We need others to explore with us the edges of our fear and faith. We grow spiritually only in and through our relationship with God and with others.

Rueben P. Job and Marjorie J. Thompson
Companions in Christ: Embracing the Journey

Copyright © 2001 by Upper Room Books.
Partners on the Journey

We walk together on the journey of becoming followers of Christ. When we wake up to God’s presence, develop spiritual practices that nourish our souls, and find renewed power for life and spirit, we engage one another differently. We are able to celebrate our interconnectedness with God and with each other.

At The Upper Room Center, we believe in the sacred reality that Paul refers to when he speaks of “our life [together] hidden in Christ" (Colossians 3:3). This life is the deep, abiding vision of the realm of God, a community of being, the communion of all of us in God. It is a journey revealed to us and through us in Jesus Christ. Beneath the surface of all humanity’s diversity, we are woven together in love. Love is at the center of all things. 
Spiritual Exercise - Partners

Jesus went up on a mountain and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve and called them apostles. He appointed them to be with him, to be sent out to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. 
-Mark 3:13-15, Common English Bible

In calling the twelve “to be with him,” Jesus invited them into an intentional community of discipleship—to be his partners in mission, his companions in a new kind of community.
Reflect on the differences the disciples might have experienced between gathering together as twelve individuals versus being called together in the company of Jesus. How would the experiences have differed? What difference would Jesus’ presence have made in their relationships with each other? What practices, guidelines, or rules for life together might have characterized this new community?

Reflect on your story: Consider the partners in spiritual growth with whom you have agreed to be companions on the journey of intentional discipleship. How would you describe the difference between the relationships that most strengthen you as a Christ-follower versus those that weaken, distract, or drain you?

Reflect on your faith community: In what ways does your community model to the world partnerships of love, justice, and grace? In what ways could it improve?

Be still for a few moments in God’s presence. Share in prayer any memories or feelings that have surfaced. Give thanks for the grace you’ve experienced through this exercise.
Tending Your Soul:
Praying for the World

As Martin Luther observed, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of [God's] willingness.” As Christ-followers we have been instructed to pray and to lay hold of God’s desires for all of creation. The practice of praying for the world is one way we can do that.

Begin by taking a few slow, deep breaths, centering your awareness in the present moment. Ask the Holy Spirit to flow through your heart, mind, and spirit as you pray.

Envision the earth as astronauts in space see it. In your mind’s eye, see the jewel-like orb: the blues of the bodies of water, the browns and greens of the landmasses, and the clouds hovering around it all.

Imagine the whole planet being surrounded with the light of God’s compassion and love for all creatures. Let this light surround you also as you join in the Spirit’s intercession for the world.

Also notice that within God’s light, there are individual stars of light, those children of God who care, pray, and work for good in the world. See how those stars are so numerous that they also encircle the globe. Acknowledge that your prayers join those of all who also love God.

As particular situations of need or trouble come to your mind, focus on the places on the planet where each exists. Be aware of these specific needs, but also remember that God’s light surrounds them all.

Conclude the prayer with your agreement that “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This exercise and others for your spiritual pilgrimage may be found in our website's resource area
Resources for Soul Care

God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church
by Elaine Heath

“The gospel-shaped church is the only kind that will birth Jesus-followers in the years ahead.”
—Elaine Heath, God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church
Many people of faith are anxious and uncertain in these days of congregational decline and culture shifts. In God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church, Elaine Heath explores these culture shifts and invites readers to notice where and how God is leading the church and its leaders. Each chapter concludes with a set of reflection questions intended for small groups. While deeply honoring the “traditions behind the tradition,” Heath calls the church to follow the Holy Spirit into the future boldly. God Unbound is an ideal resource for a 6-to-9 week church-wide small-group experience. Learn more about the book and the online eCourse from The Upper Room.

Next week -- Continuing the Journey

The Upper Room Center for Christian Spiritual Formation
The Upper Room
P.O. Box 340004
Nashville, TN 37203-0004

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