devozine

For Youth Workers Post

ENEMIES

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for November 17–23, 2014.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“Personally, I do not have enemies. I have people that give me the willies, people who annoy me, people whom I don’t like, people who don’t like me, people with whom I differ in opinions or ideals, people who are different from me, people who might call me names, people who frustrate me, and people whom I do not know. But I don’t have any enemies.

“I’m aware that many people would like me to think I have enemies, especially if it allows me to be OK with the measures they take to battle against the people they say are my enemies. Many people would like me to think that I do have enemies: refugees, muslims, buddhists, pentecostals, scientologists, gays, liberals, democrats, republicans—people who are different.

“And perhaps at times, they fool me into believing that I do have enemies, and I look at the world and fear ‘the other.’ At those times, I need someone, perhaps even God, to remind me that I do not have enemies. I only have neighbors.” —Darren

MEET THE WRITER

darrenDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Education Worker, serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Youth and Children’s Ministry Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, in high school chaplaincy, and in local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, and furniture sales person. His interests include music (Moby, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Muse, All India Radio; film (MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim); TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community); theology; pop-culture; working with young people in at-risk areas; and the ways the church and theology connect with pop culture. Check out Darren’s blog.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • a candle and matches
  • paint in a variety of colors
  • paint brushes
  • canvas or paper
  • If possible, a copy of Enemy, by David Cali (see resources list below)
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

If you want to develop this session in other ways, here are a few resources that may be of assistance.

Enemy Quotes

  • “Such unconditional signs of God’s yes to the human being cannot and are not meant to answer the questions of the strategy to be applied in the struggle for social justice or concerning the survival of humankind. . . . It was not the intention of Jesus to improve the situation of the world. Acts of love toward enemies are, in Jesus’ view, an expression of the unconditional yes of God for the human beings for their own sake. They are necessary in a fundamental sense and stand alongside of and before all realistic strategies of ‘intelligent’ love.”
           —Ulrich Luz, Matthew 1–7: A Critical Commentary; trans. Wilhelm C Linss; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992
  • “By our enemies Jesus means those who are quite intractable and utterly unresponsive to our love. . . . Love asks nothing in return, but seeks those who need it. And who needs our love more than those who are consumed with hatred and are utterly devoid of love? Who in other words deserves our love more than our enemy?”
           —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
  • “Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is pretty obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies—or else? The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
           —Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love

Videos

  • Love Your Enemies,” a story reflecting on this question: What does it look like for you to love your enemy?

Books

Audio

Resources

  • Who Is My Enemy?” by Levi Rogers, from Sojourners: Faith in Action for Social Justice

Picture Books

CHECKING IN

Before people gather, place a lit candle in the center of the room. Have available paint, brushes, water, and canvases.

Bring the group together for discussion:
       When and where have you experienced God’s presence in the last week?
       What meditations in devozine did you find particularly challenging? beautiful? thoughtful?
       What would you like to explore further?

Going Deeper:
If you have a copy of the book The Enemy, by Davide Cali, read it to the group. Invite group members to respond to the story.
       What surprised you, made you wonder, encouraged you to think?
       What did you like about the story? What did you dislike?

If you don’t have a copy of the book, consider reading through any of the other picture books mentioned in the resource list or showing one of the videos from Work of the People. Ask similar questions.

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Luke 6:28

Ask God to bless anyone who curses you,
and pray for everyone who is cruel to you.
              Luke 6:28 (CEV)

Invite group members to enter into a time of silent prayer for those people who are enemies or whom our society would like us to believe are our enemies—homosexuals, atheists, terrorists, refugees, muslims, buddhists, pentecostals, liberals, democrats, republicans, people who are different, and so on.

Encourage each person to find a space to be alone and quiet and to paint an image that for them represents people they might consider enemies or whom society, politicians, or their country might consider enemies.

After ten minutes, ask group members to consider what they would like to pray for these people. If they have difficulty thinking about where to start, encourage them to think about what they would pray for people they love. Could they pray similar prayers for their enemies? Invite them to revisit their paintings and to continue painting with these kinds of prayers in mind.

Finally, encourage the participants to paint God into their prayers and, in doing so, to offer the prayer to God.

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite group members to show their prayer paintings to one another. Then discuss these questions:
       What about the experience did you find helpful?
       What was difficult?
       Can you see yourself including your enemies in your prayers?

Say a blessing over each of the prayers that group members have offered to God. Conclude by praying this prayer:

“God, renew our hearts and spirits so that we can finally see the people we may have called enemies as neighbors. Amen.”

TAKING IT FURTHER

Encourage people to read “Sermon on Loving your Enemy (even if you don’t mean it)” by Nadia Bolz-Weber and include it in a discussion about what life would look like for each of us, the church, or our country to live free of hatred.

—from devozine In the Habit (November/December 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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