Let us light a candle, take a deep breath, and pray together:
Living God, Christ Mystery, Spirit of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace,
we give you thanks for this holy moment together. As we take in the light you offer,
may we be a reflection of your light,
expanding our sacred time “right now” into the sacred memory of “always and for all time.”
Quotes Ancient and New
1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 27: Restoration”
[Jesus] did not come to change God’s mind about us. It did not need changed. Jesus came to change our minds about God - and about where goodness and evil really lie’…”
On Christmas Day, the premier showing of Episode 3 of The Chosen launched continuing to tell the story of Jesus, yet this time in a unique way. The opening shows youthful Mother Mary playing with young Jesus when he was age 3 or 4 and then there’s flashbacks through Jesus’ childhood as Joseph teaches him to read by reciting the words of Isaiah 61.
The scene changes to show Jesus taking a break from ministering to the crowds in order to visit his Mother and hometown for what appears to be the last time before the full meaning of His life further unfolds to reveal the “sacred doing” of what God is up to. As grown up Jesus stands before those who knew him as a child and reads the same passage he read as a child, people get uneasy. In one statement, Jesus exposes how they had distorted and restricted God’s promises to include only themselves. They had forgotten how their purpose was to BLESS, to be part of God's redemptive story of restoration.
They were to see themselves as in need of God’s grace in order to identify with his suffering and this would then prepare them to identify with the suffering all around them.
Through our Advent series, Reflecting the Sacred, we’ve looked through the lens of the sacred and have experienced time, people, places, others, and ourselves as God’s holy love reflected and incarnate in the world. Because of the experience of God’s action of love toward us, we are called also to act, the “sacred doing” of alleviating suffering wherever it is found. We dedicate ourselves in this New Year to sacred acts of justice and mercy, bringing grace to a hurting world, reflecting the sacred in all we do.
Just as Jesus asked Mary, “If not now, when?”
You may have already spent time journaling so if you have, simply read what you have already written for this week in your journal. If you have not written anything, we will take 5 minutes (feel free to extend the time if the group desires) to write whatever comes to us when we encounter the question for this week:
Think back to our Grace in Action Sunday on November 13th. Recall the list of ministries and groups here at Eden. Where is God nudging you to acts of justice and mercy in this new year? Perhaps He is nudging you to be more involved in some way in your Church family or maybe there is another organization or community-based ministry He has placed upon your heart.
What concrete steps can you take to move in the direction of God’s nudging? Would you consider serving on the new Missions and Outreach Board to help pray and discern partnerships needed to carry out God’s Isaiah 61 calling.
Leader: In our conversation, everyone is invited to share, but sharing is not required. Please make room for all voices, keeping your contribution to a respectful time limit so everyone has a chance to speak. Whatever is said here stays here – not because we are telling secrets, but because we honor that what a person says here is their story to share.
I invite you to share something from your journaling or just thoughts that are bubbling up. We will allow uninterrupted speaking on the first round and then open it up for responses to each other. Remember, no one is “right or wrong” when it comes to our understanding of the sacred. We notice what we notice on our faith journey, and no one perspective will be the same. A good way to begin to respond to someone is “I appreciated your reflection about…”
Let us read this benediction, taken from our weekly worship, together…
When you see lights twinkle,
when you catch a reflection in a mirror,
when you notice the sunlight dancing on a surface
or a nightlight glowing in the darkness,
let these be signs that the Christ Light is revealed
again and again in and through this world.
Know that your brilliant presence
is pouring more hope, love, joy, and peace into a weary world.
God loved us by becoming us.
This means you are already
reflecting the sacred.
In the name of the Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.