In this session Robyn Wrigley-Carr interviews Rvrd Dr Sharon Prentis about the themes of the book and in particular Part Four; God’s love, sacrifice and peace.
The Revd Dr Sharon Prentis is Mission Enabler & Dean of Black and Minority Ethnic Affairs for the Church of England in Birmingham. Previous work experience has included being a Tutor in Theology, Deputy Director for Research & Development at The Salvation Army and a Director of a faith-based organisation where she helped set up a social enterprise.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer and ask everyone what their experience of prayer is.
You can structure this how you think best. If the group knows each other well already, a free-flowing conversation will be fine. If the group is less well established, it may be best to go round in a circle giving each person a brief opportunity to share their experience about the topic. Don’t let too much discussion develop at this point (if any). What’s important is that every begins to get comfortable talking and sharing and that you as leader get a gauge on where everyone is at.
The Advent Child was heralded as the Prince of Peace, and on the
eve of His betrayal and death, Jesus tells His friends: ‘Peace I leave
with you.’ This gift is not the peace of perfect circumstances – a basking in Divine sunshine, or even a warm religious feeling such as we might experience during prayer. Instead, says Evelyn, peace is a willing acceptance of all that comes to us; a deep tranquillity, persisting through both light and darkness, success and suffering, and one of the surest signs of spiritual health. It comes at a great price – that of the Cross and full, sacrificial abandonment to God.
God enfolds humanity but is also revealed individually. This understanding is key to loving others. It isn’t always easy loving others! There is an appreciation that we can do it by ourselves – we need to operate in God’s grace and mercy working within our lives. In today’s society we seem to be more and more fragmented; we are not where we should be. To aid this we need to have ‘courageous conversations’ to challenge and reframe our thinking to where God would call us to be. To achieve this me must be attentive, prayerful and honest about where God needs us to be and where we most need grace.
We can’t understand suffering until we have embraced it, turned it into sacrifice and and given ourselves in it, to God. It helps to be sensitive when talking about sacrifice and cost because it’s about personal experience – we don’t want to project the suffering onto others as they may feel their own experience inferior. When we understand our limitations we can see that our identity is in Christ, not the pain or cost. The reality is, we are not alone, but God is there. This speaks to honesty, authenticity and our total dependence on God.
Deep tranquillity (peace), regardless if life is going well or not; on the mountains or in the valleys, is one of the surest signs of spiritual health. To achieve this it helps to have a confidant or spiritual director to talk to about the situations and decisions of life. Another helpful exercise to practice is personal meditation with the word and continual reflection on God’s love and mercy. Look t the prophets, Jerimiah, Elijah etc) and know that they were in desolate circumstances but God always proved Himself faithful to His word.