SAMPLE TOPICS FOR RETREATS, WORKSHOPS, OR PRESENTATIONS
Copyright © 2011 by Chris R. Glaser. All Rights Reserved.
These may be adapted for various audiences, time frameworks, and formats. They can include presentations, spiritual exercises, "monastic moments," small group dialogue, plenary dialogue, and simple worship.
I enjoy shaping a presentation, workshop, seminar, or retreat around your needs. But here are a few ideas:
CULTIVATING THE INNER VOICE OF LOVE: BE STILL! BE LOVED! BE GRATEFUL!
Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
"Be still and know that I am God," God tells us through the Psalmist. In a world full of distractions and illusions, busyness and violence, it is challenging to find a time and place to rest in God. Glaserís spiritual mentor, Henri Nouwen, believed that the transformative moment in Jesus' life was when he heard God's voice in his baptism, "You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We respond to God's love in gratitude with our ministry and our service to the world, being grateful for all that we have received, both good and bad, recalling events that have shaped our souls.
SEX & THE BODY OF CHRIST
Taboos about sex as well as about Christ make it difficult for us to put the two together. If Christians are to act as the body of Christ, we must imagine WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) in a sexual relationship. But we have difficulties thinking of Jesus as a sexual actor, difficulties that can be overcome as we discover in the Gospel stories his TLC (tender loving care) that included touch and being touched. Van Gogh considered Jesus a "greater artist than all other artists, despising marble and clay as well as color, working in living flesh." As we reach out to one another in love, our touch too can prove transforming.
Reclaiming Spirituality and Spiritual Community
Many of us never quite felt at home in the church. But the family of faith that Jesus created welcomed those who ďdidnít quite fitĒ religious and moral expectations of his era. Jesus dined with the spiritually abused of his time, and saved his harshest rhetoric for the self righteous. This interactive retreat will assist participants in understanding that we, too, are Godís beloved sons and daughters, heirs with Christ of a spiritual inheritance and a spiritual commonwealth.
RECLAIMING CHRISTIANITY AND THE BIBLE AS PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS
The Bible is also the source of "liberal evangelicals" who bring the gospel, the good news of justice, compassion, and inclusivity to the church and the world. Reclaim scripture and spirituality that serve as a basis for our call to transform the world, as well as receive strength for the struggle.
OUR LIVES AS SACRED TEXTS: Autobiography as Theology
Our own lives may also serve as Gospel, as good news! Telling our stories is key to transforming individuals and reforming the church. Discern moments of spiritual awe or spiritual growth in your life. Develop skills for writing and speaking your spiritual truths and insights in a participant friendly workshop.
THE BLESSING OF SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE
The history of marriage in the Bible and the Western tradition gives many footholds for understanding the flexibility of marriage as it applies to same-gender couples and the current debate on same-gender marriage, a conversation that serves as a blessing for the church and our society as it helps us discuss the meaning of marriage and even discover marriage as a spiritual vocation. "Deconstructing and Reconstructing Marriage" revisits the history of marriage and how it is applicable to the present conversation. "Sex and the Body of Christ" discusses human sexuality and Christians.
COMING OUT AS SACRAMENT
Chris Glaser persuasively argues that coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and their advocates has biblical precedence and sacramental dimensions. A sacrament is an act that reveals Godís presence or the sacred in our midst. Coming out may be understood as an act of vulnerability, much like a sacrificial offering of times past, which invokes Godís presence and effects atonement, or reconciliation. In coming out, we reveal what is sacred in our experience: our ability to love, our beloved, our community, as well as a God who loves us all more than the church has imagined. (May also be titled: Coming Out as Sacred.)
CLAIM THE GOD IN YOU
The Sacred Gifts of LGBT People
In our wariness and weariness of traditional Christianity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have been given sacred gifts that we offer one another as well as the church. We are able to offer these gifts as we claim ourselves as Godís beloved children, created in the image of God.
DEATH AS SOUL FRIEND
What Death Can Teach Us about Life
The deaths we've experienced have taught us much about life. So Death may serve as a kind of "spiritual director" that reminds us we must to do what is fulfilling and meaningful now, before we face "The Final Deadline," the title of Glaser's latest book.
HENRI J.M. NOUWEN
His Life and Writings
Glaser's friendship with Nouwen began at Yale Divinity School, and he considers Henri his spiritual mentor. When Nouwen died in 1996, Chris began leading workshops and retreats on his life and writings that culminated in his book, "Henri's Mantle." A Roman Catholic priest, Nouwen wrote more than 40 books on the spiritual life, often reflecting on his own struggles to fulfill his calling as "The Wounded Healer," one of his books.