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.
September 20, 2021
Approaches to Prayer
Prayer is a participation in willing God’s will. While God’s ultimate will cannot be thwarted, the strategy God uses to reach that goal may be infinitely variable. The prayers of committed people become part of the cosmic reality God has to work with. God can use them to “tip the balance” and change the shape of distorted realities in our world. It is not stretching the truth to say that God needs our prayers. Such is the dignity and purpose we have been given in the divine scheme of things!
Sacred 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.
September 20, 2021
Prayer Begins Where Expression Ends
In a sense, prayer begins where expression ends. The words that reach our lips are often but waves of an overflowing stream touching the shore. We often seek and miss, struggle and fail to adjust our unique feelings to the patterns of texts. The soul can only intimate its persistent striving, the riddle of its unhappiness, the strain of living twixt hope and fear. Where is the tree that can utter fully the silent passion of the soul? Words can only open the door, and we can only weep on the threshold of our incommunicable thirst after the incomprehensible.
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.
When the Crisis Is Personal
I can’t say with certainty, because I also am still on the journey, but I know from my own life experience that each personal crisis nudges us toward greater faith, greater resilience, and even greater compassion. This is not the way that humans prefer to learn, but to live with and through each crisis may be a divine gift with long-reaching effects.
Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Wounded Village