- Chairs need to be arranged around a table or in a circle.
- Devotional helps are set up. This may be a candle, a cross, an icon, or something else that helps remind the group that their time together is blessed by God. They may be placed in the center of the table, or in some other visible place.
- A written agenda with expected timing should be clearly visible.
- Group expectations are hung where participants can see them.
- An extra copy of Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John prayer journal in case a participant forgets his or hers.
- Books of Common Prayer for each participant. Hymnals optional.
- A bible for use during worship.
- Newsprint and markers.
- Writing utensils for participants.
- Participants will be able to articulate what the Incarnation of Jesus means in their lives.
Invite participants to be seated comfortably either around a table or in a circle of chairs. If there is a candle, light the candle. Invite participants into a period of silence. You may wish to keep silence for 1-4 minutes. However long you decide, let the group know how long it will be, and that you are keeping time. At the end of the silence, pray this or another suitable prayer:
Jesus, image of the invisible God, by your words and example, and by your divine life abiding in us, teach us to see and know the God of Love, whose Light and Life you came to reveal. Amen.
Using the process of mutual invitation as outlined in “Getting Started: Meeting Jesus” begin the check-in process with your group.
- Did you meet God embodied anywhere this week? Where did you brush up against Jesus this week?
- How was the process of journaling? What surprised you? (N.B. this is a question about process “How did journaling/praying go for you?” not content “What did you journal about?”)
Small Group Activity:
Reminder: You can find different activity options in the Teen, Young Adult, and Older Adult curricula.
This activity will help the participants understand that Jesus was fully human.
Distribute pieces of paper to the group. Ask them to list the top ten most emblematic things about being a human. Explain that these things can be weird, or painful, or amazing. Draw a large outline of a human on piece of newsprint. Ask participants to call out or write “what it is to be human” in the general area of the experience/around or in the outline. For example, “Humans have hearts that can break” would go over the left breast of the figure. Go through the all the items together and talk about whether or not Jesus would have experienced that as a the unique person that Jesus was. Invite the group to reflect on how God is able to relate to humanity.
Small Group Conversation:
Small group conversation time is the heart of your work together as a small group. Sharing our personal stories and accounts of faith is only possible in an atmosphere of trust and mutuality. Tips for a fruitful conversation can be found here [link).
Here are some questions to get your conversation started. You may move through all of them, or get stuck in deep conversation with the first question you ask. You may choose to ask your own question that speaks to the needs of your group. What matters is that participants are engaged with each other. Because these questions are based on the experience of the Living God, they are unique to each person. There is no right or wrong answers, there is only further discussion and exploration of our relationship with God and one another.
Briefly share about a time that your body had a surprise for you. Given that surprise, what does it mean to you that God also chose to become incarnate, to have a body?
How does knowing that God experientially understands human limitations, physical pain, sickness and death change the way you pray?
In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, we say that we believe in the “resurrection of the body.” Does this influence the way you think about your body or your faith?
In the resurrection stories of John 20, Thomas says that he needs to put his finger in the wounds of Jesus before he believes that the man before him is Jesus, resurrected. What are the ways you have been able to “touch” Jesus?
Do you participate in the Maundy Thursday foot washing? Why or why not? Why do you think Jesus commands us to wash one another’s feet?
Invite group members to share feedback with each other by using one of these prompts:
- Where did the group have a lot of energy? Where was the energy lacking?
- Where did you feel close to God? Where did you feel far away from God?
- Where did you meet Jesus in your session today?
- Where did you see light from the Holy Spirit?
- What did you notice about our time together?
- [If short on time!] Please describe our time together in one word.
- Remind group members that they will start with Week Three Day One in their journal tomorrow. The theme of the upcoming week is Close to the Father’s Heart.
- Remind participants that videos are available online [link], and that the social media campaign will be starting if they would like to participate online.
- Ask for a volunteer to lead worship next week, if this hasn’t already been decided.
- If there is a meal or refreshments, remind the group of their decisions regarding food and clean-up, or ask for volunteers.
Worship is the time we give thanks to God for all the gifts of our life and for our time together. Because Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John is a gift of the Society for Saint John the Evangelist, a monastic order in the Episcopal church, we recommend using the Daily Office, which is a cornerstone of monastic life.
Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families, found on pages 136-140 of the Book of Common Prayer, offers a wonderful and simple framework for your prayer time together. You may choose to use the recommended psalms and readings found in the BCP; supplement with our recommended readings; prayers and songs; or choose your own. Hymns may be sung a capella, or read as poetry. Be sure to make time for prayer intercessions, and encourage the group to pray for one another and loved ones.
For the week of The Word Became Flesh, we recommend:
- Scripture: John 1:1-5, 14, 16-18
- Hymn: My song is love unknown (Hymnal 1982 #458) What wondrous love is this (Hymnal 1982 #439)
- Collect: Jesus, image of the invisible God, by your words and example, and by your divine life abiding in us, teach us to see and know the God of Love, whose Light and Life you came to reveal. Amen.
If your group is meeting in the evening, you may also wish to use the service of Compline, found on page 127. This is a brief, beautiful, and very popular service.
Your worship leader may wish to do something more creative or context-specific, like use another liturgy, lead a meditation, invite participants into silence, lead participants in song, or use prayer beads together. There are many other ways to worship God. Taking into consideration the theme for the week, we invite you to explore what that might look like together.