Wednesday, September 24, 2014

11. From Ugliness, a Beauty Emerges (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a movie you've seen or a book you've read that upheld violence as the way to prosperity and peace.  Can you share an alternative movie or story that pointed to a nonviolent way to peace?

3.  How do you respond to Matthew's story of the Canaanite woman in conversation with the Deuteronomy story of Canaanite slaughter?  Can you think of other paired stories like this?

4.  Who do you think is stronger -- a person who can punch a bad guy and scare him away, or a person who can convince a bad guy to become good?

Activate

5.  Listen for situations when people use God (or some other "good reason") to justify violence or unkindness.  Try to understand why they would see God and violence this way.  Seek to see the world through their eyes and to imagine how hard it would be for them to see God differently.

Meditate

6.  Hold in silence the tension between a violent worldd and a God who calls us to reconciliation, mutual understanding and respect, and peace.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10. Getting Slavery Out of the People (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a significant wilderness experience in your life — either literal or figurative.

3.  What do you think it means in today's world to "get the slavery out of the people"?  What kinds of slavery do you think we are still stuck in?

4.  What's the longest trip you've ever taken?  What was one of the best parts of the trip?  What was one of the worst parts?

Activate

5.  Each day this week, reread the Ten Commandments as worded in this chapter.  (Maybe send them to yourself and others via e-mail or social media.)  Look for ways this ancient moral code is relevant in today's world — and in your life.
(1)  Put the God of liberation first, not the gods of slavery.
(2)  Don't reduce God to the manageable size of an idol — certainly not one made of wood and stone by human hands, and not one made by human minds of rituals and words, either, and certainly not one in whose name people are enslaved, dehumanized, or killed!
(3)  Do not use God for your own agendas by throwing around God's holy name.  If you make a vow in God's name, keep it!
(4)  Honor the God of liberation by taking and giving everyone a day off.  Don't keep the old 24/7 slave economy going.
(5)  Turn from self-centeredness by honoring your parents.  (After all, honor is the basis of freedom.)
(6)  Don't kill people, and don't do the things that frequently incite violence, including:
(7)  Don't cheat with others' spouses,
(8)  Don't steal others' possessions, and
(9)  Don't lie about others' behaviors or characters.
(10)  In fact, if you really want to avoid the violence of the old slave economy, deal with its root source — in the drama of desire.  Don't let the competitive desire to acquire tempt you off the road of freedom.
Meditate

6.  Relax for a few moments in God's presence in silence.  Think of the Sabbath not as being deprived of activity, but as a day of liberation from the 24/7 workweek of a slave.  Breathe deep.  Let go.  Thank God for rest.
We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

9. Freedom! (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about how a conflict or rivalry with a family member, friend, or colleague challenged you to face yourself... and God.

3.  Respond to the idea that in revenge, we seek to imitate the person who has wronged us, and that in reconciliation, we imitate and reflect God.

4.  Tell us about someone you had a chance to forgive.

Activate

5.  Look for opportunities for others to "see the face of God" in your face, and seek the face of God in their faces, too — especially those you may see as rivals or outcasts.

Meditate

6.  In silence, ponder forgiveness, and thank God for the joy of being forgiven — and for the release of forgiving others.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8. Rivalry or Reconciliation? (We Make the Road by Walking)

Cain killed his brother Abel
Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about how a conflict or rivalry with a family member, friend, or colleague challenged you to face yourself...and God.

3.  Respond to the idea that in revenge, we seek to imitate the person who has wronged us, and that in reconciliation, we imitate and reflect God.

4.  Tell us about someone you had a chance to forgive.

Activate

5.  Look for opportunities for others to "see the face of God" in your face, and seek the face of God in their faces, too — especially those you may see as rivals or outcasts.

Meditate

6.  In silence, ponder forgiveness, and thank God for the joy of being forgiven — and for the release of forgiving others.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

7. It's Not Too Late (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you almost gave up, but are glad you didn't.

3.  What are some critical issues in today's world — or in our personal lives — when we might say "It's too late" or "It's impossible"?

4.  What makes you laugh?  Why do you think Sarah laughed in this story?

Activate

5. Try saying "It's not too late" when you're tempted to be cynical or give up.  Or practice the art of "the second laugh."  The first laugh comes as a reflex when we think something is impossible.  The second laugh comes as a choice when we laugh at our lack of faith.

Meditate

6.  After a few moments of silence, complete this sentence as your prayer:  "Living God, it's not too late to change my mind about . . . "

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Eighth Step ~ How Should We Speak to One Another?

Questions

1.  "Plato described dialogue as a communal meditation ... [and believed] each participant should make a place for the other" (p. 132).  How does this view of dialogue fit with current social discourse?  How do we move toward this ideal?

2.  "Confucius always developed his insights in conversation with other people because in his view we needed this friendly interaction to achieve maturity" (pp. 132-133).  What do you think he means by this?

3.  What habits do you bring to personal and professional discussions or arguments?  Do you make a "place for the other" or simply try to advance your argument?

Actions

1.  Read through Armstrong's questions on pages 141-142 to help you analyze and be more mindful of the way you approach discussions and arguments.

2.  Observe how you speak to others.  Observe how those around you speak to each other and to you.  Notice when your own emotions and reactions arise in each situation and how they affect your interactions.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2010

Saturday, August 9, 2014

6. Plotting Goodness (We Make the Road by Walking)

Engage

1.  What one thought or idea from today's lesson especially intrigued, provoked, disturbed, challenged, encouraged, warmed, warned, helped, or surprised you?

2.  Share a story about a time when you observed or participated in a group that saw itself as blessed to the exclusion of others rather than for the blessing of others.

3.  Where in today's world do you see people practicing the kind of "otherly" identity to which God called Abram — "us for the sake of others"?

4.  How does helping someone make you feel?  (Better, according to my face-to-face group's discussion, is this question:  Tell us about a time when someone helped YOU.)

Activate

5.  Look for opportunities to "be a blessing" to others this week.  Share a story about what you did.

Meditate

6.  In silence, hold this truth in God's presence:  I am blessed to be a blessing.

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation ~ by Brian D. McLaren, 2014