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.
- Encourage your group to listen to the Faithelement podcast ahead of the next session (Share the link via email or social media)
Review together video for the story of Staff Sgt. Joey Jones and ask:
- How do you feel about this story and why?
- What kinds of things make it possible to spread joy and hope when it seems like there should be none?
- In the video, Sgt. Jones is quoted at saying that “The unfairness of life does not equate to the happy of life.” In what ways have you found this to be true?
- What about your faith makes you the most joyous and hopeful, and why?
Read Psalm 122, then watch the Bible Background Video.
Ask questions like these:
- Assuming that some of you have heard parts of this psalm sung before, or that you might imagine writing it as a contemporary song, how does the tune go?
- Why was the psalmist so glad to be getting to the temple?
- What are some elements of this psalm that relate to the feelings that you bring into your place of worship, and in what ways do they do so?
- What kinds of peace and security does coming to church offer these days, as opposed to what it may have brought back when this psalm was written?
- Nikki said that “Advent is the season of the church year that we practice waiting and anticipating Christ coming again to bring on the new world and the new heaven.” In what ways does this psalm anticipate such things for us?
Tell the group:
It’s no use pretending that people do not have strong feelings about our recent election, but instead of giving free reign to that conversation, I’d like to share with you a perspective of some people who have been affected by it and talk about their views from a faith perspective, as it might shape the way we approach this Advent season.
Share this article about how Muslims in Cleveland viewed the results of the recent election. Emphasize some of the things that were said in the article, such as:
- “I’m hopeful. I have to be,” he said. “Otherwise it would be very depressing for all of us.”
- “As a Muslim, my trust is totally in God almighty. Always has been. Always will be.”
- “The culture of America is not built upon hate and anti-immigrant sentiment and sidelining a religious community…”
- “We just want what’s best for the country, and in the end, we want Donald Trump to do a good job…”
- “We have high hopes for this country and hopefully everything will turn out to be good.”
- “… one of the things, no matter how disappointed we feel, is that we are not going to be moved by fear, but by love and compassion.”
- “We’re going to keep our heads up and hope for the best.”
- What did you hear from the people in this article that most stands out to you and why?
- Even though the people depicted here embrace a faith tradition that is different from ours, in what ways might they sound like people who embrace ours?
- What kinds of things make it difficult for us to remain hopeful while waiting on God to work in the world?
- What should we remember that might help us do so?
- As we look at the much larger world around us, for what are we waiting from God and how will we know when God responds?
- What hopes might this Advent bring to us?
Close by listening silently to Leaven Bread by Rain, and praying together.
Writer: Erin Hall