Monday, July 8, 2019

Holden Part 3 - Worship

"Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.” - Psalm 66:4

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! - Psalm 150:6

Part of the sacredness of Holden is the lifeblood and rhythm of worship.  Worship happens every day.  It is what grounds the village into anything else it does.  It is the core value that brings people together.  Worship heals the brokenhearted and fills those who come to interact with a living God.  Worship is never the same from one evening to the other.  

On one particular evening, Norah and I participated in the choir practice that would sing in worship that night.  It was a volunteer, spur of the moment, ragtag group of people who wanted to sing.  The choir director was from Southeast Wisconsin, who we had come to know in the village.   It was amazing to participate in something that was put together so quickly and so earnestly.  The piece chosen was a rendition of Bach's, on God's love.  It was really beautiful and we sang it in the middle of Holden Evening Prayer (known as Vespers 86' in the village).

One of the many reasons why we chose to come to Holden was to have time to worship as a family.  This meant intentionally changing the routines of our lives.  Worship was held at 7:30 every evening. That is known as bedtime in our household.

One of the most incredible experiences we participated in was Prayer Around the Cross.  It is a different type of healing service.  There is a huge cross that lays on the floor in the middle of the sanctuary.  It is normally hanging on the wall for other services.  Around the cross are different healing stations.  Several for individual prayer and lighting of candles.  The 4 corners of the cross are there for individuals who wish to have others pray over them.  Norah wanted me to go up with her so she could kneel at the corner station and be prayed over.  It was incredible to watch the community gather around my daughter and pray for her.  😢😢  After she was finished being prayed for she decided she was going to go lay hands on other people and pray for them.  Not just one or two of them.  EVERYTIME someone moved to a corner station Norah lept up from her seat and dashed to that person, lovingly laid hands on them, closed her eyes and prayed.  It was something we will never forget as a family.

On Sunday evening the village celebrates Holy Communion.  Not often do we as a family of 3 small children and 2 pastors ever get to be fed as a family around the table of our Lord.

And every evening the directors of the village welcome in the people arriving and ask those who are leaving the village the next day to stand and blesses them with a different blessing each night.  Worship at Holden Village is a remarkable pattern that life in the village breathes, lives, and sends out into the world.  In many ways the liturgical practices of gathering, word, meal, and sending take on different forms and always with different people.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Holden part 2 - learning

Part of being at Holden Village was taking advantage of educational opportunities. This was very much part of the rhythm I spoke of in part one. Becky and I listened to a pastor reflect on our relationship with God and our neighbors (people). This pastor then challenged us to consider the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain kills his brother Abel and asks God "Am I my brother's keeper?"

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.
Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! - Genesis 4:8-10

His premise is that we are raising up Cain rather than honoring Abel. Cain gave into his anger to kill his brother and did not see that he truly was his brother's keeper. As a country, we tend to lift up the Cain's of this world rather than the Abel's. For his part all we know about Abel was that he gave the Lord a pleasing sacrifice to God, the best of what he was blessed. That premise is worth listening and even reading more into. That challenging interpretation was not as challenging as the next. 

We then looked at the parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30. The usual stewardship sermon goes on to invite us not to be the one servant who did nothing with the talents (money) he was given. We uplift the other two servants who made their master money. This pastor challenged us to think differently about this parable. (Jesus gives no instruction on how to interpret this teaching.) What if Jesus is lifting up the servant who buried the money in the ground as a way of not participating in the system of slavery of his master? I love that he offered it to us as a 'What if" question. That is a challenge to how I have preached this passage before and how I have heard it taught.

On our final full day in the village we heard from a different teacher who offered us the idea of being learners/disrupters as followers of Jesus. He did so by reading the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Luke next to each other. The Gospel of Thomas is outside the Canon readings of Scripture and only recently found (1948).

Learning at Holden isn't just in the classroom, it found in the pottery and craft barn, it is found in the hiking of the surrounding nature, in the gardens, in the service to the community with odd jobs, it is found in the conversations around tables and Adirondack chairs, in the choir practices, and in worship.  Learning is a community value and was lived out by learning as a community.  Holden uplifts the practice of life long learning each day.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Holden Part 1 - creation

It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
 You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.

    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” -Isaiah 55:11-13
There is something about the mountains.  Holden Villiage is tucked into the Casade Mountains of Washington State.  As we journeyed along the lake to enter our time at Holden Villiage the mountains seem to embrace us with open arms.  It truly was an AWEsome experience.  My heart began to sing as we maneuvered our way up the lake.  When we arrived, a school bus and staff awaited us to bring us up the mountain.  We began the journey by going through nine switchbacks (hard hairpin turns).  Hey, no one said it would be easy getting to a remote village.

Mountaintop experiences are numbered throughout scripture.  From Moses' experience of God through the burning bush to Jesus' transforming before his disciples, mountaintop experiences are sacred times when God does something in the lives of normal everyday people.  Holden shares that sacred space with the people they welcome and send out every day.  Several people said with a blessing and a warning; "this place carries a different rhythm to life."  That was very much felt in our lives.  I can't remember times when Becky and I could just sit, stare at the 3 surrounding mountaintops, and share how Holden's different rhythm might change our lives when we come down the mountain.  That was enough to make me take my shoes off and recognize the sacred space this time of sabbatical has given me.

Holden Part 3 - Worship

"Everything on earth will  worship  you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs.” - Psalm 66:4 Let everyth...