Monthly Archives: April 2016

A New Way of Savoring Goodness

As he invited us to the Table this morning, Jarrod spoke of the ways in which we struggle to savor goodness. He contrasted this struggle with the way Jesus invited people to slow down, even to stop, that they might truly savor the goodness of life, the goodness of God. As we delve deeper into this theme of savoring goodness, I encourage you to take some time to slow down, to watch these videos, and to contemplate the accompanying questions. My hope is that as we engage in thoughtful reflection, we’ll find our way toward a healthy habit of savoring the God-created and God-given goodness that is all around us.

Enjoying God’s Pleasures

Questions for reflection on the “Enjoying God’s Pleasures” Video:

1. In what ways have you observed or overheard Christians pitting “mission” against the enjoyment of God’s pleasures? What types of reactions have you observed to this dichotomy? How have you reacted to this dichotomy?

2. In what ways do you find it easy to stop and enjoy the pleasures of God? In what ways do you find it difficult?

3. What is one specific step you want to take to grow in your ability to enjoy the pleasures of God, to savor goodness?

Learning to Party Better

Questions for reflection on the “Learning to Party Better” Video:

1. Think back over your experience in the church. In what ways has the church celebrated well? In what ways has the church struggled with being festive, with savoring goodness?

2. Engage your imagination for a moment: how would you like to see the church savor goodness? What would be the focus? What would that celebration look like?

3. In what ways would learning to savor goodness diminish the cultural power of consumerism?

4. How would learning to savor goodness impact our participation in God’s mission?

A New Way of Reaching Out

I still remember the moment when I realized that some of the “greeters” at the church I grew up in weren’t just greeters because they wanted to make others feel welcome when they arrived for worship. As it turned out, the real reason these folks showed up early wearing their best smiles is because they had something to sell, and they hoped that some of those they greeted might one day become customers.

I also remember overhearing a conversation among some church leaders about a ministry the church supported. The question being debated was whether or not the church should continue supporting a ministry that was meeting dire physical needs when few, if any, of those being served were coming to faith as a result of that service.

The reality is, whether it’s in one of these or any number of other ways, far too often our efforts to “reach out” have strings attached. Far too often, we reach out only as a means to some other end, rather than recognizing that reaching out is itself a worthy end. This morning, however, Jarrod reminded us that the resurrection equips us with a new way of reaching out. This way of reaching out grows out of the convictions that God created us for community, that God longs for creation to experience peace, and that God’s calling on our lives is for us to overcome evil with good. When we reach out on the basis of these convictions, we find that reaching out is indeed its own worthy end, regardless of what comes of our efforts.

As we continue to reflect on what it means to embody this new way of reaching out, it seems appropriate to begin by meditating on the themes of community and peace in the two videos below and the questions that follow.

Beyond Throwing Stones

Questions for reflection on the “Beyond Throwing Stones” Video:

1. When have you felt like you were on the receiving end of thrown stones? How did that experience feel and how has it impacted you since?

2. When have you thrown stones at others? How might you have responded differently so that relationships could have been built or sustained and community prioritized rather than damaged?

3. Who do you make it a point to spend time with with whom you have some significant difference (or many)? Think of one more person that fits this description with whom you can make an intentional effort to be together.

Peace

Questions for reflection on the “Peace” Video:

1. What do you make of the connection between worship and peace?

2. Have you ever received the gift of peace so that it enabled you to encounter someone very different without fear? What was that experience like? Why do you think you were able to receive peace in that moment?

Service
Having reflected on the themes of community and peace, we can now turn our attention to the theme of overcoming evil with good. To make this abstract phrase a bit more concrete, let’s think of it as service to others. Check out a brief article about some grandmothers in Greece, watch the two videos below, and then reflect on the questions that follow.

Pension for the Common Good

The Hand That Steadies The Plate

Questions for reflection on the theme of service:

1. What about these acts of service inspires you?

2. What about these acts of service unsettles you?

3. When have you been on the receiving end of no-strings-attached service from others? How did that make you feel and how has it impacted you since?

4. When have you offered no-strings-attached service to others? What was that like?

5. Spend some time in prayerful reflection, asking God to reveal to you a person or group of people who are different than you to whom you can offer no-strings-attached service.

A New Way of Listening

This morning, Jarrod invited us to continue living into our identity as Easter people by embracing the new way of listening that the resurrection makes possible. But in those last two words lies the key: the resurrection makes possible a new way of listening, it doesn’t automatically make it happen. If we are to become people whose lives are characterized by a new way of listening, we’re going to have to make an effort, to be intentional, to deliberately cultivate the skill of listening well. To that end, I invite you to watch the following videos that will continue the conversation we began this morning and challenge and inspire us to grow in our ability to listen well.

Deep Listening

Questions for reflection on the “Deep Listening” Video:

1. What does deep listening mean to you?

2. Have you ever had an experience where you felt as if God or another person listened to you in a way that seemed extraordinary? Describe it. To what do you attribute your feeling of being heard?

3. What barriers do you send when you try to listen deeply to another person? What helps you to move past those barriers?

4. Think of a time when you listened deeply to God speaking to you. What helped you to listen? What barriers to deep listening did you experience?

5. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to listen to God, but has more experience talking to God, or maybe even feeling as if God isn’t available?

6. Do you have any concerns or reticence about considering deep listening as a spiritual practice? What are they?

Listening as a Virtue

Questions for reflection on the “Listening as a Virtue” Video:

1. Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you just needed someone to listen and instead they only seemed interested in advocacy, in defending something or doing something? Describe it. How did it make you feel?

2. What are some of the ways that you cultivate curiosity so that you can listen well to others?

3. In what ways does listening produce humility? Tell of a time that listening produced humility in your life.

4. In what ways does listening produce compassion? Tell of a time that listening produced compassion in your life.

5. What is one specific commitment you can make this week to cultivate listening as a virtue in your life?

 

For more thought-provoking videos, check out The Work of the People.