Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Receiving

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Receiving this week. We looked at the story of the feeding of the 5000 in John’s Gospel. There are six versions of this story in the four gospels. Apparently the writers felt like it was important. There’s a theory that everybody really had food, but they were reluctant to share until the little boy offered his four loaves and two fish. This make sense. If you think you are the only person who has enough food for yourself, then it’s easy to be reluctant to share what you have with folks who have nothing. This is true today – the problem with hunger is not one of scarcity – it’s one of distribution. There is empirically enough food for every person on the planet to be fed. Just like there is enough money on the planet for every person to have $1,000,000.

But that’s probably not what this story is about. None of the writers tell the story that way. They tell the story from the point of view of the people who were hungry. They tell the story as a miracle. When we feel like we’re hungry or hurting or needing, we feel like we can’t possibly solve the problem by ourselves. We need more than we can provide. When despair overtakes us, we need more and we hide from that truth. It’s terrifying how much we need. There’s a miracle in asking for help. We have a lot to give, but we need to receive what’s being given first. What are you hungry for? What do you need to receive?

1.  Pray with your hands open and upturned this week. How does it feel? I’ve been doing this ever since I learned centering prayer. When I pray this way, I have learned not to want anything, not to ask for anything. I just open myself  to God, and to God’s working in my heart and soul.

2.  Say yes every time someone offers you help this week. I read this suggestion during church, and almost immediately I didn’t do it. I was carrying two plates of picnic food – one for my husband and one for myself – and someone offered to carry one for me. Did I accept the help? No! I said, “That’s fine, I can do it myself. Thanks anyway.” *Sigh* I’ve got a lot to work on with this one.

3. When you encounter a challenge, ask yourself: what am I being invited to receive from this situation? I’ll have to ponder this one. I know I am challenged to graciously accept thanks or praise. I’ll definitely work on that this week.


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