God's Love Poured Out

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, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.

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 quarrelled with or tested God, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain quarreling and testing has 
caused.”

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you followed the Spirit’s lead, 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 filling you with what you need for 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:

What does the word peace or peacefulness mean to you? Take a minute to discuss. When was the last time you felt peace? Take a minute to discuss. Sometimes, we think that we can only have peace or be peaceful when things are going well. What this reading tells us is that God is with us and working in and through us when things are good, but also when things are tough. The text for tonight is encouraging us toward is growth during struggle and recognizing that we can build compassion, empathy, and patience. We can have peace, even when things are hard because we can rest in God’s promise that God’s love is so big, and that love is poured into us and overflows from us to others. Even when things are hard, God’s love is there and that is where our peace can come from. 

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

[Tonight, choose whether the NRSV translation or Emily’s revision is more accessible and/or appropriate for your family.]

A reading from Romans 5:1-112
5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our [Savior] Jesus Christ,
5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.
5:8 But God proves [Divine] love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died 
for us.
5:9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by [Christ’s] blood, will we be saved through [Christ] from the wrath of God.
5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of [the only] Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by [Christ’s] life.
5:11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our [Savior] Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

OR

5:1 So, since faith makes us right in the eyes of God, we have peace with God because of our Savior Jesus Christ,
5:2 who has made grace - the source of our strength and confidence - totally free and accessible to all of us; so much so that we’re able to reflect God’s glory in the world, which is reason to sing and shout and tell everyone all about it!
5:3 And there’s more: we can even be glad in our times of trouble, knowing that struggle produces compassionate patience,
5:4 and patience produces a tempered character, and character produces expectant hope for what God is doing next,
5:5 and this kind of hope does not disappoint, because God's abundant love has been poured into our hearts so richly through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5:6 Before we had done anything to deserve it, Christ died for all of us.
5:7 We can probably understand someone dying for a really important or impressive person; we get how certain personalities inspire selfless sacrifice.
5:8 But God’s love was proven when Jesus the Christ died for us, without us being 
worthy, aware or having done anything to deserve it.
5:9 Now that Christ’s selfless sacrifice has made us right with God, we can rest assured that our relationship with God is completely secure.
5:10 For if we were made friends of God by Christ’s self-giving while we were far away from God, just imagine how rich and full life will be, now that we’re friends with God, because we get to live in Christ’s New Life.
5:11 And, now that we are made friends with God and brought so close to God through our Savior Jesus Christ, we can sing and shout about it to everyone!


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:
*What steals your peace away?
*What are some things that help you to feel hope?

CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone
~Pitcher or large, pourable vessel filled with water
~Large bowl sufficient to hold at least most of the water in the pitcher

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.

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:

Have a person assigned to be a pour-er. Everyone else place their hands over the bowl. You may choose to alternate pour-ers. The pour-er will slowly pour the water over all the hands.

Notice the feeling of the water pouring over your hands. 
Does the water feel cool or warm?
Can you focus just on the water hitting your hands?

Pause

Imagine that water as God’s amazing love pouring out onto you freely. 
Maybe try cupping your hands and let the water fill and overflow out into the world.
This water will stop but God’s love is like a never ending pitcher of water that pours out into us and overflows from us.

As the pouring of the water ends, imagine God’s never-ending love pouring into us, giving us peace.


Pause for one minute

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?

After a moment or two of resting, encourage people to write, draw or doodle about their experience.
You might offer the following journal prompts:
*Create a word cloud or collage describing what you felt in/with/around the water.
*Draw a picture of how God was with you, today.
*Create a poem about how God was present with you in the water.
*Or a simple reflective journal that includes any significant thoughts, ideas or emotions 
that emerged during this practice.

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, [Christ] is my Song1

[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: all my hope comes from God.
[Christ] is my song, [Christ] is my praise: God, the well-spring of life.

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. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress; 2006: #751.
  2. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), uploaded from Oremus Bible Browser; accessed 03.07.20.
  3. Emily’s version; based on the NRSV, the Message, and the Inclusive New Testament.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Easter Evening - our final post, for the time being...

From Feast to Fast: Shrove Tuesday

Free Gift of Grace