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)

Ask the group:

  • What is significant about April 15th (allow for the standard whining about taxes…feel free to let your group go on for a little while about it)?

(Note: if you need some background info to explain a bit about this movie to the participants who may have not seen it, click here.) Play the 42 movie clip and ask:

  • Why did Pewee Reese need to show he was a teammate of Jackie Robinson?
  • How powerful an image do you think that was to the crowd and why?
  • What would have caused a person steeped in a particular view of history and culture reach out to be seen as a colleague of Jackie Robinson at that time in US history?

Remind the group that if you watch a major league baseball game on Friday, you will see that all of the athletes will wear 42. This week is the week everyone wears 42.

Content (From the Mind Session Page)

Read John 21:1-19, then watch the Bible Background Video.

Remind the group that:

This story, in John’s typical style, includes important symbols and references to other stories. We can understand this story better by recognizing those references.

Ask questions like:

  • Remember many of these men had been professional fishermen before they followed Jesus. Why do you think that they decided to go back to fishing now?
  • Why would this fishing story be a significant moment for these disciples to relive?
  • What do you make of Peter’s sudden impulse to jump into the water and swim to Jesus?
  • The word for a charcoal (anthracite) fire is used only one other time in the Gospels – in John 18:18, when Peter is in the courtyard where he denies Jesus. Why do you think John included this detail here?
  • Nikki offers some ideas for the meaning of the number of fish. How do you feel about that?
  • Jesus eating with his disciples was proof that he was real and not just their imagination – ghosts don’t eat real food, after all! But why else was it significant for these men to sit and eat with their teacher and companion for the last three years?
  • Think of the senses involved in this event – the smells of a charcoal fire, the taste of bread, the sound of the waves and voices calling for help with a huge catch of fish. In what ways did these senses play a role in the story, and how did Jesus use them to help the disciples (and particularly Peter) have a fresh experience with God?

Closure (from the Current Session page)

Tell the group:

We can likely dismiss or critique the “Passion Live” event for some valid reasons. One New York Times writer described the event by saying it “demonstrated that generic love and breakup lyrics can be adapted to almost any circumstance, even to describe Christ’s pain on the cross” and “On the seventh day, Fox didn’t rest. It took the greatest story ever told and turned it into a halftime show.”

One blogger responded to critiques of the “Passion Live” by confessing that we should appreciate an attempt at bringing the story to the people. She points out:

“This project was made because the Dutch producer Jacco Doornbos felt it was his duty to tell the story…

‘Only 25 percent of the Dutch population was still aware of what the story of Easter was about. And that really shocked me, because I felt like — whether it’s from a religious standpoint, an historical standpoint or a cultural standpoint — we need to know this story because it’s part of our culture.’”

As the blogger put it: “It is possible to be underwhelmed by something and still take time to hear how and why it resonates with the people we love. In fact, that’s good information for church leaders and seminary-adjacent folks. Did we ever ask people why they liked this? Before we smacked folks up the head with links to books and videos of our favorite theologians, did we ask them what attracted them to THIS story? (I’m telling on myself here.) Those might tell us something about what WE missed. There’s a pretty stark divide among the “Hated it” and “Loved it” crowd. It’s concerning. It tells me that whatever we learned in seminary is not exactly finding its way to the spaces that matter. This experience taught me that there has to be something other than thinkpiece-smack-and-tag culture. Where are the spaces of popular education in our churches? We are failing at meaning-making in community.”
Ask the group:

  • If we are to assume that making space for Christ to meet people in their circumstances is important. What is the difficulty of using songs from pop culture and a modern day re-telling of the story of Christ?
  • What connects people to the story of Christ’s resurrection?
  • By what means were you or people you know introduced to Christ?
  • In what ways is what we learn in church, seminary or other educational experiences “finding its way to the spaces that matter?”
  • In what ways do you think people dismiss the conversation about how people meet Christ?
  • What confessions might we need to make about the ways Christ shows up in people’s lives?

Pray together to end the session.

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