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

Reflections for This Week:

Advent is a season to prepare ourselves spiritually for Christmas. Our theme for the Advent season this year is giving … God’s giving.  If God gave us Jesus, how might/should we respond?

Consider reading the opening prayer in the Near Resource booklet, “Gather me to be with you” by Ted Loder as you begin your 15x5 reflections this week.

Lectionary readings:

Write in your journal 5 important characteristics of God. Then think about God as a giver. What are some of the things that God’s has given you? This scripture reminds us that God so loved the world that God GAVE his Son. What does that mean to you? How can you respond to this gift? What are some concrete things you can do in response, during this Advent season?

After describing God’s awesome presence in history, Isaiah says that God “works for those who wait for him.” It’s a prayer for God to be revealed in power, as in the days of old. It’s a cry for God’s compassion.  What are some of the ways God might seem hidden today? What are some of the sinful responses that we might have to God’s seeming hiddenness? How can we remember God’s giving love when God seems hidden?

Psalm 80 is a plea, a lament, for God to restore and save us. The psalmist sees misfortune as a consequence of God’s anger. Do you agree with this theology?  Why or why not? The psalmist uses this refrain 3 times: “let your face shine, that we may be saved.” What are some of the ways that you might recognize God’s “face shining” in your life, even in this past week or month? 
Paul is giving thanks for the Corinthians; for their growth in speech (testimony) and in knowledge, as the Corinthians wait for the revealing of Jesus Christ. Read the “Prayer of St. Francis” on page 15 of the Near Resource booklet and reflect on ways that you can grow this week, testifying to your faith in Jesus Christ.  Sing (or read) the musical prayer on page 17, “O Jesus I Have Promised.” Write your thoughts in your journal as you conclude this time of reflection.

There are two parables in this passage: one of the fig tree and the second of the man going on a journey who puts his servants in charge to keep his affairs in order.   The lesson is to keep alert and awake. Keeping alert and awake is difficult when you wait a long time for a resolution to problems. What are some of God’s gifts to help us in times of waiting? The prayer on page 25 of the Near Resource booklet, may help you along the way.   Which emotion most describes you right now? Which words best describe how you would most like God to touch your life?
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.