Before the Session

Facilitator: In advance of the session

  • Have the Bible Background Video ready to view.
  • Review today’s scripture text and the session activities to help better facilitate the discussion.
  • Encourage your group to listen to the Faithelement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media)

Context (From the Media Session Page)

Begin by sharing the No More music video, then ask:

  • What do you think it means when “church people” talk about being a new creation?
  • In what ways do you see yourself as a new powerful creation or simply a person isolated in a confusing world (or both at the same time)?
  • What might sometimes keep you from feeling like a powerful new creation?
  • In what ways did the reversal of the words in this video address the way you see yourself in Christ?
  • How can we best remember our place in Christ in this ever-changing world/culture?

Content (From the Mind Session Page)

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, then watch the Bible Background Video.

 

Ask questions like

  • How does knowing the story of this letter – that Paul was hoping to reconcile a broken relationship – help you to better understand this passage?
  • What do you think Paul means when he says that we no longer regard each other from a “human” or “worldly” point of view?
  • What does it mean to regard each other this way, and what is the opposite?
  • Paul says that once we are in Christ we are a “new creation.” Obviously we don’t instantly begin acting this way, so what do you think Paul really means, especially in the context of this letter?
  • Paul speaks of Jesus as a reconciler. In what ways does Jesus repair our broken relationship with God?
  • In what ways are we a part of the “ministry of reconciliation” described in verse eighteen?
  • If Jesus already accomplished this, what is our role supposed to be?
  • In what ways can our reconciliation with God begin to bring change to our other broken relationships?

Closure (from the Current Session page)

Share together this NPR article, or summarize the article by saying something like:

Racial tensions often seem impossible to reconcile. To summarize the article, fifteen years ago, Peoples Church in Cincinnati was called First Christian Assembly of God and was 98 percent white. After the riots of 2001, Pastor Chris Beard decided to take the church in a new direction. He drafted a mission statement and said the church would focus on racial reconciliation. Some approaches the pastor used were:

  • *diversifying the staff; *
  • *expanding the music to reflect many cultures; *
  • asking his congregation to take a series of classes designed to help break down racial barriers;
  • *One class assignment: Go out into the world and make a friend who is different from you. *

If you have time, share the comments at the end of the article, too, then ask:

  • How well do you think these things “work” for reconciliation and why?
  • Upon what do you think these actions are based?
  • In what was do the church’s actions in this story resonate with Paul’s message in Second Corinthians?
  • Part of reconciliation for this church was feeling the pain others felt. “”Everybody was heartbroken ” Patton says. “You know, it was like, wow, OK, this is what it’s supposed to feel like.” What do you expect reconciliation to feel like?
  • What do the comments that followed this story teach us about ministries of reconciliation?
  • How can we be agents of reconciliation in a world that so plainly struggles with such a concept?

Close with this prayer by Nadia Bolz-Weber:

Reach out once again and wipe our tears and raise us Lord of compassion. Touch us as you did the wood on which the widow’s son lay dead and speak those same words to us: Young man arise.  Little girl, get up. To those who think they are not worthy to be loved and medicate themselves with food and booze and shopping, say “rise up”. To us who have been hurt by those who say they follow you say “rise up”. To the proud at heart who think they are not dead say “rise up”. To the ones who care for the least of these and who feel too burnt out to keep going, say “rise up”. To we who are holding onto resentments like our own personal  security blankets say “rise up”. To those who hide their failings behind good works say “rise up”.  To the unloved child who has no idea that one day they will change the world say “rise up”. To the one who has given up say “rise up”

And when again Lord of Compassion, you have raised the dead…when again you have made whole that which is broken, when again you have ripped out my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh, when again you have reached into the graves we dig ourselves and loved us back to life…help us, like the young man of Nain to sit up and speak. Give us the words that are not empty praise or platitudes of piety, but give us strong words, as real as the very soil from which you raised us.

Give us the words to speak of you. And then, as you did the son to his mother, give us one to another. That when we speak others may hear and know that you are without question and without end the Lord of all Compassion. AMEN.

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