Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, August 31

Reading: Genesis 16:1-16 and John 11:11-27

  1. Can you recall a time in your life when you couldn’t imagine or figure out how God was going to make good on a promise or a plan that was made known to you? Can you recall a time in your life when you took matters into your own hands to make the promise or plan come to fruition? What happened? What did you experience? What did you learn from the experience?
  2. Read and reflect on both passages: Gen.16:1-16 and John 11:11-27. Both narratives involve real human and Divine complexities. Both involve tensions between faith and sight; trust and timing. Put yourself in the shoes of Sarai, Abram, Hagar. What do you discover from the messy story? Sense the confusion, the pain, the disorientation between theology and human experience from the disciples, Mary and Martha. What do you discover about trusting God beyond your own understanding of things? About the unexpected and the unpredictable miracles of God’s ways?
  3. Sit with your own circumstances, dreams or yet unfilled promises from God. Discern where you are, how you are with the yet unfulfilled aspects of your life in God. What encourages you from these stories? What challenges you? What continues to riddle your soul as you wait for fulfillment? In what ways do these two stories help you get to a more resolute “yes I believe” ? You may want to pray…”but help my unbelief.” Talk honestly with the Lord Jesus about these things.

Spend additional moments with the words of this prayer by Ted Loder:

Lord, I have so few ways to pray
but you have so many ways to answer.
Keep me alert to your unpredictable answers
to your unexpected, unexplainable surprises
and to your grace.
Make me one of those surprises,
for the sake of the One who taught us the surprises of
moving mountains, healing touches, wondrous stories, great banquets, first suppers,
broken bread, crosses and resurrections.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, August 24

Reading:  Genesis 14:18-24 and Luke 1:46-55

  1. Upon Abram’s return from battle he is met by two kings, one of which is Melchizedeck. Sit with Genesis 14:18-24 as you reflect on Abram and his character. What do you notice about the exchange and about Abram’s response to enrichment offered outside of God’s promise to him?
  2. Have you ever been offered a type of enrichment that seemed like a good thing at first blush but was not quite right? What happened? How did the deal turn out? How did you experience yourself or what did see in yourself during the episode? What did you discover about God during that experience?
  3. As you read Mary’s Magnificat (or prayer-song of praise to God) from Luke 1:46-55, realize an entire nation, in fact all of humanity has been enriched by one man’s loyalty to and faith in God and his promises to bless us. What words of encouragement do you find in Mary’s song that might help you endure temptations to doubt or reject God’s life giving love and enrichment  for your life?

Peace Of Heart

“It is generally safe to say that noise and turmoil in the interior life are signs of inspirations that proceed from our own emotion or from some spirit that is anything but holy. The inspirations of the Holy Ghost are quiet for God speaks in the silent depths of the Spirit. His voice brings peace. It does not arouse excitement, but allows it because excitement belongs to uncertainty. The voice of God is certitude. If he moves us to motion, we go forward with peaceful strength. More often than not, his inspirations teach us to sit still. They show us the emptiness and confusion of projects we thought we had undertaken for his glory. He saves us from the impulses that throw us into cold competition with other men. He delivers us from ambition. The Holy Spirit is most easily recognized where He inspires obedience and humility.”

Ascent to Truth, 185-186 (Harcourt & Brace, 1981)​
Thomas Merton

For more on this subject we recommend listening to Todd Pickett’s sermon Peace Of Heart: Babel Revisited (click here to open player in new window).  For a complete list of sermons online – click here or to subscribe on iTunes.

 

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, August 17

Reading: Genesis 12:1-5 and Matthew 9:35-38

  1. As you read and reflect on Genesis 12:1-5, what do you discover about God’s truest intention for all humanity?
  2. What do you discover about God’s intention for a generative kind of life (living beyond ourselves, creative fruitfulness) from God’s specific invitation to Abraham?
  3. In what ways do you sense God inviting you into a deeper or richer experience of generative blessing; both personally and as a source of blessing to others? How is this being realized in your relationships? Your work? Your pleasures and social activities?
  4. As you read the Gospel account in Matthew 9:35-38, what do you discern about Jesus’ character and calling on earth? What invitations do you sense him presenting to you today? Spend moments in prayer asking for a heart of compassion to see the multitudes as he does: harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Talk to God about generative (creative) ways you might be involved in his work on earth: going to the sick, the afflicted, the harassed, the helpless with the good news of God’s redemptive love.