Examen

Introduction: Gather with those who come offering a warm and generous welcome. If you’re joining us here on the blog we are so blessed you’ve come. Sit down, take a load off, and let’s share.

Prayer: Begin with a minute of silence. Breathe in… breathe out. Allow the cares of the day to fall away. Don’t worry, you can pick them up when we’re done if you feel you need to.

God, we praise you as our Time Keeper. You created time for us, placed us in the exact season we are in, and never waste one moment. Amen.

Touchstone Reminder: Hospitality

Over the past few weeks we’ve shared together how hospitality encompasses an acceptance to all who gather right where they are. How the heart of hospitality readily receives those who come with an open heart eager to offer a generous and friendly welcome.

  • In what ways have you noticed hospitality this week?
  • Was there a moment you found yourself offering this type of hospitality?
  • How was this different than before?
  • What about a time you were inhospitable? Why?

The busy lives we live often keep us from offering true hospitality. We quickly pass others on the street with a quick “hello” but rarely stop for a visit. Hurry, hurry… rush, rush… and for what? Is the rush of busy-ness more important than the opportunity to welcome someone into conversation? Hospitality takes time, a slowing down to recognize God’s leading. The real question is, Do we understand all time — every single second — belongs to God?

  • Does time affect your willingness to offer hospitality?
  • What do we gain by our efficiency?
  • What do we stand to lose?

Take a moment to reflect on the quote below. Ponder it… consider each word… read it again and again.

Busyness is an illness of the spirit.

Eugene Peterson

  • Which word stands out to you? Why?
  • Do you think busyness could possibly be an illness?
  • If so, how sick are you?
  • What would need to happen for you to be well?

Stacy says:

I remember my grade school teacher’s lesson on margins. “Begin writing next to the blue line on your notebook paper and stop at the faint red line on the right,” she said. What joy I found in neatly written assignments with perfect margins.

Several years ago I heard a teaching on margin. The speaker explained many of us fill the written pages of our lives with so much doing there is no margin. Packed schedules keep us running from place to place, haggard and worn with nothing left over for God. A life without margin leaves no space for God.

I’m a wife, mother, business co-owner. I blog, write/teach bible studies, lead a Sunday school class and worship. My days are just as busy now as they have ever been. Living a life with margin is not as much about what I’m doing, but how I go about doing it.

The thing is I will never accomplish everything I would like to in a day. I’m finite, and limited. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. God on the other hand isn’t. I am learning to trust God to accomplish what He calls me to do. I often find myself asking, “What’s next Lord?” If God calls then getting it done is His as well. All I have to do is the next thing.

Community:

Building community with God and others takes time. Each day is a gift of twenty-four hours and most often we hear, “There’s just not enough hours in the day.” The writer of Ecclesiastes has much to say about season and time.

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for every season and activity. Some painful, some full of joy. Take a look at the things listed in these verses.

  • Which season do you find yourself in today?
  • How does it affect your relationship with God? With others?

Read Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

  • When do you notice thoughts of eternity in your heart?
  • What do you most often do with them?

Read Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

  • What seems to be the point the writer is trying to make?
  • What is most important?
  • Do you get a sense of community or Gather in these verses?

Growing our relationship with God takes time. The world is bent on busyness in ways that encourage us to fill each and every second with doing. Somewhere in the midst of it all, we forget how to be. Be with God, be with others… really be.

February’s Spiritual Discipline: Examen

We gather in community to grow closer to God and His people. In the gathering we’ve been focusing on spiritual exercises to help us connect with God and share our experiences with one another. In February, we are gathering to consider the exercise of Examen.

The Examen is an ancient practice of looking at our lives and noticing times we are most  present to God and times we are distant. It comes from the teaching of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He practiced and taught the examen prayer as a way to discover our interactions with God throughout the day. Over the years it has been used in many ways, but in its basic form there are five key elements:

  • Placing yourself in the presence of God.
  • Prayer of thanksgiving and invitation.
  • Reviewing a time or day and its events. Reflecting on when you felt close to God and when you noticed distance from God.
  • Prayerfully considering how you acted and felt. What inspired your thoughts and going deeper into these things.
  • Looking forward by considering how this impacts your Kingdom living.

We are going to use this prayer as we continue to reflect on the spiritual discipline of One Word.

Scripture Foundation:

Connecting with God and others takes time, an open heart, and desire.

Read Psalm 37:4

Delight: high degree of gratification or pleasure : JOY: extreme satisfaction: something that gives great pleasure: the power of affording pleasure.

—Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

If we consider the definition of delight this Psalm would read:

“Take a high degree of satisfaction and joy, take something that gives great pleasure, take the power of affording pleasure in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.”

The original Hebrew translated as “delight” includes “soft and pleasing to the touch, or sensitive to be touched” (Dictionary of Biblical Languages). When we delight in the Lord it is because we have felt Him touch our lives, it’s something pleasing, and we are sensitive to His touch. We know it well and we respond in kind.

  • How do you experience satisfaction, joy, or great pleasure in the Lord?
  • Is feeling His touch a daily experience? weekly? monthly? rarely?
  • How do we delight in the Lord?
  • Does busy-ness impede our delight?

We often depend on ourselves to achieve our heart’s desires. We work hard. We store up things of the world. We go, go, go. We’re like the seed choked out by the cares and distractions of the world, withered and lifeless at the end of each day.

Delighting in the Lord is the key to breaking this cycle. It’s the giving of time and energy to worship God. Understanding this opens the door to our greatest heart desire, to know God and others more and more.

Close:

Practicing the examen is an opportunity for us to offer hospitality to God. It includes setting aside time to delight in the work God is doing in your life. We suggest you set aside two ten to fifteen minute sessions to engage in the new discipline.

May God open your eyes to the wonderful work He is doing in you.

Lord all time is Yours including the time You give us. May we use it in a way to make an eternal impact for Your Kingdom, learning to use the gift of time to love You and love those You place in our path.

 

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