Invite each person to suggest one form of abundance that they have received, enjoyed or explored this week. Then they (or the leader) turns the thanksgiving into a simple one-sentence prayer: Thank you, God, for giving us ……which the group repeats after them.
John 4: God sees the heart of me.
Jesus shows us that God’s promise of abundant life is available, accessible and attainable to all – even me. I am a beloved child of God, called to love God with my whole self, to love myself, and to love my neighbour as I love myself. I am called to invest the gifts and talents that God has given me, both to pursue my personal dreams and in working with others to create an abundance that all can share.
Pass around different textures, shapes, colours.
– body, senses, comfort
– heart, emotions, moods, relationships
– will, purpose, direction, vocation
– spirit, mystery
We begin by realising that this is God’s message to us, personally. Are we willing to see and appreciate the abundance we have been given? Do we pay attention to it? Do we invest it in the creation of an even greater abundance?
If we have been given, or have discovered, or have created an abundance – are we willing to share it? Do we have a vision of an abundance that is available to us – and a potential abundance that is greater still? Are we willing to collaborate with God and work with others so that abundant life is available to all? Are we open to the possibility that God is always wanting to give us more?
God wants us to enjoy abundance. Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10.10). This sums up the experience of so many Biblical characters, from Adam and Eve through to Paul and the early church. God wants us to have life in every possible way, the fullest possible life, the greatest quantity, quality and variety of life that is possible in our context and time. God wants to enrich our experience, help us pursue our treasure, live life to the full. By enjoying the abundance that God has given us, we fulfil the commandment to love God with everything we are. By sharing the abundance God has given us, we fulfil the commandment to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. By collaborating with God and working together, we make real the Kingdom of God – in which “abundance” is available to all.
A “sense of abundance” will give us strength, even in adversity, but we will probably need help – the love of those around us, and reminders of the teaching of Jesus – to keep our memories of goodness vibrant and real.
In times of suffering, loss and grief, we may be unable to recall the experience of abundance at all, or may be unwilling to do so, because we do not want to break down. At such times, others can help us by working with us on the practical issues; encouraging us to speak of our desolation, anger and fear; staying with us when we need companionship and support; and by gently holding us in prayer during our time of pain.
Experiences of hardship and sorrow can leave us feeling that we are not “meant” to experience abundance, or that we have lost it forever and will never experience it ever again. We can become afraid that the promise is not real, or is not for us. However, Jesus shows us that there are many paths to abundant life, and our “treasure” can exist in many forms. Faith says that yes, some paths may be closed to us, but there are others, and God will help us find them.
Suffering, loss and grief awaken our fear that life will always be like this, life is meant to be like this, my life is meant to be like this. These fears are only natural, given our circumstances. But we can choose whether to let them dominate our thinking. We can choose whether to let them govern our actions. We can choose our response to our situation. We can accept that, yes, we are afraid, but we still long for a creative future, so we will act as if it is possible. We can choose to trust that God’s promise of abundant life is true, even for us, in the depths of our pain. We can let trust carry us forward, even if we do not see how it can make a difference; even if we do not see how any difference can be possible.
The depth of God’s love for me. God seeing the whole of me. God loving the whole of me. God loving each part of me. God seeing each part of me (despite my flaws) as lovely and beloved. God nourishing each part of me so that it can be fully and freely alive, so that it can be fulfilled. So that I can offer God all that I am.
Abundance is how God gives us life. God gives us life, strength, energy, creativity and inspiration through abundance. This is how the Spirit of God works in us – by enabling us to see and celebrate abundance, make it real, and keep on making it real until there is enough for everyone.
Easy or difficult? Painful or joyous? Conflicts and uneasiness? Doubts and difficulties?
Identify those parts most comfortable with, least comfortable with.
1. It is the parts where we get the strong reaction (positive or negative) which indicate that something is requiring our attention. Source of strength, ready for use. Source of pain, where strength is strangled and blunted because we are wounded.
2. Intellectual problems can mask other difficulties. Tease them out. What is driving our doubts, questions, objections, sense of offence?
For ourselves, for one another, for others. That we be enfolded, immersed in God’s tender, understanding love. That we allow it to rise like a spring within us, to feed, heal, strengthen, renew, resource us. That we receive bread and courage for today, hope for tomorrow. That we continue to open our hands to receive God’s abundant life.
Point for Development and Action:
Distribute copies of the prayers used above, so that each member of the group can continue to pray for themselves and one another.