Loving, Sharing, and Forgiving

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 together the refrain only of, Change My Heart, O God.1


Change my heart, oh God; make it ever new;
Change my heart, oh God, let me be like you.


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 separated yourself from God, today?
Allow time for a response from each individual.
Breathe in: know that you are, right now, in God’s Presence.
Breathe out: release into God’s grace any guilt, shame or pain that separation has 
caused.”


Pause


You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:


“How has God made you new, today?
Allow time for a response from each individual.
Breathe in: notice how God’s Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for always being close.”


Pause


READING SUMMARY
After everyone has shared their Letting Go and Receiving, take two more deep breaths.


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


[Supplemental information:
Take a moment to think about something that you have done that you are sorry for. Give a moment of silence.
Have you told anyone about it? If you have, did the other person forgive you? Think 
about whether or not you would like to share what you are sorry for with the people 
currently in the room.
Offer another moment of silence to give everyone a chance to think and share if they choose.]
……..
Today’s Psalm is about our errors. We all do things, think things, and say things that separate us from the love of God. Those things often cause us to feel sad or angry.  What is so amazing about God is that God sees us as worthy of love anyway! Telling God, and others, when we have done something that does not feel right, allows forgiveness to happen and that forgiveness can help us to feel happy! On the other side, when we keep those things to ourselves and hide them as secrets, those things become heavy and can make us emotionally or spiritually unhealthy. This Psalm even says that it can make us physically unhealthy. Lent is a time when we can develop new habits! One of those habits can be thinking about and asking God for forgiveness for our wrong-doings every day! And because God loves us, even though we don’t always act in the ways God would like, we can use that as a model for loving and forgiving others!

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


A reading from Psalm 32:1-52
32:1 People feel better when their fault is wiped away, when their errors are erased out 
of sight.
32:2 It’s a relief to know that God doesn’t count our sin against us, and it helps when 
we don’t pretend we’re guilt-free. 
32:3 As long as I refused to name my failings, my bones wasted away and groaned all 
day.
32:4 Because every day and every night I felt the weight of your Presence; resisting 
your grace dried up my strength like the heat of summer.
32:5 Then I named my brokenness to you, and I didn’t hide my wrongs; I said, "I will 
confess my offenses to the Holy One," and you forgave my guilt.



DISCUSS
  • Have you ever felt unhealthy from hiding something you thought, did, or said? Have you ever talked with someone about that thing? 
  • How does talking about your sins with others make you feel? What do you experience in your head and/or your body when you do share?
  • Who are some trusted adults you can go to for help if you are feeling really weighed down?
  • Even though we do things that we should not do, God still loves us! How does that make you feel?

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 encourage everyone to close their eyes.
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:

I invite you to open your [notebook/binder/journal] to a blank page.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Notice the openness and possibility on this page.

Pause for a few beats.

Think about how it feels to share our wrongdoings doings with others. You might have two or three feelings.

Pause for two minutes.

When you are ready, choose a color to represent each of those feelings.
What shape does that feeling have?  Draw that shape.

Allow a few beats for drawing a shape.

For the next few minutes, notice the page, the shape, and the color.
Sit with God and wonder about the color you choose. What other things in your life match that color?
What feelings do those things bring?
What about the shape?
Sit with these feelings. What is God trying to tell you about these feelings?



Allow about four minutes of silent contemplation before moving on.


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 quietly 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 you bring your awareness back to here and now, I encourage you to reflect on a 
moment or a sensation, a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Consider what you observed, saw, felt or experienced in this time of prayer.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?


After a minute or two of resting, encourage people to write, draw or doodle about their experience.
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, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.


Sing together the refrain only of, Change My Heart, O God.1


Change my heart, oh God; make it ever new;
Change my heart, oh God, let me be like you.

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. Eddie Espinosa, Acoustic Worship; 1995.
  2. This is Emily’s revision of the NRSV.

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