In the midst of all the preparation and busyness this Christmas, take some time out to create space for the sacred. Try out our new 'Room for God' resource here.
Room for God is a new resource for you and your home – to help you find God in every one of your rooms.
One room at a time, and at your own pace, you can:
– listen to how God is with you throughout the day
– reflect on your concerns more freely
– discern some decisions more clearly
– try out a variety of spiritual practices
– value the power of silent meditation
– experience God everywhere and not just in church
Take a look at this sample chapter on the Kitchen and try out some of the activities for yourself.
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4.4)
Our kitchens are central to our existence, since they are where we prepare all our food. For many people the kitchen is also where they eat their meals. Kitchens are where we chat by the oven or at the fridge door, and catch up on the day while cooking or washing up. Kitchens are where we make our children’s treats, pour a glass of wine or stir the late-night hot chocolate. Kitchens are our compass for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all the snacks in between.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart. (Ecclesiastes 9.7)
The Bible has much to say about food and fellowship, as these are what build communities. Both the Old and New Testaments frequently describe the physical food we need to eat and the spiritual food we need to live. Our bodies are an intrinsic part of our faith and relationship with God. Jesus regularly ate with his followers, even after his death and resurrection. And it was through Christ’s Last Supper with his chosen disciples that he modelled the ultimate meal that we would repeat for evermore in our church communities – the Eucharist.
Blessing of Bread – 5 minutes
Whenever you start a new loaf (even sliced bread), make the sign of the cross over it with a bread knife. If you have a loaf, you can carve a cross into the centre of the bread before you begin to cut it into slices. As you make this sign, thank God for this bread you are about to eat. Remember all those who will go hungry today. Perhaps you can donate to a food bank at your nearest opportunity.
Salt and Light Ritual – 5 minutes
When you are laying the table, put out a salt pot and light a candle in the centre. After Jesus had taught the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.1–12, he used the idea of salt and light to explain how our faith must remain active and visible. Just as a meal can be enhanced by adding a little salt, so our faith can bring flavour to our life and must not lose its value. Similarly, our faith needs to be seen by others; just as light shines out in the darkness and guides the way, so our faith brings hope to people and leads them to God. Before you start eating, you could share this text from Matthew 5.13–15:
‘You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.’
You might like to compare this reading from Matthew with Mark 9.50. Ask God to help you be salt and light over the coming week.
5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening per fruit.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5.22–23a)
This activity is a variation on a well-known Spiritual Review invented by St Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th-century Spanish saint. It uses specific biblical ideas to help us focus on the day ahead or just gone, and to become more aware of our experiences through this lens. Through this review, we can discern where God is for us right now and what he is saying to us.
Set aside some time to sit in your kitchen in the morning and evening. You will need one or more different fruits to represent any of the fruits of the Spirit. You can reflect on just one fruit on one day of the week, or use up to seven fruits for each day of the week. Once you have decided which fruit of the Spirit you want to review, hold the fruit you’ve chosen to represent it and ask the questions listed below, once in the morning and once in the evening.
It’s up to you when you decide to eat that fruit.
Morning – with whom do I need to show love?
Evening – did I show this love or what hindered me from showing this love today? Do I show enough love to myself?
Morning – where would I like to find joy?
Evening – did I encounter joy or what prevented me from this joyful encounter today? Where can I find more joy in my life?
Morning – with whom do I need to be at peace?
Evening – did I find peace today? Where can I begin some gentle steps to be reconciled with a person or situation?
Morning – with what or whom do I need to be more patient?
Evening – did I practise patience or is this something that I still need to work on? Whom would I like to be more patient with me?
Kindness and Generosity:
Morning – what kindness and generosity can I give today?
Evening – who received my kindness and generosity or was there no time in the day? When can I show kindness and generosity next?
Trust and Faithfulness:
Morning – when can I trust God faithfully?
Evening – where and when did God call me to be more faithful? Whom do I find hard to trust? Can I ask God to help me with this over the next week?
Gentleness and Self-Control:
Morning – who needs me to be gentle today?
Evening – do I find it easy to be gentle or do I seek to be more gentle in my life? Who is a good role model of self-control for me?
Give thanks for these fruits of the Spirit and what they show you about yourself. Do not worry about the areas in which you have much to learn. Our spiritual journey takes us our whole life and God is with us all the way.
Excerpt taken from Room for God. Available for £3.99 here.