devozine

For Youth Workers Post

PAY IT FORWARD

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for March 13–19, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION 

“I liked the film Pay It Forward, but I wonder why the idea has never caught on. Consider the logic of doing three things for three people that they could not do for themselves and then trusting them to take the challenge and to pass it on. It’s more logical than Jesus’ message to love our enemies, no matter if they decide to love you back, even if they continue to torture you, hate you, or ignore you. Jesus did not preach, “Pay it forward.” That’s the message of a little boy in a film. Jesus was much more subversive. What would the world look like if people took on the idea to pay it forward? What would the world look like if people decided to live out the illogical grace of the kingdom of God?” —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, high school chaplaincy and local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, 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 connecting the church and theology with pop culture.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED 

  • snacks and something to drink
  • pens, pencils, and crayons
  • paper
  • markers
  • music and lyrics to “We Are Blessed,” by Andy Flanagan
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN 

Videos

  • “We Are Blessed” by Andy Flannagan
    Video
    Music

Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness

CHECKING IN 

As people arrive, offer food and drinks and comfortable places to sit.

As group members settle in, invite them to use crayons, pencils, or pens to draw pictures that express their feelings, emotions, or thoughts in response to the week’s readings and reflections in devozine.

Then invite them to talk to one another about their reactions to the readings.

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Matthew 25:40

Showing kindness to strangers is a well-embedded biblical principle—from the early stories of Abraham, entertaining angels in disguise, to Jesus’ injunctions to look after our neighbors.

In the film Pay it Forward, the main character decides to do three acts of kindness for different people. Determining what to do, he considered:

  • Will my act help people?
  • Is it something they can do themselves?
  • If I do it for them, will they do it for three other people?

Would the group think of and plan a church-wide “Pay it Forward” event, perhaps for Advent? They could design promotional material to encourage the community to participate—perhaps a card, a poster, or a letter describing the program.

One church has coordinated a “Random Acts of Kindness” project in which, over a month, the members of the congregation do random acts of kindness in their town. Ideas included small things like paying for an extra coffee when they left a cafe, mowing an older person’s lawn, painting a house, chopping some wood or kindling for someone with a wood stove or fireplace, leaving flowers for someone, or sending someone a card. (Find links to more ideas for random acts of kindness in the “Plugged In” section.)

What are random acts of kindness? Random acts of kindness are anonymous, thoughtful, or kind actions towards others—family, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. They are random because they may be unplanned, spontaneous, anonymous, or unforeseen even if they are actually well planned. They may be completely undeserved and offered to complete strangers. The giver may not even know who eventually receives what he or she gives. These kindnesses are done without any thought of reward or getting something back. They are a pure gift. We won’t know the outcome, but we may have the pleasure of seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Encourage the group to spend some time planning an event for the church, or perhaps they will want to think of a blessing they can bestow on a group or community project in the area.

SHARING IN PRAYER 

Invite the group to learn the song “We Are Blessed,” by Andy Flanagan. (Links to the chords and a video of the song are included in the “Plugged In” section.)

As group members learn the song and sing it together, allow it to become their prayer.

TAKING IT FURTHER

  • You may wish to host a movie night and watch the film Pay It Forward
  • Take the idea of the Random Acts of Kindness to a wider audience; perhaps you can have a month when your church community takes it on. How would the community change if everyone got on board?

—from devozine In the Habit (March/April 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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