Day by Day
See thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.
Check out this clip of a “flash mob” version of a medley from Godspell, that includes “Day by Day”
At the heart of Christianity is the invitation to be in a relationship with God, who passionately loves each of us, cares what we do with each moment, each day of our lives, and who has hopes and dreams for us, and this world, that we can take part in.
How do we listen to God? How do we know we are making decisions that fit well with God’s hopes and dreams?
This is a good question for each of us as individuals. It is also a question for us collectively, as a congregation. I have been talking lately at meetings of the church council about spiritual discernment. The council, the people who work on a daily basis all year round to manage the church, its employees and its property, accept the responsibility to do that with an openness to serving God.
Our church is more than just a group of people that meets once a week to pray and sing together. We are here to serve God’s people. We are here to live out a mission.
It takes spiritual discernment to know what is required of us, and what decisions to make. There are major decisions coming up in the life of this congregation. In my own prayer life, and in my pondering about how best to serve God, in this place, with you, it has become clearer to me that I should teach more about how we can be like little Samuel, who learns to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
We are cautious around the idea that God is speaking to us. While it does happen that people hear God speaking in actual words, most of us are careful, skeptical, curious about this possibility.
It does happen. People do hear words that are important for them to hear. God does speak.
Most often, for most people, this communication between God and us is a more subtle, nuanced experience.
We can all use practice in paying attention, so that when we say in our hearts, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” that we will actually be ready to listen.
This listening to God depends on a few things:
- Conviction that God is real, and intimately interested and involved with us.
- Openness to the possibility that we may hear something that changes us.
- Spiritual freedom- a willingness to go with it, rooted in the sense that God is with us, and that this is all we really need.
For most people, paying closer attention to God at work in their lives leads to deeper trust, and gratitude. Seeing a little of God at work today, helps us believe God will be active in our lives tomorrow. Last month I shared this story about “Sleeping with Bread”.
During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But, many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”
As the trust develops that God has been active in our life today, and will be tomorrow, we may begin to experience the sense of spiritual freedom, that we can follow God.
The kind of listening to God we can grow into may be about hearing words, but is not limited to that. We can learn to use all of our faculties to pay attention, to notice, and to see, hear, taste, feel, remember that God is present. We can grow in our awareness of how we are actually experiencing God all the time.
We are going to do a spiritual exercise together, called the Examen. It was developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, also called the Jesuits. He is probably the 2nd most famous Jesuit in the world today. The most famous being Pope Francis.
You don’t have to be a Pope, or a Jesuit, or even a Catholic, to benefit by this exercise.
Practiced on a regular basis, it can help us grow in ways that are important to the work of discernment, of knowing what God would have us do, day by day.
Settle comfortably in your seats.
Follow the directions we will see on the screen, or in the booklet I have for each of you to take home.
Watch and pray along with the video.