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. So much does God love me that even though I turn away and make little response, this Giver of all good gifts continues to be my Savior and Redeemer.” – Spiritual Exercises #234
Grace to seek/ask: to be open to discovering the love of God and experiencing it for ourselves in our hearts and lives…
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…”
1 John 4:7-21 – “…We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him..”
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, were you able to gain a deeper awareness of how your image of God affects your day-to-day life?
- 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.
We’ve had some time in the past few meetings to look more directly at our relationships with God–how we imagine God and how those images have been shaped. Continuing to listen and embrace each other as we are, we have the opportunity tonight to consider one central image of God…that of God as LOVE.
Together, let’s read tonight’s article by Ronald Rolheiser (“Gods Unconditional Love“) out loud or silently.
…Now that we’ve read the handout, take a few minutes in silence to look back over it and sit with anything that may have struck you personally…We may have each been drawn to different passages in particular and we will have a chance to share about them in our discussion time. For the moment, however, I’d like to draw our attention to one passage in particular:
“God’s love, as Jesus assures us, is always both unmerited and unconditional, nothing we do can ever make God love us, just as nothing we do can ever stop God from loving us. God loves just as God does everything else, perfectly…God just loves us, pure and simple. God cannot be offended. God’s love cannot be driven away. God does not reward or punish us on the basis of whether we have been good or bad. God simply loves us.”
I’d like to invite us to focus on this aspect of the article–that God loves us unconditionally…and always will. To help us consider God’s love for us more personally, I’d like to play a song for us. As you listen, imagine that God is speaking these words to you. Simply listen…and notice any thoughts and feelings that arise.
(Play this song or a similar love song for the group: “Make You Feel My Love”, ortoPilot cover. Consider listening first, and then looking at/praying with the lyrics by passing them out to everyone. Then reflect together using the reflection questions below.)
Listening and Sharing
- How do you feel when you imagine a God who loves you unconditionally and unceasingly–who accepts and embraces you now exactly as you are…without judgement, without request?
- How does this loving God reflect or clash with the God of your past or your present?
- Do you honestly believe that God loves you? What helps or prevents you from trusting that this may be God’s true nature?
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.
As a way of continuing to sit with our feelings and reactions to the God of love we’ve considered tonight, I’d like to invite us each to pray with a particular scripture passage before we next meet. Using Isaiah 43:1-5, let us each continue to be open to hearing God speak to us of how He loves us. Feel free to pray with the passage in whatever way suits you best. If you need help, try using Ignatian Meditation (also known as Lectio Divina).
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group would like to offer a spontaneous prayer.