Beauty in the brokenness: Reflections from Team Fink

As part of Team Fink’s cultural tour of Colorado they took time for a prayer retreat. Below are their reflections on this day.

 

As I go cliff walking, I slipped on a rock, caught a hand, I look behind, nothing was there. Staying still doesn’t help me meditate. I followed the wind, I could hear ‘this way’ which lead me to the cliff. I look down and the beauty showed off what Gods’ touch of a finger did. If you’ve read my writing, raccoon and turtles are my spirit animals, which help me through life, and I found raccoon tracks. I followed them, and I lead me to a tree stuck to a tree, it was a cross.

The prayer retreat was something I enjoyed a lot. Seeing God working through different ways and different people was really cool. We were all serious about it and that rarely happens. We all connected with God and that was really cool. My connection was just sitting on the window sill and watching the trees dance in the wind. I did a head stand on the ground and it was really relaxing and it was almost like an upside down meditation where I was looking up to God.

When I prayed I could feel God’s holy wrath through the wind. I loved how the retreat was In the mountains and I had a great time bonding. A retreat is a place where you can get away from all distractions and be still through God. When I hear God in me it makes me frozen in His holiness.

This experience was amazing. I saw God mostly through my friends and community. In the beginning God spoke to me and said know that I am God and trust in the plan that I have for you and your family. I believe and know that The Father, Son and The Holy Spirit are always with me. We can experience God in many different ways, like through solitude, community, and nature. Gods love for us is so immense, that we cannot explain it with words or actions. The Lord tells us to just look out to nature, that is our gift from God.

The prayer retreat was unforgettable. I’ve always wanted to have a special moment with God. Today mine happen from beauty in brokenness.  I was crying at one point in the day because, I was thinking about all the sins I have sinned all the things I have done and faced. But after that I saw the good things. Yes I have fallen and fail to get up so many times I just think I am a mess. There is beauty in brokenness-don’t forget that. I have repeated that in my mind all day and don’t forget to pray praying is the most important thing to ever do.

The prayer retreat today was very special and so peaceful. I got to feel solitude, yet a balance with community and felt the presence of creation, the presence of God. I saw the strong winds, but also the tiny gentle moss that lay upon the rocks. Getting away from our daily routines and venturing out in the mountains created such a wonderful peace within me. A little solitude. It allowed me to forget about the distractions and gave me the chance to feel serenity, be still, and listen. I realized we don’t have to be afraid, only fear God. Even though at the end of our time couldn’t feel my hands or feet because they were frozen, getting out and being in solitude was totally worth it.

This experience open my eyes to the fact that we don’t have to be in a specific place for us to receive this connection with God. At first it was hard for me to get rid of the distractions but I ended up with the vision that I don’t know was from God or not. Imagined a bear coming close to me and I was terrified, but the bear didn’t hurt me it led me to God. I thought that maybe God provides us with fears so that they might lead us to him and draw us closer. I went into a room and open the window. The wind is roaring in my ears. I thought about how we feel that when God speaks to us we think it has to come in the thunder but it might be a whisper. When we talk we can’t hear the wind blow. Crowd, noise, hurry. We think that we need to go somewhere to experience God. God us everywhere so if we take the time to observe we can have a portable sanctuary. That’s why I appreciate when the Muslims will stop whatever they are doing for the day and pray to God. This feeling of connection and peace is something that I wish I could feel my whole life when I talk or pray to God. If we do it more often we can develop this feeling is our hearts.

This field trip was super powerful for me. I loved going outside and being in nature. I connect with God best there. I heard a voice in my head that kept repeating Put your trust in me and I will guide you in the path of the righteousness. I am still not sure if it is God or the voice inside my head. It means that even though I will go off Gods path for me he can still bring me on the right path. When I was walking back to the cabin there were two pair of foot prints. this brought me back to a picture in my room that says one pair of foot prints is yours and one is God’s. You will walk away from God but he can always bring you back. Overall this was an amazing experience to connect with God and to just be.

Whisper in the wind calls to me as I wonder what would’ve happened to my family if my dad died of cancer. I wonder if that a lot and if he was not in my life I would not be the person I am today. Reflecting off of yourself is important but reflecting off of others is not as easy. Solitude something that is hard for us because we are always connected to noise crowd and hurry. We need to sometimes just get away from that. First for me it was hard to switch to meditating after I went through the gorgeous house. I didn’t really want to meditate because I was so caught up in the house. Once I started to meditate it was easier for me to lose myself in silence. I really like this experience of listening to God. I thought it was cool that since we were reading Celebration of Discipline at school we got to have Solitude and get away from noise, crowd, and hurry.

Revelation ranch was a time of prosperity and connection with God. When we first got up to revelation ranch I was so interested in the house and how big it was. Trying to find all the nooks and crannies that I could. Yet I realized that after wasting 30 minutes of my time none of that matter. I thing a lot of materialistic things distract us from what really matters. It was very hard for me to focus on God, especially when I was in a room by myself. So I decided to go out and explore, right after that decision was made the wind started to pick up. God was talking to me. I had found God in nature and that was a beautiful thing. Later in the hour I met up with Joseph and Megan and we started to go climbing. Through that we were truly able to see God. From one mountain to the next, we saw beauty everywhere. The ranch was an incredible experience getting to truly understand God’s love. I hope we can come back soon, (not just because of the house) and get to experience God in ways we don’t even know yet.

If the purpose of life was to put a check in a box there would be no beauty in living. Horses have blinders to stop them from seeing what’s around them and keep them focused on only what’s in front of them. We wear blinders as well. These blinders are called noise, crowds, and hurry. What removes these blinders? Silence can. Solitude can. A river can. A mountain can. Moss on a rock can. God can. Connection is a funny word. We have to detach in order to become truly connected. Connected with something way greater than what consumes most of the day. Something that speaks in the wind. Something that speaks in the snow, between trees, and all around us. Learn to listen.

Names Matter: Remember Sandy Hook

|Kelly Tenkely|
April 20, 1999 is a day I will never forget. At 11:40am I was sitting in my Algebra 2 class at Chatfield High School in Littleton. A girl frantically interrupted our class to let us know that we were in lock down. There was a shooting in progress at Columbine High School.  It was the second year that we had cable in the classroom so we turned on the news to connect us to the outside world (this occurred before the time when cellphones were ubiquitous). On the screen we watched tragedy unfold. Our sports rivals, neighbors, friends were pouring out of the building. Tears. Chaos. Heartbreak.

We were released early from school. Then came the waiting, the praying. We waited for long hours to hear from friends and loved ones. We kept lists to help us keep track of those who had been heard from. Names accounted for, assurance of safety.

And then came the other list and the prayer changed. We didn’t want to hear those names. Those who didn’t make it out of the building. Those whose lives were taken. Hearing those names was heart breaking, they weren’t just names, they were stories. Each name represented a life lived full of laughter, tears, successes and failures. Humanity.

Names are important. In the Bible, names have a special significance because they tell part of the story. Names were very intentionally given based on characteristics. Sometimes those names were changed, like when Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus. The change of name was an indicator of a new story to be told, a conversion.

On December 14, 2012 we heard the awful message that Newtown, Connecticut was in crisis. That tragedy had come again, this time to an elementary school, Sandy Hook. Heartbreak. 26 names. 26 stories.
We’ve talked a lot about names at Anastasis. The significance of a name. The story we want our name to represent. The way that just saying a name can be like a prayer. God knows the story behind each name.

Today, Team Anastasis read the 26 names of Sandy Hook. A prayer for each life connected to those that were lost. The heartbreak will feel fresh every year for those that lost someone dear. The brokenness of humanity raw. You, dear friends, are never alone, never without Hope. Seek the light. Remind yourselves daily that amidst the brokenness we walk on holy ground. God has been here. He knows the brokenness, the heartbreak. He has brought redemption and light. Live in this reality. God is for you. May you rest in His goodness, His redemption, His reconciliation.

 

-Charlotte Bacon
– Daniel Barden
– Rachel Davino
– Olivia Engel
– Josephine Gay
– Ana M. Marquez-Greene
– Dylan Hockley
– Dawn Hochsprung
– Madeleine F. Hsu
– Catherine V. Hubbard
– Chase Kowalski
– Jesse Lewis
– James Mattioli
– Grace McDonnell
– Anne Marie Murphy
– Emilie Parker
– Jack Pinto
– Noah Pozner
– Caroline Previdi
– Jessica Rekos
– Avielle Richman
– Lauren Rousseau
– Mary Sherlach
– Victoria Soto
– Benjamin Wheeler
– Allison N. Wyatt

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech (student post)

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech

|by Emma P, 8th Grade|

 Prayer is something we as Christians often do; however, the importance of this has been forgotten by many. It’s wretched to think that people have come to think of prayer as something that is required of them. Prayer should be esteemed and special to those who pray. Praying is a dialogue with God, but are you listening? Are you just talking at God? These questions are the catalyst to many more questions, such as why do we even bother to pray? Why doesn’t God always say yes? Why doesn’t he talk back? These are all outstanding questions to ask, however, we don’t search enough to actually discover the answers. Prayer is definitely not an easy topic to wrap our heads around, and we need to look at it from all angles.

 

As a wise person once said; “When you pray, move your feet.” This is an old African proverb that many treasure. This proverb explains that we can’t just pray for something and expect God to do it all for us, we have to help if we are able. For example, if you see someone who is starving on the streets, you can’t just look at them and think, “Oh, that’s too bad for them, God, please help them.” Of course, that is a fine thing to do, but if you have some food that you have no need for, you should give it to them. The Bible states in Matthew 25: 45; “He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a lighter to ignite all of your other prayers. There are six simple words that are key in the understanding of this prodigious prayer; worship, surrender, petition, confession, warfare, and thanksgiving. These principles are something that should be taken to heart, as these are what we usually include in our prayers. Most stick to one in particular, the most common being petition. The type that I most often stick to is thanksgiving. There is something about prayer that makes me think of only thanking and praising God, and rarely asking for anything. As we studied this topic, I came to realize more and more that I wasn’t putting everything I could into my prayers, they all sounded the same. As I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer being a lighter is a bit of a confusing concept, yet is actually quite simple. This prayer was taught to the disciples in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 – 13, when they asked Jesus how to pray. Therefore, it was a perfect prayer, and had the ideal balance of the six principles that describe it. These principles, when combined in a prayer, can make it extraordinarily powerful and memorable. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding.” We as Christians would do well to memorize this verse, found in 1st Corinthians 14: 15, as it teaches not to just say whatever comes to mind to just get it over with, but to think and to make the prayer meaningful. As a Buddhist monk once said, “We should only speak if we are improving the silence.”

There are four stages of praying that are imperative to a phenomenal prayer. The first stage says that I talk, you listen. This stage is quite straight-forward, saying that I talk to God and he listens to me. The second states that you talk and I listen. Again, this has a pretty clear message, saying that God is talking to me, and I am listening. The third is about neither of us talking and both of us listening. This quote found in the Alchemist sums this stage up nicely; “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.” This means to be aware of what’s happening around you, but to always zoom in on what’s important. The fourth and final stage is that neither talks nor listen. This is the mindset that many adopt while meditating, basically just being focused on your inner being and getting lost in the moment. This can be interpreted differently depending on your religion, your personality, and many other factors. Many are stuck between stages one and two, which is merely habit for some, but something entirely different for others. I personally have gotten to stage four, which is to just get lost in the moment. This is a natural occurrence to me, because I am quiet and calm by nature, and I like to think that I treasure every moment. You never know when something might go away, so you should enjoy it while it’s there.

Prayer and being close to God can look different in numerous religions. Many religions develop their own style of praying, such as many Hindus meditate to get closer to God. These are unequivocally diverse, but they all have a similar root. For example, Muslims always pray in the direction of the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia while bending down to show their submission to God. Buddhists meditate to be more familiar with their inner beings. Christians fold their hands, close their eyes, and bow their heads to pray. All of these types of ‘prayer’ have a common denominator, which is awareness. This is something that is highly valued in many religions. Although, I feel that these are all blanket statements of a sort, because not everyone prays the same. I prefer sitting in nature and just being calm over folding my hands and doing all of the stereotypical ‘Christian’ paraphernalia, and this might be similar to many people of all kinds of religions, whether they believe in a God or not.

Anthony De Mello, a writer who is famous for his profound writings and unfathomable knowledge, wrote many stories about prayer. There is one in particular that I like, which is one about a shoemaker. This shoemaker worked hard day and night, and found he never had time for his prayers. He went to go see a Rabbi to ask him how to fit in his prayer. The shoemaker said that while he was working, his heart would let out a sigh, a sign of longing to be close to God and to talk to him. The Rabbi said that a sigh is valued much more than a prayer, because many pray just to get it over with, but this shoemaker had an honest desire to talk to God. This story showed me that you don’t always have to be in a certain position to pray, you don’t always have to even talk to pray. It’s sometimes hard for us Christians to understand this concept, because prayer has become more and more of a burden and less of a relationship and a closeness that God and humans alike crave.

Prayer is particularly challenging to comprehend, so we have to examine all of the bits and pieces it’s made up of. Prayer is a sacred bond between man and God, and it should be respected ad infinitum, though sadly, it has become more of a habit than anything else. As I elucidated throughout, prayer is a type of awareness. It’s also a time to be honest with God. He doesn’t always want to be thanked, he wants you to approach him with your questions and give over your weaknesses. He wants to be more than a friend, more than a brother with you. Doesn’t this make you feel special? God has chosen you to love, you to nurture and you to cherish. He wants you to come to him as you are, not as someone you are pretending to be! I see prayer in a whole new light now, and I long to be closer to God, as the mystery of his great power is what keeps us wondering and yearning to be close with him.

“Dear God, thank you for this day…”

|Anderson|

Sometimes I wonder what God does when two groups of Christians are praying for different things.  Or, what happens when two groups are praying for the same thing, but both can’t have the same thing? It seems in both situations, those praying are asking God for what they want God to do.

Does this cause anxiety for God?

Does he use the “casting lots” system found in the New Testament?

Does he find it hard to sleep from the pressure to perform?

Does he weigh the righteousness of both parties involved and then make a decision based on who is the most obedient?

None of these options seem to fit the God found in Scripture, and thankfully so.

What if these types of prayers were altered?  What if prayer has more to do with listening than talking?  Would prayer outcomes be more recognizable if we were listening to hear what God wants to do, or for what His will is?  It’s possible that this is what is being said in Romans 8.  The text reads that the Spirit does many wonderful things for God’s children, including testifying that we are, in fact, God’s children! (8:16) A bit later it says that the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  When we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit intercedes on our behalf.  It also says that the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (8:26-27)

What if a community was known as a people who listen to God? Watching to see what He is doing and then moving to be a part of it.  What could happen each day if that community expected to see something supernatural happen? What if they expected it often?  If they listened to God and prayed for what they heard, what would that community look like? What if more often they entered into prayer not knowing what to pray for instead of knowing exactly what to pray for?  Could this open them up to God’s leading in prayer and the Spirit’s intercession for them? Once they knew confidently what to pray for, would they pray with diligence until it happens?

What kind of community to we want to be?