CONTENTS

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IN THE MIDST OF LIFE

  Ideas to Try:
 

Taking Jesus with you

Taking a word or image with you

Symbolic gestures

Enacted
prayer

The slot
prayer

The last twenty-four hours

Storytelling

Transfiguring pain

Thank you

 

 

 

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Transfiguring Pain

The aim of this exercise is to encourage members of the group to identify and share a painful or difficult experience they have had and then to see how with prayer and faith that experience might possibly be transfigured. Make sure that any one who feels that this would be too much for them can opt out without embarrassment.

You might begin the exercise by telling this true story, or you might have one of your own - perhaps pausing after each paragraph, and then inviting the group to think about and wonder what truths they might learn from it. Then go on to encourage people to reflect, perhaps in twos, on a painful experience in their own lives, and on how they have, or are seeking to transfigure it. In the twos people might support each other. Make sure that everyone understands they should take responsibility to share only what they can cope with since it is not a counselling or therapy session and they need to end feeling okay about themselves.

STORY

'I was once a member of an inner-city church which worshipped on a Sunday in a large room, which was used from Monday to Friday as a classroom in the local comprehensive school. It fell to my lot to go to the school late on a Friday afternoon to prepare the room for the Sunday worship. Inevitably the floor was dirty and marked and I had to clean it. Often the church furnishings were damaged or left in a mess and I had to rearrange them tidily. I used to resent all the mess and dirt I had to clear up - we never left the room messy and dirty for the school when they returned on Monday, so why should they leave it like this for us? The minor acts of vandalism in the room (and in retrospect I can see that they were only minor, but they didn't seem like that at the time!) seemed like a calculated insult to God we worshipped there on a Sunday. I came to my cleaning task tired after a busy day and usually had the prospect of an evening meeting afterwards. I grew to hate Friday afternoons.

I decided to create some space around my cleaning task. I would plan to have the early part of Friday afternoons off, and I would keep Friday evenings clear, so that I could go home and relax. Over quite a short period of time the cleaning task felt less pressured. All the problems remained the same - but they ceased to be a burden. Gradually I came to find that I looked forward to preparing the room so that it was fit for the worship of God. Others might arrange the flowers, or read the lessons, or make the tea after the service, or count the collection, but my task was to make the room beautiful for God. I grew to look forward to Friday afternoons.

As I reflected on this, I wondered what difference there was, between what I was doing on a Friday afternoon after school, and what the school cleaners were doing in the rest of the building? Not much, in fact, probably nothing at all. They were making the school 'beautiful for God' just as much as I was. And if that was true of them, it was equally true of the dustman, and the street sweepers, and the myriads of other men and women with cleaning tasks, on whom society looks down. I found that I had learned to value a vast number of ordinary people who were caring for God's creation, in a way I had not recognised before.'