A Sanctuary Day for our Times: Session 4
5 months ago
Looking Forward: the last of four retreat sessions for individuals and groups to process and pray through their experience of the coronavirus pandemic.
Looking Forward: What are we leaving behind & what are we carrying with us?
This is the last of four retreat sessions for use individually or in small groups. Each session builds on the previous one, and together they are designed to give space for you to process your experience of the coronavirus crisis.
In this fourth session we gather together the thoughts we have had through the series, and reflect on what practical action God is asking us to take for the future. Specifically, what is God asking us to leave behind as we look to a future beyond the pandemic, and what is He asking us to take with us?
Once again, you will find it helpful to have your Bible and a notebook to hand. For this session you will need some post-its or small pieces of paper to write on, and two small plates or dishes. Also either light a candle or place a cross in front of you, or some other reminder to you of the love and presence and lordship of Jesus.
For personal use
For use in Groups
Find a quiet and comfortable place in which to pray. You will need your Bible and a notebook or journal. If you would like to use the suggested music and video links you will need an internet connection and your phone, tablet or computer. Or you may want to choose your own music, or spend the time in silence. The words for the retreat can be printed from HERE. Suggestions on how to use the time between sessions if you are doing all four in one day OR how to spread each session over a half or full day of retreat will be available soon.
Find a quiet and suitable place for the group to meet. You will each need your Bible and a notebook or journal and a copy of the retreat programme and words, a hard copy of which can be printed HERE. You will need an internet connection, and a speaker to play the music videos from the links on this page. If you are meeting as a Zoom Group the Host can share the screen and audio for the music videos. Suggestions on how to use the time between sessions if you are doing all four in one day OR how to spread each session over a half or full day of retreat will be available soon.
Start in silence and stillness. Allow your mind to settle and to focus. Open your hands and your heart to welcome the Holy Spirit. As your mind clears of other things, ask God to bring to mind some of the significant moments or memories or insights that you have had in the previous three retreats. It may help to first gather these in your mind, and then jot them down in your notebook or on a piece of paper so that you can return to them through the retreat.
Play quietly the Hillsong worship song ‘Breath on me, take me to your sanctuary’.
Read John 4:21-30 (or verses 1-42)
Notice how Jesus consciously and purposefully breaks with convention and steps into a series of actions at Jacob’s well that were shockingly new. He stopped in Samaria, when most Jews would have travelled quickly on to Galilee. He engages in conversation with a Samaritan when others would have avoided any kind of close contact. He, a man, talks with a woman alone, which shocks even his disciples when they returned with lunch. He, a prophet, knows her past and yet He offers love not condemnation. Jesus simply won’t be bound by tradition or other people’s expectations of him. He breaks the moulds of religious convention and opens up a radically new way of living and loving and truth-telling.
Add to this the words that Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, and the impact on her was life changing. Here was more than a prophet. Here, in His own words, is the promised Messiah, the Christ, who not only sees the secrets of her heart, but offers her living water that will well up to eternal life. She would never be the same again. She leaves her water jar at the well, and rushes back into Sychar with a breathless testimony and an astonishing message, could this be the Messiah? Pause! Notice the water jar. She left behind what could only ever carry water that would quench thirst until the next time, and she carried with her a message, an encounter, with the One who offers living water that quenches the deepest human thirst. As others nearby would soon discover, as we have, this more-than-a-prophet is the Saviour of the world.
The Samaritan woman at the well left behind a water jar and carried with her a message about living water. There was both a leaving-behind and a taking-with. Both were part of the story of her encounter with Jesus. Ask yourself what you want to leave behind you from life before the pandemic, and what you would like to carry with you from your experience since March 2020.
Sometimes we have to positively choose to leave things behind that no longer serve a good purpose in our lives, and this may be such a time for you. Sometimes we have to positively choose to take something entirely new with us as a fresh discovery that will enrich our futures.
Take time to think about what you resolve to leave behind as you face your own future, and jot it down on a post-it or piece of paper and put it on a small plates or in a bowl. And then think of something new that you have discovered during the period of Covid-19 that you want to carry with you, jot it down and place on the other plate or bowl. Put both plates in front of the candle or cross.
Listen to this song based upon Jesus’ words in John 4: All who are thirsty
When you are ready, take the plate containing the things you have resolved to leave behind and move it to one side, even out of your immediate view. Allow yourself time to feel either the loss or relief that this creates in you. Sit with your emotions, and pray as you feel prompted. Or be silent.
Then hold the plate containing the things you are taking with you, and pray with thanksgiving for the new discoveries that God has put into your hands to carry into your future.
To finish listen to this song which speaks about the all surpassing gain of knowing Jesus: All I once held dear
For further thought and prayer
you inspire the hearts of the faithful with a single longing,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
so that in all the changes and chances
of this uncertain world,
our hearts may surely there be fixed
where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.”
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ReSource for Anglican Renewal Ministries
Enabling little, local and ordinary churches to engage with the Holy Spirit for renewal, discipleship and mission.