Guest Post: Our Relationship with God

From a flyer distributed at SF Friends Meeting:

Our relationship with God, with the Bible as Record and Guide
5 sessions facilitated by Krista Barnard

Have you been intending to do some Bible reading, but feel like it’s too difficult? Or too conservative?

Have you wondered what the Bible has to do with the spiritual life of a 21st century Quaker?

If so, you aren’t the only one. The Bible belongs to us, not just to people in the distant past or to some of our contemporaries who want to use a literal reading of the text to shape the science curriculum. Our Quaker faith is deeply rooted in the Bible, and exploring the Bible can nourish our faith, enrich our understanding of our history, and provide language for communicating about the ineffable. Join us at the Quaker Meetinghouse in San Francisco to consider a series of aspects of our relationship with God, as illuminated by stories and images from the Old and New Testament. Ours is an experiential religion, in which George Fox urges us to come to understand the scriptures by the Spirit of God in ourselves, and I will weave in examples of my approaches to the Bible and its impact on my spiritual life over the last decade, and encourage your participation in group discussion, writing, and vocal ministry.

This series is in part a basic introduction to the Bible, and I will not assume participants have much background. I intend each session to be self-contained, with no outside preparation or attendance of prior sessions expected. The first, introductory session, held after Sunday meeting for worship, will be primarily a lecture. The following four sessions, held on Tuesdays after our regular evening meeting for worship, will be more interactive. Bring a Bible with you, or use one of the ones that will be available for use during the sessions.

(1) Introduction – Sunday, January 20, at 1 p.m. – The place of the Bible in my own spiritual life, an introduction to the Bible itself (parts, languages, dates, types of writing, etc.), and the Bible as a history of a changing relationship with God and a guide to ongoing relationship.

Tuesday evening sessions – bring a bag dinner to eat if you wish.
» Worship then time for dinner: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
» Program: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

(2) Hallowed Be Thy Name: Who is God? – Tuesday, January 29, 7:00 p.m. – A kaleidoscope of views of God found in the Bible, including God as one with whom we argue, one in whose image we are made, one who asks us to do things (even things we don’t think we can). Yahweh is as close as a spouse or parent, yet is one whom we cannot understand or look directly upon. God the Father/Son/Holy Spirit guides us, prays for us, gives us strength, loves us, forgives us, baptizes us with spirit and fire, and tells us to rest.

(3) Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: Prayer – Tuesday, February 5, 7:00 p.m. – A survey of some of the prayers that are in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Psalms; some of what Jesus and Paul say about prayer; and some ways passages in the Bible can be adapted as prayers. Prayer can take other forms than spoken words. Vocal prayer is rare in our meetings for worship, and we tend to be more comfortable saying “hold in the Light” than “pray for”.

(4) On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Discerning and Obeying God’s will – Tuesday, Feb 19, 7 p.m. – Learning what God wants us to do is done in a variety of ways in the Bible, including drawing lots, interpreting dreams, asking for signs, and hearing from messengers (angels and prophets). While none of these look much like meeting for business, there are many instances of something we Quakers are still creating: epistles to other people trying to follow the Way.

(5) Forgive Us Our Sins – Tuesday, Feb 26, 7 p.m. – Actually doing what we are told is even harder. Sin is that which draws us away from God. Early Quakers spoke of being convicted. Now we don’t speak much of sin and confession and repentance and forgiveness. But God’s forgiveness is an essential part of our relationship with the Divine and with one another. We can see it throughout, from the penitential psalms to Jesus’s instruction to forgive 70 x 7 times. Powerful stories include Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples and Jesus’ praying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

[Updated 1/22/08: Corrected date for session (5), 2/26/08.]

1 comment:

Robin M. said...

Oooh - I'm going! I hope the childcare is set up. I'll miss you.