Water Whispers

NOTE: You may want to have a large plastic drop cloth under the pitcher and bowl, tonight.

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.

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 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 


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:
Our story from yesterday continues with the disciples asking questions and, as usual, not understanding Jesus’ answers.
If we’re honest, Jesus’ answers can be tough for us to understand, too.
Emily’s dog, Kiko, might help us see what Jesus is saying:
Kiko loves to run in prairie grasses chasing bunnies and birds. When he gets to run through fields, he doesn’t want to go home and rest or eat, he doesn’t like to stop even for water! That’s because Kiko has it in his DNA to chase birds and please the people who love him.
Our DNA is built the same way: when we do what we are created to do and be who we are created to be, when we live as God created us to live, God is super happy because we will be super happy. When we live as God created us to live (or, as Jesus says, “doing the will of the One who sent” us), there’s no room for empty joys or false hopes or peace because living as our True Selves fills us up so full of love.
Jesus is fed by doing God’s work. We are, too. When we listen carefully to God’s ideas for our lives, we’ll hear God inviting us to live in ways that make us really happy; we’ll find a life that makes us feel really good about ourselves, that lets us use our talents and gifts, that feels like what we were born to be. Listen, and you won’t have to “believe” based on someone else’s story: you’ll be filled to overflowing with the fun of being your Self with God’s love pouring out through you.

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

A reading from John 4:27-422
4:27 The disciples, returning at this point, were shocked to find Jesus having a private conversation with a woman. But no one dared to ask, “What do you want of him?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
4:28 The woman then left her water jar and went off into the town. She said to the people,
4:29 "Come and see someone who told me everything I have ever done! Could this be the Messiah?"
4:30 At that, everyone set out from town to meet Jesus.
4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Jesus, "Rabbi, eat something."
4:32 But Jesus told them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
4:33 At this, the disciples said to one another, "Do you think someone has brought him something to eat?"
4:34 Jesus explained to them,
"Doing the will of the One who sent me
and bringing this work to completion
is my food.
4:35 Don’t you have a saying,
'Four months more
and it will be harvest time'?
I tell you,
open your eyes and look at the fields -
they’re ripe and ready for harvest!
4:36 Reapers are already collecting their wages;
they’re gathering fruit for eternal life,
and sower and reaper will rejoice together.
4:37 So the saying is true:
'One person sows; another reaps.'
4:38 I have sent you to reap
what you haven’t worked for.
Others have done the work,
and you’ve come upon the fruits of their labor."
4:39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus on the strength of the woman's testimony - that "he told me everything I ever did."
4:40 The result was that, when these Samaritans came to Jesus, they begged him to stay with them awhile. So Jesus stayed there two days,
4:41 and through his own spoken word many more came to faith.
4:42 They told the woman, "No longer does our faith depend on your story. We’ve heard for ourselves, and we know that this really is the savior of the world."

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:

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

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

We will listen for God’s voice in the water, again tonight.

Slowly pour (or have your assistant pour) the water into the bowl.
Listen for what God is saying to you in the water’s whispers.

Pause for a long moment as the water is poured.

Listen to the water.
You might think of your baptism and the promises that God made to pour out the Spirit 
to fill you up.

Pause for another moment as the final water is poured.
As you move into silence, you may either pass the bowl around the circle so each person has an opportunity to play with the water, or you might invite each person to approach the bowl, if it is too big or full to move.
Everyone should have individual access to the bowl and water during the silence.

As we move into silence, we are invited to play with the water:
splash it with your hands;
pour it from hand to hand to bowl;
swirl it with a finger.
Gently move the water and listen for its whisper.
Listen: what is God calling you to be in the water’s whisper?

Enter into silence.
Allow each person the opportunity to spend at least 30 seconds with the water bowl. If your family is ready for longer stretches, use your judgment and let that happen!
Do not let this practice feel rushed; everyone should have an equal, unhurried experience.
As the bowl is passed or each new person approaches the bowl, you might reinvoke the intention for the evening:
Listen: what is God calling you to be in the water’s whisper?

When everyone has played with the water, continue in silence for another minute or two.
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:
*Create a word cloud or collage describing what you heard 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.

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.

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


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