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Prayer Exercises

These transformative exercises are provided for you to interact with the weekly Sunday sermon through reflection and prayer.
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  • Main Scripture: Luke 4:14-21 (as prophesied in Isaiah 61:1-3)

    Introductory Thoughts:

    Very early on in life we come up against unfairness. We resist it – for ourselves and for others. We have a strong desire for life to be fair; when it is not, we want justice served.

    God’s image is actually reflected in/through us in that we have a longing for justice. Justice is core to the gospel, it is not just a complimentary side aspect to our faith. The question is, “What kind of justice are we engaged in? The world’s form of justice (retribution for wrong/vengeance) or God’s form of justice (restorative)?

    As you read Luke 4:14-21 place yourself as one of the crowd in the synagogue when Jesus takes the scroll and begins to read out of Isaiah.

    Your eyes are riveted on Him. He reads with such authority. And then He says these words, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

    Allow honest answers to rise up to the following questions:

    1. What are you hoping for Jesus to fulfill in your life? Riches for poverty? Freedom where you are a prisoner? Understanding where you are blind? Release where you are oppressed in some way?
    2. What are you hoping for Jesus to fulfill (in regards to the scriptures He said He fulfilled) in someone else – someone you love?
    3. What are you hoping for Jesus to fulfill in this world?
    4. What injustice are you angry about? What do you want Jesus to do about it? Where might you be angry at Jesus and why? Where might you be angry at someone else or your own self?
    5. The common Hebrew word for justice is “mishpot.” It makes up 90% of what God says about His kind of justice.

    Mishpot: restorative justice that comes alongside the marginalized and lifts them up/out of their burden and restores things to a place of shalom or peace.

    How is this justice different from the world’s justice? Do you have any resistance to this form of justice?

    1. There is a righteous anger when it comes to justice. And we do need consequences when wrong is done. But the trouble with anger is that it can easily translate into hate. Then the justice we want includes revenge/pay back to those who have exhibited injustice against another/others. Can you open your heart to Jesus to see if there is a place in your anger over injustice where hate has seeped in?

    Imagine Jesus sitting in front of you with a look of love on His face and His hands held out to you. Place your hands face down on top of His and confess your hate. Turn your hands up on top of His hands and ask Jesus to give you His mishpot justice.

    Ask Jesus to show you where the poor are in your life, not just poor materially but poor in the way that they need restoration in some form of freedom that Jesus came to bring. Ask Him how you can be part of this. Keep being open. You may not get a straight out answer, but Jesus has heard you. Continue on with Him and be aware of what He is showing you.

    1. Jesus’ mission is not solely about forgiving me of my sins. It IS about this but not only about this. Is this a new thought to you? What is your reaction to this?
    2. Jesus says He came to preach good news to the poor. He did not just mean poor materially. There were many ways people were poor in His day and still are in our day. Poor as found in those oppressed, broken hearted, afflicted, considered “less than,” etc. Who are the poor in our day? How are they poor?
    3. It’s easy to align ourselves with the strong ones, the powerful. But the gospel calls us to align ourselves with the weak. But what does it mean to align ourselves with the weak? How do we bring the good news to these? How would you describe “good news” to the poor?
    4. In John 12:46 Jesus says that He has come as the Light. In order for the light to show up, it has to invade the bad or dark places. What do you see as the bad and dark places? What is hard about going into these places for you?
    5. Jesus got angry about many wrong things: shameful accusations towards a woman caught in adultery, the greed in selling sacrifices for temple worship, those bound by disease, blindness, demons. There is a necessary anger against the many forms of injustice. But when our anger crosses over into hate, we lose “mishpot” justice and we want people to pay for their wrong. Share your thoughts around this. How is the good news robbed in a justice marked with hate? How do you see this played out in our world right now?
    6. Jesus said that He came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. He was referring to Leviticus 25 – where the Israelites were instructed to partake in the year of Jubilee – of freedom for every slave, every wrong, where even the land rested from yielding. There is no proof that the Israelites ever truly did this but Jesus was proclaiming it as key to the gospel of good news. Protest and revolutions might topple the powerful for a time but it will only be a temporary fix. Mishpot justice is the longer, harder road – where we have to keep living differently, keep prioritizing God’s rule of love, freedom, and forgiveness, living out that every human being has been made in the image of God…not just take a stand against of the empire of injustice and go back to our regular lives. The gospel is an invitation to Jubilee. The crowd wanted justice to bring revenge but Jesus said and modeled “no.” God’s justice is mishpot justice.

     At the cross, Jesus didn’t say, “You’re gonna get yours” or “You wait and see how you are going to pay for this.” He said, “Father, forgive them.”

     Where are you being invited to let God shape this kind of restorative justice in you?

    Where does the kingdom of God need to take deeper root in your own life?

    Who is that “poor” person near you that needs to hear, see, and experience this good news?

    Credit for all these thoughts/teaching go to Reg Lewicki.

    For added help in thinking about what your life is being formed to be: Martin Luther King Jr. developed a Rule of Life to guide the non-violent protests of the civil rights movement. His rule emphasized the spiritual principles and actions, although it also included specific practices such as meditation, prayer and service. Every demonstrator had to agree to this rule.

    1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.

    2. Remember always that the non-violent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.

    3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.

    4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all might be free.

    5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all might be free.

    6. Observe with both friend and foe rules of courtesy.

    7. Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.

    8. Refrain from violence of fist, tongue or heart.

    9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

    10. Follow the directions of the movement and the captain of a demonstration.

    Taken from the last chapter of Marjorie J Thompson's book, Soul Feast

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