Have you ever felt that there just had to be more to life than getting up, going to work (or school), coming home, eating, watching some TV (or YouTube or playing some video games), doing some housework (or some homework) and going to sleep only to get up and do the same thing again the next day? Have you thought, even after a good vacation or some time off, is this all there is? Perhaps you’ve left a worship service thinking that the music was great and it was good to see people and share in Holy Communion, but isn’t there more to connecting
with God, to having a relationship with God like so many people talk about?
    On the one hand we all have so much. Even in these crazy days of the pandemic, we have many blessings. We have clean running water, warm places to sleep, vehicles to drive, food and medical care and many other things. We have a church community that, though imperfect, cares for us and makes a difference for good in the world. Even though we have not been able to get together in-person, we have services on
YouTube, Bible Study and other meetings on Zoom, and even old- fashioned phone calls. We have much for which we can be grateful. And
much of the time we are grateful. But when we look at our lives, and especially our spiritual lives, many of us can’t help but think, “There must be more.” Maybe the pandemic has made us think this even more.  Whether the pandemic has given us more time to think or made us even busier, we might be asking, “Is there more to life than meets the eye?”
    If that describes you on some days, I’ve got good news for you.  There is more. There are ways to deepen your relationship with God so that God becomes more real and the rest of life becomes more blessed.  If you are thinking, “There must be more,” that is a great start!  Change
starts with desire. If a person doesn’t want to change, chances are he or she won’t change.  But if you have the desire to know God more deeply, you have already begun. As Thomas Merton, the great mystic prayed, “[T]he fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.”
    Over the centuries, the Church has taught many exercises that help us receive God’s grace.  There are also some modern ways that
people have discovered to be life-giving. As we do these practices, the change in our lives is the result of God’s love and God’s presence. There
is no technique that we can implement that will make us more spiritual.  But there are practices that we can do that help us be more open to God working in us and more likely to see God at work.
    One of these practices is contemplative prayer. I know I talk about contemplative prayer a lot.  I talk about it because it is something that I and others I know have been doing for quite a few years now, and we have seen the benefits. One description of contemplative prayer is that it is time in silence with God. It is like those times when you are sitting with your spouse, your child, your sibling, your grandparent or your friend when there is no need for words.  You are just enjoying each other’s presence and that is enough. Contemplative prayer is taking a break from the noise of the world and the noise of our own thoughts to spend some time with the living God.  It is not easy! It takes time and commitment, but it is also a gift from God. A regular practice of contemplative prayer changes a person, helps a person sense God more and helps one look at the world in a way that reveals more beauty. If you are interested in contemplative prayer, you are welcome to check out the Living by the Spirit group which during this time of social distancing is
meeting via Zoom every Thursday at 7:30 PM.
    Another way that some people have found more connection with God and a deeper understanding of who God created them to be is through the enneagram. The enneagram is a theory of personality types used by people in the Christian community and outside it to gain more self-understanding. The increased self-understanding helps us interact with others in healthier and more authentic ways, and it helps us connect with God as well. We have all internalized many false messages about ourselves. The enneagram helps us cut through the clutter and see ourselves as the people God created us to be. The nine personality types of the enneagram give insights into our strengths as well as our weaknesses. If this sounds interesting to you, please contact me. There a couple people in the congregation who have some familiarity with this tool.
    Whether you are busier than you have ever been or more bored than you have ever been, you have the opportunity to discover more about God, more about yourself, and more about how God interacts with the world. God is always inviting us to more – more love, more life, more
connection. Is there more? Based on my limited experience, I can say, “Yes!” And I invite you to discover this truth for yourself.

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