Create a welcoming environment for your small group. Ideally, chairs are arranged around a table, or there are chairs in a circle. However, this depends on where you meet. You may decide to have some kind of devotional help (a reminder that your time together is set apart, such as a candle, cross or icon) or you may not. You may wish to have a written agenda for the evening, and the group expectations visible, although that is also optional.
- 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, or access to bcponline.org. Hymnals optional.
- A bible (or smartphone; you can access a free New Revised Standard Version at bible.oremus.org) for use during worship.
- Newsprint and markers
- Writing utensils for participants/paper unless using technology
- 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:
This activity will help the participants understand that Jesus was fully human.
Work together to create a “listicle” of the top ten most annoying things about being a human. Come up with an outrageously stupid listicle title. If you’re group is ambitious or particularly talented, come up with accompanying gifs/memes. After you have your list together, go through each item and discuss how that issue would have affected Jesus who lived as a human.
Small Group Conversation:
Directed conversation is the heart of 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.
Here are some questions to get your conversation started. It may be that you move through all of them, or have a 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. These questions are based on the experience of the Living God and responses will be 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?
In what ways does our culture commodify bodies? Why is that problematic? What does it mean for Christians who live in this culture that God had a body, too?
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, 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.