Presentation on theme: "SESSION THREE: LIVING IN GOD’S LOVE. Centering Moment How do we live in a world so diverse? How do we live as a diverse people of God? Should there be."— Presentation transcript:
SESSION THREE: LIVING IN GOD’S LOVE
Centering Moment How do we live in a world so diverse? How do we live as a diverse people of God? Should there be any limit to our diversity in thought, word or actions?
Contemplative Exegesis Spend the next 40 minutes exploring the four learning centers located in the room. You may engage the centers in any order you chose. If time runs out before you finish encountering all the centers, do not worry; the centers will stay up until the end of Session Four! Enjoy!
Small Group Activity Assemble into small groups of 3-4 persons. This exercise will build on the learning center that asked you to reflect on your story of conflict within your congregation. In your small group, each person is invited to share their story; just read it aloud. Once all the stories have been shared, discuss the following questions:
Small Group Activity What did the stories have in common? What unique situations or elements did you hear in each of the narratives? As a group, offer suggestions, comments and insights regarding each of the narratives. You will have 20 minutes for this exercise. Each small group will be asked to offer a brief report to the group- at-large, so take some notes and decide on a spokesperson.
A Bit More on I John I John 3 wants to contrast sin with justice (or, as the NRSV translates the word, “righteousness) Two groups are mentioned: The children of God The children of the devil (associated with the condition of “antichrist”) So, how would one know one “child” from the other? In short, the children of God love one another.
A Bit More on I John I John 3:11-17 makes clear that the members of this Jesus Movement must love in the concrete, with a willingness to even die for one another as an expression of love. Since Christ died on behalf of “us” (the members of the assembly? See verse 16), Christ serves as the example of sacrificial love… to love until it hurts. Such a love appears to be a by-product of possessing a sense of justice.
A Bit More on I John The text mentions Cain, but characterizes him as a child of the devil (“from the evil one”). This interpretation is unique to this text and not part of the Genesis narrative. Apparently Cain murdered his brother because Cain saw the justice pouring forth in Abel’s actions. Likewise, the original audience is told they will also face hatred and persecution because they show justice alive in the world through their love of one another.
A Bit More on I John Heart language: Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. (I John 3:18-22, NRSV).
A Bit More on I John In the ancient world, the heart was considered the thinking organ. In the modern world, we associate the heart with feelings, especially love. But for the author, love is more than a mere feeling; it is truth and action (:18) So, for our purposes, you might replace “heart” with “mind”. I wonder how this simple substitution might open the text for us? Let’s see…
A Bit More on I John Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our minds before him whenever our minds condemn us; for God is greater than our minds, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our minds do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. (I John 3:18-22, NRSV).
A Bit More on I John So love, according to the writer, involves knowing something: in short, what is at stake, the risk of radical love. One makes a rational decision to love others, knowing that one will be asked to make sacrifices. The result: one will both abide in Christ while also suffering as Christ did. And Christ loved and suffered because the origin of such a profound love is God (see 4:7-21).
A Pondering Moment “Things change for you when you hang out with people and become partners with them. Suppose you are tutoring children in a low-income neighborhood. When you begin to see that your pupils are gifted, bright, talented children, yet realize that many of them are flunking out of school, it pushes you to challenge and change the school system. When you begin to know people’s hopes and fears, dreams and struggles, you move into the fight for justice.” Janet Wolf, from “Ministry With All God’s Children,” New World Outlook, Sept.-Oct. 2000, gbgm-umc.org
Responsive Reading Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Godself; the Lord hears when I call. When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
Responsive Reading There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!’ You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Closing Prayer (In Unison) O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering—our comradeship, loyalty, humility, courage, generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all of this, and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness. Prayer written by an unknown prisoner in Ravenbrück concentration camp and left beside the body of a dead child.