Sunday, May 25, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

We dove into our reading, chapter 5, "Afterward" (pp. 51+).

Author Ann Lamott writes in Traveling Mercies, "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."  We could translate our subtle expansive feelings of Grace after Communion to the subtle light prisms from dew drops in forests as well as to the expansive horizons on immersive multi-sensory wilderness treks.  Our hearts are alight at center!

In this mystical moment, the congregation's full silent hearts are like being in tune with all the community of hearts in nature.  Rose & Pete narrated their subtle expansive feelings atop a 9,000 ft. mountain.  "We took photos, ate dinner, and watched the sky changing.  There was snow on the ground.  We drove down a road late at night and watched hundreds of sheep crossing the road, with owls and hawks flying."

This is just how Communion can light our hearts.  "The difference between Jesus and us may not merely be one of degrees of divinity, but also his openness to others and their capacity to bend and awaken his heart." (p. 62)

Next Sunday, 6/1, we'll discuss the following questions relating to Chapter 6, "Eating the Body and Blood" (pp. 63+).

Do you have childhood memories of taking communion?  How do these memories differ from your experiences with communion today?

Nora Gallagher describes the consecration of the elements as "calling out of these ordinary elements their essential beauty and their life-giving core."  How is your spirit "nourished" by partaking in the sacred meal?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

Our group discussed the notion of silence as construed in Chapter 4, "Receiving".

Being awake to silence is a way to center ourselves for our experiences at the altar during communion, when we are invited into what Jesus calls heaven.  Pastor Dan likes to invoke a period of silent contemplation by having the congregation "keep our heads down and hearts up."  This is a reminder to "do nothing" (not even try to clear one's mind), but remain whole while bathing in silence.  This allows the experience of communion to most deeply touch and heal every part of our integrated lives.

 This prescription in communion to "do nothing" strikes Americans awkwardly.  "Working hard for what you get is ingrained in our psyches; it's the advice we give our children and students, the very basis of the American Dream."  (p. 39)  "By making our greatest and most important goal the one of productivity, we miss out on the ways that God's gifts of Grace come to us by doing nothing."  (p. 41)

Next Sunday, we'll discuss Chapter 5, "Afterwards" (p. 51+).  Think about how these questions relate:
1.  How did you feel after your last communion?  Can you recall that feeling just before participating in the next communion?

2.  When you're taking communion, take note of the people immediately around you, even if you don't know their names.  Pray for each of them before and after.  Pray for them daily in the week following communion.  How does this affect your practice of taking the sacred meal?  Does it change the way you view the world around you?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

For this week, the group read Chapter 3, "Waiting":  Taking Communion has three parts, waiting, receiving, and afterward.  The waiting is warming up by making oneself open and receptive, ready for this deeper ritual.  Mostly, church-goers are in our thoughts and concepts, reflecting upon the sermon or our baggage (both personal as well as our participation in societal) from the week.  The waiting period is critical to become fully real and alive, awake by each raising up our antennas.

We found the author's reflection helpful: 
"So part of waiting in Communion is examining what we did last week to find the kingdom of heaven in our midst and to help others find it.  I urge you to go both easy and hard on yourself in this regard.  You can't just condemn yourself for not doing enough.  Join the crowd.  None of us does enough.  I think it is important to find the things you did do and honor yourself for them, small as they might be."  (p. 37)

For next week, please read Chapter 4, "Receiving" (starting on p. 39).  Think about how these questions relate:
1.  When was the last time you spent an afternoon doing "nothing," the way you did as a child?  How did you feel afterward?

2.  Why do you think we as a culture have a hard time receiving unearned gifts?  How can regularly participating in communion help us to understand God's unearned gift of grace?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Adult Spirituality Group notes

In response to the questions for Chapter 2 "Communion as a Practice", we were inspired by these two quotes:
1.  "Instead of thinking of Communion as a ghoulish eating of human flesh, think of those who gather at Communion as the body of Christ.  We are the body given for each other.  This is my body, he said, look around you.  When we show up and do our parts, we are the sacrament, the body of Christ.  Do this to remember me.  Do this to remember who you were with me.  Do this to remember who you are."
2.  "Jesus doesn't call us to live in a soft cocoon, distracted and undisturbed, allowing others to pay the costs of our comfort.  When it comes right down to it, Jesus followed where compassion led him, and he bore the cost of what he found.  Jesus asks us to follow where compassion leads and bear the cost of what we find.

For next week: 
Please read Chapter 3 "Waiting", pp. 27-38.   Think about how these questions relate:
1.  What are the things in your life that you keep "buried" when you come to the altar that keep you distracted from the possibilities of communion?
2.  What can you do in the coming week to find the kingdom of heaven in the midst of your everyday life?  How can you help others see it?