Adwoa Lewis-Wilson shares her experience of completing the “God Sighting Map” activity, particularly reflecting on how we first become aware of human needs – especially our own – before we can offer any loving service.

Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: Hi, my name is Adwoa.  This week I was trying to figure out how I might respond to human need in loving service.  And as I did that, I realized how quickly one’s mind can jump to the part of service, actually, and in specific, thinking about service as action.  And that didn’t feel actually quite right to me.  I wondered about what it meant to respond in loving service.  What would be a loving response to the needs around me?

And actually also as I began to do this exercise, I started to wonder about how in the world I knew what the needs around me were.  I could make assumptions about that based on what I see.  I could see somebody on the street and imagine that they needed food or shelter.  I could see somebody who was crying and imagine that they needed comfort or a particular kind of healing.  But all of that was based on me looking from the outside.  And so as I did this exercise, I began to realize I needed another way of thinking about how I understood what need was.  How I’d listened for what need was, how I felt need, before I could truly love someone in need, and then respond to them.

So when I read the prompt for this exercise, I took seriously the idea of starting at home and looking at the needs that were in my own home and where I’m staying right now.  But I actually realized that I needed to take a step before that.  And so when I did my exercise, my very first step is actually looking inside myself, trying to make peace with the needs that I recognize in myself.  Am I comfortable letting people see those needs?  Am I comfortable sitting with them, identifying them for myself, letting myself find the places that I’m vulnerable, and to find ways to let other people wash my feet as it were, because I began to realize that if I didn’t do that first, I wasn’t going to be able to respond to the needs around me in a way that was, for lack of a better word, chase I guess, not about my own ego.  But I also wasn’t going to be able to respond from a place of humility and of connection and contact.

So the first part of this week for me really was taking a stock of my own human need and the places that I was vulnerable and needed to be mindful of that, both in order to receive care, but also how I might pass on that vulnerability to people that I might serve if I’m not mindful of it.

But the second thing that I noticed – and I sort of took it on as a challenge this week actually – was to look at not only the concrete needs, the needs that I could see with my eyes, or smell, or touch, the person asking for money, or the person who had fallen and needed help. I tried to imagine what the needs were beneath that and maybe the needs that we all have in common.  So for example, I was sitting on a train one day and there was somebody who had an odor, and was perhaps drunk, and talking to himself, and the natural inclination was to see that as the person with need.  And I registered that.  I took a little check.  But as I opened my awareness, I also noticed all the people around me in business suits who had their cell phones right in front of their faces.  And all of us were on this train and none of us was noticing the moment, and none of us was noticing each other.  And I thought that there was a real human need for all of us as we were going to wherever we were going that day.  We all seemed to have our basic needs met.  But in fact, there was a human presence and connection that we hadn’t put on when we left our homes that morning.

And so I found myself holding at once the person who we might all look to and say, “Oh, they need help.”  But also, all of us together who were mindlessly entering this day that God had given us as a pure gift.  I didn’t have anything to give to that person.  But I could choose to give my presence to that train that day.

I found that doing this exercise gave me an opportunity to think about that.  To think about whom we are as human beings.  What a human being needs to thrive.  It might be more than the basics and all of us can help contribute something to that.

– Adwoa Lewis-Wilson

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

Everywhere we look, we see a world in desperate need of healing. So where do we even begin? Br. Jim Woodrum invites us to consider mission through the lens of “vocation”: what is the unique way in which you are being called to participate in God’s mission.

Question: What is God’s mission in the world? What is your unique way of participating in that mission?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: The third mark of mission says, “To respond to human need through loving service.”  But where do we begin?  Everywhere we look we see a world that is hurting and in desperate need of healing.  It can often be daunting to even take the first step.  But I think that Jesus gives us a clue in Matthew’s gospel.  You may remember he’s asked, “Which commandment of the law is the greatest?”  And Jesus replies, “To love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  But then he adds a second part that he says is just as important.  He says, “And to love your neighbor as yourself.”

There is a Latin word, vocare, which means to call.  It’s where we get the word vocation.  Walter Brueggemann defines vocation as a purpose for being in the world that is related to the purposes of God.  So one way we might pray with the third mark of mission is first to discern what is the mission of God.  How is God working in the world?  And then the second part would be what is my unique way of participating in God’s mission.

– Br. Jim Woodrum

Question: What is God’s mission in the world?  What is your unique way of participating in that mission?

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

“Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said after washing the feet of his disciples. Br. Luke Ditewig notes that love comes out of being loved; it is in allowing our own need to be seen and touched that we can then reach out and touch others’ lives.

Question: Who is “washing your feet”? How are you “washing” others?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He said this having gone around the table kneeling down to wash each of his friends’ feet.  To wash the feet that were dirty, messy, they stank.  Feet I think are figurative for our vulnerability, which we really are when we show up.  Things that we don’t necessarily want to show others, it’s risky, it’s emotionally exposing, but it’s real, which we are right now.  And like Peter, we often say, “Jesus, I don’t want you to wash my feet.”  But Jesus’ response to Peter and us is, “If I don’t wash you, you have no share with me.  I need to wash your feet.  I love you fully as you are.”

I find it’s easier for me to go and wash someone else’s feet, to go out and serve the world, to listen to others, to care for others.  But I, too, need to be washed.  Love comes out of being loved.  We, too, need to accept another’s invitation to let our feet be washed, to show up as we are, to share our story honestly, to share our emotions to be real.  And having accepted love from that then we go and wash feet tenderly, listen to others’ stories, help them in many ways.

So a question for today, who is washing your feet, and then how are you washing others?

– Br. Luke Ditewig

Question: Who is “washing your feet”?  How are you “washing” others?

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

It can be too easy to make assumptions or presumptions about what we or others need. Br. Keith Nelson explores how listening itself can be an act of loving service.

Question: What is the balance between your listening and your speaking?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: Those of you familiar with the Rule of St. Benedict, will probably know that one of the first words in that document is “listen.”  We get this idea of monastic obedience from the Latin, ob audire, to listen.

So I think that in our response to human need by the offering of loving service one thing that strikes me is that I often don’t know precisely what my own needs are, or the needs of another person, unless I stop to actually listen.  I’ve noticed that if I make an assumption, or a presumption about what I need in a particular moment, without listening to myself, without listening to my body, without listening to my imagination, my desires, that I can often make a particular connection in a knee-jerk way that isn’t in fact accurate or relevant

So I think that the power of this kind of deep listening with our whole-hearted presence to ourselves, to God, and in particular to other people, is really at the core of responding to human need.  I think that amazing things happen when we’re listened to.  When someone listens to us with their wholehearted presence, we’re able to identify needs perhaps that we didn’t even know that we had.  I think it’s one of the reasons why therapy is so popular and effective in our culture these days, because professional listeners sit down with you, and you have access to this whole world that perhaps you didn’t know about, simply because someone is listening.  It’s the same for spiritual direction or spiritual companioning.

And if we think about the relationship to that as an act of loving service, responding to human need by loving service, the listening becomes the way in, to responding and love, because we’ve actually heard what the need is.  And because we’ve heard it, we can take a step closer, through the grace of God, and through Christ’s power acting in us, to respond in the ways that we’re able.

A question you might want to ask yourself is, “What’s the ratio or the balance in your life, both in your life with God, as well as in your life of loving service to those around you.  What’s the balance between your deep, whole-hearted listening, your posture of listening, your stance of listening, and your speaking?”

– Br. Keith Nelson

Question: What is the balance between your listening and your speaking?

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

How can prayer address human suffering and unjust structures in the world? Br. James Koester shares his own experiences of the power of prayer around the struggles in South Africa and Northern Ireland.

Question: For what place or situation in the world will you devote yourself to pray?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: One of the things that people rely on us for from all over the world is our ministry of prayer and intersession.  It’s an extremely important part of our life, and we spend – individual brothers spend – a lot of time praying for the needs of individuals and the world.  We devote parts of the noonday office, Compline, the Eucharist, for prayer for the needs of the world. And I think as we wonder what or how we as individuals can transform unjust structures, one of the things that we can ask is how can prayer do that.

I remember as a teenager, two really powerful experiences that I had. One of them was during the apartheid struggle in South Africa, and the other was around the troubles in Northern Ireland.  And I remember for years, and years, and years in the parishes that I belonged to, we frequently prayed for Northern Ireland or Southern Africa, and it seemed like that line from the Psalm, “How long, oh, Lord, how long.”  And nothing ever seemed to change in either Northern Ireland or Southern Africa … and then they did.

And so I often look to Southern Africa or Northern Ireland and remember how much those people relied not just on our social witness, but on prayer, our prayer in solidarity with them as they struggled for justice, and I believe our prayers were answered.  It wasn’t just that the social action that people were doing, and that was real and important as well.  But it was also people’s constant daily, faithful prayer for justice, which I believed helped change the world.

I often find myself reading a newspaper or listening to the radio and looking at the news of the world and wondering what on earth I can do to change it.  Well, one thing I can do is to pray.  What one place in the world, or one situation in the world, can you devote your prayer to, to make a change, and make the world a better place?

– Br. James Koester

Question: For what place or situation in the world will you devote yourself to pray?

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

What if you were asked to confess… to all the good you’ve done? Br. Mark Brown shares how important it is that we acknowledge all the ways that God’s power is and has been active in our lives.

Question: How are you already responding to human need?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: Sometimes when I’m leading a retreat or hearing a confession, I’ll ask people to do something that often causes some confusion: I’ll ask people to confess the good that they have done.  Not just make a list of their sins but to confess how the love, and the power of the God, have actually worked in and through them, because after all, God is present, and active, and living within us, and the impulse to do good, whatever it is, comes from that source.

If we were to make a true and full confession, we not only need to list what we’ve done wrong.  But we need to actually acknowledge the ways in which God’s power, and God’s love have worked in and through us, using our hands as it were.  So I’ll ask people to make a complete confession of these things.

And I think it relates to the Marks of Mission, because the Marks of Mission are not just something out there to do in the future.  But they are, in a sense, a recognition of what we’re already doing as a church.  Maybe not fully, or completely, or perfectly, but it’s what we’re actually doing already.  We actually are already proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and responding to human need by loving service, and other things on that list of Marks of Mission.  We’re already doing those things.  And acknowledging the reality of that, and coming to embrace the truth of that – that God is, indeed, working through us – is where we begin.

So before you think about what you might do, or what you could do to respond to human need, you might stop and reflect on how you already are doing that.  You already are responding to human need in loving service.  Think about those things.

– Br. Mark Brown

Question: How are you already responding to human need?

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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


Br. David Vryhof introduces the fourth week’s activity, the “God Sighting Map,” which aims to make us aware of God’s presence and activity in our life, in our surroundings, and in our interactions with others.


Transcript: In this fourth week of our program, we’re considering the Third Mark of Love, which is responding to human need by loving service.

The activity we’ve chosen this week we’ve called A God Sighting Map.  We want to encourage you to be aware of God’s presence and activity in your life, in your interactions with others, and in the world around you.  So we’re asking you to notice where you see God at work, where you experience the touch of God, where you hear the voice of God, where you witness the love of God lived out in your world, in your day, a day-by-day through this week.

God is everywhere present and sometimes it just takes us being more attentive to God’s presence, quieting our own inner voices to listen for God, and to look for God in the interactions of our daily lives.

In this activity, you’ll see a kind of map and you’re encouraged to just make notes on this map of different places, encounters, situations, in which you felt, or recognized or perceived God at work in some situation, in some place of need, in some interaction with another, and to make note of these on the map, and to share them then with members of your group.

– Br. David Vryhof

Suffering is a part of the human condition that none of us completely escapes. As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the fourth week of the series, it is a “Mark” of God’s love operating in our lives when we respond to human need by loving service. The third Mark of Love asks us to see how God is already working in the lives of those in need, and then discover how we can be channels of that mission in the world.

Activity: God Sighting Map


Transcript: It takes only a glance at the news to realize that we are surrounded by human suffering.  Suffering is a part of the human condition and none of us completely escapes it.  People suffer from sickness, from loss, from violence, from aggression, from greed.  There are so many causes and reasons for suffering in the world.  And God has entered into our suffering.  God has come to us in Jesus Christ and has taken on human form and identified God’s self with human suffering, even to the point of death on a cross.  God cares for us and God comes to be with us and to meet us in our places of need and suffering.

And so those who share and bear God’s life in the world are also inclined to respond to human suffering.  God’s love within us reaches out to those in need and those who are hurting.  God’s love for them flows in us and through us.  So a mark of the Body of Christ in the world, a Mark of Mission, a Mark of Love, that has been important since the founding of the church has been to respond to human need by loving service.  Service has always been a part of the Christian vocation.

We have to be cautious that our service isn’t just imposed on others, but that we come to people in need and suffering with genuine humility, with a posture of listening, and of openness.  We want to listen deeply to their pain and to understand their circumstances, to come alongside them, and to offer to stand next to them, to stand with them, to support them, and to help in whatever way we can.  We don’t come with our own agenda.  We come listening in humility to understand what God is already doing in the lives of these who are needy and suffering, and then asking God how we can participate in what God is already doing.  God’s mission is to be with the suffering and the needy, to lift them up and to restore them, and to heal them, and to bring them love.  And we can be channels of that mission in the world if we listen and are sensitive to God’s voice and to the voices of those in need.

This week we’ll be exploring this Third Mark of Mission, responding to human need by loving service.  And we invite you to watch the videos and to consider how this mark is evident in your own life, individually and as communities of faith.

– Br. David Vryhof

Week 4 Activity: God Sighting Map
This week, create your own “God Sighting Map,” which locates God’s presence and activity in your surroundings and in your interactions with others. Start close to home, then move out into your neighborhood and community. Who or what has been a sign of God’s love to you today?

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