A new, monthly small group program will kick off in February, centered around the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett and several books featured in her conversations. Here’s how Pastor Brent describes the inspiration behind this new faith formation offering:
Last month I wrote about an experiment in trying to start and shape my days differently. Given some time in Maine, I have been able to lean into this new approach more fully. Rather than starting my day listening to NPR’s Morning Edition, I have been listening either to some gentle music or podcasts. In particular, I have been listening to the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. (It’s worth noting that as I have returned to the obligations of work and family, I have noticed this new practice slipping a bit. I share that because I want to acknowledge that any change, no matter how demonstrably good, can be hard to navigate and sustain initially).
On her show, Krista invites guests who have a particular insight that has emerged out of their life’s calling. Her podcasts have a strong orientation toward faith and explore not just the guest’s insight, but also how it all plays out in choices made, relationships formed, and communities shaped. She interviews a wide variety of folks from numerous religious traditions and vocations. Often the interviews take place in public forums and the podcast concludes with questions from the audience.
I have subsequently explored the writings of several of these guests to gain a greater understanding of their insights and their implications for my own faith life. This practice has informed both my approach to Christmas Eve (through the lens of Serene Jones) and Epiphany (through the lens of Father Greg Boyle). I have found it all to be an expansive process of opening my thinking and my wondering. I have been deeply moved by the implications for relationship and community. I invite you to join me in these next few months hoping that you might be opened and moved too.
Here’s how: gather to explore the wisdom of these thinkers in relationship with one another. I invite you to be part of a monthly small group. We will follow a schedule that invites participants to listen to a selected On Being podcast and read a book written by the guest. We will then spend two hours together. During that time, we will share a meal to build relationship. Then we will talk about what we have encountered. Our discussion will be less of a study and more of a dialogue, naming the ways we may have been opened or the possibilities for our lives and the relationships we claim within and beyond our church. I will be limiting the size of the groups to eight. We will try hard to accommodate all who are interested.
We will start with Father Greg Boyle and his work with Homeboy Industries and the gangs of LA. We will then move to Serene Jones and her deep reflections on grace and its import. We will close with Shaine Claiborne and his communities of grace and connection in Philadelphia. More information can be found on the sign-up sheets that are in the Jonathan Edwards Room. Please, if there is anything causing you to hesitate, call and talk to me. Don’t let any barrier stand in your way.