Retreat

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I am posting this blog entry on Thursday evening, because tomorrow I will be on retreat.

We all lead very busy, noisy lives.  Sometimes the lists of things to do and the noise fill our heads to the point where prayer and time reading and meditating on scripture becomes impossible.  We are tired, but we are not sure why.  We are distracted, and we don’t even know for sure what is drawing our attention.  We get no real joy from our time spent in prayer or in scripture.  It’s just one more “thing to do.”  The truth is, we get no real joy from anything.

Time for a retreat!

A retreat is not a vacation, or a day off.  A retreat is simply a day, or more, set aside to spend time in quiet to pray, listen, read scripture, and rest.  It can be a time of self-examination if that is needed, or a time of preparation before a significant life change or challenge.  Whatever the reason, the main purpose of a spiritual retreat is to draw closer to God, and to find true rest in God’s presence.  The result will be a renewal of energy, focus, and closeness to God.

Jesus understood this.  In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel he describes one very busy day in the life and ministry of Jesus.   Jesus taught in the synagogue, drove out demons, and healed the sick. And then, after the rest of his exhausted crew had gone to bed, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)  Later, when his disciples came looking for him, he was recharged and ready to go preach to the rest of the villages, saying “this is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).  Jesus used his time away to pray, and to renew his energy for what he was to do.

An ancient description of prayer says that  “prayer is the conversation of the heart with God.”  Taking time away for a retreat is a way to find the quiet that will open our spirits to that conversation.  You can take a retreat on your own, or go to a retreat center that offers someone to guide you.  There are books and guides to follow if that is more comfortable for you, or you can simply take your Bible and journal.  If you would like suggestions for structuring a personal retreat time, or resources for planning your retreat, contact Pastor Michael Maroon (michael.maroon@cor.org)  or myself (jenniferc@cor.org), and we would be glad to help.

It is my prayer that each of you reading this blog will plan and take a personal retreat sometime soon.  Let us know how it went!

Greetings from the New Pastor of Prayer!

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Greetings!  My name is Michael Maroon and I am the new Pastor of Prayer here at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.  I am looking forward to walking side by side with you all as we continue to nurture our prayer life with God and one another.  Here is just a little bit about me.  I have been here on staff for the past 19 months, but it was only a month ago that I moved into my new position as Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care for those with the last names beginning with J, K and L.  Before this transition I was serving as a pastoral intern in Congregational Care where I was primarily focusing on the Silver Link ministry.  I am a recent graduate from Saint Paul School of Theology and claim KU as my undergraduate Alma Mater (did you know that this is Latin for “Nourishing Mother? – this was a recent discovery for me).  I am married to my wonderful wife, Becca, and father to our two little doggies, Ernie and Oscar.  I actually grew up in this area, graduating from Blue Valley Northwest High School and worshiping here at Church of the Resurrection during my later teenage years.  It is truly a blessing to have been given the opportunity to return here and do ministry with you all once again!  I will look forward to hearing your stories and sharing more of mine over the next many years.

Not wanting to make this post too long, I think I will close with an historic and powerful United Methodist prayer, the Wesley Covenant Prayer.  As we read and pray this words, may they shape our hearts to be less about ourselves and more about God.

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

Simplicity

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I find myself looking more and more for simplicity these days.  And I wonder, is there such a thing as simplicity in prayer?

John Indermark, in his wonderful book,”Traveling the Prayer Paths of Jesus,” says that following the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 16:9-13) “invites us to form our prayer life in simplicity and brevity, cutting to the core of what is necessary for soul, body, and life.  What would our prayers be like if each day we asked, “what does my soul need today….what does my body absolutely need this one day….what is necessary to my living this day?”

When we stick to this simple plan of prayer, we avoid falling into the trap of telling God what to do – presenting a plan of action as if we were in a meeting at work, or as if we are actually the ones in charge of the universe and God is there to perform our bidding.  When we ask for just what we need today, body and soul, we put ourselves completely and blessedly in God’s hands, asking only for what we really need: God’s will working in our lives and in the world, fuel for our bodies, forgiveness for ourselves and others, safety from our own foolish acts and from evil.

What a blessing to come to God in such a simple way.

– Jennifer


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