Sunday, November 1st

The Book of Zechariah (7-9)
Zechariah 7:9-14, 8:1, 3, 7-8, 12-13, 16-17 and Mark 8:1-10

Reflection Questions

Continuing our journey in Zechariah, carve out space to read and listen to the prophetic words in chapters 7-9.

  1. In Zechariah 7:9-14, God through Zechariah clearly lays out for his people how he desires them to reflect and demonstrate true love towards others. Yet, God states that his people were stubborn and did not pay attention to his life-giving counsel. Stop for a few moments and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart to see where there might be an inattentive ear, a stubborn heart regarding your relations or circumstances.

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Psalm 139: 23-24 (MSG)

  1. Receive the words of God’s promise to be with his people in all dimensions of life as you read Zechariah 8:1, 3, 7-8, 12-13, 16-17. What do you sense God inviting you to receive: encouragement, correction, instruction, assistance, forgiveness, peace? Speak to God about the content of your heart, his word to you, his promise to be with you. How do you want to respond today? In what creative and concrete ways might you exercise his instructions to be a reflection of true love to others? (7:9-10; 8:16-17)
  2. Read Mark 8:1-10. Place yourself imaginatively in the story before you. Feel the hunger and weariness of the crowd. Hear the compassion of Jesus in his words as he tangibly cares for the concerns of his friends. Feel the tension of the disciples who recognize the need and acknowledge it is too great; it’s beyond their ability to fix, handle, or even imagine resolution. Now, identify any needs you have today; even a stubborn heart or a weariness of spirit with the real demands of your day. Sit with Jesus. As you do, wonder with him how he might bring aid, comfort, and satisfaction to you right where you are. Ask for the tender mercies of God, who is compassionate to save.
The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules

The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules

Sunday, November 22nd after worship service (11:30 am)​
The Holy Trinity’s Women’s Book Group invites you to join us as we gather to discuss The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules by Carolyn Curtis James. Bring your lunch and your reflections on this month’s read at Kristin Carmody’s house.

​Location: Kristin Carmody’s home
For address and additional information contact: kristinc777@sbcglobal.net

The Spirituality of Slowing Down and Shutting Up

The Spirituality of Slowing Down and Shutting Up

The word “addict” may conjure images of a disheveled drug-user. But relatively few people are addicted to drugs. However, judging by the way we drive, the way we zone out on mobile devices (even when surrounded by friends), and the way we distract ourselves with multiple forms of media, it seems many of us are in the addictive grip of noise and hurry.

An addiction’s power resides in the lies it tells us.

On the surface certain stimuli look pleasurable. And they do in fact provide a moment of pleasure or numbness or distraction. But addictive powers are dehumanizing and soul-destroying. Addicts lose the ability to self-regulate and eventually the stimulus gains mastery over their lives. Everything in an addict’s life is negatively altered. Relationships with family, friends, God—they all suffer.

Everyone would agree that alcoholism and compulsive gambling are destructive. But what about noise and hurry? Most of assume noise and hurry to be just a part of life. But are they really benign, unavoidable realities? Or do they have the same life-destroying, idolatrous power as drugs and alcohol? I believe they do. And just like other addictions, they damage our relationships, especially our relationship with God.

The spiritual practices of being silent and slowing down are the way out of this trap. They have the potential to restore a rich and intimate relationship with God.

The right kind of rest

The deepest contentment is not derived from external excitement, but through inward rest. Yet we’re constantly told to “rest” by cultivating a heightened state of excitement. But constant audio and visual input pushes God to the margins. Over-stimulation shakes our lives like an Etch-A-Sketch, making God disappear.

Silence allows us to deal with our inner chaos. It provides the conditions for repentance, conversion, and growth.

On the other hand, silence and slowing down create space for God. Silence removes the fear-based distractions we compulsively turn to. Silence allows us to deal with our inner chaos. It provides the conditions for repentance, conversion, and growth.

Removing ourselves from addicted lives of connection, production, and consumption is unnerving—and that is the surest sign we need it! You might say, “I would die if I eliminated noise and hurry from my life!” True—you would die. You would die to a life marked by the deception of distraction. But in turn, as diversions disappear, you would find God again and human life as God intended it to be.

In silence and slowing down we learn that we will survive, indeed thrive, as we cease activity. We gain the trust to take a break from our work and stop distracting ourselves through entertainment. Silence is perhaps the best nourishment for a deep and dynamic relationship with God.

Silencing the church

Our church is located in Orange County, a place hardly known for silence and solitude. Yet together we are employing the spiritual practices of quietness, contemplation, and silence. And it’s working. We’re seeing deliverance from addictive powers and witnessing people transformed into the likeness of Christ. The momentum is building and more people are seeing the power and beauty of shutting up and experiencing God.

But, yes, we get some resistance. We’ve learned the hard way that silence is not intuitive. People have said, “You are asking us to slow down too fast.” We have discovered that what we think of as the gift of silence can feel to others like an unanticipated disturbance of the soul. An inner world that has not been examined for a long while can be a scary place to go. We’ve found we need to ease people into silence. We need to walk with them as they cultivate these practices so they do not feel alone. We’ve learned to gently urge worshippers to take stock of their inner lives and train them to sense God’s presence and love.

This is not some newfangled ministry technique. Ultimately cultivating silence and slowing down is simply about nurturing our souls and connecting with God. Now that’s something to talk about.

Used by Permission: Leadership Journal

Sunday, October 25th

The Book of Zechariah (1-6)
Readings: Zechariah 1:1-6, 14-17; 4:6-10; 6:9-15 and Mark 7:31-37

Reflection Questions

Our journey in the Minor Prophets continues with Zechariah. He and Haggai were called upon to help the people of God get the new Temple built. Both prophets voice an invitation to return to first things and priorities, to a revival of focus and commitment to covenant relationship with God as the “center” of life and worship. Zechariah’s visions and message reboot the imagination of God’s people to foster an understanding of our truest and sacred identity in God. His message speaks deeper things then merely to rebuild ruins. Think of how a tribe, a nation, a community experiences themselves when all symbols, marketplaces, centers of worship, homes and homeland lay in ruins! Think of modern day exiles or refugees. As you read, listen to the voice of the prophet. Imagine yourself in Israel’s shoes. Explore what God might be saying to you and your faith community as you read and reflect.

  1. Our readings span six chapters. Read the segment in its entirety to appreciate the full flavor of the prophet’s message. In chapter 1, there seems to be a centralizing theme emerging of return. What do you hear in the invitation to return to God? Take moments now, wherever you are, whatever your focus, circumstance or current life activity consumes your thoughts and energies and for these moments return to God. As you do, notice what comes to you, how you feel, what you find yourself thinking about and praying.
  2. One of the most often quoted Scripture verses is Zech. 4:6. As you journey through these passages consider your limitations and need for God’s Spirit to assist you in work and life. Are there things, relationships, endeavors that seem overwhelming, burdensome or just beyond your abilities? Where are you finding yourself taking matters into your own hands? Spend some time in confession. Affirm weakness and limitation. Ask for God’s Spirit to help. Invite God to participate in your life.
  3. Conclude your time of reading and reflection in Mark 7:31-37. Let the story of Jesus’ miracle healing of the deaf man renew a vision of possibility within the sphere of God’s work on earth. What might you imagine and ask for in your own life? Take moments now to sit with Jesus. Let him touch the impediments in your body and soul, with your family, in your work place. Bring these things and people to God in prayer. Who knows, you might discover that Jesus, when in the mix of things, does indeed do all things well!