Saturday I went to a Wellstreams In-Service Day that I continue to reflect on.
As I was cleaning my desk today I found my notes from the morning speaker, Dr. Richard Sweeney, a Jungian Analyst. His talk was "Challenges and Opportunities of Helping People Grow Spiritually in our Culture." And it was important information for those in spiritual direction and for me as a pastor.
And here are some of the challenges that he mentioned.
1. The purview of spirituality is broader and deeper. “Everything belongs” so that God is not found just in the church. We need to develop our attunement to moments of spirit. See our interconnectedness
2. Changing images of God – God is not just apprehended through Jesus and through holy communion.
3. There is a proliferation of helping disciplines – not distinct from but interconnected. So AA, Yoga, therapy, many ways of seeking spiritual truth. And they can work together or see themselves in competition.
4. There is conflict between spirit and the institution. Always. the institutions are always given to structure and order and the spirit moves. And that really is the classic "both and." And the great challenge of any of us who are in the church. How do we recognize the promptings of the spirit that may cause the structure to have to move and change?
And so, today do the things that I do - preparing worship and sermons and wondering always how God led is this process? It is so easy to get into a routine of selecting hymns and prayers and reading other people's commentaries on scripture. This always needs to be more than that - and it so often - when I am conscious - brings me to my needs.
Anyway, I include this "Prayer for a Discerning Heart."
May it speak to you and it does to me.
Prayer for a Discerning Heart
God of inspiration, I ask you for the gift of a discerning heart,
a heart that remains attentive to you,
a heart that moves with your Spirit,
a heart that is aware of its sinfulness,
a heart that is open to your inspiration and guidance.
Help me to listen with a loving heart to the rich experiences of those in my care.
Help me to enter into
their struggles and peaceful experiences,
their sorrows and joys,
their woundedness and their wholeness,
their emptiness and their fullness.
As "heart speaks to heart", may it be your heart that touches both our hearts,so that the grace of a discerning heart can come alive in us.