Sharing God's Life - Benefice Lent Course

Bookmark and Share

LENT REFLECTIONS FOR SMALL GROUPS 2017

Lent is a great opportunity to slow down! We might not wish to go into the desert for 40 days to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, but it is one of the seasons in the Christian Year to be reflective and prayerful. My suggestion this year is that we each take time to focus, and also that we share on a spiritual journey as a church family. Our helps along the way will be sermons, home group meetings, documents, and Diocesan workshops where you can create your own ‘Rule of Life’.

http://www.winchester.anglican.org/about-us/strategic-priorities/rule-of-life/

‘Sharing God’s Life’ is a small square Winchester Diocese publication that can be obtained for each person. It is based on the Benedictine ‘Rule of Life’. Using this we may each create our own ‘Rule of Life’: LOVING, LIVING, SERVING

Whitewater Studies (1-3) three weeks of notes to guide Whitewater life groups using the Diocesan publication above - see page 2 and following

‘40Acts’: Stewardship Resource a 7 week programme for home groups prepared by www.stewardship.org

Meeting dates

Service or Study Group

Lectionary readings for Holy Communion

1st March

2nd March

Ash Weds Holy Communion

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Isaiah 58.1-12;

Matthew 6.1-6, 16-21

5th March

1st Sunday of Lent

Gen 2.15-17, 3.1-7; Rom 5.12-19;

Matthew 4.1-11

8th March

9th March

Midweek Communion (Weds)

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Psalm 51.1-5, 17-18; Jonah 3;

Luke 11.29-32

12th March

2nd Sunday of Lent

Gen 12.1-4a; Rom 4.1-5, 13-17;

John 3.1-17

15th March

16th March

Midweek Communion (Weds)

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Psalm 31.4-5, 14-18; Jer 18.18-20;

Matthew 20.17-28

19th March

3rd Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17.1-7; Romans 5.1-11;

John 4.5-42

22nd March

23rd March

Midweek Communion (Weds)

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Psalm 147.13-end; Deut 4.1, 5-9;

Matthew 5.17-19

26th March

4th Sunday of Lent

Mothering Sunday (celebration)

1 Sam 1.20-end; Col 3.12-17;

Luke 2.33-35

29th March

30th March

Midweek Communion (Weds)

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Psalm 145.8-18; Isaiah 49.8-15;

John 5.17-30

1st April

Listening Day for ALL

 

2nd April

5th Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37.1-14; Rom 8.5-11;

John 11.1-45

5th April

6th April

Midweek Communion (Weds)

Study Groups (Weds/Thurs)

Daniel 3.14-20, 24-25, 28;

John 8.31-42

9th April

Palm Sunday

Psalm 118.19-24;

Matthew 21.1-11;

Midweek

Holy Week Services each day

 

 

‘SHARING GOD’S LIFE’ 2017 - Week 1 – LOVING

‘To be a Christian means to be like Jesus Christ’. Bishop Stephen Neill. 1955

What a challenge! That, at least, is our hope and direction of our lives. We are being transformed into greater Christlikeness as we follow in his ways of loving, living and serving, as we see Jesus doing in the gospel stories.  We cannot do this on our own. We need each other to encourage, and help us be formed into more beautiful characters (Proverbs 27.17 says ‘as iron sharpens iron, so one human sharpens another’). We need the help of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, as we grow. Christians over the centuries have found that ‘time out’ with God in Lent is helps a  deeper understanding, and a closer walk with the Lord. So now is our opportunity.

This week we focus on LOVING as our theme

If you are doing this at home, perhaps make time for 10 mins quiet each day, to look up one Bible verse each day, read, ponder, say it aloud; allow God to speak to you in the quiet. Then finish with the Lord’s prayer.

If you join a Lent Group, suggestions for group study, activity, prayer are below.

WORD

How do we understand the meaning of loving, from these verses in the Bible?

  1. Isaiah 63 v 9 – God’s love for his people
  2. 1 John 3 v 16 – this is how we know what love is
  3. 1 John 5 v 3 – what can we do?
  4. Luke 10 v 29-37 – Jesus’ story of love in action
  5. 1 Corinthians 13 – often read at weddings
  6. Romans 8 v 28 – how do our lives work out?
  7. 1 John 4 v 19 – back to basics

WORSHIP

How might we express our love in worship?

How might we receive God’s love in prayer?

Choose a song or hymn – listen or sing

‘Love divine, all love’s excelling’ by Charles Wesley

‘Before the throne of God, I have a strong, a perfect plea’

You alone can rescue’ by Matt Redman;

REFLECTION

Read the words by Henri Nouwen, who first struggled to accept that God loved him, and then rejoiced in his experience of being loved by God:

from ‘Life of the Beloved’ published 1992, Hodder & Stoughton. pp.30-31

‘Listening to the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.” 

Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate that that of a mother for a child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse… yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”

RESPONSE

We can create our own ‘Rule of Life’ with the aids given by Winchester Diocese.

Spend time in silence with the ideas below – and then share as appropriate.

http://www.winchester.anglican.org/about-us/strategic-priorities/rule-of-life/

4 areas of practical reflection – to consider, and make a plan, share with others

 ‘The love of Christ must come before all else.’ St Benedict

LOVING – is our personal response to God’s love

Loving God: Taking time to develop my relationship with God

How am I already doing this?

What might I commit to do this year?

For example, use ‘Reflections for Daily Prayer’ each day;

Spend 5 minutes in silence with God each weekday evening.

Loving others: Developing relationships with my family & friends

How am I already doing this?

What might I commit to do this year?

For example, phone my sister/ brother at least once a fortnight; initiate a social with my friend at least once a month

 

Loving myself: Looking after myself by committing to work, rest and leisure

How am I already doing this?

What might I commit to do this year?

For example, sign up for another art course; take at least one weekend away this year to walk the South Downs Way

 

Loving life: Living simply and giving generously

How am I already doing this?

What might I commit to do this year?

For example, give 5% of my net income through the Parish Giving Scheme; give an evening a month to work for a charity

ENDING

Say the Grace together, and promise to ask next week how it is going

‘SHARING GOD’S LIFE’ 2017 - Week 2 – LIVING

‘I have come that you may have life in all its abundance’. Jesus of Nazareth.

As we go deeper into Lent, perhaps we need this reminder of God’s offer of full and abundant life in and through Jesus Christ. Do we really believe it? Have our life experiences been so challenging, that we hold ourselves in reserve?

If you are doing this at home, perhaps make time for 10 mins quiet each day, to look up one Bible passage each day, read, ponder, say it aloud; allow God to speak to you in the quiet. Then finish with the Lord’s prayer.

If you join a Lent Group, suggestions for group study, activity, prayer are below.

PRAYER & WORSHIP

You may like to reflect on your own, or if in a group, discuss the questions above during your meeting. How about reminding yourselves of other words of Jesus (Matt 12.28) used in the Prayer Book. Perhaps pray with another believer now, or later?

‘Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.’

Our focus tonight is on our outward life, with each other in the Church “what a great body!” Youth Emmaus. It may be fruitful to begin with quiet and reflection this week, if we were to consider our personal lives and community lives as ‘rocky ground’, we might want to do some clearing away of stones before we begin. Here is a possible prayer to consider, that is part of our Lenten liturgy:

Come, let us return to the Lord who has torn us and will heal us.
God has stricken us and will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us, and on the third day he will raise us up,
That we might live in his presence.
Let us strive to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the sunrise.
He will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.
‘O Ephraim, how shall I deal with you? How shall I deal with you, O Judah?
‘Your love for me is like the morning mist, like the dew that goes early away.
‘Therefore, I have hewn them by the prophets,
and my judgement goes forth as the light.
For loyalty is my desire and not sacrifice,
and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6.1-6

REFLECTION

Life is our most precious gift from God, and we are called to make it most truly human. Neither a subhuman life, nor one that is simply passive, is a fully human life. The Hebrew conception of life is always one of action, movement and enjoyment. The evangelist John speaks of eternal life as the true life. But to John, eternal life is not the future resurrected life of believers, it is a life that we already presently enjoy in our earthly existence. Eternal life begins now when we live out Jesus’ words of enduring life: ‘Love one another’. Our life is one, so there is no division between physical life and spiritual life, between our life of food and drink and our life of relationship to God and neighbour.  The resurrection of Jesus announces that true life is available to, and the right of, all human beings; it is not something reserved for a few, or something that we await to happen on the ‘last day’: it is something we already live now. It is not compensation for the miseries of life, but a continuation of an earthly existence lived out according to God’s will and purpose for humanity.

By Virginia Fabella ‘Symbols in John’s Resurrection Scene: Reflections on the Garden and Mary Magdalene’ in Women of Courage: Asian Women reading the Bible, ed. Lee Oo Chung et al. pp.189-90

WORD

How do we understand the meaning of loving, from these verses in the Bible?

  1. Deuteronomy 30 v 11-20 – the people together are given a choice
  2. Psalm 16 v 11 – a wonderful promise
  3. Proverbs 19 v 23 – this is a recurring Hebrew theme
  4. Matthew 6 v 25-34 – how can we help each other?
  5. Ephesians 4 v 1-6 – how can we work together for this life?
  6. 1 Timothy 6 v 11-16 – what daily things can we choose to follow?

RESPONSE

The questions are from the Diocesan Rule of Life – for you to do together, or alone

Living a rooted life: Being taught from the Word of God, fed by the Body of Christ and equipped by the Holy Spirit

Who am I already doing this with? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, start a prayer triplet with two of my friends; go along to a regional celebration event with another church

Living an open life: Being ready to explore new ways of being church

Who am I already doing this with? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, attend a Fresh Expressions day on new ways of being church; regularly read and respond to my friend’s faith blog.

Living a generous life: Giving my time, experience, gifts and talents to serve God in the community

Who am I already doing this with? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, use my gift of hospitality to host a meal for those who live alone; offer my skill advising those with financial needs.

Living a shared life: Sharing worship, food and resources

Who am I already doing this with? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, join the Bible reading rota for 10am service; give regularly to a food bank; find out about being a street pastor.

ENDING

Say the Lord’s Prayer (our Father) together, and promise to ask next week how it is going

‘ SHARING GOD’S LIFE’ 2017 - Week 3 – SERVING

‘The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.’

If you are doing this at home, perhaps make time for 10 mins quiet each day, to look up one Bible verse each day, read, ponder, say it aloud; allow God to speak to you in the quiet. Then finish with the Lord’s prayer.

If you join a Lent Group, suggestions for group study, activity, prayer are below.

WELCOME

How well do you know each other in your group? Here is a challenge: just suppose you were cooking dinner for each member in turn. Do you know the meal that would make each person feel special?  (some groups might ask this in week 2, and then bring food to share this week!)

WORSHIP

A hymn to sing, pray, read, or you may like to get out crayons and all draw on a large piece of paper… what does this look like to you?

1. Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

2. We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

3. I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

4. I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I'll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we've seen this journey through.

5. When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.

6. Brother, sister, let me serve you;
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that l may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Richard A.M. Gillard (b.1953)

WORD

How do we understand the meaning of loving, from these verses in the Bible?

  1. Luke 1 v 38
  2. Genesis 1 v 26-31
  3. Isaiah 58
  4. Acts 1 v 8
  5. Romans 12 v 7
  6. Matthew 20 v 20-28
  7. Acts 2 v 37-47

REFLECTION

Love through me, Love of God,
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which unhindered, colours pass
As though it were not there.

Powers of the love of God,
Depths of the heart Divine
O Love that faileth not, break forth,
And flood this world of Thine.

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

RESPONSE

The questions are from the Diocesan Rule of Life – for you to do together, or alone

Serving and stewarding the world God has given us

Where am I doing this already?  What might I commit to do this year?

For example, write to the editor about the environmental issues raised in my local newspaper; organize a village litter-pick.

Serving the downtrodden: Acting against injustice

Where am I doing this already? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, support my Turkish neighbour in getting her child’s school to tackle bullying; write to my MP about mental health.

Serving at home & work for the common good

Where am I doing this already? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, keep some special times for just the family; pray daily for my boss and for my work to be a blessing to others.

Serving the community through social and cultural mission

Where am I doing this already? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, speak up at governors’ meetings for single parents; read up on reproductive technologies.

Serving others: Listening to others and telling God’s story

Where am I doing this already? What might I commit to do this year?

For example, invite two colleagues to the next enquirers’ course; invite

my neighbour round who I know is angry with God/church.

ENDING

Write a letter from the group to the church: what have we learned; what will we do differently after Easter? Pray your thanks to God.

Marion de Quidt, Feb 2017