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Rooted in love — Family faith formation @ home: July 25

Photo by Andrew Shelley on Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Shelley on Unsplash

Note:  Please have paper and colored pencils or regular pencils, pens, markers or crayons available for later in the session.

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: Ephesians 3:14-21

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

This passage is a prayer for the community of Ephesus. For the second reading, ask someone to read it aloud as if they were saying it as a prayer.

Connecting through story

Watch this video of the Angel Oak Tree.

The Angel Oak Tree is on Johns Island just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It is thought to be 500 years old and has a life expectancy of another 300-400 years. This live oak tree is thought to be the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. It is a massive tree that stands 66.5 feet tall (longer than a bowling lane) and has a circumference of 28 feet (it would take almost 5 adults holding hands to circle its trunk). Its canopy is about 2,000 square yards (the size of three and half basketball courts). Its longest branch is as tall as Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World and the root system is so expansive that there are 35 acres of land to protect it — that’s 1,524,600 square feet!

  • What thoughts came to your mind as you encountered this tree?
  • How do you think the root system became so expansive and strong?
  • What do you think is the purpose of such a strong and expansive root system?

You can learn more about the Angel Oak Tree here and here.

Connecting with our lives

 Engage in dialogue:

  • What are the specific things lifted up in this prayer for this early Christian community?
  • Which of those things do you think our communities of faith need now?
  • There are many themes and phrases in this prayer. Which ones resonated in your mind and heart?
  • What do you think the texts means by “rooted and grounded in love”?
  • Why does it mean to be rooted?
  • What does it mean to be grounded?
  • Why do you think the author of this letter uses both words?
  • Why do you think the author was specific about being rooted and grounded in love?
  • What do you think it means to be rooted and grounded in love?
  • What difference would it make in our lives (our families, our communities, our nation, our world) if each of us lived out being rooted and grounded in love?
  • What/who is your root system?
  • What grounds you?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Over the last three weeks we have explored texts from Ephesians. The emphasis on God’s love for us – initiated and given freely by God through Jesus Christ – is a central theme.
  • In this week’s passage, the author of this letter reminds us to be rooted and grounded in love.
  • Love is to ground everything we do, as it is the root of our faith.
  • In horticulture, the root system is the way in which trees and plants absorb the nutrients they need to grow and live. The roots strengthen the trunk that supports the crown that provides the shade for flowers. Roots need to be grounded in rich soil in order to thrive. Love is the fertile soil where our faith is rooted and it is this love that grounds and guides the way we live our faith.
  • This love in which our faith and our very lives are rooted and grounded is not some fanciful or emotional love, but the love of Christ that passes all human knowledge. It is not an intellectual discussion of love but an experience of love. It is the kind of love that God gave to us in Christ — it is love that comes from grace (not merit), a love that gives grace to others, a love that prompts compassion and justice for others, a love that is enduring. It rarely makes sense to a world based on a market economy where value and worth are determined by what one does or earns. This love is based on God’s grace economy and surpasses any human construct. This is the kind of love that roots, ground and sustains our faith.
  • When we are rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, then we can embody and give that kind of love to others — it shapes the very nature of our life of faith.

Think about that which roots and grounds your faith and guides your life of faith. Who are the people, what are the experiences and where are the places you receive and experience the love of Christ? Draw a tree with a root system below the soil. Write the names, places and experiences of love that nurture the way you live out your faith along the root lines. Share those with your gathered family and give thanks for the ways in which your faith and life of faith is rooted and grounded in love.

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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