In today’s blog, we explore the topic of “Contemplative Worship” and “Contemplative Community” as a complement to our traditional western forms of worship and church.
Coming to Fruition
On Sunday, January 8, 2012, Authentic Freedom Ministries will start offering a Sunday worship service, manifesting a vision that has been nearly 20 years in the making. What will set these worship services apart from traditional worship is that it will be rooted in sound spiritual formation and focused on the contemplative journey of the individuals in attendance. In other words, those who participate will not be told about God, they will not be told what to believe based on someone else’s experience of the Divine, or by an institution’s dogma or doctrine, instead, they will be given tools through which they can come to KNOW God – to know God in a deeply intimate and personal way that is unique to their own life experience and to their own unique giftedness and call. They will be empowered to know the Divine that resides within their own hearts as the source of Truth, Guidance, Comfort, Healing, Love, Compassion, Peace, Joy, Mercy, Justice and Empowerment. In coming to KNOW the Divine that lives within, we are healed of the fears and false perceptions that prevent us from remembering love…specifically, the love that we are. When we remember this love, we are free to know peace and joy and to discover, cultivate and share our own unique giftedness so that we can experience the fulfillment that is intended to be known in the human journey.
Speaking of Love
After years of trying to figure out how to describe the work and the ministries that I offer, it seems I have found the words. My job, the work that I do, is all directed toward helping my clients, students, readers, etc. REMEMBER THE LOVE THAT YOU ARE. And it turns out that it is through sound spiritual formation, combined with contemplative practices that we remember this love. This is another one of those things that will set apart the worship, along with the expanded offerings of spiritual formation (more on that later). Departing from the Western model of religious formation that begins with the idea that there is something inherently wrong with us (ie: original sin), and that there is a formula by which we strive to re-earn God’s love and approval so that we can know eternity in heaven, we discover instead that there is NOTHING WRONG with us. In fact, EVERYTHING about us is good, benevolent, loving, kind, peaceful and filled with joy. The problem is not that we “sinned” – but that we forgot. Through sound spiritual formation and engagement in contemplative spiritual practices, we REMEMBER We are inspired (like Jesus and other spiritual masters) to identify the fears that keep us from remembering this love, we allow these fears to be healed and we are restored to the recollection of our natural state which is love. From this perspective, we don’t follow the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes just because we are told to do so, instead, a virtuous life flows effortlessly and naturally out of the knowledge that we are love. Rosaries are said because they help our minds quiet so that we can connect with God, not to earn indulgences that will buy our way out of purgatory. Service is done because love naturally flows outward….not because we are expected to do “Good works” to earn God’s favor. Providing a foundation of spiritual formation that encourages contemplative practice allows the human spirit to blossom into the fullness of its natural magnificence….AND we come to know heaven on earth.
A Word on Traditional Worship
“In this model, is there still a place for traditional worship?” you may ask. In a nutshell….you bet! As I observed while working as a Lay Minister in the Catholic Church, Religious Formation (as we experience through the Catechism, study of theology, scripture, etc. and in attending the mass) is necessary for those who choose a specific set of beliefs and desire to live that in community. Traditional worship provides the Yang to the Yin of Spiritual Formation. Traditional worship gives us form, structure, ritual that allows us to live our beliefs in a public forum. In my opinion, the healthiest, most balanced of religious institutions would provide equal opportunities for both. Unfortunately, most Western religious institutions aren’t there yet, hence the vision and ministry of Authentic Freedom Ministries – providing opportunities for men, women and children to balance the religions of the mind with the Divine in their heart.
Where have you been given opportunities to KNOW not just about God but to actually KNOW God in your heart?
Where have you learned and explored opportunities for contemplative practice?
Where do you find the balance between the traditional religious experience and spiritual formation?
Authentic Freedom Ministries