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.
  • In many instances, the full meaning of a passage is hard to grasp from a single translation. Having a few different versions available may help the group understand and apply today’s passage.
  • Have available some means of taking notes (see Context).
  • Encourage your group to listen to the FaithElement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media).

Context

  • If someone was to ask you what worship was like in your faith community, what would you say and why?
  • What are the usual parts of worship time, in your experience and why are they there?
  • Which of the things you typically do in worship do you feel you have to do in order to feel that you’ve been to worship and why?
  • When have you gone to another faith community with a different style of worship and felt uncomfortable and what about the experience made you uncomfortable?
  • What are some of the drawbacks or benefits of a familiar style and structure of worship?

Content

Read together Psalm 95, then watch the Bible Background Video and continue by asking:

  • What expressions of worship do we find in this psalm?
  • We might be used to hearing the words of this psalm, but we may not actually shout, sing loudly, bow down or kneel in worship. Why do you think we have kept certain practices, and neglected others?
  • What is it about God that inspires worship and praise – particularly God’s relationship to nature and the relationship to God’s people?
  • Since, in the Psalmist’s time, people’s lives were still very much controlled by nature, and they still found much mystery and wonder in creation, why would this all add up to praise and thanksgiving on their part?
  • Over what uncontrollable part of our lives does God have power and how might we express that in our songs and worship?

Continue by reading Exodus 17:2-7 and asking

  • Why did the psalmist bring up this ugly part of their history that happened so many generations before?
  • What else might these people have done to make God angry, and how is this incident like something we might do in our own time?

Closure

Continue by asking:

  • What place does confession of sins have in our worship today?
  • What past societal sins might need to be visited in your context and why?
  • How might recognition of such larger sins affect your community of faith?
  • Using today’s psalm, what practices might help us experience God in a new way in our community?
  • How might we find ways to incorporate these practices into our worship, whether in small groups or in the larger community?
  • What can we do to make space for believers whose expressions of worship might differ from ours?

Close with a prayer.

Writer: Jon Parks

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