A Promise in Discomfort

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

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:

The reading for today is about temptation, which is a big word! Take a couple of minutes to discuss what this word means. For Jesus, he was being tempted to do the easy and comfortable things such as food, safety, and power. Jesus resists those temptations. What Jesus knew is that even though life is good, sometimes there is pain and sadness. Sometimes we feel hungry, unsafe, or powerless. Life is good because God created us, loves us, and wants to be close to us. We are tempted to do things that separates us from God but what Jesus shows us in this reading is that even though we might be faced with tough decisions to make, we can trust that God is there and that God loves us. 

During Lent, we spend time on reflection. We might even make the choice to not eat a favorite food or participate in a favorite activity. Paying extra attention to those things that tempt us can be helpful to our growth toward God and practice trusting in God’s amazing promise that God is there even when things are uncomfortable.

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

A reading from Matthew 4:1-11
4:1 Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil.
4:2 After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.
4:3 Then the tempter approached and said, "If you are the Only Begotten, command 
these stones to turn into bread."
4:4 Jesus replied, "Scripture has it, 'We live not on bread alone but on every utterance
that comes from the mouth of God.'"
4:5 Next the Devil took Jesus to the Holy City, set him on the parapet of the Temple,
4:6 and said, "If you are the Only Begotten, throw yourself down. Scripture has it, 'God 
will tell the angels to take care of you; with their hands they will support you that you 
may never stumble on a stone.'"
4:7 Jesus answered, "Scripture also says, 'Do not put God to the test.'"
4:8 The Devil then took Jesus up a very high mountain and displayed all the dominions 
of the world in their magnificence,
4:9 promising, "All these I will give you, if you fall down and worship me."
4:10 At this Jesus said to the Devil, "Away with you, Satan! Scripture says, 'You will 
worship the Most High God; God alone will you adore.'"
4:11 At that the Devil left, and angels came and attended Jesus.


DISCUSS
  • In what ways were you tempted this week?
  • What are some temptations that you find the most difficult to resist?
  • In our reading, Jesus went to scripture to help him resist the temptations that he experienced. What might you do to help you when you are feeling tempted?

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.

When you are ready, draw a circle.

Pause for a few beats.

Take the next few minutes to notice the circle.
Imagine what is easy and tempting.
Think about the easy and tempting being in the circle.
Consider the freedom of outside the circle.
Take a minute to consider what God might be saying about what might be tempting us.

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.




When people have completed drawings and have had time for silence, invite their 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.





When people have completed drawings and have had time for silence, invite their 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.


LULLABY
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

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.”





  From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.

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