AUTUMN HOME GROUP ACTIVITIES For each season in ‘The Seasons’ series I will provide a few home group activities. These are suggestions to include in your home group times as they seem appropriate. I expect that you will continue to do things apart from these. That’s why I’m only providing a few. Feel free to do one, some or all the activities. The point is to provide ways for home groups to engage with each season. Currently we are in autumn and will be until the end of the year. Activity #1 - Review Here is a list of questions to facilitate sharing about how God has formed our hearts. Each question intends to reveal how God has been at work in various seasons forming our hearts. You could spend one evening with them, or you could use one question a night for an on-going discussion. How does God show his love to you? How do you address God during prayer? Ie: God, Jesus, Christ, Lord, Father, You, Friend, Lover, Mother, Yahweh, etc. How would you describe your unique life circumstances that God has used to form your heart? What one problem/need have you spend more effort responding to (serving, giving, praying about, etc)? When have you felt closest to God? How would you describe what God was like during those times? Is there something you no longer believe to be true of God? Describe how God has formed your heart during difficult circumstances. Which portions of scripture best express your relationship with God? Is there an aspect of Christianity that it seems you are missing out on? Describe your experiences during communion? Activity #2 - Posture Our posture during times of prayer or worship can express what God has formed in our heart. For example, if you are seated and relaxed, that might mean that God has made you to feel comfortable while speaking directly with him. Likewise, if you are kneeling, God may have formed a reverence that is being expressed in that position. What prayer postures are you in when conversing with God? What might your prayer position say about what God has formed in your heart? Prayer postures can also be a means of cultivating heart formation. As a group, practice some of the cultivation activities below. 1. Seated with palms facing up (a receiving posture), recite this prayer together: Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, 13th Century) 2. Stand in a circle holding hands while one person reads Jesus’ prayer for unity from John 17:20-26, then each person is given opportunity to express a request for unity. 3. While kneeling with eyes closed, recite “the Jesus prayer”, a 5th century prayer used in many times, places, traditions and languages. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner Silently, share anything that God brings to mind that may distance you from him. 4. Seated and relaxed, say this prayer aloud while touching your thumb to each finger on each word: My God Loves Me. 5. Take turns laying hands on the shoulders of one person in the group praying for their physical health. 6. On one knee, with head bowed and hands folded, silently ask God for one huge request that seems unlikely, but you believe accords to his will. Activity #3 - Give Thanks ‘What are you thankful for?” This is a question of the heart. Notice that it does not ask what ‘should’ you be thankful for. Ask each person to share what immediately comes to mind when asked ‘what are you thankful for’. It may be helpful to write the ideas on paper or post-it notes. Practice the examen. Lead your group though the past week. Start with the current day and every few minutes state the name of the previous day of the week until you’ve gone through seven days. Ask them to remember each day through the lens of thanksgiving. Discover what you feel thankful for each day. From time to time, remind the group that this is a listening exercise where we listen for God’s voice. Revisit the original question with the group after the examen. What are you thankful for? How has listening to God affected the answer to the question? For Discussion: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment”. (CS Lewis, Reflections on the Palms) Have you had this experience while sharing what you are thankful for? Has expressing thanksgiving created more enjoyment of the thing you are thankful for? Has it been like Psalm 30 expresses “that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent”? Activity #4 God’s Unfolding Story Read Psalm 136. Consider reciting it aloud as a group. This psalm summarizes key movements in God’s story. If you were to continue this psalm with key movements in God’s story since then, what would you add? Brainstorm and see if you can put together a psalm of similar length with the refrain “His love endures forever” after each line. Consider including aspects of Jesus’ life, the early church, and any historical themes that seem significant to your group. When you have something, read it aloud as a group. Your life, the life of your home group, and the life of our church are all part of God’s unfolding story. Pick one of these and summarize it’s key movements. Handing out sticky notes or paper to record them will be helpful. For Discussion — Based on all your observations, what is next? Answer this question for God’s people as a whole, our church, your home group, or each individual. A key function of Psalm 136 is to engage with God’s faithfulness in the past to form confidence for the future. Is this your experience?
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