devozine

For Youth Workers Post

Imagine the Kingdom

Steven Lefebvre

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for March 25–31, 2013.

 

MAKING THE CONNECTION

          (Watch Video)

 

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steven LefebvreMy name is Steven Lefebvre. I work with the youth and young adults at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Before my life of working at a church, I was the lead vocalist in a hardcore band. These days, I spend my free time being an armchair film critic, reading comic books, and playing much quieter music (well, sort of). I’m also an amateur champion of darts and dodge ball. I’m a huge fan of going to baseball games in the summer and to college basketball games in the winter. Professionally, I have an interest in monasticism, biblical studies, and pastoral care. You can read my blog at www.stevenlefebvre.com.

 

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

 

PLUGGED IN

+ Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright

 

CHECKING IN

Have available a variety of art supplies: paper, poster board, crayons, colored pencils, markers, paint, and paint brushes. Ask each person to draw, color, paint, or write about heaven. Ask them to consider:
          What do we know about heaven?
          What will heaven be like?
          Who will be there?

When everyone is finished, invite group members to have a conversation about what they created.

 

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: The Prophets

 

Ask people to form small groups of two or three. Make sure everyone has either a smartphone or a computer with Internet access. Assign each group a prophet. Start with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; then assign each of the remaining groups two or three of the minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. (These are not lesser prophets, actually; they are designated as “minor” because their writings are shorter).

Then ask members of each group to go to the website www.biblegateway.com and to search for the following phrases (make sure they enclose the phrases in quotation marks):

  • “Day of the Lord”
  • “on that day”
  • “age to come”

[NOTE: If you do not have Internet access for everyone, suggest that group members use Bibles and Bible concordances to look up passages about the “Day of the Lord” and the “age to come.”]

A little background: 

One of the cruxes of prophetic literature in the Hebrew Bible was the “Day of the Lord” or the “age to come.” The Lord’s final judgment would be on that day, and the Lord’s justice would be established on earth. In other words, all the ways in which the world was broken and corrupted would be set right.

Jewish culture understood that God exists in the realm of heaven and people exist in the realm of earth. When God created the heavens and the earth, these two realms were one. (Remember the story of God’s walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden). However, because of sin and death, heaven and earth were broken; and now we are separated from God. The good news is that since the time of Abraham, God has been working tirelessly to redeem humanity and essentially to reconnect heaven and earth. Therefore, the age to come is a time when God and creation will be one again.

 

Ask members of the small groups to read the passages they find about the Day of the Lord and the age to come and to write down the qualities described in the scripture. After about twenty minutes, bring the groups together for discussion:
          What are the prophet’s promises about the Day of the Lord and the age to come?
          For whom are the promises good news?
          In what ways are they bad news?
          How does the idea of the age to come conflict with your idea of heaven?
          Where did you get your information about heaven?

You may want to invite people to use the art supplies to create images of the Day of the Lord and the age to come. Ask them to compare these pictures with the pictures of heaven they created earlier.

 

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite one person from each group to read their favorite passage from the prophetic writings about the age to come. After each reading, encourage the rest of the group to respond by saying, “May it be so.”

Conclude the session by asking group members to pray together The Lord’s Prayer.

 

TAKING IT FURTHER

Christians believe that Jesus was God’s mechanism for bringing heaven to earth. Through Jesus, all things in heaven and earth are being set right. Heaven is here now, but work still needs to be done before heaven is established on earth. The Apostle Paul compares our present lives with pregnancy. Like a mother anxiously awaiting the arrival of her child (the child exists, but is not yet fully born), we are living in a world where everything is being set right.

Invite group members to consider how they can be part of bringing heaven to earth. How can we be part of healing the creation, which includes our own souls? How do exercising, eating right, checking into a recovery program, planting a tree or a backyard garden help bring heaven to earth? How can we help honor the dignity of kids ostracized at school or people who live on the streets?

Remind the group that no actions are idle. We are either helping God set things right, or we are part of the problem.

—from devozine In the Habit (March/April 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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