Dear Friends,

You are receiving this email because you have made a commitment to spend fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, in solitude and silence, so as to draw near to God. A special thank you to Rev. Steffi Miller who is helping write these reflections!

We want to hear how this is going for you! Please respond to this email and tell us what you are learning, what God is saying, and how this commitment is going.

Also, who else do you know who might want to make this commitment? Forward this email to them. They can receive these emails by registering here.

We are praying with and for all of you!

Blessings as you spend time in solitude, study and prayer,
Cindy and Chuck

P.S. Have you picked up your Drawing Near Resource Guide and Prayer Journal? They are available for pickup in front of the church offices. These weekly emails will soon start referring to prayers and practices that are in the resource guide.
Drawing Near

*See below for General Instructions

Advent III
God Gives Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness and Redemption

God renews the covenant relationship with Israel, symbolized in rewriting the 10 commandments on new tablets. God also self discloses his character. What are 7 characteristics of God proclaimed in this passage? Which one(s) means the most to you during this Advent? What are some ways that God has given you grace, mercy, forgiveness and redemption? 

The psalmist describes how the Israelites feel upon returning to Israel after being held captive 70 years in Babylon. The wonder and joy experienced and anticipated is almost more than they ever dreamed about while waiting on the Lord. What do you wait for the Lord to restore in your life? In the nation? In the world?  Write a prayer of your own asking God to restore something important to you. 

This passage is often called “Mary’s Song” or the “Magnificat.”  How does Mary describe the Lord? How does her description compare with the Lord’s self-description found in Exodus 34?  Read through the “Daily Prayer” on page 41 of your Near resource booklet reflecting on Mary’s openness to being used by God. Then pray that prayer for yourself.

Read Psalm 42, found on page 7 in the Near resource booklet. What does Paul tell us to do “in all circumstances?” Why should we do this? How do you see the Psalmist showing gratitude towards God even as his “soul is cast down”? Close your time of reflection by praying the Vocation Prayer found on page 13 in the Near resource booklet.

How is John the Baptist’s preaching preparing people for the coming of the Lord? What is his message then and to us today? How has this Advent helped you prepare for the coming of the Lord. Pray Thomas Merton’s prayer on page 12 of the Near resource booklet as a way of preparing your heart for the ways that God wants to work in and through you.
Drawing Near
*General Instructions:

  1. Be patient and give yourself grace. This is new for many of us! 
  2. Decide which days and what time you will enter into solitude and silence. Consider putting these times on your calendar, and, if needed, share this commitment with those you are living with so that they can support you.
  3. Find a quiet place, free from distraction, where you can be comfortable.
  4. Consider lighting a candle so as to claim the space as “holy ground.”
  5. Begin each time by letting your spirit and mind settle, and asking God to guide your time with him.
  6. Consider keeping a journal so as to record how God is leading you.