Elijah in the Wilderness
After a prolonged struggle with King Ahab and the priests of Baal, the great prophet Elijah was completely exhausted. He journeyed by himself into the desert and asked God to take his life; he then lay down under a broom tree and fell asleep, awaiting death. Elijah’s friends and allies were gone, he had failed to save Israel, and he was too tired to go on.
But an angel sent by God awoke Elijah and gave him food and drink. After more rest, the angel brought Elijah to Mount Horeb to meet God in a cave.
After experiencing a great wind, a powerful earthquake, and a fire, Elijah encountered sheer silence within which he heard the voice of God sending him back out to fulfill his calling. And so Elijah, refreshed, returned with power to the world and did indeed fulfill his calling from God. (Adapted from 1 Kings 19)
From our vantage point, it is not too hard to see Elijah as an extreme case of work-related burnout. He was exhausted, he was without friends, and he felt like a failure. Burnout is a big problem; if we have not experienced it ourselves, we probably will at some point in the future and in any case we probably know somebody who is confronting burnout right now. But there are things that we can do.read more
We have postponed our plans for a series of retreats to 2021, in light of the covid-19 crisis. While we do not know what the future holds, our best guess is that it will be fully safe to begin again in January, 2021, and therefore have set aside dates for three retreats, each designed to help us connect spiritual practices with our work-lives.
Sign up to receive more information as we firm up our plans later in the year.read more
Deepen Your Spiritual Engagement As We Wait For Pentecost
Pentecost is one of the most important events of the Christian calendar and is only a few days away.
As we head towards Pentecost on May 31, we can spend time each day waiting and praying, like the Apostles. And then we can head back into the world, perhaps inspired with renewed hope and a deeper sense of mission as we return to our work.This year, we are offering a recorded reflection as a way to help you prepare for Pentecost. Also available is a guide that comes with a transcript and scripture citations.
A Reflection on Mark 1:35-39
In this recording we talk about a time when Jesus went off and prayed by himself in the earlier morning hours, while it was still dark, and emerged with a clearer, more powerful sense of mission. This passage might have some important insight for us on the relationship between prayer and the sense of mission we bring to our work.
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The Fulton Street Prayer Meetings (A Case Study)
A powerful revival occurred in 1857 and 1858. Sometimes known as the
“Businessmen’s Revival” by its contemporaries, a distinctive aspect of the revival was the extraordinary popularity of noon prayer meetings organized and led by business people. These meetings built on the pattern established by the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings.
There are important lessons that can be drawn from this success of this movement and the manner in which the prayer meetings were organized.
This is an updated version of an earlier article.read more
Introducing Our New Small Group Guide
The Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives study guide can help you think about the serious work issues you face and how your own faith or spirituality might help. It is designed for people who take their work seriously and would like their faith or spirituality to be an important resource that informs and supports them in their daily work. The guide can be used in small groups and for individual study.
The guide contains 12 sessions, each directed at a practical work issue. Each session includes an opportunity for prayer, a passage of scripture that might offer a new point of view on a serious work issue, commentary and questions designed to encourage reflection and discussion, and suggestions for the coming workweek. The appendix includes advice for new groups and new group leaders.read more
The Gift of Rest and Renewal.
Most of us know that we could benefit from periodically taking time off from our work and responsibilities, and enjoying a time of rest and renewal. But that does not make it easy to do.
The Biblical idea of the Sabbath, of taking one day of rest each week, can be a great gift to us – a day of rest and refreshment, a day when we can recharge and replenish, a day that might even lead us into the rhythm of a richer, fuller life.
We should see it as a gift, not as a set of rules and obligations.
If we can take some time off each week, and really let go of our work and our obligations, we will find that the Sabbath is a great gift to us, and that it can help us move towards a richer, fuller, less stressful life.(Time 9:11)
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Writing in the Harvard Business Review Online (The Busier You Are, the More You Need Silence), Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz lay out the arguments for why busy people need more quiet time.
According to the authors, research shows that “taking the time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us live, work and lead.” They provide selected references from both neuroscience and psychology.
They make a number of concrete recommendations involving ways to build more quiet time into our busy lives. These range from five minutes of meditation and reflection during the work day to longer quiet periods such as an afternoon spent in nature or a weekend meditation retreat.
In this article, Talbot-Zorn and Marz focus exclusively on the secular benefits of intentional silence, not the religious and spiritual. This is understandable given that they are writing for a general business audience; I might do the same.
But I think this exclusively secular approach leaves out an important aspect of intentional silence — the spiritual experience it sometimes evokes. . .read more
Maybe your body can help.
There’s a lot of talk about spiritual practices, especially prayer and meditation, that can help us deal with stress.
But there’s another approach that might help — connecting with our bodies.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Leah Weiss of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hope Lab, recommends some things to help us become anchored in our bodies, as a way of dealing with work related stress. She recommends things like paying attention to a single intentional breath, noting our physical response to stressful situations, and magnifying small, physical pleasures — like the first sip of coffee.
There’s more and the article can be found here.read more
The Examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola about 500 years ago. He developed as a way of knowing when we seem to be moving towards God, and when we seem to be moving away from God. The practice involves looking at our recent life (perhaps the most recent day or half day) in considerable detail, and being alert to spiritual clues. Join us as we discuss how this practice might be helpful to us today.
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