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Pastoral Team:
Rosanna McFadden
Elizabeth Kelsey


We worship at:
60455 CR 113
Elkhart, IN 46517
Phone: 574-875-7800
Fax: 574-875-7885

Sunday Worship
9:30 a.m.
Fellowship Time
10:45 a.m.
Church School
11:00 a.m.
Visitors welcome!
All times are
Eastern Time.

 

Week 3
Character

How does God act? How should I act?

Character is the feature which distinguishes an individual or community. It is a willingness to be shaped into a form that God can use. It is what takes us from being a lump of clay and forms us into something with purpose: a bowl, a mug, or a pitcher. We are individuals with distinct gifts and personalities (we need bowls and pitchers as well as mugs!), but we are molded by the same Artist for a common purpose.

The model for Christian character is Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we are given the stories, teaching, and example of the historical Jesus, and the promise of new life through the risen Christ. Christians bear the name, the story, and the character of Christ. Although we need to have an intellectual understanding of Jesus' teaching, Christianity is not fundamentally about what we know or believe, it is about who we are. We cannot be like Jesus without acting like Jesus. The Church of the Brethren names Jesus as "our rule of faith and practice." We learn what Jesus taught and how he acted by reading the Bible. We are shaped into his image when we strive to follow that example in our lives. This cannot happen in isolation. We need a community of Christians with whom we can read and interpret the Bible, who can hold us accountable for our actions, and who can give us encouragement. As Christians we are not called to be individual believers, but the body of Christ.

Set aside 20-30 minutes for this journaling exercise. You will need a Bible, journal or paper, and a pen or pencil.

1. Quiet yourself and ask the Spirit to illuminate your reading and meditation.
2. Read the text slowly, several times. [Suggestions below]
3. Imagine you are part of the story. What is the setting? Who is present? What is the mood? With which character do you identify?

4. Begin writing by putting yourself into the story. When you come to a point where Jesus addresses you, let yourself join in the action or enter into the conversation. Pay attention to Jesus' appearance, posture, facial expressions, and response to you. Notice how you respond to Jesus. Answer Jesus' comments as though they are addressed to you.

For example:    J: What are you looking for? What do you want?
Me: (Write whatever response you would make to Jesus.)

5. Continue the dialogue as long as you have something to say. Don't try to force or analyze what you've said, just write until it feels like the conversation is over. If you choose, share the story with a friend you trust.

Suggested texts: John 1:38-39 Mark 4:40 John 5:6 Matthew 17:7

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Week 3
Character

The practice of Bible study has always been foundational to Christian formation. Learning God's story and purpose as revealed by the Holy Spirit through scripture is one of the ways we are formed as individuals and in community. You may have a long practice of either individual devotional reading, group Bible study, or both.

The Benedictines of the fifth century developed a way of praying the scriptures, known as lectio divina, literally "sacred reading." In contrast to a Bible study which may look to the history, cultural setting, or specific context of a biblical text, lectio divina encourages silence, waiting, listening, and thoughtful response. It is based on the simple, but revolutionary idea that a person who meditates on God's word daily will be gradually changed: that person will begin to take on the character of Christ, and will model the behavior of Christ in his or her community and in the world.

Lectio Divina can be practiced individually or in a group. The individual version is shared here; it may be adapted for a group by reading the text aloud, sharing the word or phrase from the mediation, and praying for one another.

1. Reading: Lectio
Consciously place yourself in God's presence, and invite the illumination of the Spirit. You may want to light a candle or listen to meditative music.
Read through a short passage of scripture in a slow, thoughtful way. It is best to read the text out loud slowly-perhaps several times.

2. Meditation: Meditatio
Read the text until you come to a word, phrase or sentence which attracts you or touches your heart. Stop and re-read the phrase, and savor its goodness or sweetness.
If you wish, write down the words or phrases in a journal. You may find yourself drawn to actions or imagery. Let your thoughts and imagination be part of this meditation.

3. Prayer: Oratio
Respond to God in prayer. This can be silent, spoken, or written. Simply express what is in your heart, whether it is thanksgiving, confession, or intercession for yourself or others.

4. Contemplation: Contemplatio
Rest in God's presence. Wait silently. Thank God for being with you and loving you.

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