Related to Tossed In Time by Betsy Schwarzentraub
1. Looking back, when have I waited for a fulfilling event with positive expectations? What aspect of my current spiritual life or worship life do I want to strengthen with that same sense of excitement and joy?
2. What activities have I allowed to crowd out a better-paced quality of living? Which one of those can I pare down to enjoy what’s truly important this season?
3. Thinking of a specific person I care about or care for, how can I be more present and responsive to them during these four weeks before Christmas Day?
4. Some preoccupations are not so important after all. What one attitude or obsession can I trim down to live more simply in these days before Christmas?
1. Which line of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song or aspect of my faith do I want to improve during the twelve days of this Christmas season? (See page 37)
2. Where will I look for Emmanuel / “God With Us” this week? In what relationship do I want to be more aware of God’s personal presence with me or in the situation?
3. How can I give thanks and praise to God for God’s love and for the gift of Jesus? Can I sing, dance, write, or do something else to show my full-out praise? Can I share any part of this with others?
4. How could I modify my usual habits over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to have a time to focus on worshiping God and praying for a faithful, joyful life in covenant with God in the new year ahead?
1. Does the tone of my blogs, tweets, or other social media statements show God’s Light to other people? How can I show more care for others in all that I put out online?
2. In my Internet connections, can I bring light to others by supporting a Go Fund Me cause or making a micro-loan for a family in another culture? Can I help survivors of a natural disaster, sponsor a child, or support a justice-advocacy group? What nonprofit group or arm of my denomination do I want to check out and possibly support with a financial gift?
3. Thinking of the Magi who followed that star, what “star” or vision do I feel led to pursue? What small step could I take today to reach out toward it?
4. The Magi listened to God and went home by another way, thereby delaying Herod’s murderous plans. Find James Taylor’s song, “Home By Another Way.” What is an alternative way of living that I might do to make the world a less harmful place?
1. In what aspect of my life do I want to “turn around” and get back on track with God? What one thing might I do to begin that journey? Pray about it, then lay out the first possible steps.
2. How can I nurture or strengthen a personal relationship that has dropped back from being as important as I want it to be? What small step might I take to test the waters?
3. Have I ever skipped over the painful parts of what Jesus had to go through during Holy Week? Review the events (on pages 67-68) and then respond in prayer.
4. Recalling Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, have I ever felt a caring faith community around me? Where can I find or reconnect with others who will support me and encourage my trust in God?
1. When have I encountered life in unexpected places? Have I ever found hope or new beginnings in a time of loss or danger? What or who has brought new life to me when I was in a dark place?
2. Right after Jesus’ death, two of his followers were going back home to Emmaus in despair, but then a stranger joined them who turned out to be the Risen Christ. They recognized him in the simple act of breaking the bread during their meal together. When has someone’s simple act of justice or kindness reminded me of God’s transforming presence or love for me?
3. Have I ever experienced Communion or some other action in group worship as personally life-giving or affirming? Did it prompt me to think or do anything differently?
4. Luke 24 says that when Mary Magdalene and the other women told the men disciples Jesus was alive and risen, the men did not believe them. Mark 16 says that the women were too afraid to tell anyone. Have I ever let my own depression or fear block me from acknowledging the fact of Christ alive here with me? First John 4:18 says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” How can I trust God’s perfect love more deeply in my own life?
1. The day of Pentecost came as a total surprise to Jesus’ first disciples. The Holy Spirit can come either gently or dramatically into our daily lives. Looking back, when have I sensed the Spirit working in a relationship or influencing events so something important could happen? What changed because of that timing? What difference did it make to me or to others?
2. The first Christians focused on four core actions whenever they came together. (See Acts 2:42) Which of these four can I do in my personal life at home, in my community, with a friend in the faith, or with my church?
3. The Holy Spirit can unleash creativity in many ways! What have I found so far that empowers me to be free-flowing and joyful? Is there an artistic expression I’m prompted to try or to return to?
4. What “lateral connections” do I have with other people around the world? With which groups, cultures, or peoples do I have things in common? How could I support, pray for, and be with them in a caring way?