Where do we
find God? Where does God find us?
The first step
of Christian formation is spiritual awareness. Openness to the presence
and activity of God in our lives and the world is a place to begin.
Remember, God wants to be in relationship with us. Sometimes we
act as if it is our task to find God; perhaps we need is to be still
for long enough for God to find us.
examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola in the sixteenth century.
He saw it as the cornerstone of the spiritual life. When Jesuits
at the Council of Trent asked if they could skip their prayer exercises
because they were so busy, Ignatius told them to skip anything but
This week, at
the end of each day, light a candle or go someplace in your home
where you can relax and be aware of God's loving presence. Take
about five minutes and ask yourself these two questions:
For what moment
today am I most grateful?
For what moment
today am I least grateful?
Give God thanks
for the day.
You may do this
silently by yourself, but it is also works to share with others
around the supper table or at bedtime. Being conscious of God's
activity during our waking hours can help us release the day into
God's care and sleep in peace. Examining what gives us energy or
life and what makes us feel drained or lifeless may help us to see
directions where God is encouraging and calling us. What makes us
feel good (overwork, alcohol, other addictions) in the short term
may not be what is truly life-giving in the long run. God wants
the best for each of us, and has given us the capacity to choose
You may continue
this practice throughout the season of Lent.
Before he founded
the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church, Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
was a soldier. He was confined to bed recovering from injuries to
both legs, and one of the books he had to read was The Life of
the Saints. He found himself alternating between imagining returning
to his life of wine, women, and soldiering, and imagining walking
barefoot to Jerusalem, like one of the saints. He realized that
while he was thinking of the things of the world he was filled with
delight, but afterwards he was dry and dissatisfied. When he entertained
thoughts of walking to Jerusalem, and even after he dismissed them,
he was cheerful and satisfied. Ignatius called the first way "desolation,"
and the second "consolation."
our lives in terms of desolation or consolation helps us to discover
God's purpose for our lives, and enables us redefine that purpose
as we learn to know God better and our lives change in unexpected
ways. The consciousness examen can be a practice for reviewing a
day, a week, a year, or a lifetime. What things have brought you
joy (consolation)? What things have brought you sorrow (desolation)?
For what are you most or least grateful? To what purpose may God
be calling you, even now? Give God thanks for the guidance of the
past day, week, year, or span of years.
you could share your experiences of God's presence with someone
who is beginning the spiritual journey. This could be someone outside
of our congregation or someone at Creekside. Many people are unsure
if God has a purpose for their life, or how to discover it. What
have you learned about listening to God at work in your life and
in the world? How could you share that gift with the community of
There will be
opportunity for individuals to share about their experiences of
prayer or other spiritual practices during our worship services
in Lent. If you feel God calling you to share in this way, please
call Pastor David.
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