|Friends in Christ
Living Real, Living Deep
A Course Using Life Experiences, Spiritual Practice and the New Testament
Greenbelt Community Center
Inclement Weather Policy
The Center almost always remains open, but we may cancel a class if we feel weather will prevent most people from getting there. We will try to make decisions available at our voice mail - 301-773-8007 - as soon as we make them. We will also seek to put them on our Web site.You can send your email address and phone number by email to Bill Samuel to be put on a list to notify if we cancel a class at the Community Center.
Click here to get this syllabus in PDF format. Use the button to get the free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader to view and print it if you don't already have it.
|Go directly to lessons
1 - 2/2 & 5/00
2 - 2/9 & 12/00
3 - 2/16 & 19/00
4 - 2/26/00
5 - 3/4/00
6 - 3/11/00
7 - 3/18/00
8 - 3/25/00
Welcome to a journey into reality and wholeness.
Does our life sometimes feel shallow, lonely and unreal? How many times have you kept quiet, hiding your true self, fearing your compassion would be seen as weakness? How many times have you succumbed to following the world's values when you sensed they were hollow? How many times have you felt separated from others? By your own desires for pleasure? By your own concept of your self? How can you grow into deeper truth, compassion and unity with God and other people?
These questions plague all of us. Jesus is the answer if we let him into our lives. In this course, Jesus is the teacher and healer, the Way to God. Our goal will be to meet him and open ourselves to him. Jesus speaks to us through the Bible and the inner stirrings of our heart. We will, thus, pray and reflect upon Scripture and our own life experiences. We will also experiment with ancient spiritual practices which open us to God's constant love.
Come along, take a chance with Jesus. All you have to lose is that part of your life which is incomplete and unreal.
|The principal thing is to stand with the mind in the heart before God.
-Theophan the Recluse
There are dangers along the path of seeking spiritual insight. The first danger is to see the path as an intellectual effort at knowledge. We like to use our minds. By analyzing, comparing and contrasting, we control ideas. We like to keep the spiritual journey in our mind so we can control it. Unfortunately, as long as we keep the search solely intellectual, we will fail. The essence of the journey is to let go and receive the Divine Other.
The second danger is to see the path as only one of the heart and emotions. We ache to feel the Truth. This way, however exciting it may appear, robs us of the great gift of thought and can trap us in the great currents of the flesh.
The goal of our inquiry here is to stand with the mind in the heart before God. We will not abandon our minds, but we will not be ruled by our minds. We must put our minds in our hearts, the core of our whole being; the center of our emotions and physicality. From this place and posture, we will relate to God. So, beware of overemphasizing either thought or emotion.
Sometimes, we feel our lives slipping out of control. We worry. We try to protect ourselves from pain, poverty and loneliness. Our anxiety drives us away from life and God. Jesus teaches us to see the Kingdom of God all around us. Rejoice!
Children have two qualities which are very different from adults. They have no illusion that they are self sufficient. Also, with little past and only a dim idea of the future, they live very much in the present moment. These qualities open a person to God.
|Become like children
|Jesus blesses the children
Jesus had a powerful sense of God's love. He felt it flowing through him to his disciples so that they came together as a vine and its branches. Jesus called his followers his friends, not his servants. Love is the life blood of the community of God.
|Vine and branches
Sometimes we are embarrassed by our instincts of love and compassion. We fear that we may be seen as weak or naïve. So, we hide our feeling and hang tough. Jesus teaches us that to hide the Divine part of our nature is to risk losing it.
|Salt and light
It is obvious to the world that a fundamental value is to keep alive. We struggle mightily for ourselves and our loved ones to avoid death. Thus, when Jesus accepts death at the hands of others, it seems strange to us. When Jesus also teaches us that to save our own life is to lose it, we are even more perplexed. What is he trying to help us understand?
|Carry the cross
There is incredible pressure from modern American culture for self gratification - to have a good time! We are urged to accumulate things for our pleasure. A great entertainment and sports industry tries to fill our every moment with fun. Ceaseless advertising portrays our lives filled with good-time friends. When life turns tough, we often are alone. We then search our way back to true community.
|Parable of the two sons
Many times our own concept of who we are blocks our own healing or alienates us from others. We can think of ourselves as moral and thus feel uncomfortable around immoral people. We can think of ourselves as disabled and fail to realize our own abilities. Jesus urges us to free ourselves of these concepts and take responsibility for our own growth.
|Parable of the two sons: older son
|Man at the pool
God's love is constantly raining down upon us. Sometimes, we ignore it. Sometimes, we revel in it for a few moments and then forget it. But occasionally, we take it within us and it grows and blossoms. Different times in our lives lead us to respond in different ways to God's outreach. It helps in spiritual growth to realize what kind of soil we presently are.
|Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23
|Parable of the sower