one of my favorite things about thinplace is that we gather around a table...eating dinner, laughing getting caught up with things that are happening in our lives...
and we gather around a coffee table for art, journaling, discussion and experiential prayer. so you don't need a big room or a big building, just a little hospitality!
the gospel passage for sunday is matthew 5: 38-48
we opened by praying part of psalm 119 together
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.
LECTIO: (latin for Listening) read the passage three times (preferably with both male and female voices, but you can do it on your own too)
Listen to the passage and allow the holy spirit to highlight a word or phrase..is there an emotion or feeling, or memory around this word or phrase? what is the response God is asking of you from this passage?
how is the passage speaking to you today? ...what questions or problems come up for you from this passage?
after listening to the passage, you have 30 -40 minutes to journal, create with the art supplies, or just be still
then we'll come back together and we'll see where God has taken us. you can use the MESSAGE version to contrast our reading.
Matthew 5: 38-48 NIV (2010)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 38-48 THE MESSAGE
38-42"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."
feel free to write /create from anything that God inspires you...sometimes God takes you in a completely differnt direction than you expect ...sometimes i've been inspired by the psalm rather than the gospel. there are no rules, except to be open and to listen...feel free to use the questions if you want to
THINGS to CONSIDER WHILE JOURNALING:
- Got any enemies today? Any one who is bugging you to death that you’d just like to “kill”? how would you go about loving them?
- Who do you think of as an enemy? Do you think of terrorists, your parents, a teacher? Why?
- Why is it so hard to give to someone who asks? Is it hard to give to a friend who needs to borrow money? What about a homeless person? Is it different?
- What do you think it means “to be perfect” when it comes to living out loving others, especially people you don’t like very much, or those who have hurt you?
5. Anybody, any enemies you need help forgiving tonight?
take the time to have people share what they wrote or created...or any questions that came up during the listening/journaling time.
"what came up for you? what did you hear? where did God take you?
1. have a bowl filled with chocolate hearts and a bowl /basket with foam or plastic hearts found at michaels or hobby lobby...
Pass around chocolate hearts...take out two...one for you and one for a person who has been "your enemy" this week...a person who's driven you crazy this week...
eat the chocolate heart and thank God that he loves you abundantly, and unconditionally...take time to thank him for the good things that have happened today, this week....
take the second chocolate heart...pray for the person who's been your enemy this week...that they would feel God's love..take the heart and give it to them when you see them next.
TAKE HOME the plasic/foam heart of a reminder to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
YOUTH GROUP OPTION: if you did this with youth group, you could create a station with a map of the world and/or with photos form current events and have participants place small foam hearts on the map while praying for enemies in certain places in our world. could also be done using an ink pad and a heart stamp
The heart of Jesus
Nearest the Father’s heart
A wellspring full of love
Richness for my poverty
Wholeness for my brokenness
Home for my wandering
Fullness for my emptiness
Loving care for my selfishness
Healing for my hurts
Faith for my mediocrity
Courage for my fears
The heart of Jesus
Nearest the Father’s heart
Drawing all of me to him
Reaching from his heart to mine,
Tender, compassionate, true,
Wanting one thing only:
My loving response. Amen
By Joyce Rupp found in Fresh Bread. P. 37
on a personal note...i realized while journaling that it might come up that it would be very hard to "turn the other cheek" to someone who is abusive....and it might also come up "how do we love our enemies" when they have hurt us physically..or love those who've abused/hurt others"?