Advent 3: Practicing the Way of Love in the Pattern of Jesus
Pray the Collect for This Sunday.
Read the Scripture together: Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11
Reflection: Stir Us Up
The Prophet Isaiah envisions a holy community where all people flourish and seek the good for each other, and it all begins with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. How often do we pause in our efforts and ask God to stir, anoint, and equip us for the journey? Remember that we are always learning and practicing the way of Jesus, who blesses and teaches us to live his way of love.
In the Labyrinth: Practicing the Way of Love in the Pattern of Jesus
Loving our neighbor takes formation, practice, and commitment. How will each of us learn to be reconcilers, healers, and justice-bearers in Jesus’ name? How could we practice sharing stories, growing relationship across dividing walls, and seeking Christ in the “other”?
Make It Real: This Far by Faith Exercise
Gather in circles of no more than 15 people. Review the Conversation Tips from the welcome letter. Now reflect on ways your congregation or ministry engages in loving your neighbors, within and outside the church. Make a list of the most significant ministries (no more than three). For each …
- Recall the story of how your church took up this ministry. Who had the idea? Why did others say “yes”?
- Describe the process of beginning the ministry. What was hard? What made it work?
- What (and who) did you not know at the beginning that you know now?
- How has God blessed you and your church through these ministries?
Now consider your conversations over the first two weeks. Think about people groups - racial, ethnic, and cultural, but also socioeconomic, ideological, and theological - with whom your church has experienced separation or even tension. With which of these do you wish your church would develop deeper relationship? Once the circle has decided, reflect together:
- How could the ministry experiences you described before help you to approach forming these challenging new relationships? How are those experiences a gift you can offer?
- What new learning and practice would help you to prepare for relationship across difference and division? Book study? Dismantling racism training? Story-telling training? Pilgrimage? Prayer? (For specific information, check episcopalchurch.org/reconciliation)
You may give thanks for particular gifts of the Spirit that are now or have been present in your church’s life (humility, resilience, generosity, compassion, etc.). You could also ask for God’s gracious accompaniment as you venture into spaces of difference and discovery.