Oakland church

Archive for spirituality

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday

Lent Begins Ash Wednesday, February 17

Join the Spiritual Life Team after the service on Sunday, Feb 14th @ 11:15am, for a discussion about Spiritual practices during Lent, to strengthen our spiritual muscle.
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At the heart of Christian faith is the wonderful, powerful, mystical story of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. His story has become our story, our Easter… promising new life and new beginnings when we may least expect it.

The traditional season of Lent offers us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning
of Easter in our personal lives and in our community. Our church will join others
around the world in observing this season of devotion, reflection, and preparation for Easter.

Only you know what your heart and mind need to grow and thrive spiritually. The Spiritual Life Team is suggesting some Lenten practices that may be meaningful to you and may help you to strengthen and deepen your faith and service; ‘build spiritual muscle’ so to speak. You are invited to choose a practice, or as many as you feel called to take on. Of course, you may choose to adapt our ideas or discover others that will serve you. After worship on Feb. 14, we will have an opportunity to share our choices, and to schedule time to share our experiences of Lenten devotional practice with one another.

BUILDING SPIRITUAL MUSCLE…Some Options

• Focus on the traditional practices of prayer and almsgiving
• Begin a season of withdrawal or abstinence (from online media, for ex.)
• Subscribe to Recipiscence: An online devotional guide for dismantling White
Supremacy
• PracticeYoga, walking, and/or dance as meditations
• Form a short term support group to share and process stress or depression
• Put together a journal or picture album that is meaningful to you
• Experiment with a new kind of art expression (like clay, or even an adult
coloring book)
• Organize a Lenten book club
• Connecting, reaching out to one another

Nurturing Gratitude

-by David Guerra

Last spring, I attended a day-long retreat for caregivers at Mission San Jose. It was filled with workshops and information as well as fun activities designed to give the 100 or so caregivers a break. One of the workshops really stood out to me. It was about gratitude.

I initially thought: Gratitude? I’m dealing with a really bad situation and you expect me to be grateful?

Studies, they explained, showed that when people looked for things to be grateful for, their overall well-being improved.

Skeptical, I decided to try it. I took a small daily diary that’d been sitting unused in my nightstand drawer. I opened to the first page. I thought about the events of the day and penned, “I am grateful for my singing voice, that I could share ‘My Sweet Embraceable You’ in a tender moment with Claude while caring for him.”

I thought about it. Wow, it did feel good to express how it made me feel. Maybe there’s something to this gratitude thing.

So I wrote another the next day. And the next… until it became a daily practice with one huge caveat: Positive things only, no complaints allowed. Even if the day has been horrible, I need to find one positive thing I’m glad for.

And you know what? I’ve noticed a difference in my attitude. As I go through the day, I am more aware of the bliss in little moments: The scent of a rose. The fleeting smile on Claude’s face.  A bird’s song, a loving hug, a day of peace as family, good news from the doctor, the glow of sunlight through the trees, the soft downy fluff of a turkey chick in my hand, kindness from a stranger, laugher and recognizing love in its many forms.  

All these things are gifts! Moments of peace and joy and wonder, tiny treats that nurture the soul. So many in a course of a day, too many to catalog! I cherish each one of them because they show me that there is, indeed, much to be grateful for.