Seaking the Sacred Thread

Thanks to your generosity, we (Eldonna & Ann) were able to attend a retreat in Minneapolis last week.  “Seeking the sacred thread” was our theme for three days with Barbara Brown Taylor and John Philip Newell.   Through presentation, dialogue, prayer, silence, song and fellowship, we joined 200 others seeking to discern more deeply how the threads of the major religious traditions can touch and enrich each other.

Many of you will remember that Barbara Brown Taylor is the author of the book that focused our 2014 Lenten Sermon Series – Learning to Walk in the Dark. She engaged us last week in the idea of “Holy Envy: One Christian’s Encounter with the World’s Great Faiths.” Barbara says, "An occupational hazard of studying the world’s great religions is deciding that they are all superior to one’s own. Yet even after the adrenaline rush of “beginner’s mind” has eased up, it remains clear that one reason these religions are called “great” is because they have stood the test of time. Each of them offers the world a distinct way of seeing and responding to ultimate reality. Sometimes the envy leads admirers to become followers; other times it leads followers to explore their faith more deeply. Either way, its fruits are what make it holy, by leading people to become more instead of less."

John Philip Newell is well known for his writing and speaking on Celtic Spirituality. John Philip says, “The way we let go to love is the way God will be with us.” He challenged us to ask what the world in general, and Christianity in particular, would look like if the true depths of our sacredness were to come forth in radically new ways.

The idea of “seeking the sacred thread” is not that we are working to change anyone from one faith tradition to another, but that we love the neighbor and welcome the stranger in our midst as human beings created by a God of love for all. John Phillip noted that: “Every bush is burning. The gift is that Moses noticed.” Do we notice the presence of God in all those around us? How might we at First Congregational seek the sacred thread more fully?

Through her music, Sara Thomsen opened doors where multiple faiths could find sacred space. While her lyrics are beautifully written, she also has a rich, but gentle voice that brought a gift to our gathering. At one point, she led the group in four different phrases representing four faith traditions that we sang together. (Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian)

This kind of retreat is helpful to us personally because we are able to enter into a sacred learning environment. It stretches us, opens new doors to us, and allows us the opportunity to experience different ways to worship and learn. We hope to continue to share the wisdom of Barbara Brown Taylor and John Philip Newell with you over time. We also will be introducing the music of Sara Thomsen.

Because the members of the congregation encourage us to attend, we return with more enthusiasm to preach, teach and share our excitement. Thank you!

~ Eldonna Hazen & Ann Beaty


Posted on August 11, 2015 at 10:32 am in Featured Content.

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