The New Creation is Here
By Cameron Silsbee
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief Last Week’s Practice (5-10 minutes)
- How did it go this last week as you implemented some new rhythms of prayer?
- Do you plan on continuing these rhythms?
Read this overview
People and Community can be disappointing at times. Those who follow Jesus alongside us can say or do inappropriate and hurtful things. We might feel ashamed or discouraged as other followers of Jesus grow in intimacy with him and maturity while we flounder. Experience tells us that we will be hurt by and hurt others in Community. We can objectively say that followers of Jesus have not created some sort of perfect utopia. Far from it.
And yet, the New Testament letters to churches sound very familiar: theological disagreements and doubts, arguments and rivalries, anger, pain, and rebellion against the way of Jesus found within the church. To one of the most notorious churches in the New Testament, Paul wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”The presence of new creation as followers of Jesus gather together isn’t manifested in some Westernized, wealthy utopia. It’s manifested in the reality of imperfect and broken humans coming together as people redeemed by Jesus and reconciled to God. Working through each person’s imperfections and brokenness to support, encourage, and forgive one another as the Holy Spirit reveals, bit by bit, the reality of each person as a new creation.
Do this practice right now (15-20 minutes)
When an action becomes a habit, the act itself can become rote and automatic, devoid of an awareness of the deeper meaning and purpose. Gathering together as a community week by week and month by month can lead to a sort of familiarity that robs the act of gathering deeper meaning.
Take a few minutes to prepare to take communion together. Grab some grape juice or wine and pieces of bread or crackers. If those things aren’t available, be creative and use whatever you have on hand to symbolize the bread and cup.
Once everyone has the bread and cup, have someone ask the Holy Spirit to speak to everyone about how he has redeemed you and spend a few minutes in quiet listening prayer. Perhaps he’ll bring to mind your life before you were redeemed, highlighting the things from which you were redeemed. Or perhaps he’ll bring to mind something he’s done in your life now that you are redeemed that you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own.
After listening, go around the group and have everyone share as an act of, in the words of Paul, “giving joyful thanks to the Father.” Once everyone has shared, have one person direct the group to eat and drink.
Talk about the coming week’s practice as a Community (10-30 minutes)
This week’s Practice will be about focusing our attention on the Son, through whom we have redemption and reconciliation with God. The Practice will utilize Paul’s poem from Colossians 1v15-20.
Of this poem, theologian NT Wright says: “It’s worth, then, going quite slowly through the poem and pondering the depths of meaning that are to be found in it. Christianity isn’t simply about a particular way of being religious. It isn’t about a particular system for how to be saved here or hereafter. It isn’t simply a different way of holiness. Christianity is about Jesus Christ,and this poem, one of the very earliest Christian poems ever written, is as good a place to start exploring it as any. This is what the Colossians needed to know, and we today need to rediscover it.”
Take at least 2 or 3 times this week to slowly read the text, allowing your focus and attention to be fully directed to Jesus, responding to the text in prayer as you work through it.
This is a great text for practicing Lectio Divina, the ancient spiritual reading of a text.
Another way to focus your attention on Jesus through this text would be to commit the text to memory. Focusing on one verse a day would have verses 15 through 20 committed to memory in less than a week.
You can also journal through text, writing down thoughts, questions, and your response to it as a form of prayer.
Have everyone say how they will read and work through this text. Be prepared to debrief how it went next week.
Talk through the following discussion questions (5-10 minutes):
- Are you in a season of life where following Jesus feels more rote and lifeless, or does it seem to be more dynamic and meaningful? Why do you think that is?
- Can you pinpoint an area or two of your life where you can currently see this idea of the breaking through of new creation?