At a conference I attended a few weeks ago we spent some time discussing Christian Formation and Faith Development. Part of the discussion focused on John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, and his three step process of Christian Formation. In this process one begins as a newcomer to faith - filled with "Desire" for God. The next stage is one of "Conflict" - the dark night of soul where faith is deepened and matures. Most Christians spend the majority of their faith formation in this second stage. The third stage is "Contemplation" and it is marked by a person being so grounded in their faith and trust in God that the dark nights no longer feel dark. A person in the stage of Contemplation is able to maintain an emotional sense of peace even when confronted with a spritual challenge. Maybe Hannah and her silent prayer to God represnt a person in this third stage. Or maybe she is well into the second stage approaching the third? photo credit Anyway, our process of faith formation might be one avenue to consider...
The readings from Samuel offer some compelling thought for a preacher this week. Hannah, a named woman in the Bible, expresses a profound faith, pointing us to the faith that comes later with Mary, and the coming season of Advent.
Now, admittedly for me it would be a bit more of a challenge to write a sermon on the Gospel. Maybe it's just my state of mind these days? Case in point - my initial response to the Gospel: "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings..." immediately brought up the image of Little Red Riding Hood, "Oh my what big...." photo credit here
Obviously I'd find another direction for my reflection...but, I'd probably carry an inner giggle with me to the pulpit.
Anyway. What are you thinking about? Where is the Spirit leading you this morning? I hope it's not into the woods....but definitely toward some good food and fruits of the Spirit. And, if you find yourself in the dark woods, or lost, we're here to help.
I have a busy day and will be in and out as I go to a series of workshops and then dinner out with friends. But I'll be around often enough to keep the party going. Now, what can I get you? Coffee? Tea?? Scones?