Rector's Study Resources

Habits of Formation: How God Shapes our Lives

The Zoom link for the Rector's Study is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83864076862?pwd=VlNuRTVOKzRCNUFtU2JKNm9EazNpZz09

Session Five: God Shapes with through Story

Genesis 1:1-4, 56-27
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Video

The video will be posted here.

Questions for Reflection and Group Discussion
  1. As you tell the story of your own life, who are the most significant people in that story? Why are these people so important in telling the story of who you are? What events in the course of your life tend to single out as most significant? Why have you come to see these as so important to who you are?
  2. As you look to the future, what story do you see yourself living into? In other words, what story do you tell about where your life is going? How is this story about your future connected to the story you tell yourself about your past?
  3. How does our parish tell its story? Are there certain people or events that are taken as central to the story that we tell ourselves? How and why have these people and events come to be central to our self-undertanding as a community of faith?
  4. As our faith community looks to the future, what story do you see us living into? In other words, what story do we need to tell about where our parish is headed? How is this story about the future of our faith community connected to the story we tell about our past?
  5. What impact does the story of "God-with-us" as revealed in scripture and the history of the church have on your own story and the story of our faith communiyt? In what particular ways does this biblical story inform or illuminate your own self-understanding or the identity of our community of faith?

Session Four: God Shapes our Character

Matthew 7:24-27
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Mark 3:31-35
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Ephesians 5:1-20
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
     “Sleeper, awake!
     Rise from the dead,
     and Christ will shine on you.”
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus 3:1-7
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

James 1:22-25
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

3 John 1:11-12
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Everyone has testified favorably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true.

Video

The video will be posted here.

Questions for Reflection and Group Discussion
  1. Every list of virtues is rooted in certain convictions concerning what counts for a good life. Make a list of what you believe are the most imporant human virtues. Once you have done so, go back over your list and try to discern what your list reveal about your convictions regarding human life and flourishing. 
  2. Make a list of the virtues that you see most often commende by the wider society in mass media, advertising, populalr culture, etc. What does this list reveal about what human life is presumably about?
  3. What do you think are the two or three virtues that are most regularly displayed in your own daily life? Take one of these virtues and relect on how you came to have this virtue formed within you?
  4. If you were to choose one or two virtues that you wish you displayed more regularly in your daily life, what would they be? Are you able to name any concrete obstacles to the nurturing of these virtues? 
  5. If you were to name the two or three virtues that are most regularly displayed in and through our life together as a congregation, what would they be? How do you htink these virtues came to be formed in your common life?
  6. Are their virtues that you wish were more regularly displayed in your common life as a community of faith? If so, which ones? How do you imagine that your common life would be different if these virtues were more commonly cultivated?
Paying Greater Attention

Try to notice some specific examples of vitues that are commended by the wider society. As you hear the news, watch movies, read a book, listen to music, notice the dispositions and patterns of behaviour that are praised and commended. Pay particular attention to the ways they are commended and what assumptions about human life go largely unspoken. 

Session Three: God Shapes our Convictions

Session Two: God Shapes our Desires

Psalms 42:1-2
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.

Psalms 62:1-2
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

Psalms 73:25
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."  (St. Augustine).

Video

The video is posted here.

Questions for Reflection and Group Discussion
  1. What do you think are the two or three desires or longings that most definitely shape the course of your daily life? How did these come to play such a central role in your life?
  2. If you were to identify one or two desires that you wish had a greater impact on the shape of your daily life, what would they be? How do you think your daily life would be different if those desires had a greater impact?
  3. Where in your life do you most feel the tension or conflict of competing desires? In other words, where are the two or three places in your lfie where your different longins seem to be at odds (if not at war) with each other, resulting in your being pulled in very different (if not opposite) directions?
  4. If you were to name two or three common desires that most give shape to your life as a congregation or parish, what would you name? How do you think these desires came to be shared and play a central role in your common life?
  5. Are there desires or longings that you wish had a greater shaping impact on your common life as a community of faith? If so, which ones? How do you imagine that your common life would be different if these desires were more central?
  6. Where in your common life as a faith community do you feel most acutely the tension or conflict of competing desires? How would you name these tensions or conflicts? What are some of the ways that these tensions manifest themselves?

Session One: Formation Happens!

Video 

The video is posted here.

Questions for Reflection and Group Discussion
  1. As you think about your life, what people, events, and experiences do you think have been the most formative for who you are today? It may help for you to complete the sentence: "If it were not for _________, I don't think I would be who I am today." (Take one or two of these major influences and reflect carefully on how specifically you came to be formed through them.)
  2. Has there been a time in your life when you were intensely aware that you were being formed? If so, what were the circumstances and what contributed to this awareness? If not, do you think this necessarily means that you weren't being formed?
  3. As you think about your family members, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbours, what would you identify as some of the most formative influences on their lives? What basis do you have for thinking so?
  4. You'll be encouraged over the next several weeks to think carefully about the ways in which our faith community funtions as a community of formation. What do you think are some of the most obvious ways in which our parish functions as a community of formation? in other words, where are some of the places where you see formation taking place on a regular basis? Where else might it also be taking place in less obvious ways? 
Paying Greater Attention

We're going to be talking together about formation in the next few weeks. But you won't simply be talking about formation, as important as that it. You will also be asked to examine carefully our corporate life along with your individual life to see the ways in whch they are being shaped. Such examination is rarely easy and almost always convicting. Therefore, pray that in the coming days God will open your eyes to what you need to see and that God will use your humble and honest attempts to pay attention to the shape of your life in ways that will untilimately lead to God's glory.