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Jeremy Duncan

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