November 30th to December 6th: Solitude, The Invitation & The Call

Reading from Spirituality of Living: Solitude
Reading from Spirituality of Homecoming: The Invitation & The Call

Welcome to the first week of Advent!  It is an amazing community that has come together for our virtual journey toward Christmas.  Thanks to each of you for joining us and for sharing such warm introductions and encouraging support.

Last week we pondered the invitation to “create space” for God in our lives.  As many of us expressed, this is something we love to do, know we should do more often, and want to do more often.  Henri affirms to us this week that solitude is indeed a discipline and an act of obedience, but we also explore God’s heart behind this calling on our lives.

Solitude with God is “important because it’s the place in which we can listen to the voice of the One who calls us the beloved… To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of our being and permeate our whole life” (p23).  Only when we hear this voice can we truly “walk freely in this world” (p24).
a) What are some ways you are trying to prove your worth in your day to day life?  Big or small, where do you notice it?  How much of your energy does it take?
b) Think of a time, or even a moment, when you “heard” the voice of God calling you the Beloved (and please share it with us :).
c) What would it be like to live that way, knowing truly and deeply that you are the Beloved of God?  How would that change the way you experience each day?  How might it change the way you engage others around you?

In “Homecoming”, Henri shows us that we can enter into solitude by accepting the invitation and the call to follow Jesus.

In The Invitation Henri writes, “Be with Jesus. Be quiet. Listen to the one who invites you home…. By dwelling with the Lord in prayer, we can live in a hostile, violent, competitive world and be at home” (p 21).  He says we need to pray for the intimacy to know Jesus as a friend. 
a) How are you responding to the Lord’s invitation to get to know him as an intimate friend and how does that aid you in living in the world?

According to Henri, “Our response to The Call is to take small steps away from “me” toward the Lord… The secret of the spiritual life is that the person who is in touch with the Lord knows what the little steps are” (p 27).  And those “small steps” toward the One we love often bring us into solitude. 
a) What “small steps of faithfulness” are moving you ahead on your spiritual journey?

We are both so excited to hear from you all this week!  New joiners are always welcome, and, of course, feel free to share whatever comes up for you in the readings.

Ray and Brynn

Nov 23rd to 29th: Advent 2014 Introductions

Reading from Spirituality of Living:  Preface & Discipline and
(p 13-18)

Reading from Spirituality of Homecoming:  Preface & Home in the Heart (p 12-14)

A warm welcome to each of you at this very special time of year.  Once again we anticipate the gathering together of a beautiful community of people.  We gather to help each other focus our hearts and minds on Jesus, and grow closer to Him during Advent and beyond.  Our guide on this journey is Henri Nouwen, as we reflect on his books and legacy.

We are excited to explore two very complementary books from the Henri Nouwen Spirituality Series:  The Spirituality of Living and The Spirituality of Homecoming.  As we do, we remember John M. Mogabgab who so lovingly and skillfully brought these books together from Henri’s unpublished materials.

Before we jump in, it is always helpful to provide some information on how this online discussion flows.  Each Sunday you will discover a new “post,” indicated by the bold title, on the blog’s Home page. This post will have discussion questions based around the week’s readings. It works best if you always add any new comment to the newest post, even if you are referring to an earlier post. That way, everyone will see your comment. After you submit a comment, either Maureen, Ray or Brynn need to “approve” it, so it may take a few hours before it actually appears on the blog page. If you have any further questions about how the blog works, please feel free to ask.

After that long introduction, we would love to hear from you!

1) Please introduce yourself to the group. You may choose to share:
a) Your general geographic location
b) To whom or what you dedicate your days and energy, and why
c) Whether or not you’ve participated in previous book discussions, or if you are joining us for the first time

2) In the reading from “Living,” Henri poses the question “how can we be in touch with the Spirit, hear the voice of the Spirit, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit?” (P14).  He then invites us to consider the need for discipline, which he simply defines as “the effort to create some space in which God can act” (p 16).
a) How specifically might you create some space for God to act this advent?  A space where you can hear, feel and experience the Spirit of God, and respond?  If you’d like to, please share your intentions with us.

3) In “Homecoming” Henri writes, “A listening heart therefore means a heart in which we stand open to God with all we are and have. That is a great act of trust and confidence.”  It  is an act that that requires moving beyond our fears and the distractions of modern life. 
a) Can you anticipate how fears and distractions might block you on your journey home to the heart to meet with God?  If you are comfortable, share what you discover.

These questions are meant to help get our discussion going, but please do not feel bound to them.  You are free to share whatever comes up for you in the readings.

We look forward connecting with you all this week!

Ray and Brynn