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.
- Listen to the song referenced in the Closure section.
- Review the referred site links. Spend some time reviewing other stories about recent events in Orlando, if possible
Share the video of comments by Stephen Colbert, then ask questions like:
- What were your initial impressions of these videos and why?
- What are some themes that emerge from these two speeches and how do you feel about them?
- At what points do you feel these perspectives on the events in Orlando have been challenged in our national discourse, and how do you feel about that?
- Why do you think people tend to react to such events with a combination of seeking political advantage; to affix blame; or to instill fear?
- What do you think is the best way to move forward in the face of such events as these, and why?
Read Revelation 3:10-13, and say something like:
Revelation was likely written during the reign of Emperor Domitian in 81-96 CE. Many people believe that Domitian’s hostility to foreign religions enabled an environment where fringe groups – such as Christians at that time – were persecuted, usually on a regional basis. In this environment, Revelation was probably written to seven Christian communities in Asia Minor, with the intent of both providing advice on some of their more serious theological issues and of encouraging them to keep faith at a time when there was so much pressure to give up. While some view the book as dark and mysterious, others see it as a message of hope and encouragement, written in the guise of a drama, to Christians who were struggling to understand and cope with very hard times. All of John’s messages in chapters 2 and 3 end with a consistent message that faithulness will ultimately be rewarded, and that they should listen carefully to what is being said in this work.
Revelation 3:10-13 serves as an example fo John’s encouraging words to these communities. In our own times of trouble, it is easy to lose hope or be turned toward solutions that might promise to ease our sense of pain, but ultimately may lead us away from our faith. In the face of fear, hatred, uncertainty, cynical manipulation, and all the other things that come with living through hard times, John, like Paul, reminds us that faith, hope, and love abide. Those are the solutions we should seek.
- Understanding that Revelation was probably written to a group of churches whose members were facing persecution, what do you think the writer meant by keeping “my word of patient endurance?”
- The writer references an “hour of trial” — Christians in the time Revelation was written were facing harsh Roman persecution. What is the “hour of trial” that the church faces today?
- What might it have meant to be a “pillar in the temple” of God for Christians in the time Revelation was written?
- What might being a “pillar in the temple” of God mean in our contemporary context?
- John (the writer of Revelation) used the events of the day to encourage people, and ended each church’s passage with “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” What might God be trying to say to us in the face of the events of our times?
Share this prayer with the group (or select one of the prayers listed in the prayers section on the Orlando Resources page):
A Christian Prayer for Forgiveness, Courage, and Peace
(A prayer in response to Orlando)
Rev. Bert Montgomery; June 12, 2016
For our LGBT sisters and brothers, neighbors, friends, who already live with a certain level of fear of personal attack but now have a heightened awareness of mass attacks in places where they find safety and community, Lord, comfort them, protect them, encourage them, strengthen them to respond in hope and love.
For our Muslim sisters and brothers, neighbors, friends who also live with a certain level of fear of personal attack, and who are also themselves victims of social fears, stereotypes, and religious and cultural ignorance, Lord, comfort them, protect them, and encourage them to respond in hope and love.
Lord of all Creation, forgive all of us who speak out of fear, hatred, and judgement against both our LGBT and Muslim friends and family.
Forgive especially all of us who remain silent, thereby allowing such vile attitudes to grow in power and presence.
May we in your Church be transformed from fear to friendship, from suspicion to trust, from ignorance to awareness, from hate to love;
may we be Love Incarnate;
may we have the courage to speak, to act, and to stand openly in solidarity with any and all who are targeted because of their religious beliefs or sexual identity.
May we who have privilege and power have the courage to use our words, our resources, our actions to bring healing in this world in which we have done so much harm and destruction in Your name.
Forgive us. Change us. Heal us, Transform us.
Open our eyes to see each other – even strangers, and even our enemies (perceived or real) as Your children created in Your image.
Give us shalom; give us salam; give us peace.
Give us the audacity to believe that Hope is real, that Grace is true, and that Love Divine reigns o’er us all.
In the name of Christ …
Ask questions like:
- What are your reactions to this prayer and why?
- What parts of the prayer might sound a bit different to you in the face of the recent tragedy than they might have before and why?
- In what ways does this prayer challenge us?
- In times of great tragedy, like the Orlando shooting, where the emotions of the moment are twisted to serve an agenda, what is the best way to respond and why?
- What can we say to people who ask “where is God” when such tragedies occur?
- What can God’s people do in order to better reflect the face of God when such things occur?
Listen together to Our Time Has Come by singer/songwriter Daniel Bailey, and close with a prayer.
Writer: David Adams