This year, I’ll be leading a small group of around a dozen in a study called Jesus in the Gospels, from the United Methodists in the USA. It looks good, and I’m looking forward to it very much. It’s related to the Disciple series, which is really well used in this congregation. I am able to do this because last month, a terrific group that had met weekly for two years in our house disbanded, most of us to do some version of Disciple this coming year.
In the first year, we looked at Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy as well as the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) Gospel Reading for a couple of weeks ahead. A Generous Orthodoxy was a real eye-opener for the members of the group, showing a way of appreciating sisters and brothers from the wide family of faith that was new to some, and confirming for others.
In the second year, we began looking at 1 Corinthians; we thought we could move more quickly through it, but it took us all year (??!) In the first part of the night, we shared a small group version of Lectio Divina, the meditative way of reading that comes from the Benedictine tradition. This is what I’ll miss the most! The insights we gained into how God was wanting to work in our lives were soooo valuable. What did we do? Simple, really. We read the RCL Psalm for the coming Sunday, using the following method:
1 I read it twice, after which we shared the word/phrase that came to us most clearly;
2 A member then read it a second time, after which we said why we thought the Spirit was bringing it to our attention;
3 Another member then read it again, and then we shared what we thought God was calling us to do or be in the next week on the basis of the word or phrase.
4 We then prayed for the person on our left or right.
That’s it, really! Simple, yet wonderful.
Oh, and we used the wonderful ICEL (International Commission for English in the Liturgy) version of the Psalms. ICEL is a Roman Catholic body, but the ICEL that produced the Psalter in the 1990s was very different from the one that exists post-2003, which is a Vatican-compliant group. The Vatican has also removed its imprimatur from the ICEL Psalter; it is ironic that we can use it freely! I am very grateful for the gift, and wish the Uniting Church could have used the ICEL Psalter as its liturgical psalter when Uniting in Worship 2 was produced in 2005.
How ironic is that?