New Birth

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 together the refrain of, Send Me, Jesus1

Send me, Jesus; send me, Jesus;
Send me, Jesus, into the world.

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, how have you not followed the Spirit’s lead, 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 not following has caused.”


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:
We celebrate birth in many ways! Can you think of any birth celebrations? Take a moment to discuss. Encourage everyone to think about these celebrations that happen in our country, communities, and families!  We hold our birthday (day of our birth) with a lot of importance. When each of you entered your family, there might have been expectations, hopes, and fears from each person sitting in this room. Take a few minutes to tell the stories of how each of you came into the family. Feel free to share the expectations, hopes, and even fears that you may have felt.
Family has a large impact on who we are. Family rules, the way that families show love to each other, the way that families share fear or anger, the way families talk to each other, and the ways in which families interact with the world all affect who we are, how we show love, how we express fear or anger, and how we interact with each other and the world.
The text for today talks about being born a second time. Nicodemus has a lot of questions about what this means and we might too! Just as we are born into our families (in flesh), Jesus is telling us that we are also born into God’s family and that we also have an identity as children of God. That new identity gives us new energy and a new outlook on what it means to live in our world.
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from John 3:1-12
3:1 A certain Pharisee named Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedren,
3:2 came to Jesus at night. "Rabbi,” he said, “we know you’re a teacher come from 
God; for no one can perform the signs and wonders you do, unless by the power of 
3:3 Jesus gave Nicodemus this answer, "The truth of the matter is, unless one is born 
from above, one cannot see the kindom of God."
3:4 Nicodemus said, "How can an adult be born a second time? I can’t go back into my 
mother's womb to be born again!"
3:5 Jesus replied, "The truth of the matter is, no one can enter God’s kindom without 
being born of water and the Spirit.
3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
3:7 So don’t be surprised when I tell you that you must be born from above.
3:8 The wind blows where it will. You hear the sound it makes, but you don’t know 
where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
3:9 "How can this be possible?" asked Nicodemus.
3:10 Jesus replied, "You’re a teacher of Israel, and you still don’t understand these 
3:11 "The truth of the matter is, we’re talking about what we know; we’re testifying
about what we’ve seen - yet you don’t accept our testimony.
3:12 If you don’t believe when I tell you about earthly things, how will you believe when 
I tell you about heavenly things?

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 are some family rules? In what ways does your family show love, anger, and fear?
  • What does it mean to you to be a part of the family of God?

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.

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:

Create an image in your mind of family. 
Think about a time when you felt the most loved.
Imagine yourself in that time.


In this moment when you felt loved, what was happening? Who was there? What were you doing? 
Focus on what it was that helped you feel loved in this moment?

Let this love surround you.

Pause for one minute

What is it like to feel this love?


Your family loves you very much. So does God. Take this feeling of love and imagine this love as God’s love.

Pause for a long moment.

Listen to your body, to your emotions, to God…

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 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: 
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:
*What rules or expectations in your family are good? What rules or expectations would you change?
*What thoughts or feelings do you have about being a part of God’s family?
*What was it like to imagine being wrapped in the love of your family and the love of God?

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, 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, Send Me, Jesus1

Send me, Jesus; send me, Jesus;
Send me, Jesus, into the world.

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: #549.
  2.   From The Inclusive Bible (Rowman & Littlefield; 2007). Used with permission from The Quixote Center.


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