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Spiritual Formation

 
 

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Ideas to engage in works of piety:

  1. Engage in Prayer

    • Begin or end the day in prayer. Try this alone or with your spouse. If you want to establish a routine, set an alarm to remind yourself to pray. 

    • Form a community prayer group in the mornings, midday at work, in the evening, etc.

    • RESOURCE: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is a great resource for these practices. Available online and as a book, pocket edition book, and even an app!

    • RESOURCE: The Prayer of Examen is a great way to reflect on the day through prayer and meditation. Download a prayer card of the Examen here.

  2. Search Scriptures
    • Since this sermon series looks at the book of James, commit to read James during this series (and it’s only 5 chapters).
  3. Communion
    • Consider communion as also an opportunity to share a meal with a friend. Breaking bread together is an important part of discipleship. Can you think of ways to "communion meals" more regularly in your friendships, in addition to at the church?
  4. Fasting
    • Try fasting from electronics on Sundays for 4 hours throughout this series.
  5. Be in Christian Community
    • Ask someone to be your prayer partner or mentor.
    • Engage in a Sunday school class at Noel. 
  6. Engage in healthy living
    • Get up early to walk or exercise.
    • Commit to training with a friend for a 5K, 10K, or half marathon.
    • Eat more real food, rather than processed food products.
    • RESOURCE: Watch documentaries like Hungry for Change to learn more about food and nutrition.
    • RESOURCE: Consider following a hollistic health program like The Daniel Plan on your own or with your family/friends.
 
 

Social Justice

 
 

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ideas to engage in works of mercy:

Visit sick and those in prison

  • At Noel we have a care team, which visits or writes notes to those in the hospital and older homebound members. Email mmcdowell@noelumc.org for more information.
  • Connect with Kairos Prison Ministry: an ecumenical 3-day weekend for incarcerated adults. There are currently teams serving our incarcerated brothers & sisters at: Angola, LCIW (Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women), Winn Correctional, Wade Correctional, U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock & at theWashington Parish Institute. Contact Duane Denham at DDenham1@cox.net.
  • RESOURCE: Learn about the prison system in our state. Consider learning a bit of their stories and writing letters to death row inmates

Feed and clothe others

  • Spend some time in our food pantry, or shop for some items on the monthly list
  • Give money to the poor and to the church
  • Consider preparing small boxes or bags of food, water, maybe a small gift card, and/or hygiene supplies that you can keep in your car and have ready to offer people in need when you cross their path.

Peacemaking (Ending oppression and discrimination)

  • John Wesley challenged others to oppose slavery.
  • RESOURCE: Discover what your Slavery Footprint is and how you might help to reduce modern-day slavery by changing purchasing habits.
 
 

Relationships

 
 

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Cultivating Empathy

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3

Empathy allows us to imagine the thoughts, feeling and perspective of another.  It is what can allow us to remain connected & united, even in the midst of disagreement. Cultivating empathy can help us become better listeners who engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue.

 

When engaging in conversation, ask yourself:

  1. What does this person believe? Am I listening and accurately understanding them?
  2. Why does s/he believe it? How would I feel if I had her/his perspective?
  3. Where do we agree? What common questions are we asking? What values do we share?
  4. Based on all I’ve learned, how should I proceed? How I can I treat each person as a child of God?

Muehlhoff, T. (2014). I beg to differ: Navigating difficult conversations with truth and love. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

 

 “6 Habits of highly empathetic people” by Roman Krznaric

  1. Cultivate curiosity about strangers by asking about their life.
  2. Challenge prejudices you may have by spending time with the “other.”
  3. Try another persons life by spending a day doing their job, engaging in a new sport, or observing another religion.
  4. Listen hard and open up with your own emotions and experiences.
  5. Think beyond individuals to whole groups of people in our culture might be labeled as “other.”
  6. Develop an ambitious imagination by empathizing with your enemy.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_habits_of_highly_empathic_people1