Lent 2017

Lent 2017

Away Down Yonder

by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection Lent is an interesting time in the liturgical year. We intentionally give up something for the greater good of spiritual transformation. Whether we fast from cursing, coffee, cupcakes, or concupiscence, we have a spiritual travail on our hands, and by this point in the season, we’re all a little fatigued. Of course, we do not undertake this task of abstinence under our own strength, and those who attempt Lent under such illusions…

Show Your Colors – Meditative Art

Show Your Colors – Meditative Art by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection A growing trend especially amongst Millennials and young adults is “meditative coloring,” a practice in centering the mind on simple art. Creating art is perhaps not everyone’s specialty, but anyone can color! Coloring and artwork of any kind may not be a type of spiritual practice you are familiar with, but creativity is an integral part of what makes you human. When God created humankind in…

Companions Along the Way – The Practice of Others

Companions Along the Way – The Practice of Others by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection One of the best ways we can grow closer to God is by growing closer to other people. Recognizing that God has made people, both collectively and individually, in his image, we come to see God in the faces of those around us; our family, friends, strangers and even enemies bear within them a divine spark that is truly God. The Christian life…

Search the Scriptures – Holy Reading

Search the Scriptures – Holy Reading by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection Reading Scripture is probably the most common Protestant mode of encountering the Holy Spirit and the “go to” spiritual practice for many of us. The Bible is so central to Christian life that it sometimes supersedes other forms of experiencing God. We must never downplay the treasure that is Scripture. God spoke through holy men and women throughout the centuries, giving them divine instruction and inspiration…

Quiet Your Mind – The Art of Silence 

Quiet Your Mind – The Art of Silence by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection For most people, communication is incompatible with silence. And since communion and communication obviously share the same root, we have a hard time understanding how silence can be an avenue to communing with someone. While other creatures communicate more through scent, body language, and even electromagnetic pulses, human communication is largely through speech and sound. On the other hand, in our modern Western world,…

Walking the Way – Physical Mantra

Walking the Way – Physical Mantra by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection One of the most beautiful aspects of spiritual practices is that once you come to recognize that God is everywhere and available in everything, almost anything can become a spiritual practice, even the most mundane of activities. Such is the case with walking. A Roman Catholic priest once described praying the rosary as a sort of Christian mantra. By praying the words of the prayers over…

Partaking of Grace – Sacramental Life

Partaking of Grace – Sacramental Life by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection Sacraments are described as “means of grace” or “an outward symbol of an inward reality.” The number of sacraments varies according to Christian denomination; what exactly the sacraments do, if anything, is also up for debate. But what most Christians would affirm is that God can be experienced in this world through material means; God’s extraordinary grace can be received through ordinary means. The most obvious…

Unplug – Mindfulness

Unplug – Mindfulness by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection Stop and think about what you are doing. This injunction is easy enough to say, but much harder to put into practice. One of the ways in which we succumb to temptations of all sorts is that we turn our minds off, even just momentarily, and let impulses, habits, and deep-seated, even subconscious, desires run their course. In the end, we “come to” not recognizing the person who perpetrated…

Repeat After Me – Formal Prayer

Repeat After Me – Formal Prayer by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection As mentioned in the previous section, the prospect of praying to the Awesome God of the Universe has intimidated many people away from praying at all, afraid they will not have the adequate language for the task. One remedy has been the emphasis on conversational prayer, that is, praying to God like talking to a Father or a Friend. The other remedy is praying the prayers…

Have a Little Talk – Conversational Prayer

Have a Little Talk – Conversational Prayer by Cody Nygard, Director of Discipleship and Connection Prayer is a constant focus in the spiritual life; it is the direct experience of talking with the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the Universe. Prayer is a hearing with God, a chance to come before the Lord and make your petitions known to the One who can truly answer them. With this awesome opportunity comes some trepidation. “What if I say the wrong things, will…