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  • Storied Church

Sabbath and Intentional Gratitude

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. 


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