Study Guide for 45 Days with Jesus

 

                    HR Book Cover

STUDY GUIDE FOR

45 DAYS WITH JESUS: A DISCOVERY JOURNAL

BLENDED WITH LOVE FROM JESUS

by Jane Anne Ferguson

This guide is to help a small spiritual formation study group work through the book, 45 Days With Jesus: A Discovery Journal Blended With Love From Jesus. It is suggested that the group meet once a week for seven weeks as the participants read and journal daily at home. The purpose of the group meeting is to encourage participants to stay faithful to the spiritual discipline of journaling and to illuminate spiritual growth through discussion and prayer. A good group size could be anywhere from 6 to 12 people. Groups smaller than 6 can be effective though they might be less formal in the way they follow the suggested format. An organizational meeting before the participants start journaling is helpful before beginning seven successive meetings to reflect on the weekly journaling themes. At this first session invite participants to introduce themselves and to reflect on what drew them to the book and the study group. Group agreements on process are important for good group dynamics and bonding. It is best to set them at the organizational meeting. Trusting the group as a safe place for asking questions and discovering answers to personal questions of identity and faith is imperative. Take some time to discuss group process etiquette. A group might even want to right up a covenant to refer back to over the weeks regarding the issues below.

  • Confidentiality; what is said in the group stays in the group.
  • Good listening skills; no interrupting during another group member’s check-in or reflection comments.
  • Ways to give positive feedback without advising or correcting another.
  • Positive ways to ask questions to help a group member clarify their own thoughts rather than argue a personal point.
  • Respect for varying knowledge and opinions around theological views of Jesus, Christianity or scripture. This book was crafted for those who know very little about Jesus or New Testament scripture in the Christian Bible as well as those who are committed Christians and may be committed church members. It is not meant to be a tool for proselytizing or converting anyone to a particular doctrinal or denominational mindset. All perspectives are welcome when presented respectfully.
  • As a leader do you want an open or intentionally covenanted group? How are you most comfortable facilitating the bond of trust that is needed to do in depth reflection work within the study group? In an open group people could drop into the group meetings as they wish across the seven weeks. In an intentionally covenanted group the participants agree to work with one another for the period of eight weeks without new participants joining after the first meeting. Each kind of group takes different skills to help create the confidentiality and trust needed to make sharing safe. It is good for a group leader to make these preferences clear when the study group is advertised to a community.

The format suggested for each group meeting is:

  • Gathering Worship – 15 minutes
  • Check-in with Group Members – 20-30 minutes
  • Reflection on the Week’s Theme – 30 minutes
  • Closing Worship – 15 minutes

Check-in or reflection time can be extended as the group allows and agrees. Books are available at Amazon.com and if you want to buy packages of 5 or more you can find them at http://www.avaiya.com/store/45-days-with-books/45-days-with-jesus/ .

 

WEEK ONE – AWARENESS

This week is devoted to becoming aware of Jesus and his central teaching on the love of God made manifest in human beings.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Awareness – having knowledge; conscious and cognizant; informed and alert; from Old English word meaning “to perceive or watch out for”
  • Suggested song: “Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • What awareness about Jesus did you discover this week?
  • Did you remember and re-invite an idea, feeling or action back into your awareness?
  • How has your awareness of Jesus changed?
  • What else did the journaling make you aware of?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Praying with Awareness – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “awareness” (i.e. attentiveness, wisdom, in the know, heeding; unheeding, neglectful, unconscious) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Awakening – an adjective meaning “rousing or quickening”; a noun meaning “ the act of awaking from sleep, revival of interest or attention, recognition or realization, a renewal of interest in religious, particularly in community, a revival.” Awakening is from an Old English word that means “to spring into being, arise, originate.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of gaining more awareness of God.

 

WEEK TWO– AWAKENING This week is devoted to waking up and recognizing Jesus’ teachings on living manifesting God’s presence through who God created you to be in the world.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Awakening – an adjective meaning “rousing or quickening”; a noun meaning “ the act of awaking from sleep, revival of interest or attention, recognition or realization, a renewal of interest in religious, particularly in community, a revival.” Awakening is from an Old English word that means “to spring into being, arise, originate.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • What awakened in you this week?
  • Which journaling prompt was the most stimulating?
  • How did Jesus’ saying and stories awaken a new sense of your authentic self?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Awakening Prayers – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “awakening” (i.e. arousal, kindling, birth, suppression, comatose, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Authenticity – noun meaning “the quality of being authentic, genuineness.” To be authentic is to be real, reliable or trustworthy. Authentic is from a Greek word that means “original, acting on one’s own authority.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of awakening to God.

 

WEEK THREE– AUTHENTICITY

This week is devoted to discovering more of your authentic self as you find it reflected back to you in Jesus’ teachings.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Authenticity – noun meaning “the quality of being authentic, genuineness.” To be authentic is to be real, reliable or trustworthy. Authentic is from a Greek word that means “original, acting on one’s own authority.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • What did you discover about your authentic self this week that you didn’t know before?
  • Where do you experience authentic communities in your life? Name their characteristics.
  • What seems most authentic about Jesus?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Prayers for Authenticity – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “authenticity” (i.e. legitimacy, trustworthiness, reliability, inaccuracy, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Inspiration– noun meaning “an animating action or influence, a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul, the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.” Inspiration is from an Old French word meaning, “immediate influence of God or a god especially that under which the holy books were written.” It is also derived from Latin with the meaning “inspire, inflame, blow into, to breathe.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of God’s authentic presence.

 

WEEK FOUR – INSPIRATION

This week is devoted to allowing God/the Divine Spirit to breathe more life into your life.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Inspiration– “an animating action or influence, a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul, the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.” Inspiration is from an Old French word meaning, “immediate influence of God or a god especially that under which the holy books were written.” It is also derived from a Latin word meaning “to inflame, blow into, to breathe.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading. Why was it the most inspiring to you?
  • Who were you inspired to include in your week that you had never included before?
  • Where were you inspired to bring subversively leaven a group or community with God’s love, justice and compassion?
  • How did inspiration from Jesus bring healing to your life this week?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Prayers for Inspiration – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “inspiration” (i.e. encouragement, insight, motivation, discouragement, hindrance, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Integrity – a noun meaning “soundness of moral character, honesty, the state of being whole, a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.” From the Old French it means “innocence and blamelessness.” From the Latin, “soundness and wholeness.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of God’s inspiration.

 

WEEK FIVE – INTEGRITY

This week is devoted to committing your self to living into wholeness of soul.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Integrity – a noun meaning “soundness of moral character, honesty, the state of being whole, a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.” From the Old French it means “innocence and blamelessness.” From the Latin, “soundness and wholeness.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • Which saying or story of Jesus challenged you to re-examine your sense of personal integrity?
  • Which journaling prompt took you outside your comfort zone risking vulnerable action for the sake of integrity of purpose?
  • What does “wholeness of soul” feel like, look like in your life after the journaling of this week? How are you forming new habits to bring more integrity into your being?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Prayers for Integrity – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “inspiration” (i.e. encouragement, insight, motivation, discouragement, hindrance, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Healing and Unity – Healing is the act or process of regaining health. It is growing sound; getting well; mending. The word comes from an Old English word meaning “restoration to health.” Unity is the state of being one, oneness. It is oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement. The word comes from an Anglo-French word meaning “the state or property of being one” or from the Old French, “uniqueness.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of God’s integrity of justice and peace.

 

WEEK SIX – HEALING AND UNITY

This week is devoted to allowing God’s healing spirit to speak through Jesus and bring you into oneness with God.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Healing and Unity – Healing is the act or process of regaining health. It is growing sound; getting well; mending. The word comes from an Old English word meaning “restoration to health.” Unity is the state of being one, oneness. It is oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement. The word comes an Anglo-French word meaning “the state or property of being one” or from the Old French, “uniqueness.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • Share a moment from the week when you experienced healing within your self.
  • Did it lead you to healing in a relationship and a new sense of unity with another person? Describe that process.
  • Was there a moment when you felt, conceived of, understood or glimpsed unity with God/the Divine? 

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Prayers for Healing and Unity – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “healing and unity” (i.e. curative, invigorating, solidarity, unanimity, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Read definition of next week’s theme: Peace – the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world; freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety; a state of tranquility or serenity. The Old French word held the meaning “reconciliation, silence, permission.”
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in need of God’s healing and unifying presence.

 

WEEK SEVEN – PEACE

This week is devoted to allowing your self to experience God’s peace that passes all understanding.

Gathering Worship

  • Light a candle or an oil lamp to gather the group’s attention.
  • Read one of the week’s selections.
  • Offer the definition of Peace – the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world; freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety; a state of tranquility or serenity. The Old French word held the meaning “reconciliation, silence, permission.”
  • Suggested song: Gathered Here in the Mystery of This Hour” #742 in the New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) and at http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/NCH1995/742
  • Silence (two minute suggested time)

Check-in Question

  • How are you in the present moment? What are you setting aside to be fully present with the group and with Jesus for the next hour or so?

Reflection Questions (choose from these questions or create your own!)

  • Briefly share your favorite reading.
  • Where or when did you find God’s peace in a storm this week?
  • When and how were you a “salty” and a “peaceful” presence in the world this week?
  • What is one new thing you learned about peace?

Closing Worship

  • Read another one of the week’s selections.
  • Peace Prayers – ask the group for synonyms and antonyms of “healing and unity” (i.e. curative, invigorating, solidarity, unanimity, etc.) Use these words in your spoken and silent prayer time as you lift up joys, concerns, thanksgivings and petitions to God.
  • Blow out the candle or oil lamp and send the light of God to someplace, person or people in the world in need of God’s peace.

                ©Jane Anne Ferguson, 2015 and beyond.


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