Lent 2017. We’ll be reading this book by John Philip Newell and pick it up again after Easter. All Welcome to discussions whether you’ve read the text or not.
A TIME TO BLESS
The first verse of Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes declares: “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
David Spangler asks: When is the time to bless? (p. 79)
For reflection: Think about all the times you encounter some form of blessing ie public occasions, worship, ceremonies etc.
When are the times you are most likely to encounter a formal blessing?
“Blessings are asked at beginnings and endings, and at many points in between. Indeed, any time we feel a situation or a person needs the benefit of divine providence we ask for a blessing. This is how we normally understand a blessing in our culture. It’s an invocation of the presence and the power of the sacred upon a person’s life or upon the function of an object.”
“BUT as much as a blessing is an invocation, it is also an act of discovering the part of us that moves in harmony on the dance floor of creation. In fact,
the art of blessing is not only about the act of blessing, but about an attitude towards the world, a way of seeing things that go beyond our ordinary perceptions.”
On Sunday we talked about somehow being in harmony with the greater mystery. We had difficulty naming it (which is as it should be!). Spangler uses the metaphorical language of flowing energy, of obstruction, and of openness.
Our tradition might use the term “grace” – the continual flowing of divine energy in our behalf.
Here are a couple of questions to ponder: Can you identify a time when you have felt yourself in “the flow” of blessing? of unexpected grace? (be careful not to censor your insight or understanding when something comes to mind).
As you recall, were you able to be in a state of openness – receptivity?
Did anything in you “obstruct” the flow? or were you able to receive and let it pass on through you in some way to its next “destination?” ie: can you identify a time when you were “blessed in order to be a blessing?’
“The real power of blessing is that it awakens us to the power of spirit. A blessing is an energizing of our sense of the sacred: the more we attune ourselves to that presence, the more we live in its midst.”
THE BLESSING WAY
Adult Bible Study and Discussion
Chilmark Community Church
BEGINNING ON SUNDAY NOVEMBER 27 FOR 3-4 WEEKS
In spiritual communities here and there around the country the idea of “blessing” is coming into the foreground. More and more books are appearing on the theme. Some writers simply lift up the possibility that we could live lives of blessing; others devise exercises to be used in small groups or between two people to practice blessing each other; still others create poetry and daily meditations to help seekers develop a sensibility for “blessing.”
The notion of “blessing” is a central theme in our scriptures. In the book of Genesis alone, the word is used more than 50 times as the earliest narratives of our beginnings unfolds. So, it seems we could be in a “blessed movement” as we explore the idea of blessing.
I’d like to propose 3-4 sessions, beginning on November 27 (Sunday after Thanksgiving).
Genesis seems to be a good place to start since the notion of blessing is so prevalent there. Across the narrative, blessing happens in many ways. God blesses creation. God blesses humans. Humans bless God. Humans bless each other. Sometimes blessings move the narrative along in a happy and generous way, but sometimes blessings backfire.
For the 1st session:
Read several selections from the following:
Genesis 1:22 and 28
Genesis 9: 1-10
Genesis 17: 15-16
These are the verse where a few blessings are named. You will need to read a bit on either side of these verses to get a feel for the context.
Keep in mind several questions: Who is blessing whom? How is the blessing received? What is the possible outcome of the blessing? Notice what effect the blessings have on you.
Would you want to be on the receiving end?
This will help us get started. Hope the topic and the timing will work for you.
As always, with abundant blessings, Vicky