Two spiritual practices have been pivotal to my ever-changing experience of faith. The first was getting comfortable with the Bible. There was a Bible in my home when I was a child, but it stayed on a shelf. Though I knew to respect it as a holy thing, it was never opened. Today I own five or six versions of the Bible. My favorite is well worn and heavily underlined, with comments written in margins and post-it notes marking favorite passages.
The second spiritual practice that has awakened my faith has been participating in a number of small faith sharing groups. Faith sharing groups meet a very practical need: the need to belong. We all need a group of people to belong to - a group with whom we share common understandings, common experiences, and hopefully, a shared spirituality. In small groups we learn to live out of our deepest, truest selves, both as individuals and as a collective group of believers— it is a profound way of being church.
Pastor Rick Warren said:
“Small groups are not a ministry of the church,
small groups are not a program of the church,
small groups are not an outreach of the church,
small groups are not an event of the church,
small groups are the church.”
I have participated weekly in a women’s small group for over twenty-five years. These women are my spiritual sisters. We don’t all peer through the same theological lens, but we value our differences and learn from one another’s spiritual leanings.
Lent is just around the corner. In fact, it begins this year on Valentine's Day, February 14th. I have written a guide for faith sharing groups to use during the six weeks of Lent titled, "awakenings." In the guide you will find an opening and closing prayer, as well as a set of guidelines for faith sharing that are easy to follow and will set your small group up for success. Each week of Lent you will find poetry and scripture to read together. These are followed by five questions to choose from for your sharing time. Each session is designed to last one hour.
Consider getting together with a friend or two, or a spouse, adult child, or partner, and commit to meeting together once a week for six weeks.
Meet at a coffee shop, on lunch break, on zoom, or over the phone. If you wish, the guide can also be used for your own personal reflection.
I hope you have an enriching Lent that awakens your spirit to new life in the Spirit.