Are You Ramping Up or Down?
We were looking forward to permanent post-lockdown connections, worry-free experiences, and easier freedom with the worst behind us. And now, while we are still enjoying the summer, we will be looking forward to the fall and tending to the reality that "ramping up" might not be as simple and straightforward as we had hoped. It looks like we will be doing a few things, simultaneously. Ramping up, staying the course, and slowing down our expectations for how the future will unfold. This can be a lot to hold, and so we will take some time today to pause, reflect, and discuss these complexities and concerns with a trusted companion.
Reflection Guide: Text Version.
(Also available as a download).
Tips for getting the most out of this experience:
· Find a friend/spouse/partner and do this experience together. You can even invited children into this reflection and prayer time if you wish.
· Choose a place that limits external distractions, is comfortable, and invites you to be as present as possible.
· Pick a time to experience this Alternate Worship, it might be during our normal church hour, but it doesn’t have to be! It should take between 20-40 minutes to both listen and process this experience.
· Begin by reading the introduction, and then watch the short video ‘Being Here’ which will help you become centred before beginning to speak and listen. (https://youtu.be/_NBwTp50_Jw)
· Consider taking a photo that can remind you of what you experienced.
· Take turns asking each other these questions, and try to practice deep active listening. Listen for emotional language, for key words that may need unpacking, and for unresolved questions that can be acknowledged.
· Before responding to the sharer, give them space and time to fully answer by asking, “Is there anything more you want to say about that question?”
· Feel free to acknowledge the emotions you hear in your partners sharing, ask any clarification questions that may need more exploration, but do not feel pressured to answer or resolve your partners challenges. You can instead offer to pray for them about issues that arise at the end of your time together.
· Make notes of anything that comes up in the sharing that you could pray and ask God for as you listen.
· Consider writing a brief note to Pastor Steve or Catherine about your experience that could be shared with the broader church.
Ramping Up (and Down)
DISCUSS EACH OF THESE QUESTIONS IN TURN, TAKING YOUR TIME
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry ~James 1:19
1. If you could describe your pandemic experience so far, what would you say? What are 3 words you would use to describe your experience right now? What has changed and what has stayed the same since March 2020?
2. Evaluate your energy. How exhausted or energized are you? What is the quality of rest and restoring in your life? What do you need as you head into this new season?
3. What habits of news/social media consumption need to be evaluated for the sake of your personal health, and that of your family, office, community?
4. We are living through more than a "disruption" - it is an "unveiling". What has been unveiled for you and revealed something significant for you to pay attention to? What support do you need to pay attention to this? How can you stay open-hearted?
5. We've never lived through a pandemic before, and we've never started to come out of one either. What supports and self-care practices do you need to prioritize for yourself, your family, your community?
6. What are some things your family, friends, colleagues, and communities need to know about how you've changed (your values, priorities, commitments, struggles, dreams)?
7. How are you relating to uncertainty, change, and lack of control? What anchors you? In what ways might you find connection, grounding, and tethering during this season?
8. What are you afraid of or nervous about for these upcoming months?
9. What role does "FOMO" (Fear of missing out, and FREEDOM of missing out) play in your life right now?
10. What frontline worker/healthcare provider/small business owner, leader would appreciate a word of encouragement from you this week?
AFTER YOU ARE FINISHED
Take turns reading these passages over each other as you consider the fall, the future, and what you are carrying with you in this season.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. ~1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. ~Jude 24-25
PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
This does not need to be long, or full of guidance or wisdom. It ought to be simple, naming the cares and concerns that you heard from each other, and inviting God to minister to one another’s needs.
You might end your prayer with the following Benedictory Blessing prayed over each other.
(May) Christ dwell in your heart through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~Ephesians 3:17-19.