For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:11-13
This season of Advent is a time when we focus on the mystery of the Incarnation- the Word of God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus. We have grown very comfortable with this mystery and cling to it as the core of our faith. But I wonder if we are often much less comfortable with the idea of God’s word taking flesh in our own lives. Have we failed to instill in each other the same certainty that the Spirit of God still seeks to become incarnate in each of us? In other words, do we actually believe and trust that God is at work in our lives, that God is invested in our choices and, indeed, has a particular calling and purpose for us? Have we helped each other learn the art of sacred listening to God in prayer, what has for many centuries in the Church been called the practice of “discernment”? Do we believe that God does indeed desire to speak to us, as the prophet Jeremiah describes in the scripture passage above?
It is important for us to stop and reflect: have you ever had a personal experience of being led by God toward a particular path or choice? How is it that you “heard” God? Many Christians go through their lives without that kind of experience. However, in times of great change, loss or uncertainty, the importance of discernment increases. How can we truly know what God wants of us? My hope is that in the coming year, we can spend time together honing our skill of discernment, coming before God with open and listening hearts, seeking to encounter God in new ways, as we move forward together in our future.
Advent peace, Pastor Annette
A community deepening its discernment practice is a community learning to get out of its own way. It is a community coming to understand that prayer is not simply a means of getting God to do what we want. Through prayer, stillness and dialogue we place ourselves in alignment with God’s purpose for us.
– How to lead when you don’t know where you’re going, Susan Beaumont