Centering Down

photo-nov-06-10-58-37-amCentering Down is an adult spiritual sharing group that takes place in the meetinghouse library every Sunday at 10 AM, before worship. All are welcome to join at any time.

Each week’s topic is included in the bulletin. It typically includes a few passages from the minister’s message, as well as some queries—questions to stimulate self-examination and thought. We might spend several minutes in silent reflection before anyone speaks. Individuals are encouraged to speak from their own experiences and to listen deeply to one another, allowing a little time for reflection between speakers. In this way, we can come to know one another better and share our unique portion of Light with one another.

The following are recent centering down passages:

From Life Lessons of a "Bad Quaker" . . .
Just be Quiet

What clues does my body give me that I need a deep spiritual breath and some stillness in the midst of busyness?

World At War

What does it mean for me to be a peaceful person?

What do I do to remain peaceful when something really annoying happens, or beyond annoying?

To Buy or Not to Buy

What feelings come to mind when I first think about living simply?

What do the things I own say about my beliefs or values?

Red and Yellow Black and White, They Are Precious in His Sight

Do any of my beliefs or actions come from a bias about race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, class, and/or my own feelings of inferiority or superiority?

Truth Be Told

Am I careful to speak truth as I know it?

God’s Good Green Earth

What are the spiritual implications of the way I treat the earth?

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe.
-John 20:25
You know the story...Following the crucifixion, the disciples were locked in a house for fear that they too would be killed. They were licking their wounded spirits and trying to figure out what had gone wrong. And then, as recorded in John, “Jesus came and stood among them.” To prove that it was Jesus, he showed them the scars in his hands and side. Thomas was not present.

As the story goes, a week later Jesus appeared again in the house and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus turned to Thomas and said, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe. Thomas did what was requested, and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

Two things in this story stand out for me, both of which have to do with vulnerability. First is the courage that Thomas showed by doubting, thus making him vulnerable to the ridicule from his believing colleagues, and second, the vulnerability that Jesus displays by openly showing his disciples his scars.

Within the safe confines of his trusted friends, Thomas felt free to doubt, and by sharing his scars with the disciples, Jesus became real.

I am grateful that John chose to put this story in his Gospel, and I thank God that Thomas had the courage to doubt, and took the time to see the real Jesus, the one with scars. As we continue to grow spiritually, may we be sensitive to the REAL within each of us, doubts, scars and all, for it is here, in the experience of the REAL where we can experience the Living Christ.

Have there been times in your life when you have risked being vulnerable with others?
Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?
-Luke 24:32
Although there are many different accounts of the Resurrection Story, with each Gospel giving us a version that is at variance with the others, there are certain things on which they all agree. All of the writers agree that it is set on the first day of the week. They all assert their conviction that something happened following the crucifixion of Jesus that forced them to entertain the possibility that the ultimate barrier that each human life faces...our finitude and mortality, had somehow been breached. Also, whatever the Easter moment was, it had a profound effect upon the Disciples, which apparently altered their behavior and their understanding of God. On these things, we can all agree.

Personally, after reading all of the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, and after looking critically at all of the problems those various accounts can cause to the logical mind, I became a skeptic. The question that I had to ask myself, and one that all skeptics need to ask is, “Can an experience be real if the explanations of that experience are inconsistent and divergent?” I have concluded that it can be. I have little faith in the words used by the Gospel writers to describe the resurrection, but I have great faith in the trustworthiness of people’s actions and behavior to affirm an event happened. One thing we know for sure, the Disciples were changed persons following the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

The early followers of Jesus tried to use words to describe an event that was beyond words. And the event beyond words, changed their lives. The evidence of changed lives is very compelling evidence.

What are your thoughts on the Easter Story?