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Jeremy Duncan

Summer with the Psalms

Summer with the Psalms

Prayer is a pretty big deal. After all, at Commons we opened this year with prayer and we’re closing the year with prayer. From the Lord’s Prayer in the fall, to the Psalms prayer book in the summer, we’ve got instructions and illustrations to shape our prayerful souls in all seasons.

So what’s prayer to you? Is it the recitation of prayers you learned as a kid? Is prayer the words that spring up inside you like “thank you,” “help me,” and “I’m so sorry”? Maybe prayer is becoming less wordy and more connected to deep breaths, centred contemplation, and heart-soaring awe.

There are Christians in all kinds of traditions that pray the Psalms every day, morning and night. And sure, the prayerful poems are more familiar year after year, but they never stop speaking and shaping the human heart before God. Dive into the Psalms with us this summer and find yourself refreshed with honesty, lament, and praise.

Discussion notes for the summer series.


Psalm 13


Psalm 1


Psalm 26


Psalm 14


Psalm 32


Psalm 65


Wealth

Wealth

The great land owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away...

—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

We live with wealth. And not just money. We have time and resources and talents and opportunities that surround us here in Canada. And so the question is not so much whether wealth is good or bad but instead how we will steward such wealth— comparatively slight as it may seem at times—into channels that serve the Kingdom of God on earth.

Walter Brueggemann writes, “a study of the various biblical texts on money and possessions makes clear that the neighbourly common good is the only viable sustainable context for individual well-being.”

Our challenge then is to explore what
it means to enjoy our blessings, to plan wisely for our individual needs, all while contributing to the common good around us.

May we be wealthy well.


No Coveting

Discussion Notes
Today we are exploring the connection between memetic desire and the promise of God to set us free.


Generosity and Justice

Discussion Notes
Today we are looking at the relationship between generosity and justice.


The Pursuit of Happiness

Discussion notes

Today we’re paying attention to where Jesus encourages us to ground our happiness and how it relates to wealth.

Parables of Grace

Parables of Grace

Our lives are a collection of stories. The ones we find ourselves in. The ones we watch and read and listen to. The ones we invent and create.

And what’s curious is how Jesus’ life and ministry were shaped by these same contours. His lived experience...the Hebrew Scriptures and traditions he learned...and, of course, the stories he told.

In our walk through Lent this year, we turn our attention to a particular set of tales Jesus gave his followers. Parables of lost sheep, midnight visitors, and trees that don’t grow fruit.

In the end, we come back to the words of Jesus each year to understand the Divine story and its connection to the meaning of our own. And we hope too that, whether we ‘get’ the parables or not, we begin to see them as “first and foremost God’s way of getting to us.” –Robert Farrar Capon

Group Discussion Notes Week One
Group Discussion Notes Week Two
Group Discussion Notes Week Three
Group Discussion Notes Week Four
Group Discussion Notes Week Five
Group Discussion Notes Week Six
Group Discussion Notes Easter Sunday


Lent


Unexpected

Unexpected

Christmas is packed with personal traditions. Every year we hang up the same tree decorations. Every year we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the same big holiday. Every year we try to come up with a creative gift for someone special and basically get the same gift we did the year before.

So the question is, can the story of Jesus in a manger really surprise us one more time around? Can Christmas hold more meaning than all the ornaments, intricate family meals, and presents wrapped under the tree?

Advent is a time to return to the story of Jesus’ coming. And in returning, we find that we aren’t the same person we were even a year ago. The Divine’s coming to us in human flesh is charged with the unexpected. There’s the unexpected way an old story becomes new. There’s an unexpected baby who holds the mystery of the universe. There are unexpected angels sent to declare that heaven has come to earth and nothing is the same anymore.

Home Group Discussion Notes for Advent 2018 Week One
Home Group Discussion Notes for Advent 2018 Week Two

Acts of the Apostles

Acts of the Apostles

The book of Acts can present as a collection of hyperboles. Fire from heaven, dramatic exorcisms, adventure on the high seas, earthquakes and arrests. In some ways this seems appropriate, because it’s the story of Jesus’ first followers after all. How they began to share the story of Jesus’ life and resurrection, with the Holy Spirit invariably appearing to add dramatic flair.

But, if we take time to look a little closer, we find that there are a bunch of stories here showcasing the haphazard, serendipitous, and mundane ways in which the first Christians went about trying to be faithful. The ways in which they encountered the divine. The ways in which they discovered, as N.T. Wright says, that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was “doing a new thing in the whole world.”

Seeing this, we can affirm that while the Church’s genesis was marked by spectacular action, it was also expressed in ordinary human experience. That the Holy Spirit was at work in spectacular events and day-to-day monotony alike. And we can consider how the same might be true for us.


*you can use the menu icon in the top left corner of the video to jump to any message in the series.

Ritual

Ritual

We believe we need a recovery of sorts. Contemporary culture has pushed us to think that public life is mostly structured (show up on time, fulfill your obligations, do your job), but private life is mostly unstructured (free time to use as you see fit). But what happens then when spiritual life is relegated to the unstructured part of life, to our private“off work” world where there are few obligations? Well, it tends to exist in emotional spurts, through momentary impulses. It tends to lose focus. You know what I am talking about.

And so the recovery we need is the wisdom of basic spiritual ritual. Grace is not only a gift, grace is also a way of being. Grace is the life we are called to enter, the life of form and formation.

It’s been said that we don’t so much think our way into new life but instead live our way into new thinking. In this way, our spiritual identities are shaped through sustained commitments to gracious practices: practices of time like honouring sabbath, practices of stewardship like generous giving, practices of self-forgetfulness like service.

This is a series about some of our central rituals: work, rest and play.

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*you can use the menu icon in the top left corner of the video to jump to any message in the series.

DISCUSSION NOTES

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3