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This Sunday, as a community, we will practice Sabbath. We will set aside our usual routines to come together and share a meal, or engage in activities that rejuvenate our spirits. This Sunday is more than just a day off; it is an opportunity to center our lives around the truth of God's presence amidst the chaos of our daily lives.

When we do sermon series at Storied Church, I usually start with an idea or theme that I want to address. I consider what message I want to convey to the community and how these words can help us all take our next steps towards being healthier and more whole on our journey together.

For me, it is what I discover after a sermon series that becomes the most impactful. It takes going through a sermon series and listening to how others are receiving the words to discover the gift of these words. 

The word I have come back to over and over in this sermon series is “intentional gratitude” as a spiritual discipline and practice. 

I am acutely aware that nearly everyone is feeling stressed, anxious, worried, or overwhelmed, you insert your adjective. We are all struggling to catch our breath. Life is overwhelming with no clear pathway to relief. 

The part that is concerning in the narrative is that most of us see no way out of this spiral of the neverending busyness of life. 

As I reflect on the gift of the words Paul has for the Philippian community, he disrupts the illusion that contentment and joy come when all the chaos of our lives calms down. If we are waiting for the chaos of our daily lives to calm for a better day and more margin for healthy practices… we will wait and wait because it never just comes. We have to be willing to embody a better way in our lives…. Amid all the stuff going on in our life. 

Research over six months has shown that those who have a daily spiritual/mindful practice are less anxious and happier. And when we are less anxious we make better decisions and make for better company. 

Most of us… if not all of us… have no daily practice to speak of. Life just happens to us. As we journey alongside Philippians these past few weeks… I realized that I was this person who struggled to have a daily spiritual practice. I struggled to focus just for a few minutes. 

For us, spiritual and mindfulness practices are our wings, providing uplifting force against life's gravitational pull of struggles. Without nurturing our spiritual "wings" we become acutely aware of gravity's inescapable pull - the challenging realities and circumstances of life that can so easily ground us.

For the past couple of years, I have been off and on practicing Ignatian prayer. This daily prayer rhythm is centered on gratitude, deep self-awareness of our emotions, the struggles we carried, and the virtues we hoped to aspire to in those struggles. 

As I have practiced these past few weeks I am reminded of a few things. 1. Sometimes I go through the practice not moved but grateful that I did it. 

2. It is the long game, not the short game. 

3. This is about restoration and wholeness. The word Sabbath means rest, restoration, and change of rhythms. Engrained in Sabbath is that we are not the center of our lives... God is. 

Here is an Ignatian Practice you could take with you 

There are a myriad of other spiritual and mindfulness practices… I hope that you will make space in your life for a few quiet moments each day that will give you life. 

  • 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.

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