At some point in your gathering spend a moment taking communion together, whether as a full meal together or some version of the bread and the cup. If you don’t have a plan already, you can have someone read the following passage we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Yours is the Kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen
Very simply, spiritual formation is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus for the sake of the world. We are not merely saved from something, but into something. God writes our story in conjunction with all of creation — our neighbors, friends, family, the environment, animals, our enemies, trees, insects. In the Scriptures, God’s eventual vision is for something called New Creation. We read in the Scriptures not about a planet and people who get scrapped at the end, but about everything being made new. One day, when Jesus returns to reclaim and redeem our world, to be made King, we will all be raised again — not into some ethereal immaterial Heaven with harps on clouds, but into our world made whole. We will rise with physical bodies to inhabit our world, but not as we know it now. There will be no more tears and no more pain and no more evil, we will be in bodies with minds and souls no longer corrupted by the fall. We will live in eternity in perfect relationship with God, others, and all of creation.
This week, we want to remember that our formation should have global consequences. And one of the ways in which we partner with God as he makes all things new is prayer.
- Prayer is an active form of mission. It changes reality around us and moves God’s to action. How do these ideas change the way you think about prayer?
- How could believing that God could change things on a global scale when you pray change the way you pray?
- What might God be inviting you to pray for individually or as a Community?
Practice for Tonight
Tonight, we want to take some time to pray together on behalf of our world. Spend particular time praying for those on the margins (as Jesus and the prophets in the Old Testament did): Pray for those with different socioeconomic experiences as you; for those who speak different languages than you; for those impacted by violence or displaced by natural disasters; for those who don’t know Jesus; for those who experience the imbalance of a particular system. Pray where God leads you to pray.
And as you pray, remember that prayer is conversation. God wants to speak to you, even as you are speaking to him. So take special care to listen for God’s invitation to you or your Community. Where is he calling you to become the answers to your own prayers? Where could he be inviting you to join him on the margins (individually or as a Community)? As you ask God to intervene and to do something, is he also asking you to intervene and do something as well?
Practice for the Week Ahead
Lent is the 40 day period that leads up to Easter and begins next week on Ash Wednesday (March 2). Historically, Lent is observed by fasting from something for those 40 days, except for Sundays, which serve to remind us of the resurrection of Jesus which will be celebrated on Easter. Traditionally, people fast from indulgences like alcohol, chocolate, meat, dessert, etc.
That said, the day before the Lenten fast begins is called Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday (March 1). This is a feast day on the church calendar, in which people get together to celebrate all that God has done as they prepare to fast the 40 days before Easter.
As we enter Lent as a church, we want to invite everyone into the feast and the fast!
If your Community does not meet on Tuesday, this may change the way you meet for a week, but if you’re able, we’d love to invite you to participate by meeting up on Shrove Tuesday and feasting together. But not just any feast! Have a feast that includes all the things that people will be fasting from (or things that are symbolic of what people are fasting from) for the Lenten season. Realistically, this may be a meal made up of desserts, bread, alcohol, meat, and fatty foods, so feel free to round it out with other foods as well. While it’s obviously not an excuse to overindulge, it is certainly a time to celebrate.
Spend time this week sitting with the Spirit and having a conversation about what it is you want to be fasting from during the Lenten season. Once you pick something from which to fast, plan to bring it (or something that symbolizes/references it) to next week’s Community to share with everyone!
After that, we would love to have your Community join us on Wednesday (March 2) for our Ash Wednesday gathering.
Close in Prayer
Before you end your time together, pray, asking the Spirit of God to fill and empower you to pray as you can. Take some time to pray for other prayer requests as they come up.