Listen to the Spirit… adapt as needed…
stay longer where you are drawn…
“God creates me out of love and desires nothing more than a return of love on my part…God not only gives gifts to me, but literally gifts me with the fullness of divine life in Jesus. God’s only Son is not only the Word in whom all things are created, but also the Word who becomes flesh and dwells with us. Jesus gives himself to me so that his body and blood become the food and drink of my life. Jesus pours out upon me his Spirit so that I can cry out ‘Abba, Father.’ God loves me so much that I become a dwelling-place or a temple of God–growing in an ever-deepening realization of the image and likeness of God which is the glory shining out of human creation…” – Spiritual Exercises #234, 235
Suggested Song: “A Thousand Years” (Christina Perri)
Grace to seek/ask: For a greater openness to and deeper heart-felt knowledge of God’s personal love for me…
Luke 3:21-22 – “…and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
Isaiah 43:1-9 – “…I have called you by name: you are mine…Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you…”
Song of Songs 2:8-17 – “…My lover speaks and says to me, “Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come!…”
Please share for a few minutes about how you are doing, based on the following questions:
- Since the last time we’ve met, what has given you life or drawn you closer to God? In particular, what may have been your experience in using Ignatian contemplation to pray with the Nativity?
- What has drained you of life or drawn you away from God?
- Please describe any significant encounter with God in prayer, service, or relationship with others.
Last meeting, we were open to more personally considering Jesus as “God-become-man”–Emmanuel…”God with us.” We prayed with the birth of Jesus (the Nativity, the Incarnation) using our imaginations and a form of praying with scripture known as Ignatian contemplation.
As you may recall, we looked more indepthly at God as Love in the previous section (“Discovering God”). We ended the section by becoming more aware of how we embrace or struggle with relating to this God of love. Tonight, as we continue to discover who Jesus is for us, let’s look at the relationship between Jesus and this God of love…How does Jesus’ relationship with God the Father reflect the relationship that God desires to share with us?…How does Jesus reveal God’s love for us and invite us more deeply into that love?…
Tonight’s handout (“Being the Beloved”) contains two different excerpts from the writings of Henri Nouwen, a very influential Catholic author and speaker of the twentieth century. In these passages, he writes specifically about how Jesus may have known or experienced God’s love…and how we might come to more fully know and experience God’s love for ourselves. Let’s read the handout together aloud or silently to ourselves…
We’ll have a chance to share some of our thoughts and reactions in just a moment. But first, I’d like to share with us one person’s experience or understanding of how Jesus may have lived out or personified God as Love. From Jesus’ own experience of knowing himself as God’s Beloved, perhaps Jesus was more deeply able to love others during his earthly life…to love them in a way that allowed them to experience themselves as the Beloved as well.
(Play the following video for the group: “Love Personified”. Use the reflection questions below to help everyone process their thoughts and feelings about the handout and the video.)
Listening and Sharing
- How have you been loved? Who in your life has loved you (has embodied or personified love for you)? How have you loved and how are you loving others?
- “You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.” Have you ever heard God speak these words to you or sensed somehow that they are true about you? (If so, when, how, etc.?) If not, do you have a desire to know this “core truth” for yourself more experientially? (Why/why not?)
- What keeps you from more deeply knowing, believing, and experiencing that you are God’s beloved?
- What difference might it make in your life if you more fully embraced and grounded your identity in your “belovedness”?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Thank you to those who hosted the meeting. Thank you everyone for being present and participating. Let us remember and lift-up one another in prayer, especially for any special intentions which may have surfaced through our conversation tonight.
To continue to sit with God’s love for us, I’d like to invite us to consider praying with another audio guided Ignatian contemplation (like in 4.02 on Jesus’ birth). This time, we will use the guided contemplation individually during our time outside of the meeting and will use our imaginations to help place ourselves in the scene of Jesus’ baptism. Allow yourself to more deeply hear God’s words addressed to you, “You are my Beloved. On you my favor rests.” (Note to the group that the audio file, “Beloved of God”, can be found on the Pathways website under this 4.03 meeting outline.)
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group would like to offer a spontaneous prayer.