In northern climates there are very few signs of life right now. You sense a collective weariness that yearns for regeneration. Hope-filled gardeners cast wistful glances at their backyards looking for a tiny red bud or a lime-green shoot. These annual deaths take their toll: physically, emotionally and spiritually. “Choose life!” is a spiritual discipline of seeing beyond the decline, the diminishment, the death. It starts with love. Not our love, but God’s love. Thankfully, we don’t have to work at that. “Loving the Lord your God” is an act of surrender which starts with simply receiving what is already being freely offered: unconditional, abundant and unlimited love. Being open to God’s love is the critical first step in choosing life.
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above and then read the passage of scripture below. Ask the people to pay attention to what images and impressions come to mind as they read or hear these passages.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 New Revised Standard Version
15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence, then turn to another person and discuss.
- Have you ever had an experience of God’s love?
- If so, did it come from a time spent in nature, during a worship service, at a special moment in your life or in a period of silence? Can you describe what God’s love felt like? What effect it had on you and your actions, feelings, thoughts?
- If not, what do you think would help you experience God’s first love? What might help you experience it again?
Allow a few minutes of silence for people to consider the questions on their own. Then invite the people to cluster in small groups to share their reflections with each other. After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to share in the larger group the common themes and insights they heard.
Invite people into a moment of silence (about 2 minutes) asking them to be attentive to their breathing. Ask them to imagine God’s presence in the space and as they breathe in, to take in God’s love, light and life and as they breathe out, relinquishing anxiety, resentment and fear. End with the collect.
Almighty and everliving God, whose Son Jesus Christ healed the sick and restored them to wholeness of life, look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your power make whole all peoples and nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Good News has been known in your time together.