The True Self

CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.



TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.

You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:

“In one or two words, how have you lived as your little self, today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by letting your ego be your guide, today.

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you lived as your True Self, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for living within you each day.”

Pause


READING SUMMARY
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.

Then share a summary of this evening’s text. Using your own words is strongly encouraged. If that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming, or if you would like a young person to lead this portion, here are some thoughts on this story:

Mystics and contemplatives from numerous world religions have said what Paul writes to the Romans in tonight’s reading: when we live attuned to Christ-in-us, we live a fuller, richer, more content and peaceful life. When we live solely from our little self, our ego-self, and focus only on our own interests, we deprive ourselves of the richness for which God created us and that God promises us. Living from our false/little/ego-self, we lose out on the goodness God has in store for us.
Our culture tells us to look out for “Number One”; to get what we can, when we can; that instant and total gratification of even our most outlandish wants is the only way to real happiness.
But this self-centered approach to God’s world misses the point of life, completely: we were made to live in relationship with God. That is where our truest happiness and fulfillment lies. When we attend to our primary and most essential relationship with God, we are also taking care of and living out of our True Self, or our Christ-self and therefore, we are living as a healthier, more complete Self. When we live as our True Self, all our other relationships: with family, friends, the earth, our communities - all of them are healthier and happier. This makes total sense: when we are separated from the Source that created us, we are going to feel deprived, empty, and miserable - and we’ll make others miserable. When we are connected, in-tune, in-synch, and immersed in Love, we are going to give and receive love in more powerful ways, meaning we will simply be happier and healthier in all of our relationships.


SHARING THE READING
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from Romans 8:6-112


6The mind focused on the little self is obsessed with the self, the ego; this leads to suffering and death. But the mind focused on the Spirit: the Christ-Self or True Self, on God-within, this is the grounding of life and peace. 7The mind focused on the little self neglects and opposes God; it does not yield to God’s will lived out within or around it; it cannot focus on God’s will; 8therefore, those who are consumed with the little self cannot please God.
9 But you are not your little self; you are surrounded and held by the Spirit; the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not attend to the Spirit of Christ will not know what it means to live in Christ. 10But for everyone open to living from their Christ-self, even though they still experience limitation and brokenness, the Spirit empowers them for a different kind of life and right relationship with God, others and self. 11When the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit that gives you life like Christ’s.

DISCUSS
At the close of the reading you might begin with basic questions, such as:
Did this reading have any words or ideas that anyone doesn’t understand?
Let’s explore what those might mean, together.

If you are ready for further discussion, you might consider these questions:
*Talk about the differences between your True Self and your little self.
*Are there times when you notice yourself acting as your little self? What does this 
look or feel like?
*Are there times when you notice yourself acting as your True Self? What does this 
look or feel like?
*How might you live more from your True Self?


CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and I encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of
God.

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

Notice your breath.
Pay attention to the Spirit flowing in and through you with each breath.

Pause

Notice your breath.
Listen for the Spirit flowing in and through you with each breath.

Pause for a minute.

Notice your breath.
Let yourself rest, completely, in the Spirit that fills you up with all that you need and 
empties you of all that you no longer need.
Pay attention to how it feels to simply rest in the Spirit’s Presence.

Pause for two to three minutes.

Notice your breath.
Notice your whole self being supported and filled, held and loved by the Breath of God.

Pause for two to three minutes.
At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us 
in this time. 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.

Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.

BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing or say, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Holy Spirit, Come to Us)1
Latin:
Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

English:
Holy Spirit, come to us.
Holy Spirit, come to us.

Add the verses as you feel called to do so:
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.

Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come, Breath of God;
disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.
Veni Sancte Spiritus.


FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”

Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”


  1. With One Voice, Augsburg Fortress; 1995: #686.
  2. Emily’s revision, based on The Message, The Inclusive Bible, and the NRSV.

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