You are invited to use this course as an opportunity to develop your skills in listening and empathy.
- Commit to attend all five sessions. The more you are able to attend,
holding the continuity of the group, the more you will benefit. Give yourself permission to refuse any other engagements or invitations that might arise at your regular study time.
- Begin each study with prayer to help centre the group.
- Commit to sharing honestly and to listening without judgement or trying to ‘fix’ someone else’s life for them. Seek to create a safe atmosphere in
which people feel able to share openly. Remember that none of us are perfect; our aim is to be real, authentic and whole – not perfect!
- Acknowledge that everyone’s experience of life and faith is unique
and valuable. Seek to accept one another just as we truly are, just as God accepts each one of us.
- Give space for everyone to speak, though no-one need feel obliged to speak. If you are someone who tends to share a lot, remember to leave space for others who find it harder to share.
- Read the material in advance and spend time allowing the content to sink in – not necessarily needing to find the answers. It’s ok not to know!
- Remember that religious and theological words can mean different things to different people. Share your perspective and allow others to hold different perspectives.
- Remember the Bible contains different genres of literature – history, poetry, wisdom, letters, etc – so it can be read in many ways. We can listen to its poetry. We can consider the contextual and cultural meaning. We can simply reflect on how the passage impacts on us emotionally. There is no one way.
We have tried something a little different with the prayers in this study course by including a series of contemplative exercises. They require someone in the group to lead – speaking slowly and clearly – and leaving silent gaps between phrases to give time for the words to sink in. In following this method, we invite you not so much to ‘think’ about what you’re praying, but rather to rest in God’s presence, allowing yourself to embrace God’s love and acceptance so that you might better receive the prophetic voice.