Week 4 Hearing God & Engaging in His Harvest
Music: Keur Moussa in Senegal West Africa, singing Ps.119
Beginning Prayer: Phos Hilaron:
O Gracious Light, referred to by Justyn Martyr circa 150AD
O Gracious Light, Pure brightness of the everlasting Father in heaven
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed.
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
And our eyes behold the vesper light,
We sing your praises O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
And to be glorified through all the worlds…
Art: Harvest by Robert Zund
With harvest scenes by Vincent Van Gogh and Jules Breton
What is each painter’s perspective about harvest time?
What might we learn about Harvest Time as we reflect from a Christ-perspective?
He prepares us to Engage with Him & His Harvest- The Big Picture
Jesus reveals himself to his Disciples John 20: 19-29
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
How does Jesus prepared his disciples to join Him in the Harvest?
What needs, emotions and concerns did Jesus take the time to deal with before sending his disciples?
What do you think Jesus meant by “as the Father has sent me…?” Do you think the disciples understood?
How does God bring new life to the disciples? How does God bring new life to us in order to prepare us to be sent?
Why is the message of forgiveness connected to the Holy Spirit? How is that a message part of the call of a disciple?
Jesus’ work of preparing His disciples for harvest time continues.
“Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What did Jesus do for Thomas?
The risen Christ still bears the marks of Crucifixion, this is a consoling and hope-filled image, our hurts and limitations are part of who we are. With the breath of the spirit they are redeemed. God takes us as we are and makes us whole again each day. A new creation is a work. God wastes nothing and redeems all.
A. God is always preparing us, day by day He knows what we need to be His Disciple that day.
God is always working, creating, renewing/resurrecting.
God is in all things as we go out the door for the day
We ask for God’s grace to help us to be attentive to God’s presence everywhere.
We ask for the grace to recognize God’s generosity to us and those around us.
We cultivate the practice of turning to God in thankfulness, gratitude and praise.
And we ask for the grace to turn our gratitude helping others
He is not just a God who creates in Genesis. Creating is WHO God is. God IS Creator, not God WAS creator.
A we prepare for each new day, God shows up to ready us to perceive and celebrate new risings as well, reconciled or new friendships, unexpected opportunities, renewed vigor, and meaningful experience that come from losses.
Where do I see tiny signs of new life, new hope in my day?
We all experience various deaths in our lives, not just with the death of loved ones, but also with the loss of friendships, changes in life-style, career, physical infirmity, children leaving home, relocation from one city to another, and loss of hope and clarity for the day ahead. God is a God of life. The resurrection reveals how God is always bring life from death, hope, from despair, love from hate, and light and forgiveness from darkness.
We each day seek God’s grace to become more free from excessive attachments so that we can love and serve God and others.
In this new day, I look for signs of how God is bringing new life, new hope
B. Hearing God – Becoming Attentive to His Whisper
This is the title of our class, but what does it MEAN?
Might it mean we sense God? What else?
You/we all have come to know God, the blowing of the Spirit, the whisper of Jesus Christ. What is that like for you? Can you put that into a few words for us?
Some thoughts on “hearing God”
There is an ebb and flow- and there are times of noticing more with our senses and more emotions than other times. Some ancient writers have called these “interior movements”
Not only emotions can sense God’s stirrings, but hearing, smells, feelings, memories come to the mind. We call to mind what God has done in the past and we meet the God who is always present, the “I AM”.
Hearing God might be pictures in your mind, or words or a word that stands out in your thoughts.
A scripture comes to mind, fragments of the written word that become God’s personal word to us
There other ways to sense God’s movement in us, nature, our pets. What are some you find special?
How do we speak about “hearing God”? Is it “Christian-ese? I like using terms like “I seem to sense…”. “I feel prompted…”
In Spiritual Companionship or Spiritual Direction, we/trained Spiritual Directors come alongside someone who is wanting to grow more to hear God, we say we are creating a space for God to impress himself on our minds, emotions, thoughts and hearts in any way He desires. Or we are a trained companion to help someone rummage for God among the daily “utensils and parts and pieces” of daily life. We take time in our busy schedule to create a space for God. We stop running and wait for Him to hear the whisper of His voice call in our name.
C. How do I come to understand, what God is calling me to for This day? The Specific Picture
Our “jobs/careers” are many (Parker Palmer), within each one though, Our “calling” from God contributes uniquely to God’s work in the world, which He is already busy at.
Managing a sporting-goods store is a career: challenging people to use their leisure time to find refreshment and renewal is a calling.
Teaching Jr High social studies is a career, providing instruction, support, guidance and hope to adolescent’s going through a difficult passage in life is a calling
True vocation joins self and service, “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.
Learning to hear God is like going on a journey. The experiences we have along the way have a cumulative effect always preparing us hear better while serving in the present
IF we are attentive to God in this present moment, which IS the primary will of God for our lives, we will come to know and hear better as we go.
We learn to sense and hear God in our experiences, in people, in nature. In our motivations & our mistakes, our losses & our limits, in our suffering & in our service, in our gladness & our grief, if only we take the time to be quiet and listen.
Ignatius teaches to pay attention to what gives us life, energy, enthusiasm? What is right? seems right & good? Vs What gives us darkness, sadness or sorrow? Is right & good?
God whispers to us as we practice living & listening for His presence each day and during the day. That’s why Spiritual Practices are called “practices” or “exercises”
Spiritual practices we have mentioned in these past weeks: Breath prayer, Centering Prayer, Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina, Prayer with Imagination, Praying the Scriptures, ACTS Prayer.
Some we haven’t mentioned yet but will next week: Fixed Hour Prayer & Examen,
Next: Guided Imaginative Reflection - John 21: 2-22 (see below)
Our Exercise for Tonight is an Imaginative Contemplation from John 21:2-22(NIV)
Guided Imaginative Reflection - John 21: 2-22
God can speak to us just as clearly in our imagination as through our thoughts and our memories. Imaginative contemplation is a very active way of engaging our feelings, emotions and senses to place you in the scene described.
Let the events of Jesus’ life after His resurrection be present to you right now. Visualize the event as if you were making a movie. Pay attention to the details: sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings of the event. Lose yourself in the story; don’t worry if your imagination is running too wild. At some point, place yourself in the scene and meet Jesus there.
In this reflection we encounter Jesus after his resurrection walking on the shore to meet his disciples. The scene is beside Sea of Galilee one evening and then early next the morning.
“Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I'm going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We'll go with you.” So, they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven't you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.)
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again, Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
-Imagine Jesus watching the boat come to shore from afar. Place yourself among them. You might be one of the disciples. Or perhaps you are yourself and yet with them. Who are you?
-Look at disciples silent and tired, the oars, the sails, the sun beginning to bring daylight over the water, the piles of empty nets, a person on the shore growing larger as you approach.
-Listen to the sounds too - the water lapping on the boat, the sound of the men breathing and the oars dipping.
-Smell the air, the aroma of bread and fish coming from the shore
-Feel the breeze – perhaps faint, the rough wood of the oars in the hands, feel the tiredness of the fishermen.
-As the shore comes nearer, a person is there as if waiting for you. He is alone. There seems to be some smoke curling upward from a fire behind him farther up on the rocks. The boat comes close enough to hear the man’s voice call out. What is the reaction on of the others in the boat?
-You hear the person shout from afar. “Friends, haven't you any fish? Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
-Peter and the others answer, and in a moment the boat is turning back and headed out to the deep. "
---The story continues, but before that, is there anything else you want to do here? What is your response to the man on the shore? ---
They put down the nets again and troll for a moment, then begin to pull the nets in. Your “fisherman” instincts kick in as the net begins to foam and froth with a huge catch. You heave with the rest of them to bring the catch, which is too heavy to haul onboard, to the side of the boat, while other row hard toward shore.
Then you hear Peter shout something like, “It is the LORD!” and he jumps overboard! What is happening?? Where are you in the story, on the ship? In the water? Watching on the shore? Do you want to catch the eye of Jesus? Do you want to speak to Him or to look at Him?
---Take whatever time you need to go where you are drawn to go. --- When do you begin to recognize Jesus? What is it like eating with Jesus? Are you Peter… or wondering what Jesus might say to you? Does Jesus talk to you too… about his lambs and his sheep, or something else? What do you want to say to Jesus?
Rest in God’s presence, not trying to force any outcome or trying to remember anything.
Just Be with Him
Close in Prayer Reading Together: Psalm 63: 6-7
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
The Will of God as a Way of Life: Finding and Following the Will of God. by Gerald L Sittser. Zondervan, c. 2000.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Gerald L Sittser Zondervan, c. 1996.
Let Your Life: Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. By Parker J. Palmer. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass, c. 2000
Ask God to reveal to you his will and move your heart in that direction. Be still. Record anything you notice.
Now consider more fully all the aspects of this decision. What values help you recognize the best and most fruitful choice? Write out those values. If helpful, create a “mind map” of the values, any scriptures that come to mind and other variables that play into the decision.
Make a list of the advantages/benefits and disadvantages/dangers related to each option.
Consider how your decision in either direction affects “the poor” — those who are literally poor and those who have little say or power in the decision but will be affected by it (e.g., children, relatives, etc.)
Review the information you have gathered. Do you need to include any parts of the Framework for Faithful Discernment? Now decide which alternative appears to be more reasonable. Write it down and explain why this option seems best.
Finally, weigh the alternative you’ve now chosen. Weigh it with your heart. How does it feel to you? Bring it before God in prayer and ask for him to confirm the rightness of it. Record your response.
Consider who in your family or community of Faith would be a mature spiritual person to share your thoughts with?
Put these thoughts aside and plan a period of seeking greater closeness to God and freedom to desire His ways. Then come back another time and review them in God’s presence, noting any shifts or changes.
Conclusion for tonight, read together:
Col 1.9-10: 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….AMEN
The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David G. Benner, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press c. 2002 , expanded edition.
Discernment: The Art of Choosing Well, by Pierre Wolff, Missouri: Liguori Publications, c. 2003, revised edition.
Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe, translated by Helena Scott, New York: Scepter Publishers, c. 2002.
Discernment: Reading The Signs of Daily Life, by the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust, Henri Nouwen , with Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird and, Harper Collins and Harper One, c. 2013.
The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making by Elizabeth Liebert, Westminster John Knox Press, c.2008.