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  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

Our Advent journey will begin Sunday, December 3rd where we will light our first Advent candle. During this season we invite you to journey with us through the Psalter (Psalms) lectionary text for the Advent Season.

The Psalms are a historic Jewish prayer book that is comprised of 150 chapters and divided into 5 books. The prayers found in the Psalms encompass a myriad of seasons of life. Seasons of despair, doubt, sadness, and grief while also seasons of hope, joy, and assurance.

What might it means to reclaim these ancient scriptures in a fresh and new way during this Advent season?

The Practice:

  1. Begin your spiritual practice each day with a breathing excersize like 4-7-8. Emptying the lungs of air, breathing in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds, holding the breath for a count of 7 seconds, exhaling forcefully through the mouth for 8 seconds.

  2. Read the Psalm for the week. Is there a line, phrase or word that is sticking out to you?

  3. Rewrite this prayer in a way that is authentic to you that captures the words or phrases.

  4. Journal a few words about why you wrote the prayer the way you did.

  5. End with praying the Psalm in the version you wrote.

We want to invite you and you will journey daily with the Advent Psalm lectionary readings.

Here they are:

Advent Week 1 (December 3):

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?

You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Advent Week 2 (December 10):

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.

You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.


Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

Advent Week 3 (December 17):

Psalm 126

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Advent Week 4 (December 24):

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David: 'I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.'"


Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said: "I have set the crown on one who is mighty, I have exalted one chosen from the people.

I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!'

  • Writer's pictureJason Gaskin

Every time I think about the word “forgiveness” I think about what Reverend Samuel Wells had said when he was dean of Duke Chapel,

“God’s justice is forgiveness.” God’s justice isn’t revenge or retribution but forgiveness.

We live in a society that drinks the kool-aid of retribution and punishment. We want people to pay the price for the wrongs that they have committed toward us. And this is the corrupt picture of what so-called freedom and restoration look like.

And the church has also not helped by preaching a one size fits all approach to forgiveness. The same forgiveness that we might offer to a friend, partner, co-worker, or fellow parishioner, over a harmful word or a situation of harm is not the same thing when it comes to those of us who have been abused, harmed, manipulated, or taken advantage of by others. It isn't an excuse to hold unforgiveness, hate, and bitterness but simply to name that the journey towards forgiveness is arduous, difficult, and complicated.

And most significantly that the outcome isn't necessarily a restored relationship or even releasing someone from their harmful actions but for ourselves to be free at least in some capacity.

Jesus himself seems to be consumed with this idea that we need to forgive others and even the audacity to say that we must pray for and love our enemies.

These are some of the themes we will explore as we talk about the petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”

1. Forgiveness is a necessary component of any relationship to thrive. It is what brings the relationships back to an equilibrium when harm is introduced. And at some point along our journey, harm, intentional and/or unintentional happens. It is what keeps us in communion with one another, it is the grace we offer to ourselves and one another, it is the ability to forgive.

2. Forgiveness, in contexts, where the harm manifests itself in abuse can be a lifelong journey. In these contexts, the goal is not to restore the relationships to the person or persons that caused the harm. The goal is to be free, to heal, to live. And it is not overnight. It is a process. It takes therapy. It takes a community that we can entrust our stories to.

We will dive deeper into forgiveness this Sunday andI hope you will gather with us.

  • Writer's pictureJason Gaskin

Growing up I loved to take part in electronics and put them back together. There were many times that I took something apart and then I couldn't figure out how to put it back together. My sister's cd player stopped working and I offered my services. I took part in the entirety of the stereo. Only to realize that one I could not fix the broken cd player and now two I couldn't put her cd player back together.

I have found for most of us deconstructing our faith is the easier part of our journey. We name the toxicity of how our faith journey might have harmed and disappointed us. Maybe causing us to rethink our relationships with family and friends. Rethink what it is we read and our spiritual practices. We might even in this process fully abandon anything that looks and smells like the church experiences we have come from. Our deconstruction becomes a bunch of pieces that we are now left to figure out how to put back together.

And this is the challenge on our faith journey is how to discover a faith that enlivens us and grounds us. One in which our wounds can be healed. This is the part that takes work.

Someone recently said on an NPR show I was listening to, "Don't aim at what you are trying to avoid... look at where you want to go." I am captured by how simplistic yet how profound these words are.

Are we trying to extrapolate all the fears, triggers, and shame inducers so that we might not feel those feelings? So we surgically carve out a faith, a community that won't ever hurt us or challenge us? Yet so many of us begin our pursuit of deconstructing and reconstructing our faith in this way.

Albeit each of our journeys are different. Some of us have been deeply harmed by the church and that will deeply affect our journey. Some of us were just bored with our faith... and so we started to pursue other ways that might enliven us. Others of us simply want to continue to pursue a more meaningful pursuit of Christ.

My journey is different from yours. Your journey is different from mine. But I do think there is space to learn from one another. Over the last 10 years, I have found deep meaning and vitality in the traditions that have been carried down for generations. One of these traditions is the continued practice of praying the Lord's prayer. And maybe the traditional prayer, "Our Father, who art in heaven..." is limiting and might wreak off the places we are trying to leave... I have found that the church has found life in this prayer in the myriad of translations and languages.

And that this prayer was introduced to a group of disciples eager to "learn" how to pray again. Jesus was introducing the difficult task to his disciples of reconstructing their faith. Jesus gave them a prayer that comes from various Jewish prayers. One that addresses the divine and human relationships.

Our experiences have shaped what we believe about prayer. But I want to ask in a fresh and new way how might we reconstruct this spiritual practice in a new way that might give us life and vitality as we together learn to pray again.

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