Friday, November 2, 2007

Nurturing the Soul

Lately the most powerful messages I feel I am hearing in my life is the need for tending the soul. Not just a general tending of the soul, but a developing of practices for tending the soul. Within congregations we tend to program ourselves to death - spiritual death - because we don't build in spiritual practices. I have been at a week long class on intentional interim ministry and the most powerful part of the week for me has been the morning Bible study experience in small group. I've learned a lot of head knowledge, and have had good interactions with colleagues during the week, but the deepest experience has been the focus on listening to the Word of God. The simple reading of scripture deliberately together, and allowing time to process and then to share. My energy - natural tendencies - are intellectual and interactive, so I have to be deliberate about tending to soul care. And as a pastor, it has become clearer to me over the years that parishioners are not having deep soul tending experiences other than possibly at worship if it is done well. I'm thinking that during Advent I will offer four weeks of "Deepening our Spirituality through Prayer: Waiting on God" based on a lectio divina model, using candlelight, music, scripture, and silence. My desire as theologically trained and interested in spiritual depth seems many times in conflict with what is expected of me as parish pastor or interim pastor. I have the skills to do those things well, but my experience has been that most people seeking spirituality are outside the church and those inside the church aren't as interested in spirituality. Is there something wrong with that? It helped to understand some history that I learned in my conference last week about the establishment of church as we know it and how it needs to change as we head into the future of "post-Christian" society. For me, discerning what God is up to in my life and how I live out my call to serve will be the focus of my own Advent "waiting on God."

1 comment:

David said...

Thank you for your sharing. There's hope for me yet. I have been actively working at tending to my own soul and find it to couch everything in a much better light as I prepare to go out and do good works. Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer have been God-sends while I trudge my way through CPE. Blessings to my as you make your way.