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“We are the fish in the fish bowl called God.”
— Father Albert Haase (Catching Fire, Becoming Flame Video Series. Paraclete Press)
A small group has been gathering on Tuesday mornings to watch and discuss Franciscan Fr. Albert Haase’s teaching on prayer and the spiritual life. His session unpacking the spiritual practice of the Prayer of Examen kept coming to mind for me as I prepared for last Sunday’s sermon. Jeremiah urged the people in exile to seek and pray for the shalom of the city where God had sent them. I understand this to mean seeking GOD’S shalom. In essence, Jeremiah was also calling them to fundamentally be seeking and praying for an awareness of God’s presence in everyday ordinary life.
The Prayer of Examen is a practice, developed by Saint Ignatius, that cultivates this kind of awareness. Fr. Haase makes a helpful distinction about what the Prayer of Examen is NOT. It is NOT an examination of my conscience (where did I sin, where could I have acted more charitably, etc.) … it is NOT a focus on ME. It is, rather, a focus on God. Asking, as you look back over the past 12 hours: Where was God? Where was God calling me? Where was God touching me?
The purpose is awareness of and sensitivity to God in our lives. One of my favorite quotes from this session is the one I quoted at the very beginning: “We are the fish in the fish bowl called God.”
The Prayer of Examen has 5 steps summarized below. The recommendation is to practice this for 15 minutes twice a day. Suggested times are before lunch and before sleep. However, ample permission is given to practice at a time that works for you, and even just once a day. Give 15 minutes to it, and then walk away, even if you haven’t completed all the steps.
- Gratitude … give thanks! As we express where our gratitude rises up in the past 12 hours, we discover how rich our lives are.
- Prayer for openness. Pray for God to take the scales from your eyes to see where God was; open your ears to hear how you were being called by God; and open your heart to God.
- Look over the past 12 hours. Look back, hour by hour, minute by minute, asking: “Where was God?” Seek to see the presence of God flowing like a stream. Remember that sometimes God comes to us by surprise and disguise. Haase offers the metaphor of the junk drawer … our looking back through the day is like looking through the junk drawer in our kitchens or offices from something specific. We are looking for God in our “rummaging” through the day.
- Prayer of forgiveness. Express our sorrow and regret for not seeing God. This prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue. The conversation is not about us beating ourselves up, but taking time to wait to hear God’s word of mercy, forgiveness and compassion. God always gets the last word of forgiveness.
- Renewal. Look at the upcoming 12 hours … where might God come? Ask this question as you look at your calendar. Where might you want to be extra sensitive to the presence of God? How might you prepare yourself to be aware of and sensitive to God’s activity?
Fr. Haase urges us to be in all things a “God-seeker” and a “God-finder.” To make it our life habit to copy Jesus Christ; to love him as he loves us. May it be so!! —- Pastor Tonya
Calendar for this week
Check your email each week for the coming Sunday’s live-stream (email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help!)
Sunday, August 2 :
9:30am Worship with FMC — announcements, children’s time, music, prayers
Worship Leaders & Children’s Time: Tonya Ramer Wenger, Delon Martens
Organist: Pauline Buller
Sound: Jasper Nisly
Live Stream: Jonathan Wenger/Jay Gehring
10:00am Worship with Western District Conference Annual Assembly
LIVING IN EXILE Jeremiah 29:4; I Peter 2:11-12
Preaching: Danny Carroll R.
Follow instructions in the email later this week to link with the WDC worship service at 10:00am
Danny Carroll’s bio and a study guide in preparation for his message is available on the Western District Conference website.
DEEPENING in Christ…
SUMMER WORSHIP 2020 – UNRAVELED: SEEKING GOD WHEN OUR PLANS FALL APART
We have 5 stories left in this series …
August 9 – The Samaritan Woman @ the Well (John 4) Unraveled Shame (Tonya preaching)
August 16 – Job’s Lament and Loss (Job 28:12-28) Seeking Understanding When Everything Has Fallen Apart (Tyler Gehring preaching)
August 23 – Doubting Thomas (John 20:19-29) When the Unimaginable Has Happened (Tonya preaching)
August 30 – Moses’ Mother Gives Moses Up So He Can Live (Exodus 1:22; 2:1-10) When Our Plans for Our Children Unravel (Tonya preaching)
September 6 – Jesus Heals Legion, A Man Possessed by Demons (Mark 5:1-20) The Unraveling of the Mind (Tonya preaching)
RECENT PRAYER PROMPTS ….
“God, unravel my assumptions and animosities about/against …………………….. so that I might become a vessel of your radical grace.”
“God, unravel in me all that keeps me holding onto the past …………………….., and weave in me a heart open to the richness of the present, ready to …………………………….”
Your prayers that are sent in to me will be woven into our prayer medallion on the communion table.
SANCTUARY PRAYER – TUES & THURS 11AM-2PM
On Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00am-2:00pm, you are welcome to come to pray on your own in the sanctuary, following the procedures posted in the sanctuary.
INVITATION TO FMC SUMMER BOOK STUDY – I AM NOT YOUR ENEMY
Thanks to all who have expressed interest in reading I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay ‘together’ this summer!! Books have arrived (they are $14), and we’ll be in touch with those of you who ordered them. Knowing that we are reading together (while apart) will hopefully be an encouragement and motivation as we read. We’ll be working on some ideas for connecting together around this book in August, so watch for more details as plans fall into place. If you missed this round of ordering but would like us to order you a book, please let Pastor Tonya or the church office know.
WEDNESDAY WORD . . . Bible Study Weekly Webinar
This study opportunity provided by MennoMedia (an arm of Mennonite Church USA) is offered every Wednesday beginning, at 1:00 (CDT). This online Adult Bible Study is taught by Mennonite Church leaders Gordon Matties, Susan Janzen, and Elizabeth Soto. The theme of this study is the “Many Faces of Wisdom” as explored in Proverbs. Copy this link into your browser to connect by ZOOM on your home computer. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89103905985
SUBMIT YOUR ANNOUNCEMENTS AND JOYS & CONCERNS
During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya but sometimes it will be someone else, and we’ll give you that info at the time!! Please continue to send announcements ahead of time if you can, and it’s just fine to call or send your prayer concerns ahead of time too.
UPPER ROOM devotional magazine – available as PDF
UPPER ROOM is now available in both the print magazine and a PDF format accessible electronically. If you would like to receive the electronic copy of Upper Room, please call or email the church office. This service begins with the July-August issue. Printed copies of the July-August magazine are available above the mailboxes.
PASTOR TONYA’S UPCOMING VIRTUAL CLERGY RETREAT
Pastor Tonya will be participating in a week-long virtual Clergy Spirituality and Leadership retreat August 13-20. She will be available for emergencies, will respond to emails/texts/calls, and will be spending most of her time that week on retreat. The retreat includes extensive class/resourcing time, peer group reflection, and 24 hours of silence August 17-18. The focus is on deeping in spiritual practices, discernment, Spirit-led leadership, and worship. This opportunity is offered through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation which Tonya is a graduate of (completing their 18 month Clergy Spirituality and Leadership Program in 2008-2009).
STRENGTHENING Community Connections
SUNDAY MORNING SCRIPTURE READERS NEEDED
Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know if you are willing!!
STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served
OUR SUNDAY MORNING DONATIONS FOR FIRST CALL FOR HELP
The Salvation Army and Inter-faith Housing Services are currently accepting donations on behalf of First Call for Help. Personal care/hygiene items such as these are appreciated: toilet paper, laundry detergent, bath soap, Kleenex, deodorant, disposable razors, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap, hand/body lotion. Travel size – new & unopened – are desirable.
Food bank donations may be brought to the Salvation Army. At this time the Food Bank is particularly in need of the following: tomato soup, cream of mushroom soup and green beans.
WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE (WDC) ANNOUNCEMENTS
FMC’s delegates to the annual assembly are Trae Gehring, Delon Martens, Pastor Tonya and Pauline Buller. Everyone – that includes YOU – is welcome to participate in the assembly through digital media. No registration is required and participation is FREE. Check out this link for more informationhttps://mennowdc.org/2020-wdc-annual-assembly/
Schedule for August 1::
9-11am Delegate Assembly (via Zoom)
1-2pm Live, interactive webinars (2 options)
………… “Missional in the Age of COVID” (a.k.a Being Sent People Stuck at Home More) Webinar hosts: Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg, Hesston College Director, Center for Anabaptist Leadership and Learning; Grace Tijerina, Pastor, Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania.
OR……..”Growing in Faith Wherever You Are: Boxes, Bundles, or Books Which is Right for You?” Webinar host: Jennie Wintermote, WDC Resource Library Director.
2:15-3:15pm Live, interactive webinars (2 options)
………….“Real Live Faith” What does congregational life mean to our youth? What does it mean for youth to follow Jesus today? Webinar host: Asia Frye, Pastor, Mennonite Church of the Servant, Wichita, KS and youth panel.
OR………”Voices Together” Stories, songs and resources from Voices Together, the forthcoming hymnal for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. Webinar hosts: Bradley Kauffman and Cynthia Neufeld Smith.
3:30-4:30pm Conversation with Danny Carroll, keynote speaker
LIVING IN EXILE is the theme. Focus will be scripture themes from Jeremiah 29:4 and I Peter 2:11-12 with emphasis on listening to our brothers and sisters on the margins and being missional in new contexts. Review thisoutline of the theme of God’s people on the move throughout the biblical story.
This linkhttps://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6aO7e884ZT5d9gHzyrfAucccOFYYd_M5 includes stories through video of our WDC congregations, Commissions, Committees and Task Forces. Take a few minutes to view “snapshots” of some ministries they’ve been passionately engaged in this past year.
DON’T MISS THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MINISTRY OF OUR WIDER CHURCH and the WAYS OUR CONTRIBUTIONS SUPPORT CHURCH PLANTING, PEACE BUILDING, PASTORAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT and MUCH MORE.
WESTERN DISTRICT WOMEN IN MISSION
Looking forward to the Women and Girls Retreat at Camp Mennoscah? The Annual Spring Supper? Help make these events possible by joining the Western District Women in Mission Executive Council! There are nine open positions. If you are interested in supporting the mission of WDWM by filling one of these roles, please email email@example.com.
MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (MCC) ALUMNI GATHERINGS
MCC is hosting virtual alumni gatherings for four of the world regions where MCC works: Latin America and Caribbean, Asia, Europe & Middle East and Africa. And you are invited! Join us for this special time to hear updates from Area Directors about current programming, share stories of service experiences and engage in small group discussions to connect with your MCC friends or meet others who served in the same world region. Find out specific dates, times and register at mcc.org/virtual-alumni-gatherings. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 316.283.2720.