Find joy during Advent's second week

Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,

Happy St. Nicholas Day! Dec. 6 is the day on the liturgical calendar when we remember St. Nicholas. Some people use St. Nicholas/St. Nick interchangeably with Santa Claus. Ever wonder why? Check out the video linked to the Middleway Facebook group page to get some of the background along with some ideas about how to incorporate a little of St. Nick's traits into your Advent season.

Our Advent offerings continue as we enter the second of four weeks leading up to Christmas. If your calendar starts to feel a little overwhelming, find a quiet spot in your home or office and check out any or all of our offerings to help make this season more meaningful. In addition to our regular schedule of daily prayer and centering, we have added weekly mediations, and a devotional for children. Plus, who doesn't need a wonderful retreat about now? Gift yourself one hour of time to attend our Soul Care Sunday Advent Retreat set for Dec. 13, 3-4 p.m. You'll find helpful information about it below.

Read about these and other special options below. Make a note to check them out on our Facebook group page or website.

Children's Advent devotional begin

Each Sunday through Advent as the children in your family start to settle down to prepare for the coming week, introduce them to a special series of weekly devotionals written and led by Dr. Heidi Campbell. At 4 p.m., Campbell gathers children on the Facebook group page to share an Advent story and encourage them to think about the spiritual side of the season leading up to Christmas. The first one is already posted, and you can visit it with the kids in your life as convenient this week.

Meditations offered on the weekly themes of Advent

Our special Advent meditation series has begun. Dr. Amy Thompson guides participants each Sunday at 5 p.m. on the theme of the week. Today's meditation, the second week of Advent, is about peace. It is available throughout the coming week. The following two weeks before Christmas will be about joy and love.

Book club continues on Tuesdays

On Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., Middleway's book club continues the study of "Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety," by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen, who passed away in 1996, penned this as a series of lectures when he was in the deepest despair of his life. These talks were collected and published in 2019 for the first time. Everyone is welcome to join in the discussion, and it's easy to catch up if you missed part of this book. We talk about one chapter per week, so it's low pressure, and there are lots of great insights we glean from each other. This week: Chapter 5. The final book club meeting, and the conclusion of the book, will be Dec. 15. The next book will be announced soon, and the group will begin meeting again after the holidays.

Plan come on Zoom at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86289918385?pwd=SjcwUW5NMlZnWUtlNFFYd01waVZzUT09 Meeting ID: 862 8991 8385 Passcode: 164675 OR find your local number to dial in: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdizMlCaXm

Soul Care Advent Retreat set for Dec. 13

The Soul Care Sabbath Advent Retreat is an opportunity for a one-hour check-in with a spiritual director as a guide for some meaningful reflection with others via Zoom.

The Zoom link will open at 2:45 pm. Register at the link -- https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMpc-ivrTgiE9OYzTKn1pjn56bYXO7VRkVn

Soul Care Sabbath Advent Retreat leader Aneya Elbert said the event from 3-4 p.m. offers:

  • A time to make space to listen to your longings.

  • Contemplative prayer.

  • Rest, stillness, and silence.

  • Space to express your own voice through art & creativity.

  • The gift of spiritual friendship.

Email Aneya.kay@gmail.com for questions about the retreat.

Elbert suggests participants "will want to set your space and check your technology Before we meet online."

1. Set your device someplace where you don’t have to hold it for an hour such as a desk or a table. You may want to find a place that’s secluded from interruptions for an hour.

2. It might be helpful to use headphones. This would especially be considerate if you are not alone. You would respect the privacy of other participants.

3. Dress in comfortable clothing.

4. Surround yourself with things for comfort such as a cup of something warm such as tea and water. You may want to light a candle.

5. Bring a journal or some paper, something to write with, and some colored pencils or markers.

6. Charge your device or have the charger close at hand.

How to enter into the stillness:

1. Plan ahead. Be ready ahead of time. Perhaps go for a walk before we start or spend some time outside.

2. Sitting in front of a computer screen is not normally a place where we enter into prayer. Before we start, begin quieting yourself and pray.

Soul Care participants agree to follow the Respectful Communication from The Kaleidoscope Institute:

R = take RESPONSIBILITY for what you say and feel without blaming others.

E = use EMPATHETIC listening.

S = be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles.

P = PONDER what you hear and feel before you speak.

E = EXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions.

C = keep CONFIDENTIALITY.

T = TRUST ambiguity because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong.

How to Visit Middleway Urban Monastery

If, for whatever reason, you feel "spiritual but not religious," or you no longer have a church or you are just "done" with organized religion, no worries. We do not ask you to join the FB group page in order to participate. Just come to the monastery online as often as you want. We're about providing you space to seek hope, comfort and peace as you explore ways of experiencing God’s love. You're a "member" if you are receiving this newsletter. All are welcome, so share as you like.

Imagine our Facebook public group page as a physical building. When you enter our URL, facebook.com/groups/TheMiddlewayUrbanMonastery, it is like opening the door of a physical building, because you will find all that is offered there.

Likewise, you can come to our website and explore the offerings, including links to our Twitter and Instagram accounts, if you like those formats and want to follow.

For the time being, our monastery is online only. We plan to eventually offer a physical space in Bryan, Texas. Even then, however, we will continue to offer our prayer times, meditations, centering, contemplation and various workshops and retreats online and led by spiritual directors and leaders around the Bryan-College Station, Texas area. Participants are welcome from around the world.

If you know others who would like to "join," ask them to subscribe to our weekly newsletter by going to https://www.middlewayurbanmonastery.org/contact and entering their email address at the Subscribe button on the lower right.

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