Dear NextGen Family and Community:
Please note on your calendars the time for our virtual meetings on April 27th-29th. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: all days are 10am to 1pm EST. Please note all times are Eastern Standard Times, USA. Many time zones to contend with so we landed on these times. Friday, April 24 we will send out Zoom invitations for the three days of meetings. I’ll send notes out to you next week in prep for our times together.
This next article comes from Virgil Tanner, a very dear friend, who has journeyed with us many years into the NextGen calling. He serves and helps lead in Mission work from Europe to aid those serving in least-reached regions of the world. You will both enjoy this article and his coming talk with us during our virtual time together.
Richest of blessings to all!
Jim for Sterling and the NextGen Family
If we are to live these days wholeheartedly and come out on the other side with our hearts whole, we will need to grow our facility with three kinds of prayer that are largely unfamiliar and are rarely taught. We must learn to Lament, to Look, and to Listen.
We will lose people. We are losing people. We lost our routines, and our sense of certainty. We lost freedoms, and we will lose some parts of life that might never return. There is no going back, and we can’t move forward without pushing off from the present, and that means truly touching the present with our full weight. We must make room for grief and lament if we are to live the rest of life with whole hearts. Here’s some guidance, if you need it. Pray psalms, use art, do something to make room for your heart to name the losses.
I’ve had a lot of loss the last few years. It challenges my faith, starves my courage, and threatens my ability to risk joy. I’m now in pursuit of direct experiences of Jesus that are as vivid as my experiences of loss and fear. When they come, I pay attention, and I return to the them often. The Ignatians refer to that as cherishing consolations. John the Beloved refers to that as how Jesus saves us (Jn1:14,18), as do Paul (2Cor.3:17-18) and Peter (1Pet.2:2-3). This kind of looking, of course, is more than simply reading about Jesus or thinking about Jesus. We must see Jesus, touch him, encounter him.
Our community has some experience with practices to help us do that:
– Ignatian imaginative reading of the gospels.
– Shaping the cross (which uses our bodies, and therefore our whole souls).
– Offering and receiving Communion.
– Pursuing spiritual direction.
We know how to do this. Look, and you’ll find.
In the Book of Acts we see a vibrant marriage of the contemplative and the apostolic – the mystical and the missional – especially among those who led. Throughout church history, those who were best at mission were often the most mystical. They were perceptive, agile and accurate, because they knew how to listen.
This capacity has become more important, perhaps, than ever. While some may say we have no idea what’s going to happen next, that simply isn’t true. But we certainly don’t know enough to strategize our way forward. We will need direct guidance, and to receive that guidance we must make more room – in our personal spirituality and in our leadership meetings – for tactical listening supported by explicit silence. Because no one finds their way out of the valley of the shadows. We are led, and to be led we must be able to hear the Shepherd.
Lament, look and listen, then lead your communities to do the same. The world needs us wholehearted, and God loves your whole heart.
my YouTube channel