Before the Session
Facilitator: In advance of the session
- Review today’s scripture text and the session activities to help better facilitate the discussion.
- Have the Bible Background Video ready to view.
- Listen to the FaithElement podcast for this week before the session!
- Encourage your group to listen to the FaithElement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media).
Start by reminding the group about Bert’s introduction, based on “jazz funerals” in New Orleans as a precursor to Lent. Ask the group:
- If someone was to stop you on the street and ask you to describe your favorite kind of worship session to you, what would you say?
- What makes for good worship versus bad worship?
- When does worship need to be celebratory and when does it need to be mournful?
- What moves you more and why: powerful and professional expressions of faith or enthusiastic and slightly “off” ones?
Read Psalm 95, then watch the Bible Background Video for this session before asking:
- What does it mean to “make a joyful noise” as this passage describes it?
- How do worshipping with joy and bowing down and kneeling go together here?
- Why do you think the psalmist calls out the previous times when people griped and complained about following God?
- For which of our ancestors’ actions do you think God might be angry and how does someone address this through worship?
- How do you feel about the fact that this issue was raised though song, rather than being called out by a more traditional “prophecy?”
Continue by asking:
- As we look at the Lenten season, in what ways has our “dancing turned to mourning?”
- What mourning should we be doing as we practice our faith?
- At what points do we find elaborate and moving worship working to distract us from the other things God might be calling us to do?
- What can be done to change the ways we celebrate God’s presence in our lives in such a way as to address those times when we have not allowed it to make a difference?
- How might we rebuild the relationships we break when we openly question and test God – especially in the way we treat the other people God loves?
- What can we do to help our institutions do this?
Close with a prayer.