Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

lent 2009

sense making faith


For suggestions on how to use the Lent course, please see our guide to using Sense Making Faith.

Week 1 - Journey into Seeing

Why do we have eyes? When we look around, what do we miss because we have forgotten to notice things effectively? Sometimes we can miss signs of what God is doing because we forget to look out for him, yet Jesus tells us to be watchful and to stay alert. What about if we don't have eyes? What can blind people tell us about their spiritual journey that enriches our own - and do we unfairly talk about God in ‘sighted' language of light and brightness? Supposing we looked at scripture differently, seeing the healing miracle of blind Bartimaeus from his point of view, how would we ‘see' Jesus then? And what did Jesus see in the desert and how did what he saw help him to understand God's purposes for him more clearly?

Explore these questions and the journey into seeing:
Week 1: Journey into Seeing resources

You can also explore this topic through the life of St David in our alternative resource for this Sunday.

Week 2- Journey into Imagination

We are free to dream, wonder, reflect and hope, but why do we have the capacity to use our minds in this way? How does God come to us through the gift of imagining, and what is it that is so special about the ability to envision the future? Jesus urges us to imagine a world that is radically different from the one around us and then work to make it real for everyone. But we can get distracted in a busy world from the task of offering that hope; what can we do to make sure our minds are fixed on God's promises? And the ability to hope for a better future is a precious gift, because people whose minds are affected by fear, anxiety, depression or disease have to struggle to imagine where the hope is. Jesus tells us about all this in giving his disciples a vision of the future, and from this we learn that imagination and hope is the key to weathering the bad times, for God is faithful and will not let us down. Why should we trust Jesus? Because he trod that path himself. In the desert, tempted in his mind by all kinds of other, easier paths, he found a way to keep his vision of his purpose as God's Son intact, and put all distractions aside.

Explore these questions and the journey into imagination:
Week 2: Journey into Imagination resources

Week 3- Journey into Smell

Breathe in. What can you smell? Are you even really aware of the way the world comes to us in different scents, both pleasurable and distasteful. Smell affects us in extraordinary ways and can be the powerful evocation of the past, of memory that connects us with other times, places and experiences. Jesus tells us to care especially for those who might live among the unpleasant smells of the world, those who are desperately poor, the homeless, the sick, the dying. To care for them as Jesus asked, we have to contend with those smells and what they tell us about the imperfections of the world, not just sanitise them, or cover them up and pretend they don't exist. The ability to smell is a gift, as people who cannot smell at all make clear, - we should not waste such a gift. Jesus challenges us to make a world where we can breathe freely. Scripture then, can be experienced differently as a smell journey, turning our thoughts to living, loving and dying. So what did Jesus smell in the desert and how did it bring home to him what he was doing and what it would cost?

Explore these questions and the journey into smell:
Week 3: Journey into Smell resources

Week 4 - Journey into Touching

Our touch experiences are some of the most important of our lives. Through the gift of touch we experience other people and the world around us in infinitely varied ways. Through touch we learn about intimacy, love, healing, comfort, but also pain and suffering. We talk about reaching out with the gospel and touching people's lives. The sacraments involve touch experiences and remind us that God is not far off but intimately concerned with us and all that we do. So what is it like to be ‘untouchable'? There are people who cannot bear touch because they have been hurt and abused. There are other people who are considered untouchable because of fear of contamination, disease, or some other taboo status. Others Yet Jesus touched such people without hesitation, healing them and restoring them to the community. How do we learn to value the gift of touch? Scripture reminds us that touch should come with truth and honesty, yet Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. Do we always touch others with complete openness, honesty and love? And what touch experiences did Jesus encounter in his time in the wilderness? What did he miss most?

Explore these questions and the journey into touching:
Week 4: Journey into Touching resources 

You can also explore this topic through material specifically for Mothering Sunday in our alternative resource for this Sunday.

Week 5 - Journey into Taste

Eating and drinking are fundamental to human survival and through the gift of taste we can decide what we most enjoy eating. Similarly, feeding others and being fed are important to family and community life; it is how we share and look after one another. So the gift of taste is also related to the spiritual life, for God feeds us and cares for us. We are reminded of this every time we remember in the Eucharist what Jesus did at the Last Supper with his disciples. But we should care about those who cannot taste or eat anything. Those people are denied the gift of tasting through poverty, sickness or other injustices. Jesus calls us to make a world where tasting is part of the glory of being alive and not something to be overcome because the only food or water is so contaminated. To be able to taste freely is part of the liberation of those who suffer for which Jesus calls. We can focus on the Last Supper as a Passover meal and learn about the depth and context of what Jesus was doing through the particular tastes that are prescribed for the meal. Why do the herbs have to be bitter? Why does the bread have to be unleavened? And what about Jesus' time fasting in the desert? What did that teach him and how much more did it mean to him than just a lack of food? What can we learn from fasting as a spiritual discipline as we move further along our Lenten journey?

Explore these questions and the journey into tasting:
Week 5: Journey into Taste resources

Week 6 - Journey into Hearing

At this point in our journey we focus on the gift of hearing, and this is most appropriate as we prepare to listen to God's word and the most amazing story of Jesus' death and resurrection during Holy Week and Easter. Do we really know how to listen? In filtering out all the sounds around us, have we shut our ears to how God is calling us, guiding us? And when we make sounds that others hear, - in worship, for example, - are we really doing the best we can to share the gospel with others and invite people to a foretaste of heaven in the way we offer prayer and praise? What do deaf churches and choirs have to tell us about communication and how easily can we fall into spiritual deafness, when the good news of Jesus ‘falls on deaf ears'? Scripture tells us both about sounds and silence and how these play a part in the spiritual journey. How can we think about both the place of sounds and silence as we approach the mystery of Easter. And what did Jesus hear in the desert, when decided that he would live by the Word of God and not take the easy path?

Explore these questions and the journey into Hearing:
Week 6: Journey into Hearing resources



a fractal image of a cross
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