Jared Witt - December 18, 2018
I'm looking for people who might describe themselves as spiritually motivated, who would like to participate in a series of midweek centering sessions that I am calling "Spiritual but Not Ridiculous: A thinking person's place to explore the divine."
By "spiritually motivated," think open and intentional as opposed to advanced or knowledgable. I'm looking for people who don't have all or perhaps any of the answers but who know there is a depth and a mystery to life and God still to probe. I'm looking for people who are perhaps not sure where to begin but who suspect that by seeking that depth first, joy, beauty, abundance, or what Jesus calls "the reign of God" will be added as well.
If that describes you, my disclaimer as the leader of the group is that I also don't have "the answers," but I share that same suspicion with you.
I'm designing this to be part theological exploration, part prayer practice, part spiritual exercise, part Bible study. We will center conversation around Jesus of Nazareth and his Way of being in the world as well as the mystical spirituality of finding the Holy Spirit in and among our lives together.
As all truth is God's truth, we will draw freely from other traditions and influences in which I have found Christ-like spiritual food. Examples include:
- Hebraic storytelling and the Rabbinic tradition
- Medieval Rhineland Christian mysticism
- Jesuit Examen Prayer and Ignatian Spirituality
- Zen Meditation
I'm there every Tuesday at this time for pastoral counseling with whoever shows up (closed on Christmas). But I hope to begin in earnest with a larger group on Tuesday January 8th.
You know who you are. Hope to see you there.
Cheers and Peace,
Jared Witt - October 8, 2018 (Reblog)
For followers of Jesus Christ, serving those who are poor or on the margins is not something we might choose to do because we have a particular passion for it as individuals. It’s not something for us to do on the side when we feel like “giving back.” It’s not something Paul lists alongside personal charisms like the gift of prophecy or of speaking in tongues, which some might possess but not others.
If we don't live to serve the outcast, it becomes very cloudy what exactly we mean when we call ourselves Christian. In fact, we can light candles, and start a prayer group at work, and sing songs at church, and read our Bibles at coffee shops, and join a small group, and wear crosses over our hearts, and teach kids about Daniel in the lion’s den, and hang a cross stitch of the “Serenity Prayer” over our beds, and make spiritual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and attend denominational gatherings, and any number of other things that are conventionally recognized as “Christian” and, as far as we know, still have not done a single thing that Jesus ever did or cared about.
Jared Witt - September 17, 2018
It’s been a very, very long time coming. But it’s nearly upon us.
Right as our first batches are coming out of fermentation, Castle Church will be kicking off the life of our brewing community and celebrating the new home of our church in the only way we know how, with a Reformation Day Brewery Blessing.
When - October 28, 4pm to 7:30 pm
Where - Castle Church Brewing Community (6820 Hoffner Ave., Orlando, FL 32822)
What – A classic monastic brewery blessing with some Castle Church improvisations, complete with guided beer tasting, blessing liturgy, beer and hymns, and a catered dinner.
What you need to know – This a special celebration with all those who have supported and prayed for our development prior to our opening to the general public. Reservations are required. Follow this link.
The brewery blessing tradition dates to the early middle ages at least as far back as Saint Arnold of Soissons (patron saint of hop-pickers and brewers) in the 11th century. He is often depicted with a mashing rake, a tool used in the old brewing process. But his synonymity with brewing is not because he opened up a monastery with a brewery, which was very common, but is an homage to his wise action of saving many from his church as an epidemic swept through the region by telling them to drink beer instead of water.
Jared Witt - August 27, 2018
Haut Publicité Inc., a sleek new outfit specializing in brand marketing and high end corporate promotion, had moved into the area and wanted to demonstrate what they could do for local executives. So they decided to throw a community festival at the downtown boardwalk. About a month out, their social media staff start plugging targeted invites to all the high end neighborhoods, and sales reached out to local client-based firms and real estate moguls.
A couple weeks went by and they started to grow concerned over the lackluster response on the event page. Lots of “no” responses, several “maybes,” but very few solid “yes”-es. The promotions team started reaching out directly to business contacts and influencers in the community with the script, “Hello, my name is ____, just wanted to make sure you knew about…” The responses they got weren’t negative, but they weren’t that helpful either.
Karen Henry - August 20, 2018
It is impossible to have a vital community of the Spirit without authenticity. And part of authenticity is risking talking about those experiences which we might prefer not to talk about. I'm indebted to Castle Church's own Karen Henry for having the groundedness and the strength of character to share this reflection on searching for light in a dark time. Thank you, Karen. - Jared
The painted shell that sits on my desk.
I am a person who viciously assigns meaning to dates, items and places. In some instances, this is a wonderful trait. Birthdays and anniversaries are important to me and cause me to reminisce. When I wear a piece of jewelry from a friend, it reminds me of them. Restaurants and the food that I’m eating conjure memories of a place travelled and special people in my life.
Jared Witt - July 5, 2018
I couldn’t be bothered with generosity of spirit the other day. I was busy rehearsing a sermon.
That’s how it goes sometimes. You have to talk about the love and grace of the Origin and Redeemer of the cosmos in a couple hours. So when my friend sends me a nice thought via text—“I just saw a bumper sticker that said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.’”—what was I going to do? Reflect on it with new eyes? Allow myself to be moved that my friend would think to share a little spiritual gem with me that morning? Enjoy the profound realization that we are not alone in this spiritual journey? That there are travel partners on the road with us?
Not this bona fide saint and sinner, specializing in sinner. No no no. The snotty, know-it-all words that spilled onto my iPhone keyboard were “St. Francis was an aphorism machine.”
Jared Witt l June 7, 2018
You’ll forgive the beggar if he’s turned a bit cynical about people. A lifetime of paralysis will do that to a person (Acts 3:1-10).
Or maybe cynical isn’t even the right word. He’s been at this so long, it would be more accurate to say that he’s a realist. He doesn’t hold the resentment of a true cynic, not at this stage. He’s grown very realistic about the economy of guilt. He knows his place, and it is what it is. He knows that few motivators are as reliable as guilt. And by the same token, few are as limited. Guilt is almost always worth a shekel or two, never much more than that. You can’t get from guilt to respect or to honor. There is no progression from guilt to love, certainly not to friendship.
Jared Witt l May 24, 2018
My freshman year at Colorado State University, I lived in the dorms with my best friend from high school. There are some pros and cons to living with a lifelong friend your first year of college. One pro is that it puts you in a rare position of personal security versus the other new younglings, who are frantically (and sometimes literally) grasping at each other for a place to fit in these new unchartered waters. One con is that lifelong friends tend to develop a shared sense of humor with a frequency and wavelength, which, they forget, diverges more and more from the norm over time.
Back then, we were into a form of practical joking which frequently took the shape of informal social experiments. One day, we thought it might be a lark to take out a piece of paper and write the names of about half of our dorm floor-mates on a list, leave the other half off, and then post it to the outside of our door (about 25 of 50 people in total). No labels. No contextual clues as to the what the list meant (and, in fact, it meant nothing).
Jared Witt l April 27, 2018
The epistle of First John is deceptive. It lulls you into a false sense of security with some very beige sentences. If you're not paying attention, it might even lead you to believe that he is just talking about the same stodgy old platitudes that you would expect of, say, an aging Evangelical tv preacher or one of those self-styled, pan-denominational aunts, who never seem to tire of generic moralisms and conservative protestant party lines.
Example A: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him.”
(K, great. But how do you define sin and how do we know when we’ve been born of God? What happens if I'm born of God, and it takes for a bit, but then I sin a couple times?)
Jared Witt l March 31, 2018
I’m not wired to be a very religious person.
I say that knowing that not everyone will understand what I mean by it, and the ones who get me right away are likely wired in the same way.
When I first went to seminary in 2008, I was sort of surprised that there were pockets of otherwise normal, healthy people who were really into the whole bit. And whether it be the featureless praise songs or the plodding organ dirges, the Greek tattoo and pompadour haircut or the clergy collar and Great Clips haircut, the professional stage-lighting or the incense burning made no difference to me. This rendered the red-faced debates over "traditional" vs. "contemporary" worship somewhat humorous, seeing as I was what you might call a neutral third party. Without knocking any of it, for me, it all just kind of lumped together as so many different shades of generically religious shtick. I accepted that certain types were just more inclined toward that whole thing than others.
One barrier to entry for me was it all seemed so horribly made up. I couldn’t get over the feeling, “Wait, so you’re telling me some guy just started lighting that candle and this time a while back, and so now we all have to do it?”
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.