Lenten Reflection: Unique yet Unified

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Scripture Reading:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. Eph 4:1-7


Reflections:

Right off the bat, here’s my confession… I wasn’t in church yesterday so this is not a reflection on our church’s sermon series in Ephesians… these are simply my own thoughts, musings and reflections… Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise #5, Hands to Heart

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands to Heart – Pondering/Treasuring

Job 23:12b – I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

Luke 2:16-20 – Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Treasuring and pondering means taking time to remember all God has done in your life, to consider what He has planned for your life, to look at those gifts/talents that are uniquely yours to do that which God has uniquely designed you for. It is being still and quiet before the Lord.  Continue reading

7 :: “I am thirsty”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 5

Cup of Blessing

Cup of Blessing by Matt Durbin (C) 2011 http://www.mattdurbinart.com

“Later, knowing that
all was now completed,

and so that the
Scripture would be fulfilled,

Jesus said,
‘I am thirsty.’”

– John 19:28

Drink 

The fount of living water

bellows drought. I want

to lift a ladle, cold and pure,

so you could be relieved.

But I’m deceived with ease.

My cup is sour, dilute

the wine from dirty

cisterns. Nothing I

can offer satisfies.

Are you glad you chose

to filter septic water,

offer your body to be

my purifier? How I love you. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Reconciled for Reconciliation

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Scripture Reading: 

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingFor we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fractured world. But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King.

He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law’s ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nationsHis desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God’s means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body. The Great Preacher of peace and love came for you, and His voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away. By Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. Eph 2:8-18 The VOICE

Reflections:

Our church is working through passages in Ephesians through the Lenten season, and yesterday our message was brought to us by ATS student Shauna Rushing. Shauna shared her testimony of answering an unexpected calling, revealing that sometimes our vision isn’t God’s vision. Paul is a perfect example of this. He was on a mission to eradicate all followers of the “The Way” (Christ-followers), but an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus  left him answering an unexpected calling, but one that was God’s vision for Paul’s life—a vision that included the reconciliation of two groups that stood opposed to one another—Jews and Gentiles. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise #4, Hands Together

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Together – Prayer

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

When we are anxious, our hands are wringing, but notice the attitudes of thankfulness and watchfulness that are to accompany our prayers. It’s not about what He can give us, but acknowledging and being thankful for what He has already given us and being watchful to see how He will answer our prayers, sometimes in ways we don’t expect. Continue reading

Mirroring: You Know Me

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Attendees of Healing Care Ministries Essentials Seminar and HCM International Spiritual Direction Cohort often ask me for an outline of motions for a mirroring demonstration I do to the song “You Know Me” by Stephanie Gretzinger. I’ve been asked to videotape it but I hesitate because it is often a profound experience of the participant being felt and known by God. I feel videotaping is an intrusion of that experience.

Mirroring is done to face-to-face and is most powerful with high levels of attunement and empathy from the “minister” to the one being ministered to under the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. It is often used in Dance/Movement Therapy but I have found it to be a powerful tool in spiritual direction and in teaching embodied prayer.

Crotched Mt Continue reading

7 :: “My God, my God, why…?”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 4

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned (forsaken) me?”   Mark 15:34

M Durbin 2010 My God

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Fear

I taste the juice of forbidden fruit

dripping from Adam’s mouth.

And in my hand, the dagger

that killed Cain’s brother. My arms

are sore from building Babel.

Abraham’s fear rolls in my gut.

I cling to Sodom as it burns, connive

for the birthright at Isaac’s bedside,

stand by as my sons slaughter a city,

hear the roar of weeping women Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Spirit-Empowered

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Scripture Reading:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Eph 6:10-18

Reflections:

Our Lenten journey through Ephesians continued yesterday with Pastor John telling us that to live a Christ-Centered life, one that is rooted in love, is impossible

…save for God!
For with God all things are possible! Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise #3, Palms Up

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Extended Palms up – Receiving

Ezra 9:5-6 – Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God and prayed: “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”

Ezra is asking for grace and mercy from God. Verse 5a indicates that he is in mourning because of his sin. As we seek forgiveness, we receive forgiveness from God. With palms open before the Lord, we can fully expect to receive what God so lavishly pours out upon his people. We can also receive from others by allowing them to be the hands and feet of Christ when we are in need.

I Peter 5:7 – Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you. Continue reading

7 :: “Dear woman…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 3

[Jesus] said to [Mary], “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.”  John 19:26

M Durbin 2010 Woman

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Mary at the Cross

I am not old. A bewildered mother

since conception who stored up

each moment. Now I will recall

the way you reached for me, a babe,

and only see your outstretched arms. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Rooted in Love

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Scripture Reading:

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Eph 5:1-2

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:14-19

Reflections:

Yesterday’s message (delivered by my ATS friend George Johnson) was brimming to the rim! And powerful! Of course, any time you preach about the love of God it’s kind of hard not to be. And there is so much “good stuff” in this passage. So let me hit just a few of the highlights for me: Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise #2, Palms Down

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Extended, Palms Down – Blessing

Leviticus 9:22-23 – Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

As God gives to us, we give to others—we extend our hands to give to and to bless others. As Moses and Aaron blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared—as we bless others, we reveal the glory of God through the generosity of our actions. We are the hands and feet of Christ.

Luke 24: 50-53 – When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his Sacred Hearthands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

As the resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven, where he was seated at the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over heaven and earth, he extended hands of blessings to his followers to bless them. This blessing brought them great joy—joy that kept them continually in the presence of God. Continue reading

7 :: “Today you will be with me…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 2

“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43

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Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Breath

Jesus, why are you

up here

with me,             why

is our blood

mixing                with dirt,

why do our lungs

heave out                as if

we have

the same spirit

in us

begging          to be            set free?

Why do we          keep

breathing,

                                            each inhalation,

                                                                                 a gasp.

All           I want             to do

is breathe out

a final                time. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Christ-Centered Life

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Scripture Reading:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise #1, Hands Raised

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Raised in Praise, Prayer & Petition

I Kings 8:22-23 – Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”

Solomon is 1st giving words of praise to God; 2nd witnessing in front of everyone; and 3rd remembering God’s covenant of love.

I Timothy 2:8 – Therefore I want people everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Here we find hands raised in prayer, and note that it is to be without anger or dispute in your heart. Continue reading

“7” :: “Father, forgive them…”

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“7” Last Statements of Jesus
Spoken from the Cross: Week 1

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

MattDurbin1

Matt Durbin (c) 2014

 

The People Stood Watching

Come, see a man who told me everything

I ever did. A man who healed my eyes,

fed me bread he multiplied, poured my cup

of wine, washed my feet, called me out

onto the sea, cursed the unfruitful tree,

received my kiss on his way out of Gethsemane.

Come see a man who raised me from death,

beckoned for me from my tomb, knew me

in my mother’s womb. See him, how he saved me?

Let him save himself, if he is the chosen

one, the Son of God, of Man, a Nazarene.

Come draw lots with me—which piece

of clothing do you need?

~ Sarah M. Wells (C) 2010 Continue reading

Moving Creatively Through Lent

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Yesterday I posted information on a new series called EMBODIED that starts this Friday, February 16th and goes through Good Friday. Embodied is a 7 week-long exploration of postures of praise & prayer to help us move mindfully through the Lenten season. I will be posting one posture each week (on Friday) to take us through the season of Lent.

In addition, to further help us move through Lent creatively, I will also be posting from the previously featured  “7” Virtual Art-Walk series each week on Wednesdays throughout Lent, as well as reflections from our church’s Lenten sermon series on Monday of each week. The 7 Virtual Art-Walk includes the artwork of Matt Durbin, the poetry of Sarah Wells, and music that all focus on the last 7 words of Christ spoken from the cross. And our church (5 Stones Community Church) will be working with passages throughout Ephesians to help us prayerfully remember and reflect on Jesus during this season. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

jodythomae.com

In Luke 10, when the lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, he asked him how to inherit eternal life. Like a learned rabbi, Jesus turned the question back to the lawyer, who answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus confirmed his answer as true, with a command and a promise: “Do this and you will live.”

When I teach on embodied prayer and worshiping with your whole self (including the often-excluded body), I am often asked where to begin. “EMBODIED” — a 7 day exploration of postures of prayer and praise — is designed as a starting (or restarting point) for those wanting to engage their bodies in prayer and worship.

  • Perhaps you have never used your body to pray or worship?
  • Or perhaps you’ve danced like David before the Lord and are looking for a new way to explore the movement of worship that flows freely from your sinew and bones?
  • Or perhaps you’re looking for an embodied way to spend an intentional week of prayer and worship before the Lord?

Whatever your reason, I’m glad you’re here. Continue reading

“Empty Me” Embodied Prayer

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Many have asked for the motions to “Empty Me” — a circle dance / embodied prayer I lead at retreats and workshops. It is prayed / danced to the song “Empty Me” by Jeremy Camp, a BEaUtiful song about surrendering our selves in order to be filled with his life-giving Spirit. Participants stand (or sit) in a circle facing one another. The motions are simple and repetitive. Participants always remark how powerful this simple movement prayer to music is.

dance-circle-girls Continue reading

Returning to Center: an Embodied Prayer

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embpryretThis is an embodied prayer I created for the Art of Spiritual Direction retreats at which I teach. It is based on the Lakota Native American Four Directions Prayer.

Participants stand in a circle, facing center, where a large cross is placed. You can also Create a Sacred Space like the one pictured at right and use that as your central focal point.

Featured above is a picture from a YogaFaith training where a beautiful pool of water was our focal point. Serendipitously, we ended up with our hands on both of our neighbors shoulders (at the part of the prayer where we prayer for the person on our left and right). It became a powerful symbolic action of unity and solidarity of purpose.

Returning to Center: Embodied Scripture Prayer

Facing Center, we look to Christ Our Center and read from Luke 4: 

Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah),
Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].”

Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were attentively fixed on Him.

Continue reading