Retreat #7 Sharon Garlough Brown, Mark 1:35-38 No. 35 / by Joshua Banner

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This winter has been intense, the church is struggling, our politics are a mess.

In episode 31 with Jonathan Wilson Hargrove, I suggest that prayer is deeply connected to our politics. I’ll leave you to work out those things for now. I am committing to small amounts of daily news and larger amounts of prayer for my neighbors near and far.

In terms of the church: I’m watching pastors resign their positions on a local level and reeling from the recent conviction of a high-ranking cardinal in the Catholic Church. I vividly understand the real discouragement with organized religion, yet even still I dare to hope. The Invitation exists to serve the church, to build up the body of Christ.

At home we’ve struggled here to get much of anything done with sickness and kids home from school on snow days. We have often feel trapped and then of course we easily get on each other’s nerves and angry with each other.

There are many things that could keep us from prayer. There are many things that could harden our hearts and close our hearts.

 How do you keep your heart connected to God’s warmth when the cold days are long and cruel? How do you hear the Good News when our public conversations are full of so much bad news?

Praying in the prison is my greatest subversive act of hope in our culture of despair. Prayer is rebellion against the status quo. I am buoyed with the goodness of finding love and patience, wisdom and kindness in the darkness of a prison.

Offering you prayer resources through the Invitation is another subversive act. I find great comfort and delight knowing that my practice of spiritual direction offered through the Invitation Podcast is invigorated by the movements of the Holy Spirit in a prison, and that this goodness is able to somehow reaching you wherever you are spread across the world.

I just looked. The Invitation has listeners in Austria, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and Peru among other places. It’s a small group, but the Spirit can do much with our small things.

This episode is a long-form retreat from our dear friend, retreat leader, spiritual director, and author, Sharon Garlough Brown. Conversation #3, episode No. 7 is a conversation with Sharon. This time she helps us consider the spiritual disciplines that Jesus practiced by walking us through Mark 1:35-38 in prayer and meditation. 

I pray that this audio retreat will help you live into and practice your own subversive acts of hope and joy. I pray there will be ripple effects of goodness and light all around you today.

Peace of Christ,