Did you know that there is a contemplative movement, and it is growing in the Christian Church and around the world? Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes writes, “I’m watching more and more people turn away from an entertainment-focused worship style and leaning more toward a growth that is internal rather than external.”
Big box churches look successful on the outside: lots of people, exciting worship, many programs. Maybe they are also successful on the inside: transformation, people who stick around even when they’re disappointed in something, showing up for each other, showing up for the people society discards, and more.
Back in the 1970s, the charismatic movement was on the upswing: ecstatic worship, electronically amplified music, a primary focus on individual salvation and personal relationship with Jesus. A sense of relatedness with the holy was certainly a felt need that the charismatic movement sought to meet (or exploit, depending on your view of that history.) I was drawn to this movement while in high school, attending concerts at Calvary Chapel in Huntington Beach, attending Young Life meetings. Most of the swim team did.
The concerts provided a sort of spiritual/emotional high, but that didn’t sustain my spirit. For the last 30 or so years, contemplative practices have been a source of deep strength. They have also been transforming.
Worship is both an active and contemplative practice. Over time, as we put ourselves in the way of God with other seekers in shared worship, we begin to discover we are being sustained by a faith that is growing within. We can look back over past experiences and notice how we are cooperating with the Sacred to become more Christ-like. The light of Christ is coming into the world again and again. Each of us, with our God given uniqueness, refracts and magnifies this light.
May we deepen our relatedness to this one whom God sends to lend us the light.
May you see this light, rainbow refracted, shining from your own life,
showing a way to hope, peace, joy and love
to those in the shadows of fear, rage, despair and hate.
May this light lighten your burden and sustain you now and always.
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