The inspiring leaders highlighted here share an engaged contemplative lifestyle, and each with a unique twist on the faith filled mystic tradition. While they uphold mysticism, all are involved in the issues of the world and their faith communities. They believe in the power of prayer and inspire many.
By sharing these messages, my hope is that you, too, are inspired.
Marjorie J. Thompson is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA. She received her Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from Swarthmore College, and her Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. Following a post-graduate pastoral internship, she became a Research Fellow at Yale Divinity School where she studied Christian spirituality with Henri Nouwen and did independent research in ecumenical traditions of prayer.
Marjorie has served as adjunct faculty for several seminaries, including McCormick, Auburn, Wesley, and Vanderbilt Divinity School. She has taught in The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, and directed the foundational program for Stillpoint.
In 1996, Marjorie joined The Upper Room as Director of the Pathways Center for Spiritual Leadership, now called Pathways for Congregational Spirituality, and has served as chief architect of Companions in Christ.
January 4, 2022
Rediscovering the Fast
The very idea of intentionally being without it [food] for even a day may threaten some of the unconscious assumptions on which our lives are built. This is precisely why fasting remains so relevant for people of faith today. In a more tangible, visceral way than any other spiritual discipline, fasting reveals our excessive attachments and the assumptions that lie behind them. Food is necessary to life, but we have made it more necessary than God. How often have we neglected to remember God’s presence when we would never consider neglecting to eat! Fasting brings us face to face with how we put the material world ahead of its spiritual Source.
Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a descendant of two important Hasidic dynasties, was born in Warsaw, educated in Poland, taught in Germany, London and United States, and was considered by many to be a prophet’s prophet. He aimed, through his writing and teaching, to challenge modern people to be open to a renewed spiritual dimension and to engage the issues of the day with faith and moral fortitude. His timely writings liberated many and inspired a generation of faith and social leaders whose impact is felt today in the 21st century. His active role in the historic civil rights movement and peace movement of the 20th century created a unique and vital coalition for transformative social change agents.
January 4, 2022
Before Whom You Stand
To pray, then, means to bring God back into the world, to establish His kingship, to let His glory prevail. This is why in the greatest moments of our lives, on the Days of Awe, we cry out of the depth of our disconcerted souls, a prayer of redemption:
And so, Lord our God, grant Thy awe to all Thy works, and your dread to all Thou hast created, that all Thy works may fear Thee, and all who have been created prostrate themselves before Thee, and all form one union to do Thy will with a whole heart.
Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism
Barbara A. Holmes is a spiritual teacher, activist and scholar who stresses African American spirituality, mysticism, cosmology and culture. She has served as President Emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary. Prior to accepting the call to the ministry, she worked as an early childhood educator, a professional actor, and a corporate lawyer in Georgia, Florida and Texas. A gifted and profound speaker and lecturer, she says, “My life is committed to the struggle for justice, the healing of the human spirit, and the art of relevant radical creativity.
January 4, 2022
The Collective Freefall
During crisis contemplation, all the systems that we have put in place to undergird our fantasies collapse and we fall headlong, together, into the power of divine intention and the mystery of an inner and outer cosmos.
In the midst of a collective freefall, there is blessed darkness and an uncomfortably familiar fog that creeps over our state of shock like an enveloping enigma as old as the universe. We have tried, through our religious systems, to avoid this. We have glorified the light, made sacrifices to its heat, and yet, it is the darkness that welcome us when we finally let go.
It is alright to stop striving.
It is alright to grieve losses and then let go.
It is alright to withdraw from ordinary pursuits for a while.
It is alright to get out of the driver’s seat and sit in the back for a while.
It is alright to let the Spirit lead.
– Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Wounded Village