Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Program Flowing Out of the Life of Jesus: Exercise 3

14 comments:

Jemila Monroe said...

Probably I am most familiar with Jesus praying, proclaiming the good news and reading the scriptures and showing compassion.

Carri said...

I guess that I am most familiar with showing compassion and striving against sin. I struggle with the last one in trying not to use it to be judgmental towards others.

I feel the most uncomfortable with the ministering and healing in the power of the Spirit.

Nancy said...

Ministering and healing...these stories have always awed me. That and the compassion that led him to touch the sick and restore them.

Jemila Monroe said...

I'll confess: I'm not really sure how to relate to Jesus most of the time. To me, the gospels are amazing, but so removed from my culture, that while my faith learns and feeds from them to stories and learning to layers to them, I don't feel like I have a good grasp on Jesus Himself. Like half the stuff he says (or is attributed to him,) was he being serious, or using a wry sense of humour? Was everything he said actually, objectively true, or was some of it just the fruit of what he was naturally feeling/thinking at the moment in a given situation? How much should I take at face value and how much can I humanize and say, "That was Jesus being a man of his culture," Or, "That was Jesus on the day that he DIDN'T make it out alone to the mountainside to pray."

What does it mean that Jesus was without sin? Does Jesus himself say or believe this, or is that someone's post resurrection interpretation? What is sin? Where is the line between human nature and human sin?

I am much more comfortable thinking Creator God/Mother God or Holy Spirit as actually knowing me personally. I just don't connect them much emotionally when I hear that, "Jesus is at the right hand of God." It seems so...propositional and abstract. I often feel that my faith is deficient because I lack the gooey Jesus feelings most of the time.

Amy said...

I most relate to Jesus showing compassion, proclaiming the good news and ministering/healing in the spirit (the last primarily attributed to my pentecostal roots). :)

Jemila, I really get what you're saying. I see Jesus as an example, but it's hard for me to relate to him intimately. I've actually noticed this lately in how I interact with God personified as male. I kind of hold "him" at a distance. (Factors effecting this too numerous to bother listing!) I'm not totally comfortable with God in feminine terminology...so I feel a bit lost.

I'm OK with that for the most part, though. I'm learning and growing and despite feeling lonely sometimes, feel that God is more real to me know than at any time in the past. It's an odd dichotomy.

Jemila Monroe said...

Yes, life seems full of odd dichotomies, poignant paradoxes uncommon sense. I used to despair over this. Now I'm gradually learning to embrace it. What an adventure!

Kate said...

Jesus is so complex!

I am most familiar with Him showing compassion and proclaiming the good news.

Lori said...

So it wasn't one of the options, but I most relate to Jesus as revolutinary. Okay, so I may be projecting just a bit here, but I'm thinking that cleaning out the temple, and the sermon on the mount were pretty loud calls for a change of the status quo. All other issues aside, his new vision for human life and interaction is one I'm happy to follow!

Now, to answer the question as it was asked (inside the lines), I probably relate most with Jesus praying. I have been blessed with the company of older folks who pray well. Most importantly, they have taught me the practices of centering prayer and lectio divina--both forms of silent listening. This form of prayer is so healthy for me, as someone who talks way too much, and I can just picture how welcome silence must have been to Jesus. So I connect with him on the mountain, resting in God...

refueling for his next offensive

Kate said...

Lori - I'm not familiar with centering prayer and lectio divina - could you elaborate?
I talk way too much too :) and I trying to work on 'quietness'.

Lori said...

Hi, Kate, and sorry this has taken so long. I'm happy to elaborate on these forms of prayer, as they've had such a profound influence in my life.

Centering prayer is based on the ancient tradition of "contemplation"--prayer as hanging out with God, loosely put. Over the centuries, it's been practiced in many different ways; there is currently an organization promoting a specific method called "centering prayer". You can learn more about it at http://www.centeringprayer.com/methodcp.htm. It's a good overview, but I'd be happy to chat more about my specific experiences with it, if you're interested.

Lectio divina ("divine reading") is a method of praying Scriptures. Again, as an ancient tradition, it's been practiced in a variety of ways; a good overview is at http://www.beliefnet.com/story/38/story_3879_1.html. Because I love to imagine, my favorite way of practicing it is with the Gospels, where you read a short passage (usually no more than 10-15 verses) and picture the setting in your mind, noting any details that might stand out. Then you read it again, this time imagining yourself as one of the characters in the story. After a third reading, you listen for what God might be saying to you through the story and/or character. And after a fourth and final reading, you rest in God's presence, and prepare to return to the "real world" with his blessing. (This particular approach works really well in a group.)

So that's a quick overview; let me know if you're curious about more.

Kate said...

Lori - thanks for elaborating. I'm going to check out the websites!
As I go further into this journey I'm hoping to find some practices in prayer and reading the bible that feel comfortable to me. I struggle with finding an authentic voice in prayer, and I'm hoping that this will help me initimacy level with God.

Jemila Monroe said...

Thank you Lori,

I needed a reminder about lectio divina. I was introduced to it in college, but have never integrated into a practice. I would like to try it again. I'd also like to learn more about centering prayer. I often do an abbreviated yoga practice in the morning and use that time to try to breathe Jesus Christ, or the Spirit or just make space for Love, centering myself and my intentions in God's love. Sometimes I feel that this is a bit contrived and wonder if it counts as a "real" spiritual experience/encounter with God or am I just a conduring of psychological projection/a god in my mind. Has anyone else had this struggle with spiritual disciplines in general?

Lori said...

Jemila, I understand your sense of conflictedness...for me, it's because I often combine my time of prayer & silence with a nap. How self-serving is that? I confessed this tendency to some of the older women who first introduced me to centering prayer, and they said, "Honey, what better place to fall asleep than in the presence of God?!" And I have found that, in fact, God often completes during my sleep a work I've sensed him beginning while I pray. Sometimes I think that my own will is so strong that I need to be pretty much knocked out to give him room to work. :)

As we've been reading & thinking, there are any number of ways to practice the disciplines, and it's important that we be honest about what we're doing. I, for example, can't call my devotional times "Bible study"--and that's something I should include at other times. At the same time, though, God really does meet us where we are, and creatively uses our various strengths and needs in order to connect with us. So if yoga is the space for you, I'd thank God that he's willing to "do yoga" with you!

(It's this sense of freedom to find God in whatever we're doing that, among other things, makes me so grateful for the space created by the emerging conversation)

Kate, I hope these new approaches to prayer might connect for you. I grew up with some pretty strict guidelines for prayer, and while there was a good deal of truth in what I was taught, there are so many different ways to pray. If we view prayer as communication with God, which seems like a reasonable definition, then there will be as many means of prayer as there are people praying. It's a matter of experimenting with different styles, and enjoying the freedom he offers. As we grow into our own unique way of relating to him, we enjoy more and more the sense of his relating to us. And what joy, to feel less and less the burden of our own "stuff" and restrictions, and to enjoy more and more his initiative and freedom!

Amy said...

Lori, thank you for sharing about centering prayer and lectio devina. I'm excited to learn more about both.

Jemila, I do struggle with some of the spiritual disciplines. They have felt somewhat eccentric or mystical to me in the past. I've grown more appreciative of that quality over the last year. It still feels odd, though, so I have to be very purposeful in the practicing. I have not been as purposeful as I'd like, so I especially like the ideas you all have presented as they challenge me to try again.