Sanctity of Human Life Month

Sanctity, n: Holiness; state of being sacred or holy. God attributes no sanctity to place. Milton.
2. Goodness; purity; godliness; as the sanctity of love; sanctity of manners. 3. Sacredness; solemnity; as the sanctity of an oath. (Webster, 1828)


As we continue in Sanctity of Human Life month, let us remember that every one of us is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Every human being bears it—the unborn child, the mother who just found out she’s pregnant and is scared, the elderly man on the street, and the young man on Wall Street. Those who look like us bear the image of God and those who don’t look like us bear the image of God. Same for those of a different economic class, race, or political persuasion.The list continues on and on.

There is a thread that weaves throughout all of today’s human rights movements, making them more alike than they may appear at first glance. Ending human trafficking, racial reconciliation, women’s rights, and the rights of the unborn—these issues matter because people matter. The image of God matters. How we are led to engage with them may vary greatly among the Body, but may we never close our eyes to injustice upon life.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
(Psalm 139: 13–16 ESV)

Liturgical Audit

A liturgical audit (or habit inventory) is simply an honest account of how you are spending your time during the week. The goal is not to foster comparison or shame, but to help you see the habits and rhythms that are shaping you, and to consider what they reveal about your values and desires.

WRITE: Make a list of your time spent during the week.

  • Write down what you do in the morning, during the day, and in the evening. Include the first and last things you do every day.
  • Write down how much time you spend on each activity, including the small things (time spent sleeping, getting ready for the day, on your phone, watching TV, getting kids ready, preparing & eating meals, exercising, time with Jesus, commuting, podcasts, time with friends, etc.)
  • Consider how frequently or infrequently you incorporate various activities. Consider how your weekend habits are different than weekdays.

CONSIDER: Consider your daily and weekly habits and write down some observations.

  • What is encouraging or discouraging about your habits?
  • What do they reveal about your values and desires?
  • How might these things be forming you, your family, or your community?
  • Are these things cultivating a deeper love for Jesus and for His calling in your life?

PRAY: Talk to Jesus about what you are seeing and feeling about these things.

  • Remember that Jesus loves you and is inviting you into deeper communion with him and a more meaningful life.
  • Ask Him if there are habits that should change in some way?
  • Tell Him about what feels challenging.
  • Ask Him for help as you continue to try to orient your life around His presence with you.

DISCUSS: Take time to talk about your observations and thoughts with a friend, spouse, or people in your Gospel Community.

Christmas Morning Resources

The purpose of this blog is to give you as a family and/or community of friends some ideas to read, pray, and sing as you celebrate Christmas together. Use and arrange the different elements as they are helpful for your context.

The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day are the season of Advent. The aim of Advent is to create longing for the coming of Christ. Christmas Day and the season of Christmastide (the twelve days following Christmas) are intended to celebrate the glorious reality that Jesus has come to us in the incarnation and to teach our hearts to long for him to return! In short, Christmas is the celebration that Advent builds up to—and here we are!

Feasting on good food, gathering with loved ones, and exchanging gifts are all appropriate ways to celebrate this beautiful truth; they are each a small and imperfect reminder of the God who has perfectly come to save His people—and who will one day come again.


Here are three possibilities:

  1. Before you open gifts, consider reading through Luke 2:1–20 together and talking about what stood out. For those with kids, ask them questions about what they heard and what stood out.
  2. Pick and read one of the Christmas stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible. There are three accounts: “He’s Here!” (pg 176) tells the nativity account from Luke 1-2. “The Light of the Whole World” (pg 184) tells the story of the shepherds from Luke 2. “The King of All Kings” (pg 192) provides an account of the story of the Three Wise Men from Matthew 2.
  3. Read a fun Christmas morning liturgy. Common Rule created two superb Christmas morning liturgies, an adult version and one designed to be read with kids (it involves hot chocolate and marshmallows!). Click here for the adult version and here for the one that includes kids.


Here are three different ways to pray:

Pray prayers of gratitude.

  • Thank God for anything that stood out in the story from Luke as you read it.
  • Think about the last year. What are one or two things that you are thankful for?
  • Thank God for particular friends or family members

Pray prayers of petition.

  • Pray for those experiencing their first Christmas without a particular loved one.
  • Pray for those who are homeless, hungry, and/or physically suffering.
  • Pray for restoration in relationships that are challenging.
  • Pray that the Church in Denver and in other communities around the world will thrive.
  • Pray that people who do not know the love of Christ trust in Him this season.

Pray from “The Valley of Vision.”

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds, and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father,
place me with ox, donkey, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born Child to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that He is mine and I am His.
In Him Thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more.
(From “Gift of Gifts” in The Valley of Vision)


We’ve provided you with a playlist of some classic Christmas hymns and songs. You are welcome to either sing along to these songs or just have this playing in the background as you open gifts!

Joy To The World (Joyful Joyful) by Phil Wickham
Hark The Herald Angels Sing by Sandra McCracken
The First Noel by Shane & Shane
O Little Town of Bethlehem by Bifrost Arts Music
O Holy Night by Heck Ya The Halls
Silent Night by Hillsong Worship
What Child Is This? by Sleeping At Last


10 Questions To Ask At Your Christmas Gathering by Donald Whitney
Need a few questions to get some conversational juices flowing? Try this for a few aids!

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas by Joe Carter
Read 9 interesting facts about Christmas that you may not have known!

The Christian Year: Christmastide
Click here for some music, visual art, and prayers tied to the Christmas season. Listen to the song about the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Look at the artwork and consider what it teaches you about Christmas. Pray the prayers made available.

Merry Christmas!

Advent Weekly Practices—Week Four: Listening Prayer

Our fourth and final weekly practice for this year’s season of Advent is called listening prayer. This practice can be integrated into your regular times of prayer or last week’s practice of the Daily Office.

Depending on your background, the term “listening prayer” may seem like an oxymoron. If prayer is, by simple definition, conversation and communion with God, then it will naturally have elements of both speaking and listening. However, many of us in our faith journey have stumbled into an understanding (at least behaviorally) that prayer is primarily about us speaking; about us asking for things. We pray when we’re in need. We ask God for health, safety or protection. Perhaps we remember to thank Him for something once in a while. And yet, that’s not how conversation or communion works—we see this in Scripture and we know this from our interpersonal relationships.

Think of your closest relationships with other people. When you grab coffee or lunch with a good friend, there will be ebbs and flows in the conversation. Give and take. Speaking and listening. Yes, some conversations will be lopsided, but in order to know and be known (communion), there must be elements of both. We all have that friend that never asks a single question. That’s called a monologue, not a conversation. (And, if you’re not sure who that friend is, you might just be that friend).

If our Christian faith is not so much a “religion as it is a relationship” (as we’ve loved to say), then why would we treat our relationship with God so differently than our human relationships? Why would we default to one-way conversations where we dump our list of requests on Him and then quickly move on? Try that in a dating relationship and see how it goes.

What if our goal in prayer was communion? To be known and to know? What if we could hear and know the voice of God in addition to our voices toward Him?

Jesus seems to assume that all of His disciples will hear and know the voice of God. In John 10, He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (v. 27). Like sheep who hear and follow the voice of their shepherd, we have been given access as Christians to be able to hear and follow the voice of Jesus. He affirms: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (v. 14).

These words from Jesus aren’t an anomaly in the Bible. Throughout the entirety of Scripture, from Adam and Eve in Eden (Gen. 3) to prophecies for the coming of the Spirit (Joel 2), to the early church (Acts 11, Acts 21, 1 Corinthians 14), we see the ability of the people of God to hear and understand the voice of God. Some audibly hear a voice; others have dreams, prophetic words, divine insight, wisdom, leadings or promptings.

Obviously, God has also graciously given us the ability to hear from Him directly by reading the Bible. Scripture is the authoritative Word of God, and by reading it we have the opportunity to listen to Him. And yet we’re also called to abide and communicate with God Himself (John 15). Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit will “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). We can fully trust the Word of God and still listen for the Holy Spirit to speak to us today in our various contexts.

What if the Spirit of God wants us to teach us or remind us of something today? What if God is speaking more often than we realize? What if we sometimes miss His voice by filling our lives with distraction and noise? What would He say if we slowed down and asked Him to speak?

We have before us an invitation to slow down, stop talking, and actually listen. Like Week One’s practice of the prayer of silence, it takes a lot of intentionality in our day to spend time listening for God’s voice. Read on for some practical application and tips for listening as individuals, households, and Gospel Communities:


While this practice may feel foreign or difficult to engage with at first, the concept is as simple as it sounds: listening prayer is about stopping, quieting our hearts (and often our surroundings), and listening for God’s kind voice.

Like other spiritual disciplines, it’s helpful to make a plan to incorporate it into your life—especially if your default disposition in prayer is to “monologue.” If you’re already engaging with prayer during the day or the Daily Office this season, a simple place to start is to devote five minutes of that prayer time to listening. It can be helpful to begin by reading a portion of Scripture or a Psalm before quieting down. Then, pray that God would silence any noise or competing voices. Next, ask Him a simple question like, “Father, is there anything you’d like to speak to me right now?”

At this point, begin to spend time listening and paying attention to what’s brought to mind. If it’s clearly a distracted or contrived thought, simply release that thought to God and return your attention to listening to Him. Your laundry can wait, that text message isn’t that important, and so on. Give yourself grace for distraction—that’s normal. If you think you’re hearing something from God, you may want to write it down in a journal. He may remind you of a Scripture or song, give you an encouragement for yourself or someone else, give you an image or a vision of something, etc. He is creative and will choose how He wants to speak to you. However, settle it in your heart beforehand that even if you don’t hear something specific, silence before God in His presence is always time well spent!

Most of us who are less familiar with this practice will be asking the question, “how do I know if I’m hearing from God or just making something up?” This can certainly be a genuine and difficult question to answer, but we have a few guidelines that can help us discern between God’s voice and other voices. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 calls us to not despise prophetic utterances (words from God spoken through people), but rather, we are to examine everything; to hold on to what is good and to run from what is evil and wrong.

Here are some questions we can ask to examine what we think we’ve heard from God:

  1. Does this align with Scripture? God’s voice will never contradict what He has already spoken in His written Word. If you’re not sure if it’s Scriptural, spend time studying the Bible and bring trusted friends or pastors into what you think you’ve heard.
  2. Did I hear clearly or was it just an impression? We have to remain humble as we discern whether we heard from God or not. He may be speaking clearly, but we often hear or interpret imperfectly.
  3. Does this build up in encouragement and love, or tear down and condemn? Does it point to Jesus? Does it lead us to love God and love others more? While the Spirit of God will sometimes convict us of sin, there is no more condemnation for us if we’re children of God, because of the work of Christ (Romans 8). The voice of God won’t cover you in shame or tear anyone down.
  4. Does this align with my experience or the experience of those involved? If it doesn’t align with reality, it isn’t God’s voice. For example, if you think He revealed someone else’s middle name, and it turns out to be incorrect, clearly it wasn’t something God spoke.
  5. If I think I’ve heard something that predicts a future event or circumstance, does it come to pass? God’s voice is never wrong. Throughout history, He has sometimes provided divine insight into future occurrences. This may seem obvious, but if we sense something of the future, and it doesn’t come to pass, it wasn’t originally from God.

A few words of caution: We recognize this practice comes with an immense potential for misuse, abuse, and harm. Many have heard or experienced grave stories of those who have said, “God told me…” that have led to personal, interpersonal, or corporate injury. It’s extremely important to examine what you’ve heard through the lenses above and to remain humble by recognizing your own imperfect ability to hear. Especially if what you’re hearing carries any kind of significant weight (a major life decision, etc.), make sure to ask a trusted group of Christian friends or a pastor/elder to help you discern what you’ve heard. Humbly allow the Holy Spirit inside them to guide you toward what is true and life-giving.

Furthermore, if you think you heard God speaking something for someone else, use an extra amount of caution before sharing with that person. Work through the questions above before sharing. If it seems to line up with the heart of God, you might humbly say something like, “I’ve been practicing listening to God’s voice, and I don’t know if this is from Him or not, but I think He wanted to encourage you with something—would you mind if I shared?” It’s imperative that your aim is to humbly love the other person. If the encouragement doesn’t seem to resonate with that person, that’s okay! Graciously admit your own imperfection, and move on. Moments like these are opportunities to take risks of faith, while owning our weakness and sharing that our goal is to love God and love others well.

Note: It’s almost never a good idea to make predictions to others about weighty matters like births, deaths, or relationships beginning and ending. If you think God has shared that information with you, hold on to those things privately and maybe write them in a journal. Hold them with open hands. If the event does indeed come to pass, praise God and thank Him for revealing something to you.

Despite its potential for harm, this practice also has incredible potential for encouragement, edification, and faith-building. Sometimes it is worth humbly and graciously taking a risk to see what God might do in and through you. Continue to give yourself grace and put energy into practicing listening prayer. God is a kind Father who loves speaking to His children!

Finally, keep in mind that in these potentially subjective waters, our true and final confidence in never in a particular word someone may have shared with us but rather the God who spoke the word. Be wary of clinging to words more than to the Word Himself. We should be those who cling tightly to Him and know He will fulfill the things He promised (if He indeed did)!

Questions for individuals to consider before listening:

  • How often do I make time to listen in my conversations with God?
  • When might I utilize listening prayer this week?
  • Who can I invite to help me discern if what I hear is from God?

Questions for individuals to ask God while listening:

  • Is there anything You want to say to me?
  • Are there any Scriptures You’d like to remind me of?
  • Is there anyone You’d like me to encourage today?
  • What are Your thoughts toward me?
  • Is there anything You’d to direct my attention toward?
  • Is there any sin You’d like to convict me of?
  • Is there anywhere You’d like me to go today?

Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.


Families, begin as parents by reading through the “Individuals” section above. Talk to your kids about how prayer is like having a conversation with God. When you talk with someone there are times when you listen and times when you talk. The same is true in prayer with God—He has things to say to us too, but sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and listen. Tell your kids that you are going to practice listening in prayer. Then pray something simple like, “God, thank you for always listening to me when I pray. I want to hear what You have to say, too.” Sit with your kids and listen. After a few moments (or minutes depending on your child’s age and attention span) ask them what they hear God saying. You may want to give them some blank paper to draw or write down what they hear God saying. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will say profound things even to little children! If possible, guide them through some of the questions above that help us tell if it really is God speaking to us. Feel free to use some of the questions below for discussion or prayer time together as well.

For spouses and housemates, read through the “Individuals” section above and consider practicing listening prayer together. Doing this together is a great way to grow in hearing the voice of God. Ask God to speak to you, then spend five minutes in silence together. At the end, share what you heard, what you were reminded of, or what impressions you had. Walk through the questions above to discern if something you hear is from God or not. Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together:

Options of questions for kids and families to consider:

  • What is listening prayer?
  • Why is it important to listen and not just talk to God?
  • How can we listen to God?
  • How do we know if it’s God talking to us?

Questions for families to ask God before listening:

  • Is there anything You want to say to us?
  • Is there anyone You want me to encourage today?
  • Is there anything You want me to remember today?

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  • What objections (if any) do we have to listening prayer?
  • What experience do we have with listening prayer?
  • What keeps us from listening for God’s voice?
  • How might we engage with this practice together?

Questions for housemates or spouses to ask God before listening:

  • Is there anything You want to say to us?
  • Is there anything You want me to encourage [my spouse or roommate] with?
  • Is there anyone You want to encourage together today?
  • What are Your thoughts toward me/us today?


Before meeting, read through the introduction and the the “Individuals” section above.

Read Luke 2:22-38 together and ask someone in the group to recap the sermon from Sunday. Consider asking some of the questions outlined below, and use this blog post as a reference as questions come up.

Halfway through your time, take time to practice listening prayer together. You may choose to do this as a whole group, or perhaps in smaller groups of 3-4. Go over the questions listed above for discerning if it is God speaking to us or not. Remind your group that even if they don’t hear anything, silence before God in His presence is time well spent. Once you’ve discussed those things, encourage people to ask God a generic question like, “Is there anything you’d like to speak to me, for my benefit or the benefit of others?” Listen for five minutes. Afterward, begin to share what the experience was like and what you think you may have heard. Discern together what may have been from the Lord. Encourage honesty, risk, and humility.

End your time together in (spoken) prayer.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  • What struck you this week about the life of Anna in Luke 2:36-38? Anything different than the last two weeks?
  • What was compelling, convicting, or challenging about the sermon from Sunday?
  • What is listening prayer?
  • What is difficult about listening prayer?
  • What has been your experience with this practice?
  • Why do we sometimes avoid listening to God?
  • How can we know if God is speaking?
  • How can we approach listening prayer with humility?
  • What are humble and gracious ways to share what we think we may have heard from God with others?

Advent Weekly Practices—Week Three: Daily Prayer

Our practice for the third week of Advent is daily prayer. We’ve been aiming to stretch our daily prayer practices all season long, but we’ll focus this week on a particular type of daily prayer known as “fixed-hour prayer” or the “Daily Office.”

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we’re urged to “Pray without ceasing.” How do you respond to this verse? How many of us read this and think, “Sounds good. Done!”? Probably none of us. In fact, most of us feel miles away from this reality. Feelings of shame or guilt can rise in us as we read this command. Excuses and justifications come bobbing to the surface. Or maybe we’re encouraged; maybe we’re inspired to muster up more willpower to try it again today! Or maybe we’re exhausted even just thinking about it.

Regardless of your initial reaction or current prayer practices, the truth stands beneath the exhortation: we were created for communion with God. We only need to read a few pages into Genesis to see that God’s original design was for humanity to walk in constant communion and relationship with Him in His presence. More than that, it’s also what eternity holds for the people of God: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God’” (Revelation 21:3).

Scripture is bookended with the presence of God, but we find ourselves here somewhere in the middle—somewhere between the design and its ultimate fulfillment. In this wilderness-esque place, Jesus offers communion with Him as an invitation to us, but this God-communion is not as easy as it was in Eden. We forget that He has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28). Our misaligned desires, poorly-ranked priorities, sinful hearts, busy calendars, and distracted minds steer us away from abiding in and with Christ.

And yet, that is exactly the invitation of Jesus in John 15: to be with Him. To abide in Him and in His love. To allow Him to abide in us. To receive His love consistently. A branch doesn’t remain attached to a vine for only one day of the week (or one hour in the day!), only to live detached the other six days. Similarly, we’re invited to a life with God that remains attached to Him, giving and receiving love throughout the entirety of our days.

This is where disciplines come in. Dallas Willard defined a discipline as “something in my power that I do to enable me to do what I cannot do by direct effort.” Did you catch that? Read it again. If we’re aiming for continuous prayer (something we cannot do by direct effort), perhaps there are tools we can employ (with direct effort!) that may eventually grow our capacity to commune with Jesus consistently.

This week’s practice is designed for this: to help our soul return its attention toward God a few times per day, so that, increasingly, our default disposition might be one that is pointed God-ward. Whether we’re working, resting, or playing, we hope that we might also find ourselves praying without ceasing. Find a few suggestions below on how to explore this practice as individuals, households, and Gospel Communities:


Peter Scazzero, in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, makes a case for employing a Daily Office by pointing out the potential inadequacy of limiting our time with God to one morning prayer time (often called a “quiet time”):

“Within a couple of hours after being with God in the morning, I easily forgot God was active in my everyday affairs. By lunch I was grumpy and short with people. By late afternoon God’s presence had disappeared from my consciousness. By the time dinner was over, he felt a long way off. After observing my behavior for a couple of hours, my wife and children were always wondering, ‘What happened to Dad’s Christianity?’ And by nine o’clock at night, I was asking myself the same question!”

He goes on to outline the discipline of the Daily Office (sometimes called fixed-hour prayer, Divine Hours, or liturgy of the hours) as “the practice of stopping multiple times throughout each day to be with God.” In Scripture, we see Daniel praying three times per day (Daniel 6:10), David praising God seven times in one day (Psalm 119:164), and the early church praying at specific hours as well (Acts 3:1, Acts 10:9). Throughout church history, men and women of God have engaged in this discipline in varying forms to “practice the presence of God,” as Brother Lawrence puts it.

The invitation for Park Church this week is to consider how we might employ the Daily Office to help train our hearts to abide with God throughout each day. Like many of the disciplines, there isn’t one “right” way to do it. We’re all wired differently and find ourselves in different seasons of life. However, here are some tips to using this practice:

  1. Make a plan. Choose two or three times throughout the day that will work well for stopping to be with God. This could be the first activity in the morning, during lunch, and right before bed. It could be a mid-morning break and right when you get home from class or work. Many will choose to set a watch alarm or create calendar events to remember to pray.
  2. Start and/or end your time with two minutes of silence. It’s important that you’re able to stop what you’re doing, slow down, and focus attention on Him. Make use of Week One’s practice of the “prayer of silence.”
  3. Focus on being with God, not merely trying to receive something from Him. Your relationship with God is a relationship! He’s not a genie or a Santa Claus. He wants to be with you, to speak to you, and also to hear your thoughts and desires.
  4. Use Scripture to guide your time. Reading or praying through one Psalm or The Lord’s Prayer is a great place to start. Again, consuming is not the goal; relationship is. If you end up spending the entire time praying and meditating on one verse, that might be more fruitful than reading five chapters.
  5. Share your day, desires, hopes, fears, and emotions with God. Invite Him into what you’re feeling, experiencing, and working on. Ask Him to remind you of His presence with you throughout the rest of the day.
  6. Spend as little or as much time as you’re able. Sometimes you may only have five minutes. Others may afford 20 or 30 minutes.
  7. Give yourself grace. Rarely do disciplines come easy at first. Remember this is an invitation to communion with Jesus—not a rule that should produce pride when going well or shame when going poorly.

If you’d like a resource designed for 40 days of the Daily Office (with two prayer times per day), the “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day” book is available at Park’s Info Table for $5.

Questions for individuals to consider or journal about in prayer, before or during a Daily Office:

    • How might I order my schedule with the Daily Office this week to orient my heart toward God?
    • What am I typically wanting when I spend time in prayer?
    • How do I view my relationship with God? Do I see him as similar to a friend? A king? A spouse? etc.
    • What are my heart and mind focused on today?
    • What emotions am I experiencing? What can I share with God?
    • What truth of God do I need to meditate on today?

Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.


Families, begin as parents by reading through the “Individuals” section above and thinking through how you’d like to engage this practice personally and as a family. The goal is to help everyone remain focused on the presence and love of God together throughout the day. There’s no one right way to do this, and it will often feel clunky or less put-together than you plan. That’s okay! If your children are a bit older, consider including them in the planning process by asking what times of day you could all stop what you’re doing to pray and remember together that God is with you. Here are a few ideas you might want to choose from:

  1. Set one or two alarms to go off so that the family can hear the sound and come together to pray for a moment. Depending on ages and levels of understanding, you may choose to spend a minute in silence, read a Psalm together or stop to say, “Thank You, God, for being with us while we play/eat/read/etc.”
  2. Think about the daily rhythms you already engage with each day and use those activities as a set time for prayer. Potential rhythms maybe eating meals, brushing teeth, cleaning up toys, doing homework, or bedtime. At the start the activity, take some time to pause and pray. Example: before brushing teeth, say something like, “God, we remember that You care about every part of our day…even the time we take to brush our teeth! You are with us always. So, as we brush our teeth we remind ourselves that You are here with us. Thank You.”
  3. Once or twice a day, go around the room and have each person say one thing they’re thankful to God for today. If possible, explain that the reason you’re doing this together is because God is always with us and that He cares about the everyday things we do. Since we often forget that, this is one way for us to remind ourselves that He is here!

Teenagers may want to set reminders throughout the day, or use something like social media as a prompt to practice daily prayer. Each time you check social media, take a movement to stop and pray. It may help to move the location of the apps on your phone or even place them in a new folder labeled “prayer” to cause your brain to stop and remember to pray. Consider a simple prayer like, “God, you know me fully. There is nothing that I can share on social media or that I can learn about my friends that you don’t already know. Thank you God for caring about me and my world. I want to care more about what you say than what my friends are posting. Help me to know and love you more.”

Spouses and housemates, read through the “Individuals” section above and decide if you want to practice the Daily Office together or in the same manner. You may choose to graciously keep each other accountable to practicing it (regardless of whether you practice it in the same way). Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together:

Questions for kids and families to consider:

    1. What is daily prayer?
    2. When we pray throughout the day, what does it teach us about God?
    3. What kinds of things can we pray about?
    4. When can we pray to God?
    5. God is with us always, but sometimes we forget He is with us. What daily rhythms could we use as reminders to pray together this week?
    6. What are we feeling today? Let’s include God in our day by telling Him what we’re feeling.
    7. What truth of God do we need to remember today?

One way to stop and remember that God is with us is to listen or sing along to “Have I Not Commanded You?” together.

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  1. How might we structure our Daily Office to increase our awareness of God and His love this week?
  2. What are our obstacles, excuses, or resistant feelings toward this discipline?
  3. What is meant by “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)?
  4. What are some of the benefits of praying without ceasing?

During a Daily Office together:

  • Where have I seen God in my day today (or yesterday)?
  • What are my primary emotions? What have I been focused on?
  • Where is my need for God today?
  • What truth of God might we need to meditate on today?

Tell God what you are focused on or what your primary emotions are. Choose a Psalm to pray through together. Pray that God would increase your awareness of His presence and love throughout each day.


Before meeting, read through the introduction above as well as the “Individuals” section.

Like last week, at the beginning of your time together, set a timer for 2 minutes to engage in silence as a group. Encourage everyone to breathe slowly and think about Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Afterward, read Luke 2:22-38 together and feel free to ask some of the questions below. If time permits, read John 15:1-17 and discuss. Remind the group that the goal of any Christian spiritual discipline is relationship with God and others, not performance. Our union with God (salvation) is secure in the work of Christ, and nothing can take that away. From the starting point of His pursuit and love for us, we are then invited to join Him in communion throughout our days—free from guilt and shame even when we fail or don’t accept this invitation.

Because we’re stretching our prayer lives during this season, make sure to prioritize spending time in prayer together when you gather.

If fitting, end your time in a couple minutes of silence as well.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  1. What struck you this week about the life of Anna in Luke 2:36-38? Anything different than last week?
  2. What do you think it looked like for Anna to worship “night and day?” Is that possible for us in our contexts today?
  3. What does it mean to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) when we have responsibilities, jobs, families, friends, homework, sleep, etc.?
  4. Why is it so difficult for us to remember that God’s presence is with us always?
  5. Has anyone attempted the practice of the Daily Office, or something similar? What has your experience been?
  6. Read John 15:1-17 and discuss the passage. What is compelling about the invitation of Jesus? What would our lives look like if we all were abiding in Him? How can we grow in abiding in Him?

Spend time praying together that God would increase our awareness and understanding of His presence with us and of His love for us.

Advent Decor & Colors

Our Advent decor and colors were done by Bailee Caldwell. Here’s how she explains her process and the meaning behind her work:

I’ve always struggled to put into words what it’s like to experience God’s presence. It’s so beautiful and powerful that it compels you to share your experience with others, but human vocabulary just can’t do it justice. Instead, I find myself comparing God’s presence to other visceral experiences—diving into a refreshing lake, feeling sunlight light warm my skin, or getting a deep belly laugh from a funny moment shared with others.

Looking at writings of saints throughout history, it is quite common to talk about The Lord using pictures, characters, or landscapes that are familiar to people. In fact, the Bible is full of such metaphors. God describes Himself as a potter, a shepherd, a star, a jealous husband, a flowing river, a pillar of fire, and many other personifications that strike a chord in our imaginations. We recognize that God doesn’t exclusively speak to His children through language, but often chooses to speak to his children through visuals and music as well.

This Advent season, we as a unified body are seeking to fully experience and feel God’s presence with us in this “already and not yet” season that is life on earth. There are endless ways to pursue God, His presence, and truth. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer and reading the Bible are where we go first and foremost. But in my spiritual life, I have often felt most seen and known by God in using my God-given gifts and experiencing His creativity in day to day life.

There is pain, confusion and tension here on earth while we wait for Christ’s return, and there is so much beauty and formation to be had in our hearts in this tension. To illustrate this, we created a visual installation to help propel the heart’s of Park church towards a full experience of Advent. I am a visual person, incorporating visuals and using creativity in my spiritual life is incredibly compelling—I know other members of our body can relate to this. We hope that as you walk through the doors of Park this Advent season, see the clay ornaments on the foyer tree, and then head back out into your day to day life, the visual sticks with you and compels you towards a deeper understanding and full experience of what God might want to do in your heart and through your life as you wait on Him.

You will notice that the ornaments on the Christmas tree in the foyer are not your typical Christmas colors. We wanted to bring in the meaning of Advent into the decor, which led us to weekly installations, each featuring different colors and visuals that are representative of an aspect of Advent. We intentionally chose to use clay to create and form the ornaments, symbolizing the malleability of our hearts and reminding us of God the potter.

Weekly Colors & Themes:

  • Week one: desert tones to symbolize waiting
  • Week two: shades of blue to symbolize mourning
  • Week three: gray to symbolize the gray area of eschatological tension; the “already and not yet”
  • Week four: purple to symbolize Christ’s royalty
  • Week five: white to symbolize Christ as our pure and spotless lamb

Advent Weekly Practices—Week Two: Fasting

As we continue in our journey together through the Advent season, a second practice that can help increase our longing and hunger for God is the discipline of fasting.

“Fasting.” Just hearing the word can make us tighten up. Some of us feel guilt. Others become defensive or even angry. It’s a practice many of us have heard is probably a good thing and yet few of us engage it with any regularity.

Why is this practice so foreign? Why is it so difficult? Why do we run from it and then justify our avoidance of it? Why can’t we see the gift behind this discipline?

Richard Foster, in The Celebration of Discipline, reflects, “Why has the giving of money, for example, been unquestionably recognized as an element in Christian devotion and fasting so disputed? Certainly we have as much, if not more, evidence from the Bible for fasting as we have for giving. Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money.”

While there may be no direct command in the New Testament for the Church to fast, the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 appear to imply that all of His disciples will engage in this practice. “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” (verse 16). Notice He says, when you fast. His assumption is that his followers will fast.

Following this assumption, Jesus is teaching us that our motives are what’s really important when practicing fasting. If we’re looking for praise or some kind of religious trophy, we might receive that—but it’s all we’ll receive. Jesus offers a better way: “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (verses 17-18). He is not saying we must avoid others’ knowledge of our fasting at all costs. The Bible is full of examples of corporate fasting (Acts 13 and 14, Esther 4, 2 Samuel 1, etc.). He is, however, concerned with why we’re fasting.

He wants our hearts. He wants us to be focused on Him above all else. He wants to give us a reward that can’t fade or be stolen from us.

So, despite our potentially-mixed bag of motives, we go together before God to engage with this practice. We want to put God first. Or, we want to want to put God first. We deny ourselves food to discipline our body, soul, and spirit and say that God is more important to us than food—than anything.

Below are a few ideas for best-practices and questions to consider for individuals, households, and Gospel Communities:


We’re inviting everyone in the church body to practice fasting on Wednesdays during Advent (December 4, 11, and 18). If you missed last week, that’s okay! Set a reminder for this upcoming Wednesday (or Tuesday evening) to join us.

What exactly is fasting? David Mathis defines fasting as “voluntarily going without food—or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God–for the sake of some spiritual purpose.” Some people, for medical reasons or otherwise*, can’t fast from physical food but that doesn’t mean they’re excluded. Many have found that fasting from social media, Netflix, particular activities or foods has shown itself to be a helpful way of intentionally engaging with God. Fasting ultimately is about refraining from one thing that we might engage more intentionally with another, namely God.

Sam Storms comments: “The ironic thing about fasting is that it really isn’t about not eating food. It’s about feeding on the fullness of every divine blessing secured for us in Christ. Fasting tenderizes our hearts to experience the presence of God. It expands the capacity of our souls to hear his voice and be assured of his love and be filled with the fullness of his joy. Let me say it again: Fasting is not primarily about not eating food. It is primarily about feasting on God.”

Take a moment before Wednesday to prayerfully consider how you might engage well with God through this practice. Many will choose to go without food for breakfast and lunch. Others will skip one meal or go the entire 24-hours only consuming water (or maybe a cup of coffee). There isn’t a hard and fast rule here; the end goal is to increase relationship with God and ask Him to increase our desire for Him.

One healthy practice is to use the time you would’ve spent preparing and eating food to actually stop and pray! We can miss the point if we simply work through the lunch hour to keep our minds distracted from our hunger. Use the questions below to guide your time in prayer.

Many of us will feel some negative emotions and attitudes rise when we go without the food that our bodies are used to. This is normal and can actually be a gift from God. It is often being revealed what is inside us all along – weakness, dependence, anger, greed, etc. We often use good gifts like food to cope and cover up our inadequacies without even realizing it. Take these emotions before God in prayer, and give yourself grace for these feelings that certainly don’t seem very “spiritual.”

*A note to those who choose to abstain from something other than food: You may decide that fasting from food is not a good idea because of a medical condition or because you are pregnant or nursing. Others may have an eating disorder or unhealthy relationship with food or body image, and this may not be a practice to try at this time. That’s okay! We’d encourage you to ask yourself before God, “What’s a good gift that I could give up temporarily in order to help train my heart to long for God more than His gifts?” Otherwise, perhaps now is a time to pursue healing and hunger for God in some other way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your Gospel Community Leaders or a staff member if you need help walking through this.

Questions for individuals to consider or journal about outside the time of silence:

  • What are some things I hunger for or look forward to more than God?
  • Why am I hesitant or resistant to fasting?
  • How might my relationship to food or other good gifts be an indicator of what I long for?
  • What do I long for God to do in my heart through fasting?
  • What do I long for God to do in my community and my church through fasting?
  • What are some negative emotions, attitudes, and feelings that rise in me while fasting? Bring those before God, asking for forgiveness, healing, and dependence on Him.
  • Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.


For families with small children, this practice may not be possible to engage with all together. Depending on the ages of your children, you may be able to choose one thing to give up together on Wednesdays like dessert or screen-time. Read through the “Individuals” category above and decide if you may be able to cast vision for your whole family to practice a form of fasting together. You may phrase it something like, “We wish we wanted God more than dessert, but usually we don’t. Tonight, we’re choosing to pray and ask Him to be happy with His presence instead of eating dessert, and thank Him that many days we do get to enjoy it.” Again, if possible, spend time praying together in the same time-slot you would have been engaging in whatever activity you’re abstaining from. Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together.

For spouses and housemates, read through the “Individuals” category above and decide if you want to practice fasting together in the same manner. You may choose to keep each other accountable to practicing it (regardless of whether you practice it in the same way). Again, if possible, spend time praying together in the same time-slot you would have been preparing and eating food. Use the questions below to guide discussion or prayer time together.

Questions for kids and families to consider:

  • What is fasting?
  • Why does it sound hard?
  • Why could fasting a good thing?
  • What is a good thing we could give up for one day (or half-day) to spend time with God and ask Him to help us love Him more than anything else?

Pray that God would help us want Him more than anything else. He is the best thing for us!

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  • What are some things we hunger for or look forward to more than God?
  • Why are we hesitant or resistant to fasting?
  • How might our relationship to food or other good gifts be an indicator of what we long for?
  • How might fasting actually be a good gift for us?
  • How can we help each other engage in fasting during Advent?
  • What do we want God to do in ourselves, our families, or our households through fasting? Take these answers to God in prayer.

Pray that God would increase our hunger, dependence, and desire for Him in this season.


A few encouragements for this week’s meeting.

Like last week, at the beginning of your time together, set a timer for 2 minutes to engage in silence as a group. Encourage everyone to breathe slowly and think about Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Afterward, read Luke 2:22-38 together and feel free to ask some of the questions below. If time permits, read Acts 13:1-3 or Luke 18:9-14 and discuss these passages.

Because we’re stretching our prayer lives during this season, make sure to prioritize spending time in prayer together when you gather.

If fitting, end your time in a couple minutes of silence as well.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  • What is compelling about the life of Anna in Luke 2:36-38?
  • What does it mean to worship with fasting and prayer (Luke 2:37)?
  • Why is fasting so difficult? Why might you be hesitant or resistant to this practice?
  • How might fasting actually be a good gift for us?
  • What is your experience with fasting? Has anyone had a positive experience they’d like to share?
  • For those who fasted recently, how did it go? How did it affect your soul? Emotions? Attitude?
  • Read Acts 13:1-3 and discuss together. What is compelling about this passage?
  • Read Luke 18:9-14 and discuss the passage. What is compelling, convicting, or comforting about this passage?
  • What would you like to see God do through the practice of fasting in your life?

Spend time praying together that God would increase our hunger for Him as a church, above all other desires.

Advent Weekly Practices—Week One: Prayer of Silence

Listen to Advet Week One Sermon

Advent is traditionally a season marked by anticipation and waiting. Silence is one of the ways we can cultivate this practice in our lives.

In Exodus 14, when the Israelites face the Red Sea in front of them and an army of Egyptians behind them, God’s command for His people is not to turn and fight, to build boats, or even to labor in prayer & sacrifice. Instead, God says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (verse 14).

It’s a plot twist. It’s counterintuitive. We’ve trained ourselves to think that the only way to make progress in any situation is to use our own strength, our own words, our own passion, our own intellect. And sometimes God, in His kindness by His Spirit, fuels our efforts to make progress. But we often fail to remember that everything was, is, and always will be held in His sovereign hands. Apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing (John 15:5).

It’s too easy to forget that He is God and we are not. Our culture, our enemy, and our flesh are constantly bombarding us with messages that either distort this truth or distract us from this truth. Lies. Noise. Busyness. Hurry. How can we possibly rewire our hearts?

Sometimes we need to start by stopping. Stop working for a moment. Turn off the noise. Breathe slowly.

Sometimes we, like the Psalmists, need to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Enjoy His presence. Remember His love. Meditate on His kindness. Remember that we are not in control, and that’s a good thing.

Below we’ve provided a handful of practices and questions to help us engage with the “Prayer of Silence” as individuals, families, and communities.


During the season of Advent, we’ve asked that you aim to stretch your daily prayer life in some way. For some, this may mean setting an alarm twice a day to stop and pray for ten minutes. Others may want to begin each morning praying The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13). Still others may want to commit their entire lunch hour to prayer.

Regardless of how you’ve decided to engage in prayer this season, this week our practice is to challenge ourselves to begin and end our prayer times with silence before God. Our suggestion is to set a timer for two minutes before and after your time of prayer and sit in stillness and quiet. Pete Scazzero writes this on practicing silence:

All religions practice silence. What makes silence unique for us is that we are silent before the Lord himself. This will be difficult, especially at first. Our internal and external worlds are filled with noise and distractions. For this reason, silence is probably the most challenging and least experienced discipline among Christians today. Give yourself lots of grace here. Studies suggest that the average person or group can only bear fifteen seconds of silence.

Simple enough? It may be more difficult than it seems. Let’s aim to prioritize silence this week together:

Questions for individuals to consider or journal about outside the time of silence:

  • Where have I been looking for consolation (comfort, satisfaction, progress) outside of the presence of God? Which “temples” do I run to (consumerism, recreation, avoidance, etc.)?
  • How could I orient my life, rhythms, habits, and heart to turn toward the presence of God instead of these other temples?
  • How can I be intentional during this season of Advent to focus on what matters most?
  • How am I longing for God to move in my life? Sit with Him quietly, knowing He knows the longings of your heart.
  • Pray through this week’s confession of sin here.


Because every household and family has different rhythms, schedules, and capacities, we won’t place any regulations on how to engage with this practice together. However, our encouragement is once again to stretch your home’s current rhythm of prayer during this season. Some may want to begin or end the day with a couple minutes of prayer together. Others may choose to pray at the end of the school day or for a few minutes after dinner. Once again, this week, if possible, invite others into a minute or two of silence as part of your daily prayer time. For those with younger kids, we know this will be a challenging practice! Read Psalm 46:10 beforehand: “Be still, and know that I am God…” and remind yourselves that God is present with you in the room.

Remember that the goal here is not to add more to your day, but actually to slow down and make the most of our days with God.

Another idea for families is to sing or listen to “Take a Moment” by Will Reagan together, followed by a few moments of quiet to think about who Jesus is.

Questions for kids and families to consider:

  • What is the season of Advent all about?
  • How can we help each other remember this together?
  • What’s something you hope God will do in your life?

Questions for housemates or spouses to consider:

  • Where does my tend to run for comfort and satisfaction?
  • How can we help each other run toward God in this season? What habits can we cultivate?
  • What rhythm of prayer can we actively pursue during Advent?


A few encouragements for our Gospel Communities this week:

At the beginning of your time together, set a timer for 2 minutes to engage in silence together. Encourage the group to breathe slowly and think about Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Afterward, read Luke 2:22–32 together. Feel free to ask some of the questions below.

Because we’re stretching our prayer lives individually during this season, make sure to prioritize spending time in prayer together when you gather.

If fitting, end your time in a couple minutes of silence as well.

Questions for Gospel Communities

  • What is compelling about the life of Simeon in Luke 2? What stands out?
  • How do you usually feel during and after the holiday season? More present, grounded, and centered? Exhausted, chaotic, frantic, and distracted?
  • How can you orient this season around the presence of God instead of other things?
  • How can we as a community keep each other accountable to remember what’s most important this season?
  • How often do you spend time in silence? Why is it so difficult for us to be silent?

Engaging With Advent


As the holidays are quickly approaching, we find ourselves in a season marked by so much potential for good and for engagement with God and others. However, we can also find some unintended guests joining us at the table: consumerism, distraction, busyness, debt, and even loneliness. What if we considered beforehand what we wanted to see God do in this time and then sought to orient our days and practices to shape us in the ways we want to be shaped; to cultivate holy longings?

We believe the season of Advent can help us do just this. Advent, which marks the beginning of the Christian Calendar, officially starts four Sundays before Christmas. This year it runs from December 1-24. It both looks ahead to Christ’s second Advent where He will return as a triumphant King doing away fully and finally with sin and death, and looks back to remember His first Advent as a humble baby two thousand years ago. Because we live “between Advents,” this is a season marked by expectation, longing, and hopeful waiting. It calls the Church to live in the gratitude of the “already” of what Christ has already accomplished, but it also teaches us to groan in the “not yet” as we await the return of our King.

This year, we’ll be looking at the life, practices, and longings of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2. We hope to learn from their affections and longings for all they can teach us in this season! We pray that God would powerfully use Advent at Park Church to increase our longing for Jesus and love for His kingdom through a couple events and practices.


  1. Daily Prayer
    Whether you have a rich prayer life or haven’t prayed in years, we’re asking you to consider how you might stretch your prayer life during this season. For some, it may look like starting every morning saying The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). For others, it may mean spending an hour in prayer each day, spending 10 minutes during each lunch break in prayer, etc. The goal isn’t to get prayer “right,” it’s to grow in intentional time with Jesus during this season. One helpful resource to encourage daily prayer is “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day” and is available at the Info Table for $10.
  2. Weekly Fasting
    We’re also asking that each person consider fasting from something on Wednesdays during Advent (December 4, 11, and 18) with the goal of increasing our hunger for God. Again, this is a discipline to help train our hearts; it has nothing to do with earning favor from God. Some may fast from food (all day or just lunch, for example). Others may fast from technology like social media or Netflix. Take a moment beforehand to ask God, “What might I give up on Wednesdays to increase my hunger for you?”

Click Advent 2019 Weekly Guides below to find our weekly materials and more resources.

Advent 2019 Weekly Guides


  1. Advent Hymn Sing
    Thursday, December 12 • 6:30–7:30pm
    Join us for an evening of singing through beloved Advent and Christmas hymns together. Come early at 6:15pm for cookies! Kids are invited to wear their pajamas to the event. Childcare is not provided, as families are encouraged to worship together.
  2. Christmas Eve Services
    Tuesday, December 24 • 4 and 6pm
    We gather on Christmas Eve for an hour-long service. We’ll sing together, read through the story of Christ’s birth, and hear a short message. Childcare is not provided, as families are encouraged to worship together.

Advent 2019 Artwork

The season of Advent begins on Sunday, December 1, running through Christmas Eve. Our artwork for Advent this year is by Jeremy Grant—keep reading to learn about the artist, the artwork, and its meaning.


Jeremy Grant is an emerging artist and award-winning graphic designer. He was born in California in 1985. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at John Brown University. Grant has exhibited his collage and assemblage work regularly across Colorado since 2008. An active member of local arts communities, Jeremy has been invited to participate in numerous group shows, donated art to charity, and been awarded a PPAC micro-grant. His work explores themes of destruction and creation, death and resurrection, and chaos and familiarity. Jeremy Grant currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado.


Isaiah 40Mark 1

Often during Advent, I contemplate the calling of John the Baptist—“to prepare the way of the LORD,” and to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This calling feels just as relevant for us as it was for him.

The people of God had been waiting for Messiah, their Savior King, for hundreds of years. Generations upon generations had lived and died and not seen the promise fulfilled.

John’s prophetic calling took him on a difficult path through the desert to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John was asked to clear the path for the coming Messiah, Jesus.

The scriptures that refer to this calling paint a picture where “every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low.”

The subject of the piece is a landscape that visualizes the work of John the Baptist—the transition from rough, mountainous terrain to open plains is making smooth the way of the LORD. The mountains are cut from pieces that I felt had a sense of static and a feeling of brokenness. We still live in a broken reality. Some brokenness is obvious and agonizing, and other times brokenness is characterized by the monotony of existence—the lack of joy, color, and celebration.

The extra-long proportion of the piece is meant to convey the passage of time, a sense of waiting and of a long journey still ahead. The dark to light transition hints at the coming sunrise, our current reality is dim, but the bright light of the coming messiah is a dawn on the horizon.

Click on an image below to enlarge.

The complete, final piece:

The sequential pieces, with Advent titles:


Hand-cut paper collage inspired by the themes of the season of Advent.

At first, I sought to express brokenness through fragmented pieces—tiny windows into pain. Ultimately, this felt a little one-dimensional and I left it in favor of the landscape idea which had a more rich meaning (see final artwork above).

In another early concept, I envisioned cracks and a shattered pattern getting less and less cracked -the color getting brighter and brighter as the collage progressed. U;timately, I felt like it was—again—less robust of an idea, and cracks don’t really “heal themselves.” It’s difficult to express that idea, even though I liked the graphic potential of it.

Lastly, an image of the final collage in-process, before I added the pink squares. The squares sort of came to symbolize markers in the passage of time, little ebeneezers if you will.