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September 27 — Good trouble: Family faith formation @ home

Angela Logan attends a service at Four Winds Field in South Bend, Indiana, on Sept. 20, 2020. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

 

Welcome 

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Philippians 2:1-13

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

Invite those gathered to get a piece of paper and something to write with. As you listen to the Scripture read a second time, write down or draw all the ways Christ acted and lived.

Connecting through story

Watch this trailer to the movie “John Lewis: Good Trouble.”

  • How did the people in the trailer describe John Lewis and what he did?
  • When he asked about the harsh and unjust ways in which people were treated, his parents once told him: “That’s just the way things are. Don’t get in the way. Don’t get into trouble.” And yet some would say that’s exactly what Lewis did — “get into trouble.” Why do you think he did what many people told him not to do?
  • Representative Lewis says when we see something wrong, we should change it — even if it means getting into “good trouble.” What do you think he means by “good trouble”?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What characteristics of Christ are discussed in this Scripture?
  • What do you think it means to “have the mind of Christ”?
  • How are we to be “like Christ”?
  • What gets in our way of being like, or having the mind of, Christ?
  • In what ways is John Lewis’ “good trouble” related to being “like Christ”?
  • From where did John Lewis’ courage to get into good and necessary trouble come?
  • How can we tell what is “good trouble” and what is just plain trouble?
  • How can we know when it’s time to get into “good trouble”?
  • How do we have the courage to do what is right, to do what Christ would do, even when it’s difficult or unpopular?
  • Where can you practice having the same mind as Christ?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • The text urges us to be like Christ: loving, compassionate, sympathetic, selfless, humble, welcoming, faithful.
  • Having the mind of Christ aligns our priorities with God’s priorities: serving others, putting their needs before our own, caring for the poor and the powerless, working for justice and reconciliation, being faithful to God, standing up for what is right in God’s eyes and changing what is not, including those who are excluded by society.
  • We are to be “right” sized — to not think too highly of ourselves so that we think we are better than anyone else and not be too critical of ourselves so that we devalue what God created in us.
  • John Lewis’ faith was deep and guided his decisions even from an early age.
  • We are never too young to make a difference.
  • “Good trouble” is working to dismantle injustice, creating communities and societies where all people have what they need to grow into the fullness for which God created them.
  • Lewis’priorities aligned with God’s priorities and that’s how he knew what was “good trouble.”
  • Lewis’ faith in God gave him the courage to stand up for what was right even when it was not popular and even when it was hard or hurt.
  • As we practice being more like Christ, and shaping our priorities and actions to be consistent with Christ’s priorities and actions, we get better and stronger.
  • Our journey of becoming more and more like Christ is not one we do by ourselves; the Holy Spirit works through us and supports us.

Invite those gathered to identify and discuss other people that have gotten into “good trouble” and what they were able to change in positive ways as a result of “good trouble.” If none come to mind, think about people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Marian Wright Edelman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, William Sloane Coffin Jr. and the Parkland shooting survivors. They don’t have to be famous. Perhaps you know of people in your community, school or friends who are working to make the world a better place and more consistent with God’s best intention for the world and for humanity.

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

 

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.

 

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