Reunion Church April 11-May 16, 2018
Week 1 - How are we listening?
A Look at the 6 weeks:
In these 6 weeks we are going to approach hearing God in terms of the rhythms of our day: as we meet Him in Communion, as we seek Discernment from him for our being and our doing, , as we go out into our world in action and Engagement, and as we take time to gather in the graces of the day in Reflection.
How are we doing at listening?
Read 1 Sam 3.1-11
What is happening in Samuels’ life? – he was left by his mother in the care of this older priest, a common way at the time for an apprenticeship to begin,
How did he learn to listen to God? - with practice & guidance
What are some of Samuels character traits? -humble, honest, teachable, a childlike faith
Read Exodus 3: 1-6
Should we also talk about Moses, how did he learn to listen to God, burning bush? – God only spoke to Moses after he knew Moses was paying attention to him.
Read Luke 2: 41-51 What about Jesus? What did Jesus learn about listening to God? – it is not only bout knowing the right answers and being very smart, but also requires a heart to know how your actions hurt the hearts of those you love. And the time for ministry is appointed and led by God.
Week One – Learning to Listen
What do we see from these regarding how to listen to God?
What character, attitudes and heart are necessary to hear God?
“Awareness is the activator of our character, leading us to be attentive, sensitive, and responsive to the events, circumstances and influences of our day to day living. In Spiritual reality, awareness is the Holy Spirit (God’s presence) at work in us each moment making us fully aware of those things that are good and those things that are bad. Awareness is that character virtue that keeps us from living in a life that is an illusion (a deception).”
“Honesty is the part of our character that maintains with various levels of integrity, regarding who we are and how we are living. We must be honest with God, honest with ourselves and honest with the people we love. Honesty is that character virtue that keeps us from being delusional (contradiction) about living and loving.”
Integrity is from the word “integrated”. It means to bring various parts together into a wholeness, a balance, a unified functioning that honors each part, but functions. It means all the parts of the way God made us are functioning properly under the direction of our Spirits born to new live, our minds ad emotions being renewed under the guidance of Christ, and our bodies living not for them selves but to serve others.
II. God wants to know us…even more than we think we want to know and hear God!
Being known by and Knowing God is different from knowing facts and information.
Being able to hear God stems from being known by God, learning to know and experience How God knows us, what he thinks of us, how he perceives us. This is why the Scriptures; the creeds and hymns of the Faith are so important. These gives us information to process about how God knows us. But that is not the same as feeling and knowing God know us.
Then we need to know ourselves, and then to be known by others in the Community of Faith. We can only hear God to the increasing extent that we allow ourselves to BE known by God, to know ourselves in increasing honesty, and to allow ourselves to be known in community.
God’s passion is to be known by us, to be loved by us.
And God has taken the first step…To be known by You, by me, is one of God’s passions. (It may be the sum of all his passions…to be known is to be loved). He desires for us to the have the experience of being known by him, He wants us to know Him, to experience part of the love of Being that he has in the Trinity, in a community of Love, HE desires to be known by us as much for what it does for Him as it does for us! This is hard for us to imagine that we have this much significance on God’s life. (Hosea is a book written to illustrate jut how true this is!) WE are not saying that God’s needs us in the way I need Him. He is complete and needs nothing or no one. But God allows himself to be deeply affected by our attitude toward Him.
Because of our New Birth by the Spirit, God has created us with all the “equipment/faculties” to know Him.
Now let’s consider how we’re made as human beings, how GOD made us. On the physical end we have muscles, bones, blood, and nerves that connect them all together. In the mind and brain there are complex sets of the nerve endings, electrical systems, fluids and membranes which allow us to have images in our minds, emotions, memories, imagination and a complex of finely tuned feelings, both physical and emotional. All this is part of God’s good design of us, enabling us to navigate worlds that are physical, mental and spiritual.
1 Cor. 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have received from God?”
Paul was saying that God now lives through the presence of the Holy Spirt in our bodies, as opposed to the physical, centrally located Temple. This represents a huge change in the way we understand how to experience intimacy with God. Paul was not saying that God is the body, but that for us to attend to God, we must attend to the place where he lives. Our brains assist us in doing this, by paying attention to our mind/body-emotional / mental experience, we learn to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling us, pay attention to God.
Paying attention to God renews us, heals us.
And paying attention to God more, in every part of life, renews the neural pathways and neural networks that God made in us. Our continual practice of hearing God, paying attention to God, creates a new mind within us. That newness is what Romans 12.2 “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In other words, God build in us the ability to pay attention to what we pay attention to, which creates a space for us to hear him, know him, and out of this flows abundant life-testing and approving God’s good, pleasing and whole will.
Exodus 15:26 He said, "If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you." NIV)
By engaging God’s attention, and attending to what God is attending to, then we initiate a process that leads to healing and wholeness.
Being Known Exercise
WE are going to do an exercise that intentionally calls on us to use some of the less used faculties God has given us, our imaginations, feelings, and senses.
The great myth of modernity as it applies to neuroscience and the many self-help movements of our time is that we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We can attain ultimate mindful peaceful experiences, and peace, and by extension, cultural utopia - without an Ultimate Other to save us from ourselves. But the self-help myth does not consider the general tendency of our hearts & minds, toward deceit and hiding the truth from ourselves and others – the truth regarding the depth and darkness of our emotions, memories and relational patterns as well as the truth about the reality of a God who loves us beyond imagination. With God’s resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Jesus ascension to his place as Lord of this world and the outpouring g of the Holy Spirit, God has released the power to overcome our march toward hiding, deception and death.
PRACTICE BEING KNOWN
A meditation adapted from “Anatomy of the Soul” page 143
Instructions prior to exercise: Give permission to use imagination. God created us with an imagination, etc. Let them know you will be asking questions throughout the exercise. They are not intended to be answered out loud…simply for their own processing. ******** means to pause and leave some silence.
Relax; get comfortable position with your eyes closed. ********
Take a deep breath and begin to imagine yourself in a physical environment that is peaceful and calm. It can be a real place or an imagined one. ********
Allow yourself, now, in your imagination, to take a few moments to be aware of your surroundings. Look around the scene; notice what you see ******. What do you hear ********; (go through all five senses with pause between) taste, smell, touch (is anything touching your body – or is your body touching anything? Notice how that feels) ********
Now, I want you to look around the scene for Jesus. He is Immanuel. God with us. Where is he? (pause) How is he dressed? (pause) What is he doing? (pause) What is the expression on his face? There is no right or wrong way for him to appear or be revealed. ********
Now imagine hearing Jesus call your name** , he comes close to you, puts his hand on your face, lifts your chin and looks into your eyes – deep into your soul - as he says these words, “You (name) are my (son, daughter, child if in mixed group) and I SO love you. I am SO pleased with you and that you are on the earth.”
Do not turn away from His gaze.
Do not resist His voice.
REPEAT: “You are my (daughter) and I SO love you. I am SO pleased with you and that you are here on the earth.”
For the next few minutes, just allow yourself to be in His presence. ********.
What do you feel?*********
What do you feel Jesus is feeling as he looks with tenderness and strength into the windows of your soul?********
Is there anything else Jesus wants you to know? (pause to give time for conversation)
Is there anything you want to say to Jesus?
Conclude this time by thanking God for his presence with you, his delight in you and for any new perspective you received.
You are invited to practice this meditation every day for six weeks.
If you do, remember that you are not simply engaging with some abstract dimension of your mind; you are in fact, using the creative gift that God has given you as being made in His Image. And you are changing the neural networks of your brain toward being open and receptive to His presence within you. Practically, this exercise may lead you to a deep awareness of being known and cared for by your Father. Initially, this may take place only during the meditation. Eventually however, you will find that you can quickly access the positive images, feelings, sensations and words you hear during moments of discomfort in everyday life, altering your response to anxiety-provoking events, and becoming more receptive to the Spirit of God
Anatomy of The Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships, by Curt Thompson, MD, Tyndale House Publishers, c. 2010
An Unhurried Leader: The Lasting Fruit of Daily Influence. By Alan Fadling, InterVarsity Press, c. 2017
Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids MI, c.2009
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. By Peter Scazzero. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN. C. 2006