Opening 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.” Amen. Quotes Ancient and New Matthew 1:18-25 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition) 18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to divorce her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife 25but had no marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son, and he named him Jesus. Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 21: Embodying Depth” “If we predominantly have an intellectual understanding of God, more than an experiential relationship with God, we might be tempted to overanalyze…” Every Thing is Sacred, “Reflection 37: Both…And…” “The key to [a] nondualistic way of seeing and living is to embrace ‘a contemplative way of knowing’...This means that instead of analyzing and categorizing every experience and idea in concrete black-and-white terms, we pay attention to the gray areas…We patiently wait ‘for the gaps to be filled in’ without insisting “on quick closure or easy answers’...” Reflect Many of us wouldn’t have to look very far to recount a time in our lives when there seemed to be no reasonable explanation for the road which lay before us. Joseph seemed to have found himself in that same scenario in the passage from Matthew 1. Taking some clues from the context, we can extrapolate some information about his and Mary’s situation. First, they were engaged, and while sometimes love can seemingly be a secondary factor in a marriage, we learn from Joseph’s line of thinking about not wanting to expose her to public disgrace, that love was very likely a key ingredient to their relationship. Second, Joseph remained open to how his love for Mary (and more importantly, for the Lord) superseded his understanding about the situation of Mary’s pregnancy. We can go even further in this exploration of Mary and Joseph’s situation and infer that it was Joseph’s overall experience of being in relationship with Mary and the Lord that caused him to reconsider his best solution to the situation. Joseph’s line of thinking revealed two solutions. One was to be “righteous” and divorce Mary quietly so as to not expose her to public disgrace. The second was to continue on with their relationship as they had seen fit based on their experience of life together. These two solutions signal us to a reality which the apostle Paul would later write about to the church in Corinth. Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 2:10-16. In this life there are two basic ways of viewing the world and our experiences; we can choose to see them from the perspective of the world that ignores God and His Spirit, or we can choose to see them from the Spirit’s perspective. As we examine the idea of Sacred Knowing this week, there is a simple, common occurrence that sums up how this Sacred Knowing impacts our lives: knowing grows from experiencing which produces peace. How do your life experiences lead you to knowledge that produces peace? How do you live in that peace when in a chaotic world? How do you bestow the blessing of peace on others as you go about your daily life? Journaling 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:
Are there areas in your life where you tend toward “either…or…” dualistic thinking? Try to step back and observe these areas objectively and identify what is good and what is not so good about these dualisms.
Now imagine those areas of life as “both…and…” situations. Does it change how you view or feel about those scenarios
Sharing 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…” Closing Let us read this benediction together, taken from our weekly worship 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. Amen. Matt Thornburg