Formation in Practice – Advent 2022

We hope that in reflecting further on the topic of belonging, you will find it meaningful to share in discussing these questions with others.

Communities of Transformation

Who is your community of transformation: the people alongside whom you are called to grow, undergo conversion, and bear fruit? 

How have you experienced the transformation that community can bring: its tensions and challenges, as well as its joys and rewards?

Are there people with whom you find yourself at odds, or who challenge your worldview? How do they offer an opportunity for you to reflect on your own responses, reframe your own patterns, and consider new ways of engaging?

How do others in your community carry the burden of areas for which you are ill-equipped? What gifts do you bring to community, which assist others to grow and thrive?

Identity & Belonging

Do you identify as a Christian? What does that identity mean to you?

When have you known the contentment of belonging to God?

What was your own journey to the Font and to the Table of God?

How do the Sacraments inform and shape your sense of identity and belonging?

What do you think about the proposal of the “Open Table”: allowing people to receive the Eucharist before Baptism? Do your think the Eucharist should have a function on both sides of the Font?

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”   – Matthew 18:20

Formation in Practice

This issue takes up the question of how God engages with us – and how we engage with God – especially through challenge. We hope these questions will help you to dig deeper into your own experience, either in prayer, journaling, or in conversation with others.

Engaging with God

How have you experienced God’s engagement in your life? Recall a place, a person, a moment, in which you knew that God was engaging with you.

Are you open and honest with God about all your feelings and experiences, good and bad? Have you ever felt unable or even afraid to be honest with God? 

How might you engage God more fully?

Where do you hear God’s voice? What messages might come from other sources, as they seek to lead you away from life? 

Challenges

How do you tend to react to experiences of struggle, pain, weakness, or sickness? What underlying assumptions do your own reactions reveal?

When have you experienced or witnessed the transformation of something devastating into a path for reconciliation, healing, or transformation?

Think about the struggles that you are facing right now. How might you embrace them as the place of God’s engagement with you? How is God calling to you through them?

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Formation in Practice

What does it mean to believe? Belief is not something we think, but something we do: it’s the ways we experience God’s presence in our life; it’s the ways we engage with the scriptures and other sacred stories; it’s even the ways we question our faith. 

We invite you to plunge deeper into your own assumptions about what it means to believe. Use these questions to spur your reflection & prayer, or in conversation with others.

  • What other words are synonymous with “belief” for you?
  • Who has inspired belief in your life? What did they do or say that inspired you?
  • What actions engage or express your beliefs? How do you feel you are embodying belief?

We see in biblical stories that belief can look a lot like wrestling – as in the Genesis story of Jacob and the angel. 

  • How might you practice the presence of God in times of pain, suffering, questioning, boredom, sadness, anger, uncertainty . . . as well as joy, excitement, passion?
  • Do you experience God in your body, or at certain times and places? What does it feel like to have an embodied experience of belief?

Sometimes belief means leaning into mystery – that which we cannot know.

  • How comfortable are you with mystery? 
  • How does the presence of mystery deepen or challenge your journey of belief?
  • Read Luke 24:13-35. Is this story true for you? What does it mean for this story to be “true” or not?
  • Our founder Richard Meux Benson said: “They [the Magi] had come to Him who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. None can come to Christ at Bethlehem and go away as they came.” How has your belief in Jesus placed you on a new route in your life and faith journey?