A Question of Balance

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
April 2018

A Question of Balance

A Question of Balance

Barbara Fleischer, PhD

We live in an information age. Indeed, we often are inundated with so much information that our heads spin. But what if “facts” were the only thing ever we spoke of or heard? Wouldn’t we miss hearing the stories of everyday living—the experiences, both exhilarating and challenging, that we share with one another and that bring us into understanding, compassion, and communion? And doesn’t God speak to us in the stories of our lives?

When we study Scripture together, we are listening to the stories of people of faith who lived millennia ago. Those stories inspire us, strengthen us, and bring us into communion with the saints of old who are sharing how they experienced the graciousness of God in their own circumstances. They are not just telling us the “facts” of what they witnessed; they are sharing how deeply they experienced God’s revelations and how they became transformed in the process. So how should we respond and seek to understand their messages to us?

One very basic way is to do what they have done—share our own experience of God’s graciousness with others around us. That includes and often begins with sharing our personal experiences with our own Scripture Study companions. The Scriptures we explore together prompt us to search our own lives to see how God is speaking in our own life situations. Our sharing and openness, of course, require trust and our own trustworthiness as we hold sacred the stories and questions of our brothers and sisters. As we link our own sacred stories with the sacred texts, we form deeper bonds of trust and communion within our own study group and, hopefully, learn to share more easily with others beyond our small community.

Sometimes it helps to step back from the tasks at hand and take stock of how our group is interacting and balancing our search for the information about the Scriptural texts and our personal sharing on how those texts are touching our lives. Are we able to be open with one another? Are we spending too much time on the details of the text without sharing its meaning for our lives? Or perhaps one or two of us are saying too much about our personal lives and are not allowing for all members to integrate the lessons of the text with life experiences.

A few questions to reflect upon might help us move together as a study group to a new level of awareness and integration. For example …
How much time do we spend on the “factual” questions related to the Scriptural text?
Is that time balanced with honest sharing about how that Scripture speaks to our own lives?
Is it difficult for us to share about our own personal experiences?

Maybe a good place to start would be a discussion on what makes it difficult and what makes it easy for each of us to share personally on how God is working in our lives.

Choose one or two reflections questions that are well suited to your group and begin there. Sharing on those questions will help us build the trust needed to grow more deeply as a community and move us toward greater communion with the Scripture authors who generously disclose their experiences with us. Ultimately, we will grow into greater trust with the God who is at the center of the Scriptures and our lived experiences.

Barbara Fleischer, PhD, is an Emeritus faculty member in the Loyola Institute for Ministry in New Orleans and is the author of Facilitating for Growth, published by Liturgical Press. Barbara has been involved in small faith communities her entire adult life, so her wisdom is both the result of research and experience.


Bible Institute 2018 Bible Institute in Little Rock, AR, with Bro. John Barker, OFM. A wonderful weekend of learning and prayer, fellowship and shared meals June 15-17, 2018. “A Lively Sense of God”: Treasuring the Old Testament Witness to God. Registration due by June 1. Please see the brochure for more detailed information.

This month our two newest volumes of Alive in the Word have arrived in our warehouse. Begin planning now to give your friends and family and groups a wonderful opportunity to make the most of Advent and Christmas.

Advent: Season of Divine Encounter Advent: Season of Divine Encounter by Amy Ekeh
Advent means arrival or coming. During this sacred season, we actively recall the arrival of Jesus as the Word made flesh, and we joyfully await his final return at the end of the age. But as we remember the past and anticipate the future, we are also attentive to our divine encounters in the present, the ways God 'arrives' in our everyday lives. Amy Ekeh's Advent, Season of Divine Encounter helps us look closely at three key Scripture passages to recall, recognize, and anticipate the ways God comes into our lives and our world.

Christmas, Season of Wonder and HopeChristmas: Season of Wonder and Hope by Catherine Upchurch
It is not possible to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the very Son of God, in a single day. The church gives us a season—from Christmas eve to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord—to reflect with wonder on what God has done and is doing in our world. The gift of this child who would go on to give his very life for our salvation is the source of our hope in every age and through every storm. In Christmas, Season of Hope and Wonder, meditate with Catherine Upchurch on three New Testament passages that invite us to move through wonder to hope.

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