On readings for February 6, 2022
5th Sunday after Epiphany, C
Filler of Hearts
O Filler of Hearts, what abundance,
What spiritual riches you contain.
You plead daily, “Wider, wider?
Unblock your constricted heart.”
You consistently implore, “Open,
Open, open to receive my gifts.”
When my heart does finally release
And receive your outpouring love,
Precious gifts come flowing forth
From your generous heart into mine.
Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 8
Opening question for sharing:
What activity, profession, hobby do you LOVE doing? How did you first discover it? What other roles did it lead to?
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
(Use the relaxation talk to relax from your toes up through your head, breathing in God’s love and breathing out troubles and worries)
Imagine that you are with Peter and the other fishermen. You can be yourself or a character in the story. Use all five senses in imagination.
What does the day look like? How is the weather- cloudy, bright? Can you see the waves and sparkles of sunlight on the water?
What can you hear- sea birds cawing, lapping waves, wind, the creaking of oars?
Can you taste the salty air?
Can you feel the roughness of the wooden boat and oars? Can you feel the canvas of the sails as they billow? How cold is the water? Does the water splash onto you?
What smells are around – fishy smells, the odor of sweating men, the clean, fresh air?
Go through the story in your imagination, letting it unfold as it does in scripture or letting new things happen as your imagination works with God’s imagination.
When there are so many fish caught that the boat starts to sink, imagine Peter’s distress. Hear him ask Jesus to leave him, saying that he (Peter) is not worthy to be around someone who commands the sea and the fish.
Now imagine that Jesus smiles as he reassures Peter. There might be a twinkle in Jesus’ eye. He might say something like, “That miracle of the fish is nothing. You haven’t seen anything yet! I will help you fish for PEOPLE!” Imagine Peter’s wonder and relief, his joy and anxiety.
Now spend some time as yourself with Jesus, almost as with a best friend. Ask Jesus what talent, profession, or gift you possess that Jesus could turn to something similar but new. What might you become, joined with God? I’ve sometimes thought of myself as a “Writer of she-mails” because I love sending prayers, thoughts, and poems to the members of my mostly female meditation groups. What could be your new title for this chapter of life? Fill in the blanks to this sentence that Jesus speaks directly to you, “I will make you ——er of ——-.” Reader of stories? Writer of prayers? Helper for shut-ins? Enjoyer of nature? Walker with others? Praying person for others? Photographer of people and the natural world? Cooker for loved ones? Seamstress for family? Dancer for joy? Encourager of connections? Let your imagination and God’s use what you can already do and turn it into something new.
To help you, you might use what I call the “Cosmic Equation,” (Ephesians 3: 20-21) to explain how our task is to ask and imagine; God’s task is to DO infinitely more than we ask and imagine. Here’s Ephesians passage:
Glory to God, whose power working within us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
Imagine that you are diagonally weaving your hand’s fingers with God’s fingers, making almost a heart in the air, with the thumbs forming the upper curves of the heart. What could be your new name, your new calling, your new occupation for the next chapter of life? Share what you are comfortable talking about with the group.
(The in-person art project is two half-circles, each with four “arms” extending from the half-circles. You weave the arms together diagonally to form a heart – symbolizing your work combining with God’s.)
God’s power working within us can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Write on the heart your new title or description.
In your loving hands, pliable clay takes shape.
The substance of something valuable comes alive.
What we might have rejected as worthless
Becomes a priceless form of hidden beauty.
Your vision of what now lies buried within life
Continues to develop in the shaping of ourselves.
Unwanted personality traits and tiresome troubles
Are received as teachers of spiritual development,
Accepted as unimagined profiles of needed wisdom
Sculpted by the dexterous movement of your love.
Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 10