Experiencing Jesus

The premise of the workshop is that many Christians believe that the story of Jesus is true but have never internalized that story and have not experienced Jesus. Knowledge about Jesus is good, but experience of Jesus is essential to understanding him and fully committing oneself to him. The depth of Christian commitment is in direct correlation to the extent one has identified with the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. This six-part workshop provides participants the opportunity to reflect on the experiences they have in common with Jesus, and to come to know Jesus in a transforming way.

Session 1
"Experiencing the Birth of Jesus"

A full Middle Eastern understanding of the birth of Jesus, unpacking the stories in Matthew and Luke, and presenting the symbols and their meanings. Participants write their own birth stories, out of which they choose the symbols and find the meanings. We discover common themes in the birth stories as we experience the birth of Jesus.

Session 2
"Experiencing the Baptism of Jesus"
A geography lesson on the Jordan River, a working definition of "baptism," and a presentation of the marvelous symbols present in Jesus' baptism. A question of why Jesus' baptism is rarely taught as "normative" baptism. Participants write the stories of their own baptism and we look for the common symbols. The central common point is the total affirmation by God of the one being baptized.

Session 3
"Experiencing the Temptation and Confirmation of Jesus"
Three great, universal temptations -- to put material ahead of spiritual, to decline responsibility for oneself, to assume unhealthy responsibility for others -- are countered by Jesus with his theology, his confirmation following baptism. Participants write the stories of their own temptation and their own confirmation and we discover the mutuality of experiences.

Session 4
"Experiencing the Spiritual Death of Jesus on Good Friday"
The single, universally common experience of all humankind is shown to the world at the old rugged cross. Highlighted by his physical death in its aw(e)fulness, Jesus' spiritual death is experienced in the absence of God, the loss of hope and the advent of meaningless. Participants write the stories of their own spiritual death or one they know in another person or through literature and media as the world's most common theme for biography or fiction. Participants experience "cross" in a new way.

Session 5
"Experiencing the Spiritual Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday"
The single, universally common hope of all humankind is shown to the world by the empty tomb. The experience of resurrection by a "new creature" is realized. One returns to read the gospel again to see the Resurrected One as he lives his life fully in the presence of God. Participants write the stories of their own spiritual resurrection or someone they know who lives in resurrected existence. The new definition of "Christian" begins to emerge.

Session 6
"Experiencing the Transfiguration of Jesus"
A high, heavenly moment in the presence of God and two of the saints, representing the Teaching and the Prophecy. The connection of the symbols with the baptism scene is made. Participants write stories of the highest and holiest moments in their lives, the transitory, heavenly moments we do not choose but only prepare ourselves for. They may experience with Jesus the "kairos" moment, the fullness of life.