Before the Session
Facilitator: In advance of the session
- Review today’s scripture text and the session activities to help better facilitate the discussion.
- Review all the videos and other online content you may use for this study.
- Have the Bible Background Video ready to view.
- Which parts of this song rang most and least true for you and why?
- How focused on American politics are you usually, and why?
- Understanding that we’re not hear to judge each other, what one word best describes the way you’re feeling about the recently concluded election?
- What hopes and fears do you think are left over from the election?
- Now that the election cycle is winding down, what stories do you think are going to most captivate our nation in the coming weeks and why?
Read together Psalm 118 and watch the Bible Background video, then ask:
- Which parts of this Psalm sound most familiar to you and why?
- What situation do you think the author of this psalm was describing and in what ways might it parallel the way some people might be feeling today?
- How would you summarize this Psalm for someone else and why?
- Verses 8 and 9 say “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” What meaning do you think those verses have in light of this political season?
- Through what kinds of events might God sometimes punish us and why?
- In what ways does this passage anticipate the faith of God’s people throughout time?
- In what ways does it speak to a nation that has just gone through a bitterly contested choice like our recent election?
- What most stands out to you when you hear the words of this speech and why?
- In what ways do you think this speech fits the times in which we currently find ourselves?
- How do you feel about Lincoln’s view that “ Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.” given the original and current contexts?
- What do you think it means in our current context that “The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully?”
- Lincoln had a vision about how a country like ours might go on after a traumatic event: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” What would such a vision encompass today?
- To what degree do you think this vision may or may not be achievable now, and why?
- If we are to live according to this vision of reconciliation, what should we do? What is a good first step?
Close with a prayer for healing and reconciliation on both sides of the election, and that God may help everyone find the best way forward together.