Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spiritual Practices

Spiritual practices are an important part of youTheology. We use them to frame our day and call to mind God’s work and presence among us, to prayerfully reflect on the day as it draws to a close, journal, and to allow intentional Sabbath time when youth are able to come apart for a couple hours to more fully experience God’s grace. These practices are an adapted form of the Liturgy of the Hours in which the day begins, is punctuated with and ends with communal prayers; the Examen, which is a process of self-examination done in the framework of a small group; journalling which is prayerful, reflective writing and more of a solitary activity; and Sabbath time which gives the opportunity for other spiritual practices such as the Labyrinth and Lectio Divino.

Through these practices, young people in youTheology have a greater awareness of God, are better able to recognize God in the totality of life, and grow closer to God. Sabbath time is particularly impactful as they connect with and experience God in new and deeper ways. OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook speaks of spiritual practices this way: “Spiritual practices offer young people concrete ways to participate in an ancient tradition of faith, while simultaneously creating space for holy encounters that are immediate, personal, and transformative . . .” Dean 2010,76. This is a way of saying that what these religious exercises give young people are concrete ways of sharing in age-old rites. At the same time that this is happening, a place that is in the moment has been made in which young people can meet the sacred. The space has intimacy and results in deep change. We do notice, in youTheology that young people see God and others differently after engaging in spiritual practices. They become more aware of God in the everyday of life.

The spiritual practices we offer in youTheology also remind us that we belong to a tradition that predates us, and that even predates Methodism. It is good for us to be aware that we are part of the Church Universal and that Christians in every age have called upon the Lord, and developed ways of more fully living into God’s grace. We follow in their steps.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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