Sisters in Scripture
A Conversation on Prayer
10/20/2021  Kathleen MacInnis Kichline

 Person Reading the Bible
It seems we opened a conversation on prayer with last newsletter's "Tony, Tony, come around!" Several readers shared memories of St. Anthony coming to their rescue in their childhood and beyond. "Because I’m often misplacing things, St. Anthony has become 'Tony' to me and my family just shake their heads when I mutter, 'please, Tony, help me find…..' We are old friends and I think he just laughs and shakes his head too". (- Mary K.)

But the article also brought up the thorny questions raised by prayer. Sometimes prayers are not answered as we had hoped, as was the case with the woman who was lost. And does God really need us to beg for assistance or give advice on what to do?

Most of us seem comfortable with prayer that praises or thanks, asks forgiveness, guidance, or grace. The problem seems to come in when we are asked to pray for someone or for a specific outcome. "I have great difficulty praying for specific results...Recently, many requests have come my way and I find myself praying for all of those intentions by placing them in God’s hands and trusting in the outcome. Often the outcome is different than the people requesting my prayers had hoped, but it seems the strength and courage helped." (- Mary K.)

Episcopal priest, Martin L. Smith, assures us, "God is already in the situation of need, present and active with those who are in want as their upholder and fellow-sufferer. God has reached out to us from that place and touched off a spark of response to that need. Having stimulated our caring, God recruits our love and concern by stirring us from within to offer that love and concern in intercession. God then receives the love we offer and weaves it into the combined influences which together can bring about the good that God desires" (from his book, The Word is Very Near).

The invitation to pray for another or that inner urge to do so is a sacred task. Sybil MacBeth reminds us, "When someone says, 'Please pray for me,' they are not just saying, 'Let's have lunch sometime.' They are issuing an invitation into the depths of their lives and their humanity--and often with some urgency." (from her book, Praying in Color). How, then, should we respond? MacBeth starts by imagining how she would want someone to pray for her. "When I ask people to pray for me, I am asking them to fill the universe with good thoughts, to wrap me in God's love, to give me hope, reconnect my hands and heart with God's when I'm too fraught with fear or sadness to do it by myself."

She acknowledges that "worry is not a substitute for prayer. It is a starting place, but not a staying place." It tends to happen when we forget Who it is that has invited our participation. When we focus on the presence of God, worry recedes. The love we offer, our willingness to care, the actions that arise from our concern--all of these contribute in ways beyond our knowing to the good God has in mind, whatever that may be. 

People use a variety of ways to put words on that prayer as they feel called to do. Many have prayer practices they can incorporate such as a rosary, daily Mass, psalms, meditation, etc. Others create touchstones that remind them to pray for the person throughout the day: names on a bookmark in the Bible, small papers with names in a basket by their prayer space, the coloring prayer MacBeth describes in her book, or simply setting aside the time, perhaps with coffee or tea, to sit, be still, and recall with love. These simple acts engender a tenderness and compassion that is, of itself, prayer. Sometimes it prompts us to do more: to send a card, make a casserole, place a call, enlist the aid of another, or advocate for someone in need. 

Next time a prayer request comes your way, recognize it as invitation. Know that the One who sends it is already at work and you asks only that you extend the love that is yours to give. 

photo credit: Tima Mirashnichenko, pexels

Why These Women by Kathleen MacInnis Kichline

UPDATE ON WHY THESE WOMEN? Four Stories You Need to Read Before You Read the Story of Jesus.

 The manuscript is now being formatted so I hope to soon get readable PDF's to those wonderful folks who volunteered to be part of my Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) Team. Thank you all--I will keep you posted. I will also send out a separate invitation in the near future to all my newsletter readers in case you want to join that team. The basic premise for the team is willingness to read the book ahead of time and then provide a review when the book comes out, a crucial set up for a successful book launch. I also hope in these next several months to include short excerpts from the book in our newsletters. Should be fun!
Continue Reading...

 Assisi Follow-up: More Good News

MAGDALA is the online journal born of the Assisi Colloquy that could not convene due to Covid-19. The website for that is now up and running and can be accessed here:  MAGDALA. There is much more still to be added--including the first journal edition in November. That edition on the Holy Spirit will include my article on Teresa of Avila and Her Poetry. I'll let you know once that appears. Meanwhile, MAGDALA has provided a link to my website--nice. The journal comes out of Italy and will be offered in three languages: English, Italian and French. Guess we've now gone international! 

Spiritual Direction

A more apt name might be "spiritual companioning.”  I often think of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus when doing Spiritual Direction.  On life's road, Christ draws alongside, unseen but ever present, though we are often only partially aware.  Spiritual Direction is intentional attentiveness to that Presence in the company of an other who walks that same journey.  To read more about this gentle disciple, go to the Spiritual Direction page on this website.
Spiritual Direction with Kathleen is also available via phone/Skype or in person at either of two locations: Lynnwood, WA (occasionally) and Bella Vista, AR (regularly). For more information on Spiritual Direction please contact Kathleen! 

 Bible Studies

Sisters in Scripture offers a variety of studies available for purchase from this site. Each study seeks to prayerfully engage the scriptures to arrive at meaning for today and in our everyday lives.  To do so, we enter the story through the lens of various biblical characters using both biblical scholarship and our own creative imagination. 
Each chapter includes Background, Prayer, Reflection Questions, and a Closer Look at the Text.  To see the full line of studies, go to  the Bible Studies page or the Purchase Books page on this site.
Stay Up-to-Date! If you haven't already - be sure and sign up for Kathleen's Newsletter. 

 What is Sisters in Scripture? 
Sisters in Scripture began as a bible study for women and while it still is that today, the ministry has grown into much more.  Bible Studies were followed by workshops and presentations which evolved into a full line of retreat offerings—some as short as a partial day, others over several days, on a rich variety of topics. 
Recently, online retreats have been added to in-person retreats

 Retreats and Presentations

As with the interactive focus in my studies, the retreats are also designed to help participants enter into and experience the theme through a variety of modalities: prayer, silence, presentation, discussion, music, art, poetry, etc. 
In addition to leading retreats, for the past four years, I have been co-teaching a course on Spiritual Retreats in the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, a sacred task that allows retreat ministry to expand through the future ministries of those I teach.

 Upcoming 2021 Retreats


Once Upon a Time In a Town Called Nazareth

 An Advent retreat with Betsey Beckman, Using scripture, art, music, dance, poetry and our creative imagination we go back to a time and place and a young Jewish girl named Mary.
 Once Blessed is She Who Believed... (Luke 1:45)

This NEW Advent retreat takes us to the scene after the Annunciation, to Mary's encounter with Elizabeth in the Visitation. The joy of the Magnificat, the tender scene of reunion and the friendship is a perfect way to celebrate this wonderful season!

Available Retreats
A partial list of retreat offerings would include:
  • Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth,
  • The Women Who Follow Jesus
  • Four Women Doctors of the Church 
  • Giving Voice to Our Hearts
  • Women of the Early Church
  • Two Theresa's
  • The Devotional Life of Biblical Women
  • At the Foot of the  Cross
  • Rachel and Leah: At Odds with Ourselves
  • God's Gift of Abundant Time (also a book!
  • Mary Magdalene: Fact and Fiction - What Would Snopes Say?
  • Teresa of Avila: Her Poetry as Window Into Her Life
  • Hildegard of Bingen: A "Contemporary" Contemplative
  • Prisca: Paul's Right-Hand-Woman
  • Miriam of Exodus: the Girl Who Watched by the Nile
  • Grandparents of Jesus (also a book!) 
  • The First Supper
  • Witnesses on the Way: an Interactive Stations of the Cross
  • Encounters with the Risen Lord
  • Grandmother God: Loving as God Loves (also a book!)
  • An Evening with Esther
  • Wisdom from Tobit
To View Photos of a previous Retreat, Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth, click on the link.  

 Comments from Retreat Participants

Thank you so much for the Saturday session. It was informative and also fun! I liked the way you involved all of us. I am always impressed by your knowledge and the obvious love you have for teaching. - LF, Arkansas

I really appreciate your gentle welcoming presence. I benefit not just from the content of your sessions, but from the gems you drop along the way. - MW, Washington

I think the audience participation was the best I have seen. I also think that your detailed knowledge of the multiple subjects was truly impressive. – KB, Connecticut
I feel it is such a privilege to read the materials and then hear your lectures and to be with such equally interested and interesting women. What a great experience it has been for me. Thanks for being the wonderful scholar and teacher you are. – PH, Minnesota

This is one of the best things that I have done for myself in months. I thoroughly enjoyed the time. It was well spent. I was very satisfied with the content and would be very interested in more courses like this. - KW, Washington 
A comment from Julie Joslund, Pastor:
Kathleen and Betsey’s Advent Retreat Once Upon a Time in a Town Called Nazareth is fabulous! The story and the inspiration of young Mary becoming the mother of our Lord - with all the incumbent questions, joys and fears - comes to life with the images, colors, words, songs and dances from long ago Nazareth…. right up to today. Participants are involved and included in the retreat experience. It is hands on and fulfilling. Everyone goes away with a full heart, ready to engage the season of Advent and the coming once again of Christ into our days. 

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