"Bread for Our Journey" is a new online approach to faith development you can do as an individual, in informal small groups, or as a family.
This weekly collection is curated and written by Saint John's staff.
These reflections are intended to deepen our understanding
of scripture, to open our awareness of different voices and wisdom,
and to broaden our spiritual practices that bring creativity and justice to our world. 
July 18th, 2021
This the eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

This week we continue in our new series "Bird by Bird". Birds appear in Scripture multiple times. Jesus, the psalmists, and the prophets call us to look to birds as examples of strength and trust. In July, Saint John’s will borrow this wisdom for a worship series. Look up with us to the birds of the air to learn more about the God of creation and God’s hopes for our lives.

Read the scripture below and choose how you journey through this week's reflection questions, poetry, activities, and more.
Our scripture for today is taken from the worship reading for this Sunday.

Psalm 100
Acclaim YHWH* with joy,
all the earth!
Serve YHWH with gladness!
Enter into God's presence with a joyful song!
know that YHWH is God!
YHWH made us, and we belong to the Creator;
we are God's people
and the sheep of God's pasture.
Enter God's gates with thanksgiving
and the courts with praise!
Give thanks to God!
Bless God's Name!
For YHWH is good;
God's steadfast love endures forever,
and God's faithfulness
to all generations.

The Inclusive Bible
*YHWH is a word for God based on
the four Hebrew letters
that represent the Divine.
Use these questions as prompts to journal on your own or to reflect in discussion
with family or friends.

This week's sermon will reflect on four aspects that cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrian shares about.

Click on the video to hear Arrian explain the four questions spiritual leaders ask of someone in their care.

How have you felt soul loss? Which of these four aspects could you bring back into your life?
Each week through this season, Executive Director of the Travis Audubon Society and Saint John's member Nicole Netherton will share a way to learn more and connect with our avian neighbors.

Try out the Merlin app

Want to learn more about the birds you're seeing and hearing? Is that red bird a Northern Cardinal or a House Finch... or maybe a Summer Tanager?
Download the free Merlin app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to learn about the birds in Central Texas and around the world. The app will ask you to answer three simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and then gives you a list of possible matches. It's a great way to practice naming the birds you see all around you. How many birds can you identify in your backyard or neighborhood park?
These activities can be spiritual practices for your mind, body, and heart.

Living in Wonder

Learning more about birds can spark our sense of wonder - even wonder about how the world works and what we might learn about ourselves. Did you know that even birds in insolation learn to sing anyway, and that generations later their song resembles their species in the wild?

Click on the video to know more about how birds learn to sing.
As you are out in the world this week, take time to stop and listen for birds' songs and wonder.

Invite your children to watch this video or join you in listening to birds outside.
Loving in Beloved Community

Birds don't sing constantly but, when they do, they bring their entire being into the act. Perhaps this is what is being asked of us. To do what we love, to learn to do it well.
~ author and pianist Michael Jones

Each of us has been given gifts and talents, interests and passions. What is it that you love to do? What have you learned to do well? What would you like to learn to do well?
Whatever this may be for you, your talents and loves can be a gift to others.

Our beloved communities and holy relationships ask us to bring our entire beings.
Take some time to reflect. What of yourself have you not yet brought to your relationships? Where in your community needs more of you?

Invite your children to this conversation. What does it feel like when they can be totally themselves?
What do they love to do? How could what they love to do be a gift to someone else?
Resting in God 

"To sing is to pray twice" is a quote most often attributed to St. Augustine. Though its authorship is unknown, the truth of this statement rings deep. Sung words echo through us and melodies resonate within.

Find a time, maybe when you get up in the morning or when you come home from work or school.
Pick up a hymnal or song book that you may have at home, or use an online resource like Hymnary.com.
Enjoy singing or listening to one or two songs each day.
As you listen to the song reflect on what God is sharing with you through that hymn this day. 

Click on the first video to sing along with Audrey Assad in the classic hymn "Be Thou My Vision". The words will appear on the screen.

Click on the second video to listen and maybe learn a new song "Farther Along" by Josh Garrels.
This week's prayer is inspired from Psalm 100 and written by Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, United Methodist Bishop of the North Carolina Conference.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
We give thanks for this good earth, your gift to us and our home,
and we pray for wisdom and gentleness to care for your creation, O God.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing.
We gather with grateful hearts, remembering your mercy and strength,
your justice and your compassion, your goodness and your grace.
Know that the Lord is God.

May we live what we know of you and strive for what you seek, O God.
We are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture.
In humility we pray for the entire human family,
remembering those in need, and all who are alone, dishonored or excluded.

Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and God’s courts with praise.
Move us through thanksgiving and praise to action.
Use us to heal wherever there is violence and harm.
Give thanks to God, bless God’s name.

May we embrace your just purpose, O God, and offer ourselves in prophetic witness.
For the Lord is good;
We pray for your goodness to flow outward, flooding this world with love.
God’s steadfast love endures forever,
We pray for your loving purpose in every life this day and into the days to come.
And God’s faithfulness to all generations.
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If you have questions or suggestions for this curriculum, 
click here to email Shelley Walters and Laura Schwarcz.

Saint John's United Methodist Church | 512-452-5737 | stjohnsaustin.org