October 25, 2016 | JOHN RAY
“The early message was, accordingly, not experienced as something its
hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad- something with no
essential connection with real life- would happened to them. The people initially impacted by that message
generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it. That was the basis of their conversion.” Dallas Willard
Friends, thank you for inviting me to facilitate this process for your community. Last Sunday night was a holy thing, something precious. To hear each of you share your expectations, disappointments, hope, pain, exhaustion and energy for this process of community, this chavurah, is profound gift. Thank you.
This week we start to look deeply at the Gospel of Jesus. Most of us think we know what this means, but in a culture that has sought to reduce the essence of the most liberating, healing and transforming way of encountering God, ourselves and the world to a package-able product that requires minimal effort and promises pain-free returns, the true scope and meaning of the Gospel are seriously compromised. This affects everything.
Changing our understanding of the Gospel and reorienting our relationship to it is essential; it needs
consistent attention and humble approach.
> Listen to the following podcast, It's All Good, and reflect on the meaning of Scripture starting with Genesis 1, not with our sin. After you listen, pay attention to how you view God, yourself and the world around you through the lens of Genesis 1. If you journal, journal. If you create art, create art. If you process by discussion, discuss. Get the ideas out of your head and into action and experience. Be prepared to share your responses with the community on Sunday evening.
> As we talked about Sunday night, being able to share what we are learning with others is essential to our process of learning. Please understand this doesn’t mean that you are to be the expert, or have all this figured out. Indeed, this process invites our kids to be part of our own journey of transformation. So make time this week for a walk outside and share together the story of creation (you can read it word for word or improvise as appropriate), stopping to encounter each part of your surroundings as it is mentioned in the story.
For example, you might say, “Next, God told the earth to grow plants! Grow trees and bushes and grass and grain!” and as you do this, pick up a leaf, climb a tree, rub rosemary between your fingers and smell it. Go to the farmers market and see how many different types of produce you can find, then make a supper that uses a bunch of different fruits and vegetables.
A fantastic resource to help in this process is the Jesus Storybook Bible. There is an audible version with one of my favorite actors doing the reading; click here to find it.
> Prayer for the Week: Abba, I don’t know. Teach me. You are good and you created all this, you created me, as good. Teach me my origin story. Let me know who I am created to be, what this world you created is to be, what it teaches me about you. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
> We all live our lives by rhythms. Some give life and bring health, others break down and diminish. Some are simple, others complex. None are neutral. In addition to your established, healthy and life-giving practices, make time to do the following every day: Sit quietly and take five deep breaths (you can do this at home, in your car as you wait on kids at school or before going into a meeting). Count to five as you inhale, and five as you exhale. After the five deep breathes, pray the Lord’s Prayer like this: Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, say out loud, “Our Father who is in Heaven”; then another deep breath, exhaling “hallowed be your Name”; followed by another deep breath, and so on. After you finish the prayer, deeply inhale and exhale five more times then pray the prayer for the week. Also, find a quiet spot this week and listen to this.