Tonight, we will begin our Eastertide study of the Rev. Scott Gunn’s book: The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. This week will be reading through Chapter 1: Turn.
Big Turnings . . . :
The Christian life is one of Turning. We know that we are constantly called to turn toward the love of God and turn toward the love of our neighbor and to turn away from the love of the world. John 2:15. The Scriptures provide us with stories of big turnings. Rev. Gunn uses the example of Moses tending his sheep on Mt. Siani in Exodus 3. pp.10-12. Moses was on the mountain to do his job – look after his father-in-law’s herd of sheep. The Bible says that Moses saw the burning bush and “turned to see this great sight” and, as he turned, God called to him. vv.3-4. Moses deviated from his plan and turned toward God, and the story of salvation began. We can also see these great turnings in the calling of the disciples who turned away from their lives as mere fishermen (Luke 5:1-11) or in the calling of Paul who turned away from his life as a Pharisee and persecutor of the Church (Acts 22).
One aspect of turning toward God and neighbor is these momentous turns. These are the great forks in the road in our own lives when we take a radically different direction. For tonight, think about your own big turnings.
. . . and Small Turnings:
Most of life, however, is not big turnings, but everyday small decisions we make to experience the love of God ourselves and to share the love of God with others. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is full of these small everyday turnings that we make so that we salt and light – don’t call other’s stupid, reconcile with those with whom you are angry, don’t retaliate, give to those who ask, pray, don’t worry, don’t judge others, and listen for the voice of God.
Rev. Gunn gives examples of his own small everyday turnings – letting someone cut you off in traffic or engaging someone on the street and buying him a meal. He encourages us to think about our own simple daily turns toward our neighbor. He reminds us that we should spend time talking about our spiritual successes because these successes encourage others to turn as well. p.17. For tonight, think about and be willing to share your own small turnings.
How do we Turn:
Rev. Gunn reminds us that we do not turn to earn God’s love but we turn in order to give thanks and enjoy God’s vast love for us. As John writes, we love others because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19. Rev. Gunn lays out some good practical steps for turning, which are:
- If you are not already baptized or confirmed, ask a priest about baptism or confirmation. If you are already baptized and confirmed, ask a priest about reaffirmation of these vows.
- Set aside an intentional time for daily prayer and Scripture reading.
- Perform an act of clearly turning toward Jesus – reconcile with an estranged friend, be generous with someone who cannot repay you, etc.
- Nurture spiritual friendships and a community where you can share your spiritual highs and lows.
- Commit to regular worship and offering thanks and praise to God.
Remember, the life of turning toward Christ should be a life of joy. These turnings, both great and small, should be joyfully shared with others and we should joyfully encourage others on their own journey.
Rev. Gunn ends his chapter with the following questions for reflection:
- When is a time you turned in a way that helped you grow in your faith?
- What keeps you from turning more readily?
- What might you do to turn in new ways, more often?
Dinner is at 6. The menu is ham and pea lasagna. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here!
Almighty God, help me reject those things that keep me from your ways, and give me strength and courage to follow your life-giving son, Jesus Christ. Amen. p.25.