Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, June 29

Reading:  Genesis 2:7-9, 15-18, 20b-25 and John 15:1-11

Reflection Questions:

  1. Roam the fertile ground of the Garden of Eden as you read and reflect on the creation narrative about humanity’s origin.  What do you notice; what do you sense; what do you understand from God’s good intention for humanity?
  1. God presented one limitation in the garden (out of all that was given to Adam to eat and enjoy, there was 1 prohibition put on 1 tree in the garden). Limitations are often seen as a “bad.” We want what we want when and how we want it. But in this narrative, the limitation of God was for humanity’s “good” in his created order of life. How have you experienced or understood limitations as a “good” in your life? When confronted with a limitation in life, how do you respond to it? How might a limitation become a friend in the spiritual formation of your soul? Maybe you are currently struggling with some limitation and can’t seem to see it as a good. What if you were to see it as a way to accept your finitude, and an invitation to trust (rely on, depend on) God for the care of you body, soul, and entire life? How would this change the way you live with limitations?
  1. Read Jesus’ words to us in John 15:1-11. How does the picture of a garden as a metaphor for relationship and life expand your understanding of God’s intentions for you? What do you hear Jesus inviting you to experience? How might you respond to his invitations today? Talk to God about the things in your life, in your body, in your spirit that seem challenging to accept or embrace. Give thanks for specific ways you’ve experience fertile ground under the Gardener’s loving care.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, June 22

Reading:  Genesis 2:1-3 and Matthew 11:27-30

Reflection Questions 

Our readings in Genesis and the Gospel give us a description of God’s rest after a long creative work week and Jesus’ invitation to find our true rest in him. As you make space to consider and take to heart God’s Word, offer a silent prayer now asking for the grace to experience rejuvenation of body, soul and spirit from these quiet moments in God’s presence and his Word.

  1. From Gen.2:1-3, what do you discover about God and his value for rest (or literally in the original Hebrew: “to cease, to bring to a stand-still, to stop”)? It may help you process this passage by simply looking at the verbs in this narrative description of God.
  1. God values a regular rhythm of rest so much so he asked his people to continue the practice from week to week throughout all their generations (Ex.20:8-10). The Sabbath was given for us as a gift from God (Mark 2:27). Jesus calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath and practiced a regular rhythm of rest that often took the form of reading God’s word, worship and teaching in the synagogue, and caring for people. Without judgment or condemnation (Rom.8:1) think about the regular rhythms of your everyday life and weekly activities. What does Sabbath rest look like for you? In what ways is keeping a weekly rhythm of rest difficult for you?  Consider the reasons why or what prevents you from taking a day to rest from work? When you do take a day to rest from your work week what benefits do you experience?  Talk to God about these things.
  1. Marva Dawn in her book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, asserts that the spiritual practice of ceasing from work one day a week helps us detach from thecompulsive need to be productive, to derive worth and identity from our productivity, to control our lives and the outcomes for our lives, and the tyranny of keeping a schedule. Keeping a Sabbath day of rest helps us attach to God. The very practice recalls that we are finite; we have needs in body, soul and spirit that cannot be met by anything or anyone other than God himself, the source and sustenance of our lives. Even as God built into the body the need to sleep for several hours of each day for rejuvenation; so he’s established a regular way we can experience healing and restoration for our souls, spirits when we enjoy the gift of the Sabbath as we commune with him.

Listen to Jesus’ invitation in Matt.11:27-30. How do you want to respond to him today? How might you creatively practice Sabbath this week? Ask him for help if you struggle with Sabbath keeping.

The mind that comes to rest is tended

In ways that it cannot intend:

Is borne, preserved and comprehended

By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by

Your will, not ours. And it is fit

Our only choice should be to die

Into that rest, or out of it.

(Concluding stanzas of Wendell Berry’s poem Another Morning Sunday Comes)

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, June 15

Reading:  Gen.1:1-3, 26-31 and John 1:1-5

Reflection Questions:

The hymn This is My Father’s World can be a good way to begin our journey through the Book of Genesis. Take a moment to reflect on the wonders and goodness of God with the words of the first stanza of this hymn. Feel free to sing along if you know the tune!

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hands the wonders wrought.

 

  1. As you read the creation story from Genesis 1 and reflect on God’s wonders, which one aspect of creation leads you to give thanks, sparks reverence within you or causes any change of perspective? Why?
  2. Humanity is made in the Image of God (Gen.1:27). Take a moment to go look at yourself in a mirror. What do you see? How do you see yourself? What glimmerings do you see in yourself, in your life that reflect the face of God? If looking in the mirror to see the imprint of God on you makes you uncomfortable – ask yourself why? Spend a moment speaking truth to yourself in the mirror by saying aloud Gen.1:27: So God created man (humanity) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see yourself as God sees you (as very good, Gen.1:31). Ask the Holy Spirit to help you embody the reflection of God’s Image more vividly to those around you.
  1. Take moments this week to be in nature. Pause to watch a sunrise or set. Go out into the night and look up at the stars. Observe other human beings. Listen to the morning dove or the wind in the trees. These are all messages of God’s goodness and blessing (Ps.19:1-4). How do these created things reflect God to you? How do you experience God’s goodness from his created world?

Here is the last stanza of the hymn. Conclude your reflections in Genesis with it:

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Pentecost Sunday Readings: Sunday, June 8

Reading:  John 7:35-39

Reflection Questions:

  1. Jesus describes spiritual realities and experiences through the common physical aspects of water: a thirst quencher; a powerful, moving body of water.  Read his invitation to all believers in John 7:37-38.  Where in your life do you sense your own thirst (relationally, financially, emotionally, circumstantially, etc)? Maybe you are experiencing a drought or stagnation in your spiritual life. Identify your own internal and/or external experiences becoming conscious of your need.
  2. How do you hear this invitation as it pertains to your own heart and life today? Do you sense any resistance to come to Jesus? What might hinder you from receiving from him? Sometimes the thing that damns the water flow is simply not admitting our neediness of a life source outside of ourselves. How might you respond to God? You may want to spend time in confession or a space to wrestle with areas of unbelief, doubt, confusion. Take those moments now to talk honestly with God.
  3. With the areas of your life and heart identified as needing refreshment, openly ask the Holy Spirit to come and quench your thirst, to flow with grace and power into drought stricken areas of your life, both physically and spiritually.  It may assist you to sit or stand in prayer with a receptive body posture (hands and arms open wide, etc) as you ready your own spirit to receive from God’s Spirit.