During holy seasons of the year, I like to share potential practices to get us in touch with the time of the year and what it teaches.
In the Christian year, we enter the time of Pentecost, in which Christians remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out through all creation as the one the Creed calls “the Lord and Giver of Life” and whom Scripture pictures as the mothering presence of God in which life wakes up in images like the Spirit appears as a brooding mother dove resting upon Jesus in his baptism in Luke 4, and the special way this Spirit moves in and with individual people of faith, calling them to action and growth, and knitting them into community.
This season is also the year of National LGBT Pride month. Though not all traditions treat this time of year as holy — and in fact some Christian traditions question if gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other “queer” folks can in fact be vessels of God’s presence, the progressive Christian tradition which I call home celebrates LGBT and queer folks as bearers of God’s image. As such, I think it is appropriate to also spend time in prayer practices which get us in touch with the spirituality found in the open and affirming movements in Christianity which celebrate LGBTQ people.
To this end I hope in future posts to share reflections old and new on the life of the Spirit, as well as celebrating LGBTQ people of faith in our communities.
In my own spiritual practice, I find taking time daily to meditate on and pray through Sacred texts a practice that helps me center, both letting go of stress in ways that open me to the “broad place in which there is no cramping” the Psalms picture being where the Spirit can be felt and known and also in opening up to the Spirit in the many ways She speaks, acts, guides, sets free, creates within me and others.
To this end, I want to share some texts I find helpful meditating on, and invite you both to share your own, while also joining me in this journey of prayerful reconnection with God. I think you will find yourself opening up to the Spirit’s presence in fresh ways in your life. I think, too, whether or not you identify as LGBTQ or, like me, hopelessly cisgender and straight, you will find reflecting on texts of queer liberation as also helping you reconnect with your sense of being formed, shaped, and made in the image of Christ just as you are.
Here is how I engage in this practice, if you would like to join me:
First I center in my body by beginning to take deep breaths in and out, both holding that breath for a moment, and paying attention to the sensation of the breath itself. I then do a quick body skin, paying attention as I breathe to how I feel in various parts of my body from head to toe, while also paying attention to the emotions I am feeling in the moment.
When I have done this and it feels complete, I then say all or part the Scripture in rhythm with my breath, one word at a time. So for the saying from Scripture “I am the resurrection and the life” in John 11, I would begin saying “I” a few times, and then “I am” a few. Then I would add “the”, following “resurrection” and so forth. While I do this, as I say each word I pay attention to my thoughts, feelings, imagination, and sensation.
If a feeling arises, I sit with it. If something seems important – perhaps an idea about my life, a sense of calling, a sense of concern about something in my life – I will talk to God in everyday words about it, like I do to a friend. If I remember some experience I had that connects, or some person going through something related to this word, I then say sit with them in my awareness and, if it feels appropriate, say some words of prayer either in gratitude or request – perhaps for discernment about how to move forward with the situation, or for God to touch that person in a special way.
Then when I have worked through the whole prayer, I sit in awareness of the experience. As I do so I pay attention to what feelings of call remain either to hold something in deeper awareness throughout the day, to reach out in care for another person, to live a more whole life in some way, or to engage in some new (or renewed) action or commitment. Even the sense to continue what I am already doing, but with more encouragement or awareness can flow from this experience.
I hope as you engage in this practice yourself, you do the same.
Please as you continue your journey of the Spirit, feel free to share what practices (including this one) you engage in and how you are affected.
Blessings on your journey!
Your progressive redneck preacher,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on that One—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and they will delight in the fear of the Lord.
the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
The Spirit has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of God’s splendor.
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord.
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.
“Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
But when the Spirit of truth, comes, the Spirit will guide you into all the truth. The Spirit will not speak on the Spirit’s own; the Spirit will speak only what the Spirit hears, and the Spirit will tell you what is yet to come.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The commandments… are summed up in this one decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.
Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
“I am only a dry tree.”
For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”