Listening to the Spirit
In light of the pandemic and a confluence of other issues (e.g., renewed urgency to respond to racial injustice, housing inequity, economic uncertainty, climate crisis) we are seeking to come together as a church body to discern what timely values might help us pursue God’s dream of shalom in this extraordinary season. To do this, we are inviting the church (members and non-members) to enter into a 4-month season of prayer, conversation, and discernment in the context of small groups. In times of uncertainty and change, it is helpful to root ourselves in spiritual practices that have sustained the faithful throughout history while also listening to the Spirit’s invitation to the church today. It is a season to root ourselves in the sacred soil of our tradition, to prune dead or unhealthy branches, and to stretch forward into fresh ways of following Jesus.
Learning to listen to the Spirit in small groups begins with learning to listen on our own. Prayer helps us become attentive to God in our daily life and although many of us have been told to pray, few of us have been taught how to pray. Over the course of this four-month period, we are inviting everyone to participate in a ten-minute prayer routine during the week on their own. You may want to begin by trying the prayer liturgy three times a week. The liturgy we have created includes a combination of written prayers, extemporaneous prayer, and a time to simply sit in the presence of Jesus. By no means are these the only ways to pray. This liturgy is simply meant to help us during a season in which some may find it hard to pray. If you find it helpful, use it. If not, that’s totally ok. It’s important to be gentle with ourselves and to utilize spiritual supports that work well for us.
On Wednesday, September 23 at 7:00 pm Pastor Lee hosted a Zoom session to introduce the prayer routine, teach about prayer, and provide an opportunity to practice together. The teaching is accessible below.
OVERVIEW OF SESSIONS
From September – December we invite all who identify Cedar Park as their home church (members and non-members) to join a small group. Each group will journey together through seven sessions of intentional conversation, prayer, and discernment. Below is a brief summary of the process.
1 (September) – Building Community
In this session, each group will begin to form a safe environment within which to share and discern together. This will include forming community agreements, acknowledging social location, storytelling, and sharing hopes/fears for the seven-week process.
2 (October) – Looking Back
In this session, groups will have the opportunity to reflect on the journeys that brought them into the community of CPC as well as what the church has meant to them. This will include storytelling, identifying our current strange, unique context as well as acknowledging, appreciating and even grieving the different ministries of Cedar Park.
3 (October) – Vision Moving Forward
In this session, each group will spend time imagining and dreaming about what God’s vision of shalom might look like where we find ourselves today. This will include a review and reflection on the 4-fold relationships of shalom (with God, ourselves, others and creation) and an opportunity to share dreams of how shalom might find expression in our current context (personal, church, South Delta and beyond).
4 (November) – The Values We Hold
In this session, groups will develop an understanding of what values are, and will be invited to have each member evaluate their personal values. There will be a time of sober reflection and sharing as groups work together to determine whether stated values align with how lives are being lived. This will include a hands-on activity as well as an opportunity to focus on the values that Jesus holds in a particular passage of Scripture.
5 (November) – Values of Cedar Park Church
In this session, groups will use their understanding of values from the previous session to discuss what values can help us, hold us and inform our models and programming at Cedar Park. This will include a charge for each group to discern and develop 3-5 core values for CPC and to go further and provide energizing questions that flesh out those values. Example Value – Hospitality with an energizing question of “whose voices are missing from our conversations?”
6 (December) Focusing Our Values
In this session, groups will begin the practical work of allowing the chosen values from Session 5 to influence and give direction to a time of visioning and dreaming about how the Cedar Park building and land could be used. This will include guiding questions and conversation about current use, if the chosen values are being reflected, and how, moving forward, things could be done differently to align more closely with the chosen values.
7 (December) Reflection and Next Steps
In this final session, groups will be given an opportunity to celebrate the journey they’ve been on together, as well as reflect on the process in which they have participated. This will include a prayerful examen, discussion of next steps with respect to the discernment and visioning process, as well as determining if, as a group, they would like to continue gathering and in what capacity.
PARTICIPATING IN A GROUP
All our groups have been formed and are currently meeting at this time. For those who could not commit to attending the 7 sessions, we will be offering several stand-alone sessions. Sunday, November 29th, 4-5:30pm and Tuesday, December 1st, 8-9:30pm.
WHO – This is the time for all of us, whether newer or well-acquainted; disconnected or connected; non-member or founder, to lean into each other’s stories to discern the Spirit’s movement together. Across all ages and stages, our need for each other and the Spirit’s guidance is palpable, perhaps now more than ever.
WHEN – New groups and current Life Groups will embark on this journey together for the next four months. Each group will meet once in September and twice in October, November, and December, respectively. Given the unknowns of this season, and the effect of our process, there may be continuation into the new year.
WHERE – Groups of around 8 people will allow for flexibility in meeting location. Some will gather in person and some online. In person gatherings will be mindful of COVID-19 protocols, meeting outdoors or in a larger indoor space, like our shared building.
HOW – Gathering in the age of COVID-19 requires clear communication and flexibility. New groups will be formed based on our availability and online/in-person preference.
Facility, room booking
- Meeting outside or in a large indoor space is advised to allow for 6 feet spacing
- If meeting in a backyard or outdoor area:
- Have a bathroom protocol
- Take attendance, in the event that contact tracing is needed
- If meeting in Cedar Park’s building:
- Arrange room booking with Sophia, who will provide further instructions
- Email email@example.com
- Phone 604.946-7410 Mon.-Thurs. 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Arrange room booking with Sophia, who will provide further instructions
- If meeting in the CPC facility please review the COVID-19 guidelines linked below.
BEING A FACILITATOR
To allow for church-wide participation, we require a few more facilitators to guide groups. More than anything else, facilitators must be willing to foster a safe and trusting environment for meaningful engagement. Resources, some training and assistance in group formation will be available. Contact Darren with any facilitator questions.
Facilitator Training Dates (the same training is being offered twice)
Wednesday, September 16th @ 11am – 12pm
Zoom Meeting ID: 891 7723 1472
Monday, September 21st @ 8pm – 9pm
Zoom Meeting ID: 832 1389 7801
Sunday, October 18 @ 11:45am
Sunday, November 15 @ 11:45am
Sunday, December 13 @ 11:45am
Zoom Meeting ID: 815 5881 2640
Songs for Discernment & Pilgrimage
God is calling us down and forth. In this season of change, may these tunes alert us to the Spirit’s movement within and without, and help us to root and stretch as the Arbutus tree.
In the beginning of the book of Acts we find the disciples huddled together during an uncertain time. The Spirit of God blessed their prayerful waiting in an unexpected way bringing both comfort and challenge. As Jesus’ followers today we look forward to gathering together to listen for what the Spirit might be saying to us at this time.
Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Cedar Park Leadership Team if you have any questions about this listening initiative.