Before 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)
- Make a “2016 evaluation sheet” as described below, as well as something with which to write for each person. The sheet should have each of the following words printed on its own line, with space for writing comments between each:
– Breaking Down
– Throwing Stones
– Keeping Silent
– Making War<<
- Print a copy of the prayer (used at the end of this session) for each person:
>L – Let us proclaim the sacred power of this day.
>P – As the new year begins, the height of God’s dominion is established.
>L – In truth, only God is our judge and arbiter.
>P – Only God can accurately measure, record and recount the days past.
>L – In truth, only God is our sovereign guide.
>P – Only God can open the days that lie before us.
>L – We know that we are dust and to dust we will return
>P – We do not know what this year will hold.
> Who will pass on and who will come to be.
> Who will live and who will die.
> Who will see ripe age and who will not.
> Who will be secure and who will be driven.
> Who will be tranquil and who will be troubled.
> Who will be poor and who will be rich.
> Who will be humbled and who will be exalted.
>L – We do not know what the future holds.
>All – But we know who holds our future. God alone is our creator and king. God is our ruler and helper. We will trust God with all of our days. Hallelujah! Amen.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 then play the Bible Background Video.
In today’s session, the group will share in an examination of the past year and an affirmation to begin the new one.
Tell the group:
The writer of Ecclesiastes describes life as a perpetual cycle of extremes in Ecclesiastes 3. Sometime we live on the edge of these extremes and other times we are relatively untouched or unaware of the particular cycle.
Distribute a copy of the 2016 evaluation sheet and a writing instrument to each person and invite the group to look at it and meditate upon memories of the year past, then put a number between zero and ten to describe the extent to which they experienced each extreme last year. The number might be very high or low for some extremes and on others closer to the middle if they have no memory of particular experiences with those things.
After everyone has completed the evaluation, encourage volunteers to share – as they are comfortable – those incidents for which they had the highest scores, reminding everyone to hold all stories in confidentiality and in prayer.
Conclude the session by reading responsively the revised, Jewish prayer traditionally recited during Rosh Hashana – Jewish New Year (L – leader, P – people).
Writer: Jim Dant