Scattered Senses

Archive for spiritual practice

Scattered Senses

A blogpost by Roberta J. Egli

Morning Prayer at the Egli backyard

Over the past weeks of this stay at home pandemic reality, I have begun most days drinking coffee in our backyard, in the cool spring morning, listening to a daily devotional a friend recommended titled Lectio 365.  Like many good things (i.e. Messy Church) it originates from the UK and uses the rhythm of P.R.A.Y; Pause, Rejoice and Reflect, Ask, and Yield.  I have resonated deeply with the opening invitation to pause: “As I enter prayer, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.”  (Learn more Here)

As someone who has worked from home for almost three years, I have been surprised at how difficult it has been for me to focus for a sustained period of time during this physical distance work rhythm.  My mind is scattered, jumping from one thought to the next attempting to figure out what the future of Messy Church USA will look like which leads me to get stumped because this is a completely new reality for us all.  We are living in an extended pause and even though part of the USA is beginning to ‘re-open’, we will not be returning to any semblance of what life looked like prior to COVID-19. Taking a moment to be still and breathe the prayer; “re-center by scattered senses upon the presence of God” has been a life preserver to cling to.

I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.

Morning Prayer, Lectio 365

In the Bible paraphrase, The Message, by Eugene Peterson, Jesus gives strength to his followers with these words: “Are you tired? Worn out burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message)

My friends, we have all responded to this pandemic in different ways. Each day may find us experiencing wildly different emotions.  I have heard people describing ‘roller coasters’ of emotions. As we continue to step into the unknown future, may we put our trust in our God of all time. We are not alone; God is with us.  We are not alone; a global Messy Church community gathers to share ideas, experiences and a taste of life.  We are not alone; we can rely on the unforced rhythm of grace rather than our own anxieties, scattered senses or strategies to re-open. We are invited into the unforced rhythm of grace as we simply take one step and then another as we follow in the way of Jesus the Christ.    

My friends, wherever you find yourself,whatever emotion you are experiencing, take a deep breath, pause for a moment and center your scattered senses on the presence of God. (repeat often!)

Grace and peace, Roberta 

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Celebrate…A Lent Spiritual Practice

A blogpost from Roberta J. Egli

During the Season of Lent many of us engage in a new or renewed spiritual practice. I have re-engaged with the spiritual practice of observing a weekly Sabbath ritual. I am using a devotional guide from the saltproject.org that explores scripture and poems. “Sabbath is a day for delight, for participating in God’s ongoing joy in creation. If we refrain from certain activities during the sabbath, we do so precisely in order to make room for this enjoyment.” I must confess that my natural tendency is to worry rather than stopping work to engage in delight, so Sabbath ritual is helping me to trust and enjoy rather than worry and work!

I discovered the connection between my lent Sabbath practice and one of the foundational values of Messy Church when I read Lucy Moore’s recent blog following a day of quiet. The Messy Church UK leadership team began this year to observe what they call ‘quiet days at a distance’. The goal for these days is to grow together as a team even though geographical distance keeps them apart. They begin the day with a teleconference call in which they read and reflect on a specific scripture before spending several hours in separate quiet reflection. They come back together via teleconference at the end of their reflection time to share with one another what has ‘bubbled up’. Their most recent quiet day of reflection focused on the story of the Prodigal Son which led to Lucy’s blog.

Lucy writes: The celebration in the story is for the father, not for the son – it’s the father’s contentment that leads to celebration: he isn’t even really listening to the son, he just wants to get on and celebrate. The image of the father running towards the son is a very striking one, not least because that would have been a most undignified thing for a man of his age and status to do. For people at Messy Church who may have little sense of self-worth, the idea of someone running towards them because he loves them and he wants to celebrate with them is a very powerful one.  (Full blogpost here) 

My friends, in the midst of a global epidemic that causes uncertainty, anxiety and fear, a spiritual practice of celebration may seem to be counter-cultural. Yes, follow the recommendations of your local health departments and wash your hands regularly however it is imperative that we share the God who celebrates with each other and with our Messy Church attenders.

  • Engage in celebration as you greet one another by using the sign language for ‘peace be with you’.
  • Engage in celebration when you engage in a nature walk looking for signs of new life. 
  • Engage in celebration as a leadership team as you recall meaningful interactions during Messy Church.
  • Engage in celebration as you share the scripture in participatory ways

I celebrate that Messy Church USA is growing broader and deeper as both a network of churches and an organization of committed people who worship the God who celebrates.  I would love to hear how your Messy Church is celebrating!    

Grace and Peace, Roberta

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Spiritual Marathon

A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

Happy New Year!  It’s that time, again.  Time for new beginnings, getting life in order, and an official New Year’s resolution.  My resolution is the same as it is most years…get in better shape!  Most every year, I vow to eat better, run more, and reach a certain number on the scale by a certain set date.  I know if I put everything else aside, not give into temptation, and workout like crazy, those few extra pounds will be gone in no time.  The New Year starts fast and furious with clean eating and exercise and starts to peter out around the end of January.  My eating returns to its normal mostly healthy (but could be better) self, and the running returns to two times a week.  I stay this way for most of the year and start all over again the following January.  It’s frustrating, to say the least, but a trip to Messy Church has me thinking that the change to my body actually starts in my head, and not in my kitchen.

i stock. Used with permission

Last Saturday we sat through a fun, interactive, Messy explanation of Epiphany (the manifestation of God to the world through His son, Jesus Christ). It was exciting to see my children realize that, despite the fact that the presents have all been opened, Christmas does not end on December 25. We learned about the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany and also learned some of the ways people celebrate Epiphany in other countries. Although it was interesting, I have to admit that my mind began to wander while sitting in that pew. Why don’t my kids know about Epiphany? Why aren’t we talking about the birth of Jesus and the significance of God’s gift to us after the lights come down and the tree is thrown out? We work vigorously through the holiday season drilling into them that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but the second the stockings come down, it’s back to life as usual. Don’t worry, God, we will see you again next December!

From Lindsey’s Messy Church

This isn’t to say we don’t bring up God at all.  We pray as a family and we attend Messy Church…ahem…once a month.  Sigh.  Then it hits me.  The reason my kids don’t know about Epiphany is because I approach my relationship with God, the same way I approach my resolutions.  Fast and furious until I burn out.  For us, Christmas is shopping, Messy Church, “don’t forget about Jesus”, a school craft, letters, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, nativity story, Christmas goodies, “don’t forget about Jesus!”, parties, caroling, and, oh yeah, did we mention Jesus?  By the time Epiphany rolls around, I’ve made up my mind that my due diligence for my kids, when it comes to God, has already been met.  Our once a month trip to Messy Church and nightly prayers will take care of the rest until the next holiday season. 

All of this leaves me wondering what would happen if I took a beat and just slowed down.  What if my New Year’s resolution was not to hit a certain number on the scale by a certain time but rather to get healthy and stay that way for life.  It would require a change in my thought process.  It won’t be instant gratification but a life commitment.  Now, what if I did the same thing with God?  Instead of working hard just once a year to prove that my relationship with God is still on point, I make a commitment to work on my relationship with Him daily and turn it into a life goal for me and my family, and skip the fast and furious recap next year.

Spiritual Marathon

It won’t be easy, but most resolutions are put into place because there is a need for change somewhere in your life.  And, yes, change is hard.  But, your relationship with God doesn’t have to be.  It’s fantastic to give back and be more Christ-like during the holidays but the amount of effort we put in during that month may not be sustainable year around.  Take it slow.  Look at the resolutions in your life, whatever they may be, as a marathon, not a race.  If we take the time to nurture the relationship we have with God for the long haul, we can ditch the madness we create playing catch up, and instead enjoy a more realistic, viable, and more meaningful link to our beloved savior.          

Lindsey Goodyear
Huntington Beach, CA
Reach her at lindseygoodyear@gmail.com