devozine

For Youth Workers Post

RESTORATION

Sally Chambers

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for August 10-16, 2015.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“‘Why? Why, God, why?’ I asked the question on the day my mum died. I asked it again on the day my dad died. And I asked it on many days that followed and preceded these life-altering events. I find myself looking at the news and asking the same question. Ferguson, ISIS, Nepal, Charleston—Why God, why?

“A while back, I realized that when I cry ‘Why, God?’ I am not only crying out to be heard. I am crying out for God to set things right. ‘Why, God?’ is a cry for justice. It is a cry against events that feel wrong. It is a cry for God to restore our lives to the way that they are supposed to be—the way that God created and designed them to be.

“Death hurts so deeply because we weren’t made to die; we were made to live forever in the Garden of Eden. Violence on any continent and in any city is traumatic because it wasn’t included in God’s original design. Natural disasters are so horrible because they weren’t part of the created order.

“‘Why God, Why?’ Why did cancer and addiction triumph in the lives of my parents? Cancer and addiction are not the way life is supposed to be. ‘Why, God, why?’ Why are humans beheaded? Why do African Americans struggle for fairness? Why do earthquakes rattle the poorest places on earth? ‘Why, God, why?’ Our lives are backwards, upside down, and twisted. Where, God, is justice? When, God, will you restore order, peace, and life, as the world should be, as you intended it to be.” —Sally

MEET THE WRITER

Sally IMG_2720Sally Chambers has been practicing youth ministry for nineteen years as part of her life with God and people; she is currently on sabbatical. By trade, she is a counselor and spiritual director. She is also a lover of art, photography, people, hosting, adventure, stories, a cup of tea, beauty, all things English, her niece and her Grandma, abbey ruins and cathedrals, creation in its grandeur and wildness, playlists, and her furry four-legged companion Doodlebug. Sally is a co-author of the leader’s guide to The Way of Pilgrimage and the creator of The Pilgrim’s Way, an approach to leading pilgrimage with teenagers and adults. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is currently on staff and worshiping with St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. She dreams of creating altars in the world where pilgrims may gather together, rest for a while, find renewed vision, be healed in body, heart, soul, and mind, and offer to the world the hope of God in Jesus Christ. Be sure to check out Sally’s blog.

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • a candle and matches or a lighter
  • Bibles
  • paper and pens
  • variety of news stories (from newspapers, news magazines, or online articles—you will need enough for everyone to choose the ones they want to use)
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • index cards
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

  • Check out the show American Restoration from the History Channel about a team of folks who take unique pieces of American history (from a 1960s NASA jet pack to a 1920s grand piano) and bring them to life. You can find clips of the show on the “American Restoration” website.
  • Check out the TV series Restoration Home by the BBC, which follows owners of historic buildings as they restore them into twenty-first century dream houses. Find episodes and clips of the show on YouTube, such as the episode “Coltman Street.”
  • YouTube also has some great videos on restoring your faith in humanity, which could provide a great catalyst for conversation about the meaning of restoration: “Restore Your Faith in Humanity.”

CHECKING IN

Have someone light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence. Then invite group members to say responsively:
       The Lord be with you.
       And also with you.

Ask people to close their eyes, to take a deep breath, and to relax. Invite them to pay attention to their breathing. Suggest that as they exhale, they imagine breathing out the distractions that occupy space in their mind, body, and spirit. Suggest that as they inhale, they imagine breathing in the peace of God. Encourage them to continue this exercise for a minute or two in the quiet.

Then ask each person in turn to answer these questions:
       If you were to spend an afternoon doing something creative, what would you do?
       Would this task be pleasurable or grueling?

Say something like this: “Today we are going to have a conversation about creation and the created order.”
       When I say creation, what do you think of?
       When I say order, what do you think of?
       What does the created order mean?

Acknowledge the group’s responses. Then say, “Another way to talk about ‘created order’ is to use the phrase ‘created design.’ In the context of the Christian story, both refer to the way God ordered or designed the world in the beginning. It is the way the world was intended to be.”

Ask group members to discuss this question:
       Is the world today the way God created it to be? (They are likely to answer “no.” If not, you can guide their answers by asking questions about recent news stories, terminal illness, war, mass shooting, racism, and so on. The world is not the way God created it to be.)

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Genesis 1–3, Revelation 21:1–7

Say: “Today we are going to consider two passages of scripture to help us consider the created order. One is at the beginning of the story of God, and one points to the end. One is at the beginning of the Bible and the other is at the end.”

Have the group read Genesis 1–3. Then ask:
       How would you describe the created order as God created it to be?
       What do you notice about the natural world God created?
       What was the relationship like between God and human beings?
       What was the relationship like between human beings and the rest of creation?
(In a nutshell, everything was good and perfect. God walked among the trees in Eden. Adam and Eve were to care for the rest of creation. If you get a comment about the fall, simply say, “Let’s come back to that in a minute. For now, let’s focus on creation, not what happens to creation.”)

Summarize the discussion by saying, “In the beginning, everything was as God designed or created it to be.”

Then ask these questions:
       What adjectives would you use to describe the created order or Eden as God designed it? (People may respond with words such as these: good, perfect, beautiful, peaceful, wholesome, holy, right.)
       Everything was good and right until what happened? (The Fall: The serpent questioned the created order and, as a result, so did both Adam and Eve.)
       What happened to Adam, Eve, and creation after the Fall? (Our bodies and our world were cursed.)

Group members may have many questions about the Fall. Encourage them to write down their questions for a discussion another day.

Invite discussion:
       What about our world today is an effect of the Fall?
       What about our bodies and our world indicates that we are still not in line with God’s created order?
(Help the group to connect the dots between the created order, the Fall, and travesties we live with in the world today.)

Ask group members to read Revelation 21:1–7. Then ask:
       What is the passage talking about? What is the text referring to? (Someone will probably answer “the end of the world” or “the Second Coming.” Let the group explore what this passage may be about, but be sure they mention these ideas:

  • This is about God’s setting the world right again, restoring the created order to the way it should be.
  • This is about God making right everything that seems wrong in this world.
  • This isn’t about the end of the universe, but a new beginning when heaven and earth become one again as they were in the beginning and God makes God’s home with people.)

Hold up a Bible. Say something like this: “If the beginning is about the goodness of the created order (the world as God created it to be) and the end is about the restoration of God’s goodness to the created order, what are all the pages in between about? They are the story of God, working to restore creation to the way God originally designed it to be.”

Ask:
       Where do our lives fit into the story? (You may need to facilitate the discussion by reminding the group that the restoration described in Revelation 21 hasn’t happened yet. We live our lives after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ but before the final Restoration.)
       Given where we fit into the story, what is God trying to do in our lives and in our world today? (Today God is still working to restore creation, to set everything right. And Jesus said that our role in God’s work was to help with the restoration.)

SHARING IN PRAYER

Place on a table the news stories you have gathered, scissors, index cards, glue sticks, and pens. Invite group members to participate in a prayer exercise involving a news story by following these instructions:

  • Choose a news story.
  • Spend some time considering what in the story isn’t right or good or as God intended.
  • Spend some time considering how God might be working to restore the situation.
  • Choose words from the title, a headline, or a sentence in the news story that reflect what needs to be restored.
  • Cut out the words and glue them to a note card. They may also cut out a photo.
  • Using the words from the article and adding words of your own, write a prayer for restoration.
  • Sit quietly until everyone has finished.

For example, someone might choose the story “Baby Among 10 People Shot at Philadelphia Block Party” and use the words block party to write this prayer: God, reconcile your people. Make block parties safe again. Bring joy to our gatherings. Amen.

When everyone is finished, invite anyone who wishes to read his or her prayer aloud. Then close with a spoken prayer asking God to show us how we can help in restoring the world.

TAKING IT FURTHER

  • Come up with concrete ways that your group can participate in God’s restoration of the community.
  • Come up with a concrete way that your group can invite the rest of the congregation to participate in God’s restoration.
  • Spend some time each month learning about what other organizations (Christian or not) are doing to participate in God’s restoring work.

 

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

Back To Home

To Order Devozine Magazine, call 1.800.972.0433.