Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

5ml_week2

Listening Hand: Week 2 | Day 7

Sitraka Andriam shares how the experience of completing the second week’s “Listening Hand” activity expanded his heart and transformed his life. How might talking with five people who have been Christ for you transform your relationship with them – and yourself?

Activity: Listening Hand

Transcript: Hi there.  So this right here is my example.  I had the privilege of doing this exercise and I am here to tell you that it expanded my heart and transformed my life, as everything that God does for us, I think, should.

So I reached out to five people who have literally been Jesus’ feet and eyes to me in this world.  Who have been very strong, encouraging, and very loving to me throughout my life, especially the very difficult stages that I have had to overcome and get through.  So there was the Director of the Episcopal Service Corps, which I joined in California, then one of my favorite bishops, a deacon/lawyer who also works for the church, and then a woman who has been a godmother to me from Virginia, and my little sister from Virginia as well, who have been amazing people to me all along.  So in terms of what this felt like, this is an amazing, and deeply transformative, and a profoundly vulnerable exercise, so all things that we know God wants us to lean into even more.

So one of the most important things for me in terms of this exercise was that I really feel like I began to see folks who have been very strong, and steady, and encouraging to me in a new light, because I got to actually ask them to tell me how come it is that they have fallen in love with God, and kept falling in love with God’s embrace.  And now I know them a little more fully.  I know things about them that I did not know before, and that ultimately I think makes me a much more loving person. But also it has transformed our relationship into a deeper and ultimately more Christ-like friendship.

A couple of things I want to highlight.  Many of the folks with whom I spoke have come to understand God’s love has been for all persons, and also have really emphasized and echoed this idea that Jesus wants us to practice what they call radical generosity.  These folks have all been radically generous to me and it was really interesting kind of to hear them talk about how generosity is a core value as a way of life.  That they see through the story of Jesus and that they want to keep on embodying through their lives.  And the most beautiful thing that they said, actually all five of them, was that they know that God has been holding them all along.  So this is a God who holds, and sustains, and cherishes us through all of the things that we might be going through.

And so I highly encourage you to do this.  This will open up many things for you and for those you love.  It will break a couple of hearts perhaps, but I think in important ways, and ultimately enlarge and expand our hearts so that the dimensions that God has already created in us can be even bigger and more generous, and that we can be Christ’s hands and feet, as they have been Christ’s hands and feet, too.

– Sitraka Andriam

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Choose to Change: Week 2 | Day 6

Mark’s Gospel opens with John the Baptist proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Br. Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it.

Question: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: A lot of biblical scholars tell us that the gospel of Mark is probably the oldest account of the four gospels.  It’s probably the first earliest gospel, and there’s a terseness, and there’s a tension in this gospel that always strikes me.

And the way Mark begins his gospel is by telling us that John the Baptist has come proclaiming a message of repentance, to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand.  He’s portrayed as the forerunner who announces the coming of Jesus.

And it’s this word about repentance I think that is so important to the message of the kingdom, and for me, it’s the essence of the message of the kingdom.  And “repentance” is a translation of a Greek word that’s used in the text; it comes from metanoia, the Greek word metanoia, and it literally means turning around.  But it even more subtly means for one to have a change of mind, to change one’s mind.

And when the gospel talk about that, what the gospel is talking about, it’s talking about our ability to change. And Jesus points this out to us. It’s not something that’s obvious to us as people. What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another.  And the message is that we don’t have to see ourselves or one another through the lens of alienation or through the lens of being set in opposition against one another.  So much of how human beings act, both toward themselves, and toward one another, is a mode of alienation, rejection, caution, suspicion, and Jesus says that there is a different way of being in the world.  There is a different way for us to be in the world, with ourselves first to begin with, and once that is effected, then how we interact with one another.  It doesn’t have to be—what Jesus is saying is that the world does not have to be the way it is, and we can change it.  Human beings have been given the power to change it.  So when we see evil in the world, when we see the problems of the world, what’s the good news of the message of the kingdom is that you can change that.  You have the power to change that.

I have a question for you: How can you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others?

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

Question: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

The Kingdom Within: Week 2 | Day 5

What is the kingdom we are called to proclaim? Br. Nicholas Bartoli reflects on Jesus’ description of the kingdom being “within us” and shares how taking time to rest in stillness can help us to become aware of that kingdom.

Question: What can you let go of to foster “the kingdom within you”?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: When we’re considering the first mark of mission, proclaiming the good news to the kingdom, one of the things that I think of right away is the question of what is this kingdom that we’re talking about.  In the gospels when it talks about Jesus launching his ministry of proclaiming the good news, he summarizes it very succinctly.  He says, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.”  And he says, “The kingdom of God is both within us and among us.”

Now for the sake of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, it can be useful to start looking at what he means when he says it’s within us.  And I think about these guys on the street corners with these big signs saying, “Repent, the end is nigh,” a sort of a pointer toward the fact that it’s sort of about something ending, and you can interpret this a lot of ways.  But if the kingdom of God that we’re exploring today is something within us, then what could be ending?  Well, I like to think of it as perhaps an end to those parts of ourselves that get in the way of realizing the kingdom within us.  The kingdom of God is already there, and all we have to do is realize its presence.  And it’s only a matter of finding those pieces of ourselves, the false selves, the ego, those kind of things that get in the way of recognizing it.

So how do we do that?  Well, there are plenty of ways.  But one of the ways that I think is an attractive alternative in terms of a life of prayer would be to rest in stillness, which is what we explore when we practice contemplative prayer.  This sort of resting in stillness and listening, and in that quiet, learn how to let go of those pieces that are getting in the way, just being present for this kingdom of God that is within us.

I am reminded also of St. Francis who is often quoted as saying, “Proclaim the good news, and if necessary, use words.”  So what we’re trying to do here is learn to let go of the things that get in the way of simply being the good news in the world.  Being the good news by recognizing the kingdom of God within us, and through that way of being in the world, then foster the kind of kingdom that you want among us.

So the question we can ask ourselves is, “What are the kinds of things that we can let go of in order to foster this awareness of the kingdom within us?”

– Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Question: What can you let go of to foster “the kingdom within you”?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Stop and See: Week 2 | Day 4

Do you sometimes forget how God has been faithful in your life? Br. Luke Ditewig shares his daily practice of stopping at the end of the day to see where God has been present, so that he can claim and share his good news.

Question: What stones do you carry? What do they mean?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: When Joshua led the people of Israel into the Promised Land they came to the Jordan River, and when the priests with the arc of the covenant stepped into the Jordan River, the river stopped, such that the people could walk through.  Then Joshua told 12 men to go back into the center of the river to pick up 12 stones.  They brought them out and on the shore they made a monument.  Joshua told the people, “When your children ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ remember and tell them what happened here today, how God was faithful and provided for you.”

I think that’s important both for the children to hear the story but also for the parents to remember and to tell it.  You know, often, I don’t remember.  I forget what has happened.  And so I need to stop and to see how God is faithful and doing things for me.

So often, at the end of each day, even for the little and small things of the ordinary life, I stop, and I ask myself, “For what am I most thankful?  When was I most fully alive?  How have I received love?”  And the answers to those questions are memories.  They are real instances where God has been present, where God has shown up for me, and that’s my good news to claim.  It’s also then how I can share it with others.  And it might be both me telling the story to someone else, to tell them what I am thankful for, what God has done for me.

I think we, too, as adults need to ask questions, and so our proclamation is also to ask one another, “For what are you most thankful?  How has God shown up for you?  When were you most fully alive?”  And sometimes we mark those things.  We may write them down, we may paint a picture, or take a picture, or pick up a stone where we are, and carry it with us to remember God showed up for me.

So what is the story that you are going to tell, and what are the stones?  What do they mean for you?  What’s your story?  Tell me about what this stone means.  Here’s a question for today: How has God been present in your life?

– Br. Luke Ditewig

Question: What stones do you carry?  What do they mean?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

How can I keep from singing?: Week 2 | Day 3

“Evangelism” has become something of a dirty word in our moment, but it actually just means proclaiming good news. Br. Jim Woodrum reflects on what being an evangelist means to him.

Question: What is God doing in your life? How can you be an evangelist of the Good News?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: In the Anglican Communion’s five Marks of Mission, the very first mark of mission is, “Proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”

A word that we might think about in proclaiming the good news is Evangelism or Evangelist, although in our day and age, this word has taken on kind of a negative connation.  It evokes images of conquering, and winning, and converting someone to our way of thinking about God.  But in actuality, it just means proclaiming good news.  It comes from the Greek word Euangelion, which means proclaim the good news.  It’s where we get the word angel from.  You may be familiar in the gospel of Luke where God sends the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the great things that God is going to do in restoring relationship for all of humankind, and it begins with her.

So the first thing that Mary does is she goes to her cousin Elizabeth to share this news.  It’s absolutely astounding.  And she finds that Elizabeth also has some good news that she is going to bear a son also, even though she has passed the age for bearing children.  And I imagine these two ladies sitting together and just exuberant with joy about what God is doing in their lives.  Gabriel, the angel, Mary, and Elizabeth all become Evangelists sharing the good news.

It kind of brings to mind a Baptist hymn that I grew up with from my childhood called How Can I keep From Singing.  And it goes like this:  “My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.  I hear the sweet though far off hymn that hails a new creation.  Through all the turmoil and the strife, I hear the music ringing.  It finds an echo in my soul.  How can I keep from singing?”  And I think this hymn expresses what Evangelism is all about, that somehow God is doing something in our life, and how can we not share that.  That’s Evangelism.  That’s the first mark of mission.

So a question for your prayer might be what is God doing in your life, and how can you become an Evangelist of that good news.

– Br. Jim Woodrum

Question: What is God doing in your life?  How can you be an evangelist of the Good News?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Let God In : Week 2 | Day 2

It can be hard for others to know what the “good news” of Christ looks like, without a personal story of how God has acted in our lives. Br. John Braught admits that, for him, it is often easiest to let God into his life in times of darkness. Thus good news often comes out of bad times.

Question: What difference has having a relationship with God made in your life?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: There are probably as many definitions of good news as there are believers.  The good news is about the new life that we have been given in Christ.  Now I think that this can sometimes be a little empty and hard to know what that means without a story, without a personal narrative about how God has acted in your life.  That’s the good news we have to offer other people.

The most concise statement of what this might look like is found in our rule in the chapter on preaching.  And it says that, “People are hungry for good news, that life is full of meaning in union with God.”  What that means to me is that life with a relationship with God is better than life without a relationship with God.  And I’ve experienced both, and maybe you have too.  And so what difference has that relationship with God made in your life?  That’s the good news we have to offer.

Now in addition to the difference that just having a relationship with God has made in your life, all of us are invited to invite God into our lives more and more each and every day.  We’re called to let go of old ways of doing things, old ideas, let go of control, and to invite God in to have control and guide us in a way that God would have us live.

Now that means when the good news comes to us, it’s often because something bad is going on.  It often takes pain, darkness, and struggle before we are really ready to let go and let God into our lives.  So proclaiming that to other people, telling them that, “Well, things need to get bad before they get good,” doesn’t always seem like good news on the face of it.  But it’s our story; it’s our narrative for those of us who have passed through the other side, who continue to try to grow, and change in this way of dying and rising, falling and getting up day by day. That’s the good news.  That’s what we have to share with other people.

What difference has having a relationship with God made in your life?

– Br. John Braught

Question: What difference has having a relationship with God made in your life?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Activity Guidance – Listening Hand: Week 2

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

The second week’s activity, “Listening Hand,” invites us to listen and learn as we share five conversations with people who embody the Life of God. How might their stories invite you to express your own?


Transcript: In the second week of our program, we’re focusing on the First Mark of Love, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

And so the activity we’re inviting you into this week is a way of expressing and receiving that Good News by engaging in a conversation about the Good News with someone that you know. So the activity is called “Listening Hand.” You’ll see on the activity a printed hand with five fingers. Above each of the fingers, we would like you to put a name of a person that you think embodies the life of God. And we would like you during the course of this week to approach each of these persons — write an email, or make a phone call, or agree to meet with them for a cup of coffee — and we would like you to ask them to talk about their life in God. How have they known and received the love of God? What for them is the Good News of the gospel? What do they understand the Kingdom of God to be and how has this influenced the way that they live in the world? Listen to their testimony and listen to how they proclaim good news. And make notes to yourself of things that you want to remember from what they’ve said in the palm of the hand or in the rest of this picture. Use this as an occasion for listening and for learning, and then think, too, about what Good News you have to share with others. How has God been active in your own life and how would you share that news with others?

– Br. David Vryhof

Good News: Week 2 | Day 1

The first “Mark of Love” invites us to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom.” As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the second week of the series, when we receive good news, we want to share it. How has the good news of God touched your life?

Activity: Listening Hand


Transcript: Throughout this week, we’ll be exploring the First Mark of Love, or the First Mark of Mission, and that is “to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.”  The gospels tell us when Jesus came and began his ministry, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and he called people to repent and to believe.  What is this Good News of God?

Jesus at one point entered the synagogue of his hometown in Nazareth and read from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  He quoted these words from Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”  This is Jesus’ “mission statement,” as it were – his understanding of his particular call, his vocation, his purpose for being in the world that was related to the purposes of God.  This is his vocation, to proclaim Good News to the poor, release from captivity, sight for the blind.  Jesus’ message is a message of healing and of hope, of love and of liberty, of freedom and the restoration of God’s intent for us.

Jesus shares this Good News with us.  When we receive good news, we want to pass it on to others.  And so this week we will be exploring what this Good News is for each one of us.  How has the Good News of the Gospel touched your life?  What effect has Jesus and God’s life within you made on the way that you live?  And how can you share this Good News with others, both by your words and by your actions?

So we invite you to join us this week in praying about and thinking about the Good News of God in Christ.  The Good News of God’s coming reign on the earth, a reign for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come and thy will be done.”

– Br. David Vryhof

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity