WHY CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER? WHY NOW?
No matter what we are doing or not doing; no matter what we are saying or not saying; no matter what we are thinking or not thinking: in multiple ways, at all times, we are actively and/or passively moving away from God. This is what some people might call “original sin”, other people just call it being fully human. Our ego leads us away from God, and God keeps calling us and leading us and nudging us to “return”. No matter what direction we’re taking, if we would just “turn around”, we’d be headed back to God. “Turning”, or “returning” is reorienting ourselves to move toward God - actively and/or passively.
This is what we do in any contemplative practice: we move toward God on purpose; we turn or return to orient ourselves fully on God.
This orientation is tricky. We’re so used to moving away from God, moving in our own direction, moving to the beat of our own drummer, rather than the rhythm of God’s dance, that at first it feels like a lot of work. But let this become a practice, practice moving to God’s tune and there will be times when it is the easiest, most freeing experience. Not always: there’s no promise that walking intentionally with or toward God will be easy, but none of the great ballroom dances are - they look fluid and smooth and easy as a spectator, but the dancers know how hard they’re working.
Lent is our time to intentionally return to God, to actively turn back toward God, to pivot, do a 180 and go back to our Source, from whence we come. We call this a “practice” or a “discipline” because it is not always easy: we have to mean it, focus on it, do it on purpose every day for a while so it becomes automatic, something we miss when we walk away from it.
Be gentle with yourself and with one another. There is no judgment within this practice: it is all grace.
OUR DRIVING INTENTIONS
Our driving desire in creating these posts is to provide families with middle- to upper-elementary aged children with devotional practices that:
- Encourage all readers to participate in leadership.
- Introduce the whole family to contemplative practices.
- Develop family rituals that generate spiritual growth, social-emotional awareness, and body-mind-spirit well-being.
- Strengthen the bond between family members and between individuals, family and faith communities as partners on our various spiritual journeys.
- Deepen and broaden our understandings of biblical and other sacred readings that are shared regularly in many worshiping bodies.
- Introduce families to progressive biblical translations, other global texts and contemplative resources for further/future practice.
BIBLICAL TRANSLATIONS & COPYRIGHTS
Some readings are revisions of the original text, based on the NRSV translation of the Bible. Emily’s Bible revisions are intended to remain true to the content and context of original texts, while making concepts and terminology accessible to young readers. Emily’s revisions are meant for use within these devotionals, only, and may not be reproduced for use outside of the home or devotional setting.
Many readings are transcribed from The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation. These are used by permission of The Quixote Center and may not be reproduced for use outside of the home or devotional setting.
All readings are cited in footnotes.
LENGTH OF PRACTICE
Our intent is to create doable practices that are also sufficient in time for body, mind, psyche and soul to “integrate”, i.e., truly have space to let go of the day and actually rest in God’s Presence.
Practices too short feel hurried and inconsequential; too long and no family will be able to do them. We have found 20 minutes to be an okay balance.
We will increase times for silence incrementally: we start with only a few two-minute intervals; these will increase throughout the Season of Lent and eventually remain consistent with about ten minutes of silence each night.
“Supplemental Information” is included in several Text Summaries. Read this if you have the time and strong readers interested in sharing it. Otherwise, skip the bracketed section and read only the shorter option.
THE LAY-OUT/AN OVERVIEW
We follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a tool of most mainline Christian denominations which assigns readings for each Sunday and Holy Day worship.
We utilize new and familiar tunes for simple singing to open and close the sacred time. We hope to use tunes that may spark innovation in your communal worship and that are already familiar to your family, connecting these devotions to your faith community’s worship practices.
Each week is preparation for the coming Sunday, which we honor as a time-out-of-time, both a beginning and ending of a week.
Textual focus is as follows:
Mondays - OIder Testament
Tuesdays - Psalm
Wednesdays - Epistle (Letters of the Apostles)
Thursdays - Gospel, Part 1
Fridays - Gospel, Part 2
Saturdays - Review (lectio divina)
Sunday - Choose Your Favorite
The “Saturday Review”, we will choose a text central to the week’s theme and develop it into a lectio divina format. You can learn more about lectio divina as time allows.
On Sundays, we’ll invite you to choose as a family what practice or reading was most significant for you. This can be a group discernment, or you might allow a different person to pick each week.
Alternatively, if you missed a day, go back and engage that practice on Sunday.