The Core

A Prayer Meditation

This week, Pastor Becca continued on in our series on Washington Cathedral’s core values. She talked about how Washington Cathedral is a place where anyone and everyone can belong.

By Pastor Becca McCary

The sermon on Sunday was on the Mary Martha story from Luke 10. The challenge to the church was to do the “One thing” Jesus asks: tune our hearts into the presence of Jesus for it is there that we find complete acceptance and belonging. Here is a prayer practice to help teach you to tune your heart to Jesus.


(This is a prayer practice meant to be done with a family member, friend, or someone you trust. One person will lead this prayer by reading this script while the other person or people follow the directions, connecting with God. This is a great way to learn and to listen to God by tuning into God’s presence. Let the person leading this activity read slowly and calmly, giving the person or group time to soak in each phrase you say.)

We are going to do a relaxation prayer practice. It is OK to fall asleep, because we are going to practice a very relaxed prayer. God can speak to us even while we are sleeping. It’s also ok to use your imagination to help you connect to God during this prayer too. So if I ask you to imagine God, think creatively… imagining what God looks like, feels like to hug, or even smells like. Our main goal is to be calm and relaxed as we recognize God’s presence with us.

This prayer practice is based on the following verse:  “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Close your eyes. Relax and get comfortable. Feel the way your body sits in the chair or on the floor and re-adjust as you need.

Take a deep breath in, feeling the air fill your lungs. Now slowly release your breath, letting any worry or tension leave with the exhaled air. Slowly breathe in remembering God’s love for you. And slowly breathe out any anxiety you might be feeling. Take a deep breath remembering that God is offering you peace. And slowly exhale as you become more and more focused on relaxing.

Continue to breathe normally as you feel comfortable.

Let any distractions around you wash away. As distracting thoughts or questions come into your mind, picture yourself taking hold of those thoughts with your hand and then putting it in a jar with a lid for later. Then return to your relaxed, focused state. Hear God’s voice calling you deeper into his presence as you continue to breathe deeply.

Let your body slowly relax more and more as you realize God’s complete love for you. Like waves of relaxation rushing over your body, feel your face relaxing. Your jaw muscles loosening, your tongue becoming still and heavier, and the stress wrinkles on your forehead loosening up.

Remember that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. So even in this moment of complete stillness, God loves you and fully embraces you.

As your neck muscles loosen, your shoulders dropping down, imagine God’s hand gently resting on your shoulder, communicating God’s gentle, warm presence. Can you feel his large, warm hand resting on your shoulder? Maybe God is sitting beside you with His arm around you, or maybe God is standing in front of you, gently placing His hand on your shoulder.

Can you see the warmth and love in God’s eyes as He looks at you? God designed you; He made you; and He is so happy to have your attention right now. And even as you imagine God looking at you with compassion and love, remember that God really is here with us. The bible says “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” The Bible tells us that “God is love.” So any moment that you’ve ever felt fully or deeply loved, draw on that to know that God loves you like that, and even more so right now. You can be completely at home in God’s presence.

Continue to breathe deeply as your back and stomach relax… letting the relaxation flow down to your legs and even into your feet. Feel yourself firmly but comfortably rooted to the floor or chair.

Now as you sit completely relaxed from head to toe, picture some place in nature that is beautiful. Maybe it is a camp site you visited once with your family… Maybe it is a hike you took with friends… or maybe it is some special place you have made up completely in your imagination. How does the air feel on your skin? Is it damp and cold or is it warm and dry? Is the sun shining? Can you feel the air on your skin? Are there tall trees? Grainy sand? Picture the specific place in your mind. As you sit in this peaceful, beautiful spot, hear the words from Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd;     I have all that I need.

 When I am in God’s presence I am perfectly content because I know that he loves me just as I am and is offering me perfect peace.

He lets me rest in green meadows;     he leads me beside peaceful streams.

Can you hear the water flowing?

    He renews my strength.  

I feel the tiredness and stress in my body leave as I totally relax in God’s presence.

He guides me along right paths,     bringing honor to his name.

 God shows me what he wants for me and reveals good ways to live. There is no stress or guess work in following Jesus because God speaks to me, continually guiding me in where I should go.

Even when I walk     through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,     for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff     protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me     in the presence of my enemies.

No Matter what I face, I can trust you to care for me.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.     My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me     all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

And as you continue to breathe deeply, enjoying God’s peaceful presence, I’m going to count back from five as you slowly come back to a more awake state. Five, your breathing becomes a little bit less deep. Four, your fingers begin to move around a bit more. Three, you can feel your toes start to move now too. Two, your eyes open. One, you’re sitting back up.

How did that feel? Have you done something like that before? Were you able to picture God? Were you able to feel what it is like to be in God’s loving presence? Was anything hard about it? The more practice we get “being still and knowing that he is God” the easier it becomes to sense God throughout our entire day.

Like what you hear, but want more? You can check get more information by checking out our website, or you can email us if you have more questions.

The Core 6 | Church for Unchurched


This week, pastor Ben continued on in our series on Washington Cathedral's core values. He talked about how Washington Cathedral is a place where everyone is valued, regardless of your church background or religious status.

Whenever we step into a new place, there are all sorts of signs – both visible and invisible – that help us feel welcomed or make us stand out. When it comes to church, this is no exception. But Jesus and the authors of the bible teach a very different way of interacting with people of diverse spiritual backgrounds. One of Christianity's founders, the apostle Paul, wrote a letter to one of his churches where he tries to help them understand this sort of interaction.

In the middle of this letter, he writes discussing people's dietary habits, how they dress in Christian gatherings, and how the rich and poor interact with one another. In pastor Ben's sermon, he discussed the first section, on eating (check out his thoughts on the second passage, dress, on his personal blog). In this passage, Paul advises the people in his church to be willing to step out of their comfort zones and into someone else's world as a way to show love and caring.


In the city of Corinth, there was a practice of offering animals as sacrifices to the gods of the Roman empire. After that, the priests in the temples would sell that meat at discount. The issue that the Corinthian Christians dealt with was whether this meat was to be considered safe to eat. In eating it, they might be saying that they submit to the Roman gods; in abstaining, they might be saying that they are against the reigning Imperial government and it's gods. They were in a lose – lose situation.

But Paul says that, because of Jesus' life and teachings, we no longer need to live in that lose – lose situation. Instead, we can live with a radical love and empathy for everyone, while also holding firmly to what we believe.

Being willing to step into a new world is difficult. Psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz says it this way:

Research has shown, again and again, that when we do move, we follow old habits. We don’t trust emergency exits. We almost always try to exit a room through the same door we entered. Forensic reconstruction after a famous restaurant fire in the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky confirmed that many of the victims sought to pay before leaving, and so died in a queue.

After twenty-five years as a psychoanalyst, I can’t say that this surprises me. We resist change. Committing ourselves to a small change, even one that is unmistakably in our best interest, is often more frightening than ignoring a dangerous situation.

We don’t want an exit if we don’t know exactly where it is going to take us, even – or perhaps especially – in an emergency.

We are vehemently faithful to our own view of the world, our story. We want to know what new story we’re stepping into before we exit the old one. We don’t want an exit if we don’t know exactly where it is going to take us, even – or perhaps especially – in an emergency.

Radical empathy is a value that Washington Cathedral tries to live out. Over the past 28 years, it has become one of our core values and we do it in a lot of ways. We have created a “Meta church” which accepts congregations from every kind of ethnic background. That is why we have a vibrant Brazilian congregation, a Korean congregation, and many others. We also have a variety of recovery and support groups.

This is a place where everyone is valued, but that means that everyone has to be willing to step out. If you've never been to church, Jesus has a plan for your life and calls you to step out and experience faith along with us here at Washington Cathedral; if you've been in church your entire life, Jesus calls us to step out and share our lives with everyone around us.

Like what you hear, but want more? You can check get more information by checking out our website, or you can email us if you have more questions.

The Core | We're A Servant Church


Here's part 4 The Core sermon series.Pastor Rey also gives us some background to how God taught him to be a servant.

Why We're a Serving Church:

"I was tested for the “gifted” program in fifth grade and didn't qualify. I was tested again in the sixth grade and didn't qualify again. The last time I was tested was in the seventh grade, but again I failed. I was young but still remember thinking –

“I’m not gifted,”

“I’m not good enough,”

and “I failed again.”

To be told “you are not gifted” by the authorities was a hard thing to swallow. Yet I continued. And at the end of that school year, I began to accept another authority in my life. God. And God had a different message than my teachers and principals and counselors. His message was very clear – “You are in the gifted program.” And that’s the message I started to embrace. I started to believe. I started to trust my Heavenly Father. I asked Him for help.
I started doing well in school. Really well. Way better than before. Way better than anyone could have imagined. And I continued doing better the more I embraced God’s message, “You are in the gifted program.” Eventually I graduated with amazing grades and test scores. I went to University. A little part of me expected that I’d hit a wall and come crashing down to earth. But I trusted my Heavenly Father. “You are in the gifted program.” In the University I excelled and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I had the same results at Graduate School, and during my Doctoral work.

And after all those years, after all those degrees, I finally believe that I'm in the gifted program, but for what? To serve. To serve God. To serve people. To serve my Kingdom.

It doesn’t really make sense. All that work. All that sacrifice so I can help others. But Jesus taught us the Greatness Principle – greatness is found in serving. Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be a servant.” So I was in the gifted program learning how to be come great. How to become a servant.

Which brings me to you. You were made for greatness. I believe that because that’s the message I find repeatedly in the Bible. God has made you for good works. You are God’s Masterpiece. You are in the gifted program. And you will tap into your greatness when you begin to serve. Can you believe that? Will you believe that?

Find your greatness. Where can you be great? Where can you leverage your gifts, talent, and treasure for others? For God’s Kingdom?