I have found God often speaks into our lives in a variety of ways trying to get our attention, we just have to be open to seeing, listening, and feeling that divine presence. They are often small nuggets of insight leading us to greater discovery of ourselves, others, and the mission of God.
One night many years ago I went to a parent teacher conference to assist a teacher in meeting with some parents about their kids behavioral needs. I pulled into the parking lot and headed into the school as I had done so many times before. As I turned down the hallway I noticed a table set up right in the middle, so no one could miss it. There were heaps of colorful, children's clothes stacked on top of the table. Taped to the front of the table was a little sign reading, "Help the lost find their home."
I was taken back immediately by this message. Of course I knew the sign was intended for parents to gather their kids missing clothes but it held so much more weight and meaning. Reading this made me think about the story of the lost sheep and in general people who do not have a spiritual home. The message was a reminder to me about the many people who have not found their spiritual home. Now I am not fond of the word "lost" in describing people. Despite this word nuisance I understood the challenge and call God has for us to nurture and guide others on their journey to finding a place where they feel welcomed, supported, and loved.
Let's explore the word home, how it is used in regards to faith journeys, and what insights this might provide for us in helping others.
Everyone's understanding and perspective of what home is comes from their experiences. Some people believe home is a secure, safe environment where people feel loved, understood, and cared for. Others may only see it as a location and physical place where they lay their heads. And for some home is something they run from because it has been unwelcoming, hurtful, demeaning, and traumatic. Its the place where the people who are supposed to care most about them do not and only create further anger and hurt. As much as I do not want to acknowledge this, I must because it is the reality that some people live. It is never right when someone is abused, demeaned or violated. If this has happened to you know that it is not your fault. I believe God is with you and has never left you not even for a minute. You have never been alone.
Whatever your experience was growing up or you are currently in I want to let you know home can be what you make it. It can be the place where you can be yourself. It can be the place you have always wanted it to be. It can be a place where love and compassion reign.
Spiritual homes are places where we can gather in community with others to experience the divine. Its a place to further our spiritual journey by deepening our faith and building relationships with others. The people and environment comfort us to be able to share and dive into deep questions about our faith and what we believe. This may mean challenging doctrine and long held beliefs to determine current views. There are also specific practices taking place focused on helping us connect spiritually. For the science behind spirituality check out this awesome blog article "The Science of Spirituality" by Catarina Lino.
Spiritual homes are essential for us to grow. However finding a spiritual home that fits our personality and needs can be difficult. What should we look for in finding a spiritual home? Here are some suggestions:
1. Welcoming Atmosphere - The environment and people need to be a place full of welcoming. A lot goes into welcoming others but essentially its about the atmosphere that we perceive and feel when are in this environment. This includes the unspoken climate right from when you walk in the door to when you leave.
2. Fits Your Needs and What You Seek - Before we search for spiritual homes an assessment of your personal needs should be done. What is the purpose behind finding a spiritual home? What in particular will help you grow deeper with the divine? How are you wanting to be challenged? Are you just wanting a community be a part of? Answer the questions about why you are seeking and you will have a better understanding of what you are looking for.
3. Diversity Not Uniformity - Spiritual homes need to be diverse places with a variety of thought. Churches are often comprised of people with similar beliefs and tend to not want to ask questions but seek uniformity. Spirituality is our individual connection with the divine and diverse community allows us to seek out ways to deepen that connection.
4. Spiritual Practices - Many times spiritual practices are things we do on our own but they can also be done as a community. Spiritual homes should have various ways you can practice your spirituality. This may be service to others in volunteering in your local community or meditation groups that focus on your inward journey. I believe the understanding that spirituality is a journey with others comes out of this collective group effort to deepen our faith. Check out our blog articles about spiritual practices if you are interested.
I hope that along your faith journey you can find someplace to call your spiritual home. A place that is welcoming, diverse, fits your needs, and helps you develop your spirituality.
I am grateful for those who follow this blog and want to invite anyone thats near by to join us for our monthly small group.
This week begin to assess yourself to get an understanding of what type of spiritual home you are searching for.
Many years ago, when I was working at Community of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we had a woman come in the center with her three boys, all elementary age. She had never been to the church on the corner of Glass and Chamberlain but had passed by many times. The center is located in the heart of the old part of the city that was now ravaged with poverty, drugs, and gang life. The church had a reputation for being a safe place among the violence surrounding it. This woman just felt the need to stop in and share with us.
The woman said she had made a lot of bad decisions in her life including drug use, relationships, etc. which had impacted her and her kids. While sobbing she said, "I somehow lost sight of God and today I realized I needed to make time for him starting now." She raised her wrist and had her boys do the same. On each wrist laid a watch they just purchased as a symbolic action of making time for God today and everyday moving forward. Looking at the watch was a reminder for each of them to create time for God.
After she shared we welcomed each one of them and gathered up in a circle. Each one of us gave a prayer of blessing for this family and what this new journey would be for them. They ate lunch with us, the kids played basketball and then they headed out into the world again knowing there was a place they could turn if it becomes too much.
Life can be stressful and overwhelming as we juggle the various responsibilities we have. Sometimes we lose sight of the journey God has for us. Have you lost sight of where God is taking you? When you make time for God you further your spiritual journey. How are you finding time for God in your life? What does that look like? Let's explore further what this means for each of us.
How to Make Time For God
Life is busy! There are multiple commitments and for some people they are running from one thing to the next. So how do we take time to find God in our lives with so much busyness? It seems to me that we have to be intentional about what we do and why we are doing it. It also means we have to find practical ways for us to connect with the divine.
Here are 5 practical ways to make time for God:
1. Assume God is Always With You - Thinking this way changes our perspective and our internal voice. Sometimes we put such high expectations on creating certain moments to heighten our spiritual senses that we miss the everyday divine spirit that walks with us. Incorporate your prayers, questions, and internal dialogue with God throughout the day and seek God in the actions that happen around you and the people you meet.
2. Seek Silence - Find times to be quiet and void of the noise that surrounds us. These moments of quietness are essential to focus thoughts and senses on what is really happening within us and how God is speaking into it.
3. Use Apps/ Podcasts - There are apps and podcasts out there for everything. Maybe you want one to assist with meditation or one to help focus on some new spiritual thoughts. You can also find some to help prioritize your time.
4. Make time for a Spiritual Practice - Spiritual practices are specifically designed to help us focus ourselves on our own spirituality. Check out the spiritual practices I have blogged about already and see if one might fit you. It's about finding what helps you connect with the divine more.
5. Set Yourself Up - Reminding ourselves by putting things in place gives us a greater opportunity to create moments for us to heighten our focus. This may be setting your bible on your night stand, leaving your guitar in the living room, putting a scripture next to the TV, or hanging a cross from your rear view mirror. When we intentionally set ourselves up with reminders or easier access we will be more successful.
However you chose to make time for God just to start small. Set realistic, accessible goals for yourself that creates balance in your life. Going overboard on will only cause you to burn out and become unsuccessful in reaching your goals. I wish you the best as you make time to be with the divine on your faith journey.
Happy New Year! I hope all of you have started the first few weeks with an excitement for what may come this year.
This week evaluate your priorities and how much time you are making for God in your life.
A few weeks ago my middle son Lucas asked, "Is Jesus in the moon?" It seemed like a strange question at the time as we were just driving down the road. My wife asked more questions to understand what he was asking. He said, "We learned at Sunday school that Jesus is the light and the moon gives light." I sat in amazement as he also named various other things that emit light. You see in his eyes and from his perception, Jesus is everywhere. It’s always incredible when children provide godly insights into our lives.
Jesus is everywhere! He resides anywhere in this world where freedom is present and those trying to break free from oppression. He is the light that shines in darkness. He moves through the hearts and souls of anyone willing to listen to the gospel. In this world where we find ourselves alone and isolated from others Jesus is the voice calling us to community. Calling us to loving relationships where justice and peace are upheld.
This Christmas season we get to celebrate the coming of that light known as Jesus. We get to understand that this light changed and continues to change this world. Let's look closer and uphold the light of Jesus this Christmas.
O Holy Night
"O Holy Night" is one of those songs that speaks to the power of light which comes in Jesus. This version is by Gentri, The Gentlemen Trio. Check it out and enjoy the music!
Jesus is the Light
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12
Often there are times in our lives when we feel alone. We may feel lost and are traveling through darkness hoping to find the path that's right for us. But we just don't know what that is or even where to start. We begin to question whether God is still present with us and if the Holy Spirit is still active in our lives.
God doesn't leave his children. The divine continually works within your presence whether you are aware of it or not. Despite our actions and misgivings the Holy Spirit is there continually calling us to a deeper relationship and greater spirituality with the divine.
The Christmas season is about receiving Christ in our lives. There is no better time to reunite with the light that is ever present and always with us. So seek Jesus this season. Go to the places where you have found him in the past. Talk with those on your journey. See the light that is guiding you through the dark places you find yourself in. For God is with us!
Merry Christmas! May you find the light of Jesus this Christmas!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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