How's LIFE? (what is a LIFE group and how does it work?) LIFEGroups help us to Live In Faith Everyday.
Silent Meditation and Opening Prayer
Beginning in silence gives us a moment to rest and pause in awareness of ourselves and of God’s presence. Awareness is the beginning of authentic sharing and of powerful prayer.
Where have you been blessed by God? Where are you being challenged by God (in the midst of your circumstances)? In our sharing, we seek to go beyond simply what’s good or what we're enjoying, and to testify to the Source of all goodness, and to what we experience God doing in our lives to bless us.
We also seek to go beyond simply what's hard, to share where God is challenging us. So, I may be having a hard time in a relationship, or in finding new work or a new place to live. In the midst of difficult circumstances, God's challenge to me may be to maintain hope, to explore my own triggers and resentments, or to keep trusting God for what may feel impossible.
We share with one another, without trying to fix or giving advice, as a practice of spiritual companionship. At times, it can be hard to hold back our good ideas about how to help each other—and we can certainly share them with one another outside of the group time—but in the group we discipline ourselves to the practice of presence, we resist the temptation to fixeach other's struggles, and we trust God to work in each other's lives.
Many people have issues with the Bible, and may wonder why we spend time studying the Bible, rather than any other inspirational writings. Some people are angry at the Bible because people have misused it to undermine the LOVE that God calls us to.
At First Congregational Church of Oakland, our deepest commitment is to the Creator who endows life with dignity, beauty and purpose.
For us, there is no scripture more important than the life and dignity of the human being and of God's creation. Therefore, we believe that for the Bible to be used to justify destructive behaviors and systems such as slavery; the degradation of women or indigenous cultures; the demonization of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people; blaming the victims of illness (e.g., leprosy, or AIDS); ableism, and over-consumption sets the Bible and human prejudice over against God.
The Bible is one of the treasures of our tradition, and its stories help us to become who God is calling us to be. The Bible reflects the whole of human life experience: celebrations and struggles, faith and doubt, joy and heartbreak, dreams and failures. The Bible contains great diversity: different experiences, different cultural and social milieu, different kinds of literature, different historical situations, different theological expressions—sixty-six books, recorded by many different people over more than 1500 years. As we reflect on the scripture together, we seek to draw more deeply from the Source of Life to whom each of the biblical writers turned for inspiration, and to hear the Living God's word speaking to each of us.
Living In Faith Everyday Group engages in conversational Bible study which enables us to wrestle with the words of scripture, and to share what we hear God saying to us today. We take turns leading the bible study, exploring the resources available and reflecting on it for key themes, and then catalyzing each other to engage the word with our whole selves.
For more information on LIFE Groups, please email our Deconate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We close the groups with a time of prayer in which we have a chance to lift each other's celebrations and needs to the God in whom we live and move and have our being. We learn to listen for God's direction in prayer. We learn to give thanks and to pray for one another, out loud. We learn to sense the Spirit's presence, and to draw on that Spirit for power and healing and hope. We learn to become the people that God has created us to be.
For more information on Group Prayer, please email our Deconate at email@example.com.