Let’s continue to think about groups and community this week, and let’s start by hearing Castell again,
“Above all, the group must keep remembering that true growth in grace is not to be achieved by our own efforts or contriving, but must be received as the gift of God’s Spirit, working in, and among, us. The work of the group is to keep open the channels of receptiveness through study, discipline, prayer, and self-offering… When a group learns to live in this faith, it can keep the lines of endeavor tentative and sensitive to new headings and possibilities, on the one hand; and on the other, move forward resolutely under such light as is now given. “ ( from “Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups”, 1957, by John L. Casteel, p. 195)
“ … true growth in grace is not to be achieved by our own efforts or contriving, but must be received as the gift of God’s Spirit, working in, and among, us.”
Grace is gift. No argument with that. But I wonder if we sometimes so focus on “gift” that we become almost totally passive. We come and sit and wait for a “leader” or “facilitator” or “teacher” or “mentor” or “preacher” to tell us, or instruct us or “pour” something into us.
Casteel writes, “The work of the group is to keep open the channels of receptiveness through study, discipline, prayer, and self-offering…”
Maybe not just the “work of the group” but my work also? Maybe not just during the time the group assembles but before it assembles?
How can we be intentional as we come to the community and as we participate in the community so that we are fully invested in the its life and are open and receptive to the experience of grace that is given.
Why don’t we start to think about and maybe even list some of the things we can do. If I am thinking in terms of a small study or service group or class, maybe I can pray for each member of the group.
Maybe even pray for them by name each day. I can be fully present to the group. I can listen when someone talks with the intention to hear what they say and try to understand what they mean as opposed to thinking about what I want to say and the “advice” I want to give.
I guess all that is pretty obvious. But sometimes it helps to start with the obvious.
What would you add? How do you think you can “keep open the channels of receptiveness” so that you see God’s grace as it is offered?