Listening and Reflecting

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lent2016session2

Lent 2016 Session 2

Journeying In journeyingin

As you arrive, you are invited to choose
an image that speaks to you in some
way in relation to your spiritual journey
at this time

Journeying in…

… is about being transformed into the likeness of Christ;

… growing and flourishing as Christians as we seek to follow Christ and journey in our relationship with God;

… knowing and loving ourselves so that we can love others.

This is about checking out our journey with God, how we are sustained and nurtured on that journey, and how we allow our journey to be a source of growth for others on their journey of life and faith.

How do you characterise spiritual growth? What things have helped you to grow spiritually in the past? Make a list of growth enhancers for the spiritual journey.
  • Think back over the week since we last met and explored ‘Looking Up’ together. Can you recall any of the discussions or insights you may have gained from the last session?

  • Close your eyes and recall yesterday’s sermon on Psalm 63. David wrote the psalm out of the context he was experiencing. What has your week been like? How would you begin a psalm if you were to write one now?

Prayer

In the comfort of familiar, well-worn paths:
Spirit of journeying, give hope and strength for the way.

In the delight of exploring unexpected diversions:
Spirit of journeying, give hope and strength for the way.

In the frustration of retracing our steps or taking the long way round:
Spirit of journeying, give hope and strength for the way.

In the searching when we have lost our bearings:
Spirit of journeying, give hope and strength for the way.

In the spirit of travelling and the longing for home:
Spirit of journeying, give hope and strength for the way.

©‘Naming God’ by Jan Berry

In session one we spent some time thinking about the nature of relationships, how we deepen them and show our commitment to them. In this session we shall think about how we might grow and flourish as followers of Christ, deepening our understanding of ourselves, as well as of the God we are in relationship with.

The best of relationships are not static, they are dynamic and they change as we change and grow as people. The same may be said for our journey with God. Our internal journey concerns our personal growth, the development of Christ like character, and our flourishing as individuals in the Christian faith.

This will be different for each of us, and will connect with our personalities and our character, our context and our circumstances, and our unique vocation and calling.

The New Testament describes this growth in terms of our ‘maturing’ from being ‘spiritual babies’ to being ‘spiritual adults’. We might use different language if we were writing the New Testament today, but what is described is a process of learning and transformation, a process that is life-long.

In the Anglican tradition, life-long learning and growth involves engagement with scripture, with tradition, with reason and with human experience, until we gradually take on the likeness of Christ.

‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice …
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do
determined to save
the only life you could save.

GROUP TIME

  1. In groups, reflect on and discuss your reaction to Mary Oliver’s poem. How does it make you feel? What images does it conjure up? How does it resonate with your experience of living the spiritual life?
  1. In Psalm 63 we shared yesterday

    1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
    my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

    We are not all King Davids, but we all have a spiritual dimension to our lives and a relationship with God. St Augustine expressed a longing for God in the words: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you”. Reflect together on the words of the Psalmist and St Augustine… would you say that you have ever longed for God in this way?

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We will look at two gospel stories which describe individuals’ encounters with the person of Jesus and reflect on the impact these encounters had on them: The man born blind (John chapter 9) and the Rich Ruler (Mark 10:17-31)

John 9

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ 9Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ 10But they kept asking him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ 11He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ 12They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ 16Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ 20His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, ‘Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.’ 25He answered, ‘I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ 26They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ 27He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ 28Then they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ 30The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ 34They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?’ And they drove him out.

Spiritual Blindness

35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ 36He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ 37Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ 38He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 39Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.

Mark 10:17-31

The Rich Man

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 18Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ 20He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

28 Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ 29Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’ 

For individual reflection:

  1. What in these stories resonated with your own experience?

In groups:

  1. What things did you notice for the first time or what did you see in a new light?
  2. How did the individuals in the story and those watching the encounter with Jesus have their understanding challenged by Jesus’ response to each?
  3. In the story, how did Jesus use scripture to teach them/invite them to grow/be changed?
  4. When and how did the encounter with Jesus move from academic discussion to life changing encounter?
  5. How did Jesus pay attention to, and value, the human needs of each character?
  6. How might the individuals’ image of themselves and of God have been challenged and shifted as the stories unfold?

INTO PLENARY

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INDIVIDUAL WORK

You will not asked to share this with anyone.

  1. In his sermon yesterday, Duncan asked: If you were to draw a map, what would the topography look like and where would you position yourself? What is your orientation and where is God?

In the space below draw your map reflecting your current ‘inner landscape’ and its features.

 

Listening and Reflecting

As a Christian Community in our Benefice, we are blessed by being incredibly diverse: within our Christian community there are those who have been ‘signed up Christians’ all their lives, worshipping alongside those with no faith or who are unsure, alongside folk from different church or faith backgrounds. We are also an inter-generational community, often with 5 or more generations worshipping together.

There have been and continue to be a range of opportunities in the Benefice to help everyone to nurture their faith, so that individually, and together as a Christian community we might grow and flourish as followers of Christ, in our journey with God; these opportunities have are offered for all ages, for those who are starting out on the journey, and for those who are more established in the Christian faith.

As individuals and as a community, as we reflect on ‘Journeying In’, how might we respond to these questions:

  1. Where have we come from?
  2. Who are we?... perhaps there are descriptive words or images that come to mind in response to this questions

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INTO PLENARY

We feedback our responses to questions 11-12

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Closing worship

Think back to your responses at the beginning and the things that have helped you to grow spiritually in the past, and call to mind something which has been a source of encouragement to you, or inspired you, on your journey of faith. Perhaps it is a particular person, or a place, or a practice, or something else.

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We give thanks to God for those things that have sustained us and helped us to grow and flourish, and we pray that we may also be those who help others to grow and flourish.

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May God, whose name is holy,
be with us in our waiting,
travel with us in our journeying
and hold us in love and wisdom
until she welcomes us home. Amen

©’Naming God’ by Jan Berry

 

United Benefice of Moseley
Lent 2016