devozine

For Youth Workers Post

STAYING CONNECTED

Sally Chambers

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for July 7–13, 2014.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“Last week, I had two different conversations with two different people in two different circumstances; but they both said, “I don’t do the group thing.” And I thought, But the group thing is important and necessary.

“I didn’t always think so. In fact, I didn’t do the group thing for a long time. In groups, I faced my struggles with shame, embarrassment, vulnerability, fear, irritability, insecurities, and judgment. Yet I have come to know and believe that becoming whole (salvation) is contingent upon our participation in a group, in a community. Why? Because as much as I would like to think I can heal on my own, healing ultimately happens in community. We may not like it, but we need community. We need to stay connected.” —Sally

MEET THE WRITER

Sally Photo on 5-8-14 at 2.06 PM #3Sally 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
  • matches or a lighter
  • a list of questions for “Checking In” activity (see below)
  • Bibles
  • newsprint
  • markers
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

  • The video is a little hokey, but it introduces the “Power of Staying Connected.”
  • Connected, but Alone?” is a powerful TED talk by Sherry Turkle and could be a great way to take the conversation to a deeper level.
  • PBS is always a great resource for background information or fodder for the conversation. If you want to do a series on the importance of staying connected, begin with the three-part series “This Emotional Life,” which looks at the role of being connected with happiness. PBS also offers articles on “Connecting with Others.”

CHECKING IN

Ask someone to light a candle. Then invite the group to say responsively:
       “God is here. The Lord be with you.”
       “And also with you.”

Invite group members 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 (tiredness, homework, worries, and so on) and that as they inhale, they imagine breathing in the peace of God.

After two or three minutes of silence, bring the group together. Then say: “Now that we’ve become present to God in this space, let’s become present to one another.”

Ask each person in turn to say his or her name and to answer these questions:
       If you could be physically connected with another person, who would it be?
       What body part would you want to share?

Invite people to line up against one wall of the room. Prepare ahead of time a list of questions, such as these:

  • Are you part of a sports team?
  • Do you like mushrooms on your pizza?
  • Do you wear glasses?
  • Do you like to swim in the ocean?
  • Have you read the Harry Potter books?
  • Have you watched any of the Marvel Comics movies (Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk)?
  • Is blue your favorite color?
  • Were you born in January, February, or March?
  • Have you traveled outside of this country?

Ask each question, one at a time. Anyone who answers “Yes” to a question should walk across the room and stand against the opposite wall.

Following the activity, ask:
       What did you learn about one another?
       How did you feel being part of the group on the wall?
       How did you feel walking to the other side of the room?
       What surprised you?

Introduce the session: Today, we are going to talk about being part of a group called community. We will explore the questions “Why does community matter?” and “Why should we stay connected?”

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Acts 2:42–47, 1 Peter 2:9–10

Invite discussion:
       What does staying connected mean?
       Is staying connected to other people important? Why? Why not?
       Is our staying connected and maintaining a community important to God? Why? Why not?

Say: The scriptures show us that God wants us to say connected with one another.”

Ask the youth to form small groups of two or three people. Assign each group one of the following scripture passages:

Ask the members of each group to read and summarize their assigned text and to consider what the scripture says about staying connected or being part of a community. Provide newsprint and markers. Have a representative from each group write on the newsprint a summary of his or her group’s discussion.

When the groups are finished, bring everyone together. Ask:
       What does God’s wanting us to stay connected say about God’s character, heart, or nature? (God cares for us and loves us. God doesn’t want us to be alone.)

Read aloud 1 Peter 2:9–10. Then ask:
       What does the scripture mean?
       What does it say about staying connected? about community?

Explain: These verses refer back to the time of Abraham and Moses, when God made a covenant with God’s people, saying, ‘I will be your God and you will be my people.’ God would hear the people, love them, provide for them, guide them, protect them. The Israelites would be God’s people. Notice that the word used was people, not person. God didn’t choose individuals. God chose a group of people and then showed them how to become a community. First Peter 2:910 is reminding members of the early church, a community, that God has chosen them to be together, to be a like a country or nation that is set apart and lives differently than the rest of the world. Even the word priesthood is plural. Priests in the Old Testament stood before God on behalf of the people. As a priesthood of believers we are called to stand before God together.”

Read aloud Acts 2:42–47. Then explain: “This scripture passage is a description of what happened after the resurrection of Jesus. It provides a picture of the first church or community of Christians and the way they continued to live as followers of Jesus.”

Ask:
       What do you notice about this group of people?
       What are they doing? Why are their actions important? 

Explain: The first Christians valued being connected, doing things together, functioning as one body. No one was in need. No one was without a family. The Christian community was a new family.”

Ask:
       What have you thought or observed about the importance of staying connected?

SHARING IN PRAYER

Ask each person to think of a word or phrase that sums up the importance of staying connected. Explain that you will say a prayer and will ask each person in turn to speak the word or phrase that expresses for him or her the importance of staying connected. Then you will conclude the prayer by saying, “Amen.”

You might use or adapt this prayer from the Book of Common of Prayer:

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

TAKING IT FURTHER

  • Invite group members to consider this question: How do we stay connected?
  • Set up a Facebook group or a hashtag for Instagram that would serve as way of helping your group stay connected between meetings. Challenge group members to make at least one post a week as a way of staying connected.
—from devozine In the Habit (July/August 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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