch with him.

After the liturgy, the altar is stripped, all icons are covered or removed from the sanctuary, no decorations are left on display, and the cross is shrouded. Christ is laid bare and desolate, left alone as he goes on to the work of salvation.

But we have the opportunity to keep watch with him.

This year, we will have the opportunity to spend time in prayer before Christ in the blessed sacrament at the altar of repose. We believe that he is really present in the eucharistic elements, which makes it especially appropriate to spend time in prayer where the sacrament is in repose.

If prayer before the reserved sacrament is new to you, don’t worry. There’s not really a wrong way to do it, so long as you come with an open heart and a reverent spirit. You might recite some favorite prayers. Or you might pray your own prayers. Or you might just sit or kneel silently in the Lord’s presence. Or you might do all of these. For full effect, I’d recommend spending about an hour in prayer to and adoration of Jesus, but really whatever time you are able to set aside will benefit you.

From the end of our Maundy Thursday liturgy until 9:30pm, All People’s Church will remain open for those who wish to spend that time with Jesus. And beginning at 10:30 on Good Friday, the same opportunity will be made available.

More information about our Holy Week services can be found here.

For a primer on what we do (and why) during these liturgies, click here.

Holy Week 2016

CRAC Holy Week 2016 Poster-01

Join us for our Holy Week services.  The theme of Holy Week this year is “Renewal: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”

All services will be held at:
All People’s Church
Address: 2600 N 2nd Street
(2nd & Clarke)

Maundy Thursday – 3/24
7pm

Good Friday – 3/25
12noon

Saturday Easter Vigil – 3/26
Dusk (7:30pm)

Easter Sunday – 3/27
9am – Joint Service w/All People’s
10am – Brunch

Advent Songs At Christ Redeemer

These are two rough recordings of songs written by Zach Pietrini, our music director, for Advent.

 

Come Lord (Advent Song)

Download song here.  Chords here.

 

Wait For the Lord

With a bonus song at the end (not written by Zach). Download song here.  Chords here.

“Not Quite My Tempo” Or, How God Isn’t Like the Dude from Whiplash

By Gene Schlesinger.

This Sunday we began preaching through the New Testament letter of James, which begins with the instruction: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials/temptations[1] of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1.2-4).

In my sermon I explained three wrong ways to approach trials/temptations in our lives (avoiding them, giving in to them, and being “right,” but with out love or compassion), and two ways to approach them rightly: considering it joy, because of our love for God and for people, and prayer because “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you” (James 1.5). I concluded with a challenge to prioritize the practice of prayer, particularly the Book of Common Prayer’s offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, and the Prayer of Examen.  (See our Daily Rhythms page to learn more)

But there’s one more thing I want us to see about our trials/temptations, and this is important. The opening of James tells us that our trials/temptations will produce endurance, and that endurance will mature us. This is a wonderful thing about trials/temptations. Unfortunately, this has also led us to have some pretty twisted understandings of what God is like.

Put most crudely, we view the trials/temptations and sufferings of our life as something that God sends our way in order to grow and mature us. There’s no growth without suffering, and though the process is painful you can’t argue with the results. The problem is that this makes God out to be morally reprehensible.

Last year in the movie, Whiplash,[2] J. K. Simmons earned every bit of his Oscar portraying a results-driven jazz conductor, who is willing to put his musicians through all manner of suffering [don’t watch the clip if you have a sensitivity to bad language] in order to bring out their potential for greatness. He gets results, but there’s something deeply wrong with someone who’s willing to torture people in order to get those results. You’re not supposed to sympathize with him.

Often times we think of God as a sympathetic version of the J. K. Simmons character from Whiplash. Thankfully, James tells us that God is not like that. “No one, when tempted/tried, should say, ‘I am being tempted/tried by God’; for God cannot be tempted/tried by evil and he himself tempts/tried no one. But one is tempted/tried by one’s own desire.”

In other words, though it’s true that we grow through our trials/temptations, and though it’s true that God uses them to make us more like his Son, our Savior, Jesus, it is not true that God sends trials and sufferings our way in order to grow us, because God is not the sort of monster that J. K. Simmons plays in the movie.

How this works is a mystery, and I don’t claim to be able to resolve it. But what I can say is this: God’s purpose for his children is to conform them to the image of his Son, and he would have done this even if sin had never entered the world. Because of sin, this process is sometimes painful, but no amount of sin or suffering or trial is able to change God’s purpose for us.

And so, even in the midst of our sinful world and our sinful selves, God continues his work of bringing us to himself through his Son. Sometimes it will hurt, but the suffering is not the point. The point is our being made like Jesus.

So as you pray for the wisdom needed to consider life’s inevitable trials/temptations as joy, give thanks that God will bring you through these to make you like Jesus, and give thanks that the trials are not his idea, but that he won’t let that stand in his way.

 

[1] In our English translations, the words “trials” and “temptations” translate the same Greek word. 

[2] Not to be confused with this other Whiplash

 

Listen to Gene’s sermon here.

The Examen: Stripped Bare

Just before his ascension, Jesus tells the apostles that they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judaea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church’s reason for existence in the time between Jesus’s ascension and return is to be a community of witness. Which led me to pose the question on Sunday, to what is your life giving witness? If someone is observing your life—the way you drive, the way you interact with people in line at the grocery store or the DMV, or at work, or on social media, the way you treat your family, the way you spend your money, the way you spend your time—observing all of that, to what is that life giving witness?

And I suggested the practice of the Examen as a way of discerning the answer to that question and as a way of cultivating friendship with Jesus. The Examen is a hallmark of Ignatian Spirituality. By praying the Examen we seek to bring our experiences and desires from the day before the Lord, and just sort of sit with that, taking stock. This helps us to be full persons before God, and to be honest with ourselves about who we are, what we desire, and for what we’re living. My family has begun the practice of taking a few evenings a week to sit together and go through an Examen prayer. It only takes about ten minutes, and the payoff can be significant.

The format we use is organized around the Acronym “STRIP.”

· Settle into your time of prayer. Sit still, listening to the sounds around you, take slow, steady breaths, and seek to be fully present in this time and place. Recognize the patient, loving presence of God with you.

· Thank God for the blessings of the day. Call to mind all the opportunities and gifts you’ve received, and acknowledge their source in God.

· Recall the events of the day: what you’ve done, what’s happened to you, the way you’ve interacted with people. Just let these memories come and go, washing over you as you re-experience the day. Ask yourself: where was God in this? Where was I open to and responsive to the movement of God in and around me, and where was I closed off?

· Interact with God about your day, maybe focusing on a pattern or theme throughout the day, or perhaps just the event that most stood out to you. If necessary (and it usually is) ask for and receive God’s forgiveness for things you’ve done or left undone during the day.

· Plan ahead to the next day. What situations will you handle differently? How will you seek to be open to God’s agenda in your life?

The Examen can take some getting used to, but by making it a regular pattern of prayer, we can gain real insight into ourselves and our desires, and come to more fully integrate our friendship with Jesus into every aspect of our life.

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Christ Redeemer Anglican Church (meeting at the Holton Youth & Family Center)

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