This month's contemplative exercise


A Contemplative Exercise for August 2017

The following is a possible framework for the Witnessing of the Word. It can be personalised, or altered: its purpose is to serve as an example of how this Saying might be used in the context of a Prayer Group, and it is not intended to be definitive.

The periods of silence should be appropriate for your group - probably not less than 5 minutes, or more than 15 minutes.

Saying for the month

Isaiah 43.18-19  (NRSV)   "Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old) ....... Behold:  I am about to do a new thing."  


To begin the exercise, spend a little time in relaxation and preparing to be still.


Say this introductory invitation to the time of prayer, to be followed by a minute or two of silence:

Matthew 11.28 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"

 

Introduction to the first silence - a preparation for listening with the mind:

August's saying is long.  Some may find it too long!  If you feel it's too long for you, then focus on the words that suit you, or take just a single part of the saying.

"Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold:  I am about to do a new thing." 

"Do not remember the former things...."

"... I am about to do a new thing"

The prophet Isaiah in Jerusalem brings God's message to His people.  Isaiah's ministry is a long one, stretching through the reigns of several kings.  He lives through dark times for the people of Israel.  He has to remind them not to keep looking back to the traditions of the past.  Some would consider those to be the 'good old days'.

He consistently preaches God's righteousness and warns of judgement on sin and danger ahead while calling people to respond to the love of God, reminding them of His longing to forgive and the promise of future glory for the faithful.

Isaiah offers words of reassurance and we begin to understand that the warnings given are part of God's plan to draw His people back to Himself.  Indeed His desire is to call them home.

Here indeed is a new way of looking at things.  "Forget the former things" says God.  "Don't dwell in the past.  Look ahead with hope and excitement in your hearts for what I am going to do".

"Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

A time for silence of the mind - between 5 and 15 minutes

 

Conclude with a short thanksgiving, and/or repeat the Saying:

 Father, we thank you for the gift of your Word.

 "Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."


Introduction to the second silence - a preparation for listening with the heart:

As we get older, many of us find that nostalgia for the past grows ever stronger.  Sometimes we have an accompanying feeling of loss.

As Christians, looking back and counting our blessings can be a very good thing.  The problem arises when we get stuck in the past and feel everything was better then.  We find ourselves resistant to change and reluctant to move forward.  The traditions of church life can be a particular sticking point.  In the livelier more noisy services of today, we may long for order.  No matter that every generation does things differently, we'd like things to stay the same.

How do we react then to God's word to us:  "Behold: I am about to do a new thing" ?  What does it mean for us nowadays?  All of us face different challenges.  For some, what's ahead is hopeful.  For others, it's scary.  But St Paul writes in Colossians 3 v10 of us putting on a new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  

As we receive God's word into our hearts as His chosen people, may He enable us to respond with joy in the days ahead.

"Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

 A time for silence of the heart - between 5 and 15 minutes

 

Conclude with a short thanksgiving, and/or repeat the Saying:

 Father, we thank you that your Word is alive and within us

 "Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

 

Introduction to the time of intercession:

 "Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

What will these words mean for our troubled world?  We may like to use this saying for places all over the world where there seems to be no hope for those who live there.  Or we may have friends who feel lost or confused in our modern world.  Or maybe we know of churches in danger of becoming places of conflict, who need reminding that God is in the business of new life.

You may use all of the saying; or just a part of it:

"Do not remember the former things (nor consider the things of old).......Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

"Do not remember the former things..."          

"Behold: I am about to do a new thing."

 Say the name; then, after a moment of silence, repeat the saying - let the words flow through you to them.

 

Conclude with words of thanksgiving: 

Father, we thank you that your Word has gone out through us to those for whom we pray.

 

Use the Fellowship Prayer or another closing prayer to conclude your time of contemplative prayer. You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.

 Loving Heavenly Father, we thank you for all your unsearchable riches which pour forth from you as light from the sun, in boundless profusion and generosity, whether received, ignored or rejected. And now we offer to you, in so far as we are able, as an emptiness to be filled with your divine fullness, our selves, our souls and bodies ; all that we are, all that we have and all that we do in your service. Amen

 

 You may wish to say the Grace together before departing.

                                                                                                                                           This month's exercise was contributed by DH

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