|Gathering to Grow|
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In our February Newsletter
* A Message from a Supporter
* Contemplative Conversations: Joy Unspeakable
* Repenting for Christianity’s History with Our Black Siblings
* Big Announcement: Two Courses with Patty Forsberg
* Weekly Event Schedule with Links
|A Message from a Supporter|
I’ve always been a seeker, though I haven’t always known exactly what I was seeking. Such was the case in the spring of 2020. As the pandemic descended and I found myself working remotely, quarantined in my house and rarely venturing beyond my own backyard, I struggled with a feeling of restlessness and a sense that something important was missing in my spiritual life. Isolated and unmoored from my ordinary rhythms, I craved spiritual sustenance and connection with like-minded seekers, but I didn’t have any idea how to find it.
I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled on Contemplate Lincoln. It may have been that I simply Googled “contemplative spirituality near me” out of desperation. I do remember clicking through the website on more than one occasion, intrigued but not quite willing to commit. I returned to the site multiple times until one day, I read about an upcoming virtual retreat. I took the plunge and signed up.
Two years later, Contemplate Lincoln has become an integral part of my life. I have found the community I didn’t even know I was seeking. Though we differ in age, life experiences and spiritual history, the men and women I meet with weekly as part of a book study group have become my friends and my spiritual community. Our Thursday morning Zoom meet-ups are a lifeline for me.
I realized recently that in many ways, Contemplate Lincoln has become a church for me, offering community, connection, friendship and spiritual nourishment. It’s not a “typical” church, but it is church in every way that matters, most especially in the way the Contemplate community embodies Christ.
If you are reading this newsletter and haven’t yet dipped your toes into one of the many unique and fulfilling offerings available through Contemplate Lincoln, I would encourage you to take the leap! And if you have enjoyed participating in a book study group, lectio divina, contemplative prayer, contemplative movement or a special event or retreat, please consider making a donation or becoming a sustaining member to support these programs. As a nonprofit, Contemplate Lincoln relies on the generosity of supporters to create and make available the kind of rich offerings participants appreciate and benefit from. Even a small monthly donation can make a difference.
Contemplate Lincoln has enriched my life in ways I never expected. I’m grateful for this community and glad to be able to support the many gifts it so generously offers those of us who are seeking something more.
Ways to Support Contemplate Lincoln:
Become a recurring donor by clicking the “Donate Now” button.
Contribute to the community by sharing your gifts and talents.
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Contemplative Conversation Groups:
Small Groups Journeying, Learning, and Practicing Together via Zoom.
Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church 9-week Study. Groups beginning February 14th on Zoom.
In our groups we create a safe sacred container for conversation and practice as we journey together through books on contemplation, Christianity, and spiritual growth. Through a set of shared ground rules and curiosity we learn from each other, ourselves, and the text.
This study excites me because Joy Unspeakable was one of the books that had a big impact on me last year. I found it insightful, challenging, and transformative. I hope you do as well. In addition to the study we will be adding writers to our newsletters and hope to have an optional gathering of all our groups on a Saturday towards the end of the study.
I hope to see you on zoom as we embark on a road of Contemplation, Community, and Social Transformation, Adam
Entering Black History Month
Repenting for Christianity’s History with Our Black Siblings by Rev. Zac Wolfe
We may not think about it much, but being a leader or participant in the contemplative Christian faith means that we are a part of a significant Christian history spanning about 2000 years, and we add to that history each day. What we see and experience today in our personal spirituality, faith communities, and Christian religion is the product that was nurtured in the soil of what has come and been done before us. Routinely, we as Christian leaders and participants make space to focus on an aspect of our history and recognize how it continues to impact us today such as Christmas, Easter, and the Lord’s Supper among others. The month of February offers us an opportunity to make space for a specific aspect of our history: the history of our engagement with the Black community.
February is Black History Month in the United States and this month is very appropriate for Christianity (leaders and participants) to lift up the role the faith has played in the history of Black people in our country and the world. Sadly, whereas many of the aspects of our history that we lift up throughout the year are joyous and celebratory, our history with the Black community tends to not be so. This makes it more important for us as contemplative Christians to acknowledge and claim this aspect of history and reconcile it with the teachings and life of Jesus and contemplative leaders that we claim to follow.
Throughout history, Christianity (represented by the actions and rhetoric of our leaders and participants) has not recognized what Celtic spirituality refers to as the “sacred in one another” (Newell, John Philip. Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul; 2021), and in so doing has juxtaposed itself to the lives and well-being of our Black siblings. Maybe the most recognized critique of our relationship with the Black community comes from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in many of his speeches and writings, as he laid out Christianity’s engagement (particularly white Christianity’s engagement) with the Black community as “some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders;” while others have “remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows” in such ways as,‘In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.’ (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963)
Christianity’s history of acting against our Black siblings has not been so short as the Civil Rights Movement and not always so passive. In his book “Stamped from the Beginning” (2017), author historian and author Ibram X. Kendi explains, “During America’s first century, racist theological ideas were absolutely critical to sanctioning the growth of American slavery and making it acceptable to the Christian churches.” (p. 6, Kindle Edition) And Christian support of racism and violence against our Black siblings continued as the decades went on, including in the early 1700’s when “More and more enslavers began to listen to the arguments of missionaries that Christian submission could supplement their violence in subduing African people. Actually, the ministers focused on the submission and were mum on the violence.” (pp. 73-74, Kindle Edition)
Christianity’s continued engagement against the Black community led the Black contemplative leader (and prominent influence of Martin Luther King Jr.) Rev. Howard Thurman to bluntly raise the questions in his book “Jesus and the Disinherited” (2012; Kindle Edition):“Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion, and national origin? Is this impotency due to a betrayal of the genius of the religion, or is it due to a basic weakness in the religion itself?” (p. 7).
Rev. Thurman responds to this question by stating that Christianity has become “a religion of the powerful and the dominant, used sometimes as an instrument of oppression,” but we must not be tempted “into believing that it was thus in the mind and life of Jesus.” (p. 28).
It is time for us as leaders and members of the Christian faith to reconcile the roles we have played in Black History and the teachings and model of Jesus whom we follow. It is time for us to repent. We must take responsibility for the ways Christianity has been “the religion of the empire” (Newell, Sacred Earth; p.8) that has historically oppressed our Black siblings and continues to do so still today. Even if we feel that this oppression has been mostly carried out in the past, we must enlighten ourselves as to how we benefit from our oppressive history and how our blindness to our past continues the harm in the present. And we must commit ourselves to actions that will mend the brokenness our history has caused and reaffirm the sacred in everyone; particularly our long denied Black siblings.
This is not an argument that Christianity hasn’t done good things in our world, because we have and will continue to do so. We cannot lift up our positive impact and ignore the ways that we have contributed to the suffering and marginalization of our Black siblings. Our goal in this work is not to tear down the Christian faith, but to build it up and live into the vision of God’s Kingdom Jesus set for us where the sacred is recognized in all. This work will be challenging and will stretch our understanding of what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus. And, we can once again turn to King’s message in a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963) to orient ourselves in doing this work out of love, “I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.”
Let us make space in love for the repentance of Christianity’s history with our Black siblings and a commitment to the realization of a future that nurtures all.
Your sibling in this journey,
Rev. Zac Wolfe
Two Courses with Patty Forsberg
Bio-Spiritual Focusing a Lenten Journey
Learn, grow, and go deep with the practice of Bio-spiritual Focusing Saturdays during Lent. BioSpiritual Focusing provides a way to bring the body’s sense for grace and God into everyday awareness, helping you to become more fully present to yourself, others and to God. Over the course of 7 Saturdays Patty Forsberg will take us to the depth and blessings of the practice. Cost $100 some scholarships available.
Schedule: All CST
March 5th & 12th 12:30pm-2:30pm
March 19th, 26th, April 2nd, & 9th 12:30pm-1:30pm
April 16th 12:30pm-2:30pm
A Summer of Enneagram NOT your ordinary personality test. Yes, you can take a test but that is not even the tip of the iceberg. With the Enneagram you will gain insight into who you are and how you got here, and maybe even why. You will learn what healthy and unhealthy changes look like, spiritual practices to move toward mature transformation. The enneagram is a life-long learning and leaning into who we are in this magnificent universe. In this 4 session course spread over 4 months Patty will take us to the depths of the wisdom of the Enneagram with the spaciousness to fold it into our lives. Cost $100 some scholarships available. Course will have some reading and require the purchase of a book.
Schedule: All classes 9:30am-12:30pm CST
All events are on Zoom!
Links: Lectio Divina Mondays 9:15am: Register via this link on zoom
Pray the scriptures. We read a passage 4 times with short silences followed by discussion.Centering Prayer Tuesdays 9:15am: Register via this link on zoom. Simple contemplative prayer in which we consent to the transformative power of God in lives.
Contemplative Wespace Wednesday 9:15am: Register via this link on zoom. A whole body meditation awakening us to our deep connection to each other, physical reality, and each other. Our time also includes a brief check-in.
BioSpiritual Focusing Thursdays 9:15am: Register via this link on zoom. A practice that provides a way to bring the body’s sense for grace and God into everyday awareness, helping you to become more fully present to yourself, others and to God.
Contemplative Movement Fridays 5:30pm-6:30pm: Register via this link on zoom. A contemplative whole body experience for every body.
House Church Sunday’s 4pm-5pm: Register via this link on zoom. Worship, conversation, and contemplation. A house church style church service with Eucharist.
Contemplative Conversation Sundays at 2:30 PM (The Work of the People Short Films & Other Lectures and Talks) Register via this link on zoom. We watch films with today’s influential theologians and contemplatives gaining wisdom and finishing with a time of sharing. Support CL While You Shop
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