Where Does Help Come From?

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 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:
Different people think “the mountains” from tonight’s reading refer to different ideas. 
Some people say it’s a hopeful reference to the high places where God has been 
known to “live” (like Mt Zion: aka, The City of David or The Temple; or more abstractly 
to Mt Sinai, where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, etc.). Some people 
think it is a cynical rejection of the mountain regions where people worshiped local 
fertility goddesses and/or gods. Some people think it is a fearful look to the wild places 
- outside the city - where robbers and bandits waited for unwary travelers.
Depending upon what we think of “the mountains”, our understanding of the question, 
“From where will my help come?” will change. If the mountains are where God dwells, 
we might think that the mountains are where we’ll find safety. If we think the mountains 
are where God is understood differently, we might be a little wary of the mountains. If 
we think the mountains are where people who want to harm us live, then we might 
avoid the mountains all together.
But the rest of the Psalm (a psalm is a song, often written for use in worship), we get 
the sense that help comes from God - not from any specific place - and that God is 
always alert and attentive to our fears and needs - no matter where we are.
This means that no matter what we think of “the mountains” - or any new, unknown, 
different place - God will be with us there. God can’t be captured into one place or 
another and God frequently urges us to move into territory we don’t already know. This 
Psalm encourages us to move into “the mountains” - no matter what we think/believe 
is “out there” - trusting that our Guardian will keep us safe both as we go out into the 
world, and as we return (there’s a promise in there!) to our home base.

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

A reading from Psalm 121
121:1 I lift my eyes to the mountains - from where will my help come?
121:2 My help comes from YHWH, who made heaven and earth!
121:3 YHWH won’t let our footsteps slip; our Guardian never sleeps.
121:4 The Guardian of Israel will never slumber, never sleep!
121:5 YHWH is your Guardian; YHWH is our shade: with God by our side,
121:6 the sun cannot overpower us by day, nor the moon at night.
121:7 YHWH guards us from harm, guards our lives.
121:8 YHWH guards our leaving and our coming back, now and forever.

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:

  • Has God ever asked you to move into a new idea or a new place where you weren’t sure you’d be comfortable or safe? How did you know God was with you? Were you able to trust that God would guard you?
  • What does it mean to have God as a guardian? Does it mean that we won’t ever be in a situation where we’ll be afraid or in danger?
  • What happens when we know we’re not safe? What are different ways God protects us in times of trouble?

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 a video in your mind of yourself waking up, getting out of bed and getting ready 
for the day, this morning.
Watch that video of this morning for a moment.


Continue to watch that video through the rest of the day:
How did you get from home to wherever you went first?
Where did you go?
What people did you meet?
What did you do there?
What other places did you go?
What other people did you meet?
What other things did you do?
Create a video of your day and spend a few moments noticing all the different parts of 
your day.


As you go through your day, when did you feel the most safe.
Where were you and who was with you?
How was God with you as you felt safe?


Take a few minutes to rest in the experience of knowing God is with you.
Let yourself feel safe, knowing God is guarding you and keeping you safe.

Pause for about two minutes.

Look back again on your day. Were there any times when you felt unsure.
Where were you and who was with you?
What happened to make you unsure?
Did anything happen to help you feel more confident?
What might have made you feel more comfortable?
How was God with you in your uncertainty?

Pause for about two minutes.

Once more, look back on your day. Was there a time when you felt unsafe?
Where were you and who was with you?
Where did you find help and comfort?
How was God with you in that moment?

Pause for about two minutes.

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?

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 cloud or collage of words describing your emotions: while feeling safe, while 
feeling uncertain, or while feeling unsafe - or all three
*Draw a picture of how God was with you, today
*Create a poem of about how God helped you feel more confident or safe
*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, 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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