By Cameron Silsbee
Begin with prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read Ephesians 3v16-19 over the group and then pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Read this overview
One of the themes we can follow through the story of the Scriptures is God’s “withness.” From the story’s opening chapters to the concluding chapter, God desires to be with humans and goes to great lengths to do so.
However, that can be confusing since it’s common for Christians to grasp God’s omnipresence, the idea that God is everywhere and there is no place in creation where he is not. Why would God need to go to great lengths to be with humans if he is omnipresent?
The Scriptures also speak to an idea that the church has called God’s manifest presence – the felt experience of God’s presence. While God is everywhere, we may not always feel or experience his presence in tangible ways. We do have the ability to impact our felt experience of his presence, but we do not control it. God’s manifest presence is complex; it is a mystery, a gift, an outworking of our openness and effort to connect with him, and something that will ultimately ebb and flow throughout our lifetimes as apprentices of Jesus.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- Does it seem easy to sense God’s presence in this season of life, or do you feel more disconnected from him?
- How does feeling God’s presence affect you? How does not feeling God’s presence affect you?
- What specific spiritual discipline, habit, or behavior helps you become aware of God’s “withness?”
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
For this week’s Practice, set aside time for reflection and listening prayer.
Set aside at least 20 minutes to think about your current rhythms of connecting with God. Do your best not to compare your rhythms to whatever ideal is in your mind. Instead, simply take note of the rhythms as you actually follow through with them. Do you see any patterns, disappointments, or encouragements?
With your current rhythms in mind, invite God’s Spirit to speak to you. Ask him:
- What do you think about my rhythms of connection with you?
- Is there any other way(s) you’d like to connect with me?
Tell him (take a moment to listen for his response after each one):
- How you hope you’ll grow over the next two months (as we work through this series as a church).
- How you’d prefer to connect with him.
Next week, share with your group how your time went and any actions you have taken in response to your time of reflection and prayer.
Close in prayer
Close in prayer by having one person read the Apostles’ Creed over the group.
I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived from the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,
who suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried,
descended into hell, rose again from the dead on the third day,
ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, who will
come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.