Tag Archives: lutheran via de cristo

Work — Nourishment for the Soul?

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I just finished another chapter of the book I’ve been reading for my morning devotional, Awake My Soul, by Timothy Jones.  He poses an interesting question — Can work not only feed the body, but nourish the soul?  It’s a chapter about the idea of vocation, or calling.  Martin Luther, of course, argued that not only priests and nuns, but milkmaids, blacksmiths and housewives shared in God’s work in the world.  The work we do becomes holy if reverently approached.  Our work can serve others and influence others for Christ.

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Just recently I was talking to a friend about her Via de Cristo retreat (I was the leader of her weekend).  I shared with her how I felt that God had called me to train the team for that retreat, and she said, “Joan, you trained the team just for me.”  One of the big surprises that happened for my friend, was an opportunity to reconnect with another woman named Karen, someone she hadn’t seen since she was a girl.  Karen became Beth Ann’s spiritual mentor for a time.  I knew Karen through my workplace;  I was working at a job I was not eager to take, yet it led to an amazing experience for somebody else. No doubt there were other plans of God at work that I’ll never even know about.  It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was where I needed to be, and where God placed me at that time.  Knowing that has nourished my soul.

Often we are called to do what we enjoy, even if it involves financial sacrifice.  After retirement, I started work for the local library, only to find myself feeling unsettled.  I liked the job;  I like the people, so what was the problem?  I just had the continual, nagging feeling that it was taking me away from what God wanted me to do.  So I quit and now find myself blogging and working as a volunteer for my church.  These activities have fed my soul, and maybe to the souls of a few others.

Of course, it’s a constant challenge to discern God’s will, and we’ll make wrong turns.  We won’t always get it right.  We must pray, ask advice from Godly friends, and pay attention to our circumstances and how God is using our gifts and talents.

As Jones says in his book,

“We spend too much time at work for it not to be a setting for daily seeking and experiencing God.  …..CONCENTRATE ON WORK, BUT MAKE ROOM FOR GOD…”

 

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner #2

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Since I blogged about table prayers on a previous post, I thought I would include this prayer we sing before meals at our Vineyard Via de Cristo retreat weekends.  Once again, we are inviting Jesus to take part in the meal with us.

Not By Bread Alone

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A previous post I did reminded me of this song, Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.  I first heard it on my Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekend in 1990 and it has been a favorite ever since.  If it’s new to you, I hope it will become one of your favorites as well.  It speaks to our need for spiritual, as well as physical bread.

 

 

What is a Cha?

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“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also out to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15

If you go on a Via de Cristo (or other type of Cursillo) retreat, you will find a group of people who are there just to serve you for the weekend.  They bring you drinks, supply any need you many have (tissues, snacks, aspirin, etc.), run errands for you, and so on.  In Via De Cristo we call them the chas, which stands for Christ’s hands in action.  Everybody loves their cha, and often say they wish they could take their cha home with them!

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Well, guess what?  You don’t have to be on a retreat weekend to be a cha.  Of course, it’s true, we all have many responsibilities and we cannot dedicate all of our time to fetching and carrying.  We can, however, be Christ’s hand and feet and voice in the world every day to the people with whom we interact.  We can help a neighbor carry her groceries, we can give up our place in line to a harried parent, we can say “have a blessed day” to the cashier who rings up our order, we can serve dinner to our family with words that are kind instead of complaining.  Jesus gave us an example when he washed the feet of his disciples — he didn’t have to do that.  It wasn’t expected, and it wasn’t his “job.”  He did it to show us that good stewardship means using our time, our bodies and our minds to serve others.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all became chas?

 

What Am I Here For?

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The very first talk on a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend is called “Ideal.”  The premise of the talk is that everyone has an ideal in life;  a goal they are aiming toward.  It’s this goal that gives life meaning.

Now, we can have a good ideal (living to serve others) or a bad one (the one who dies with the most expensive “toys” wins).  We can have a realistic ideal (owning our own home or business) or an unrealistic ideal (becoming the queen of England). We can devote ourselves to a false ideal (such as a political party or candidate) and be devastated when it proves to be disappointing.  The big problem is we often fool ourselves and fail to recognize and admit what our ideal really is.  For example, I may tell myself I am working 60 hours a week in order to support my family (a laudable goal) when what I actually desire is just more money to spend on luxuries, or the admiration of others.

The talk ends with some practical advice I’m going to share with you.  Examine your checkbook and your calendar.  Look hard at how you are spending your money and your time.  Remember, we all find the money and the time to do the things we really want to do.  So, does your stewardship of these things reveal an ideal worthy of a disciple of Christ?  Or does it show you something else?  What is your true ideal?

 

Instructed by the Spirit

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On Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat weekends, we pray this prayer for enlightenment before each talk given.  

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created.  And you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant, that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolations.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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Examining Our Relationships

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After a Via de Cristo retreat, participants are encouraged to periodically examine their conscience.  This means to think carefully over their recent words, thoughts and deeds in order to understand how they have failed and confess.  Some suggestions for doing this are provided in the VDC Pilgrim’s Guide.  I’m listing here just the questions pertaining to our relationships.

In Regard to Others have I:

  • Loved others selfishly;  wanted to monopolize other’s affections, been jealous
  • Considered no one but myself.  Never felt real anguish for the misery of others
  • Passed by, indifferent to others’ troubles
  • Had habitual contempt for others;  less educated people, people of different racial, national or economic groups
  • In any way stifled the personal development of another
  • Sought to be respected without respecting others
  • Often kept others waiting
  • Not paid entire attention to a person speaking to me
  • Talked too much of myself, and not given others a chance to express themselves
  • Failed to try to understand others
  • Out of selfishness or pride, expected to be served
  • Failed to help a person in distress
  • Seen only those whose friendship might prove profitable
  • Abandoned my friends in their difficulties
  • Said hurtful things
  • Done harm, by remarks (false or true) that blacken another’s character
  • Betrayed a trust;  violated a confidence
  • Given scandal by the split between the life I lead and the principles I advertise as mine

How do you feel after reading through this list?  I am humbled and contrite.  I fall down so much more than I want to admit, many times I sin against others and don’t even notice!

“For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:22-25

Reunion Group Relationships

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If you attend a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, you will be encouraged to continue growing in Christ by participating in what’s called a reunion group.  This is a small group that meets on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, whatever you choose) to talk about how things are going in the spiritual life of the members.

I have been in a reunion group on and off for over twenty years.  The groups change, of course, as people move or their life changes.  The group I am in now meets at our church once a month, and each month we discuss an aspect of our Christian walk:  piety (this covers things like prayer, worship and moments of closeness to Christ), study or action.  Each of us has an opportunity to tell how we’ve been doing in that area and what our plans are for the coming month.  We encourage one another and hold each other accountable.  We pray together and we pray for each other.

Over time being in such a group together fosters strong bonds.  It was my first group that taught me being quiet and shy didn’t mean I couldn’t be a leader and influence others for Christ.  The group I am in now started this blog!!  My reunion group sisters are the kind of friends who will support me, encourage me and jump in to help if I take on a commitment!  They hear my confessions and keep my confidences.  Through the years in reunion groups I have helped to plan congregational activities, organized small group Bible studies, participated in “crafty” projects (that one is a real stretch for me), and had fun in the process.  Rightly lived, a reunion group becomes a Christian community affecting the world.

If you’re not in a group like this, don’t put it off, it’s too important.  You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend;  you don’t have to call it a reunion group;  you don’t have to do things exactly as we do.  The point is to find a group of others who want to direct their lives to Christ and grow in faith.  Meet regularly, pray together, encourage one another, work together for Christ and hold each other accountable.  In years to come you’ll look back and be amazed at what God has done through you and how you have grown in faith together.

I hope our readers and my sister bloggers will join in by discussing this further.  Have you been in a reunion group (or a similar accountability group)?  How did it impact your spiritual growth?  I want to hear your stories.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us knot give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  Hebrews 10: 24-25

 

 

 

Spend Your Time on Today

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This is not something I wrote, but something I was given on my original Via de Cristo retreat weekend and kept. It seems appropriate for our theme of “spending time.” The author is unknown:

There are two days in the week upon which and about which I never worry–two carefree days kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.  One of these days is Yesterday.  Yesterday with its cares and frets and pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders, has passed forever beyond my recall.  It was mine:  now it is God’s.

The other day that I do not worry about is Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and performance, its failures and mistakes, is as far beyond my mastery as its dead sister, Yesterday.  Tomorrow is God’s day:  it will be mine.

It isn’t the experience of Today that drives us mad.  It is the remorse of what happened Yesterday and fear of what Tomorrow might bring.  These are God’s Days–Leave them to Him.

A Prayer in Remembrance of Baptism

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Lord God, I am your child.  I call you Father because you are my Father.  You named me with your own holy name even before I could speak.  You made me your own before I could move a hand to help or prevent you.  You insisted on having me even though you knew the end of my life as well as its beginning, its shame as well as its glory, its failures as well as its achievements, its bad as well as its good.

Why, Father, should I persist in resisting you?  Why should I insist on my own way instead of knowing your way of grace and love?  Why should I obey my own whims instead of letting your grace in baptism have its way with me?

Forgive me, Father, for so often wandering into a far country away from you, your forgiveness, your joy, your promises, your love in Jesus Christ.  Help me to live in the freedom of my baptism, by the faith you have given me, in the life which you daily renew by your gracious forgiveness.

I am baptized.  I belong to you, God.  Amen

Taken from the Lutheran Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide

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