Healing and Hope

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, Healer of our Every Ill1

“Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow”

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.

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, when has it been hard to see God’s light today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by the darkness you may have felt today.


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.”


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:

Tonight’s reading continues from where we left off last night. The person born blind is being interrogated - again - by the Temple authorities and doesn’t understand why.
The trouble is, the Pharisees can’t believe that Jesus - who doesn’t obey all the purity laws and Sabbath observances the way they would like him to, is showing signs of being sent by God: Jesus is healing people and performing miracles and getting all prophetic, speaking truth to both religious and governmental powers.
The Pharisees would like him to go away. They want to trick or trap him in some public offense that will make people stop liking him.
But Jesus won’t go away: Jesus came to heal and to give sight to the blind and to feed people.
Right now, there is a lot of work to be done, healing and feeding people and giving sight to blind people who don’t understand what’s happening in the world. As Jesus’ followers, we are called to carry on this work.

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

A reading from John 9:24-412:
24 A second time [the Pharisees] summoned the one who had been born blind and said, “Give God the glory instead; we know that this Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner or not,” the individual answered. “All I know is that I used to be blind, and now I can see.”
26 They persisted, “Just what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 “I already told you, but you won’t listen to me,” came the answer. “Why do you want to hear it all over again? Don’t tell me you want to become disciples of Jesus too!”
28 They retorted scornfully, “You’re the one who is Jesus’ disciple. We’re disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from.”
30 The other retorted: “Well, this is news! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn’t hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. 32 It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. 33 If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing!”
34 “What!” they exclaimed. “You’re steeped in sin from birth, and you’re giving us lectures?” With that they threw the person out.
35 When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?”
36 The other answered, “Who is this One, that I may believe?”
37 “You’re looking at him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”
38 The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus.
39 And Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice - to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”
40 Some of the Pharisees who were nearby heard this and said, “You’re not calling us blind, are you?”
41 To which Jesus replied, “If you were blind, there would be no sin in that. But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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:
*Where is Jesus’ work most needed, today?
*Who do you see doing this work?
*Is there any way you or your family can (safely) help in this work?

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 I 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

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

I invite you to open your notebook to a blank page.
Rest with God for a few moments in that big, open space on the page.

Allow a few moments of silence.

Choose a color that represents healing.
Draw a picture or shapes or a word cloud that looks like healing, to you.

Allow about two minutes for contemplative drawing.

Choose another color: one that represents hope.
Add some images or words of hope to your picture.

Allow about two minutes for contemplative drawing.
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.

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?

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.

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, Healer of Our Every Ill1

“Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow”

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: #612.
  2. From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.


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