Sacred Space: A Resource for Small-group Ministry

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1 Sacred Space: A Resource for Small-group Ministry Year B Focus: Palm Sunday Scripture: Mark 11:1 11 NRSV Gathering Welcome Prayer for Peace Ring a bell or chime three times slowly. Light the peace candle Holy One, mysterious One, we have entered this quiet space in search of peace. Softness and safety surround us, almost enfold and cradle us. It is good to be in this place where our minds can be still, our breathing can slow, our spirits can be soothed. We need these moments. Within them we can open our deep places, our soul places, to you. And it is in you that we find the possibility of peace awakening and igniting our dreams once more. We become weary, God. Weary of believing in the healing of all nations, weary of hoping for the reign of your compassionate justice in all lands. We become afraid of the violence and toxic hatreds that engulf the human family. We weep for the children, for the mothers and fathers of the children. We hope we will not have to hear another story of human life beautiful, miraculous life wasted frivolously as though it were of no value. But the world outside these walls is a sea of such stories. And at times we feel we will drown in the tears of Earth s peoples, your people, God. Creator, we come with dissonance in our beings: a longing for the holy peace that would name all persons sacred and in which none would hurt or destroy in your holy mountain forevermore. And coexisting with this longing, a knowledge of brutality and suffering of such magnitude we cannot bear to understand the depth of its reality. Meet us now, God, in this aching, yearning, empty space and break our hearts wide open. Connect us with both the suffering and the sacredness. For if you are the strand of grace between these realities, we shall be able to bear the anguish of the not yet as we live into the healed, holy creation of the yet to be.

2 Breathe your enlivening Spirit upon our weary frames. Wipe the tears from our eyes, lift the dark curtain from our minds, enflame our cold hearts with the bright joy of your love. Speak peace, your peace into the silence of this moment, Creator. And we shall believe it in this moment and work for it in all the moments to come. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen. Carolyn Brock Spiritual Practice Dwelling in the Word I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear the scripture, allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you. After a brief moment of silence I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear the scripture again, listen for how God s Spirit is nudging you or catching your attention. Read the scripture: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:26 29 NRSV Pause, and then read the scripture a second time: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:26 29 NRSV Questions 1. As you listened to this scripture what words, phrases, or images came to mind? 2. How have you experienced God s steadfast love? Sharing Around the Table When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, Why are you doing this? just say this,

3 The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately. They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, What are you doing, untying the colt? They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1 11 NRSV Today s passage is Mark s account of Jesus arrival and entry into Jerusalem. The people had varying expectations of the Messiah, and all were a threat to power. If the Messiah came as a warrior king, like David, it was a threat to the Roman authorities. If the Messiah were an ancient prophet, like Elijah, it threatened the power of the temple authorities to speak for God. If the Messiah were a great priest who would cleanse the religion and set new standards of righteousness, it threatened the temple authorities and Pharisees. But Jesus rode the colt into Jerusalem to send a message of humility and peace. He did not ride a horse, symbol of war, privilege, and power. He gave the Romans no excuse to arrest him. He was displaying a peaceable kingdom, in solidarity with the weak and oppressed. The disciples finally understood that Jesus was the Messiah, but things looked so different from their expectations. They put cloaks and fresh branches on the road, a custom reserved for royalty (2 Kings 9:13). They shouted, Hosanna! which meant O save! and was used to express hope for deliverance in battle. The people sought war, not peace judgment, not grace. They announced the coming of the reign of David, not God. Jesus presented the people with a choice. Would they support an alternate peaceable kingdom of God? Or would they reject his message of peace and transformation? Questions 1. When have your expectations of Jesus Christ been misplaced or unfulfilled? 2. How can people today mirror the humility and peace Jesus intended for his entry into Jerusalem? 3. Where do you see God working to bring about the kingdom? Sending Generosity Statement Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f). We receive God s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple s Generous Response:

4 God of rejoicing, We share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen. Invitation to Next Meeting Closing Hymn CCS 461, Ah, Holy Jesus Closing Prayer Optional Additions Depending on Group Sacrament of the Lord s Supper Thoughts for Children

5 Prayer for Peace Ring a bell or chime three times slowly. Light the peace candle Holy One, mysterious One, we have entered this quiet space in search of peace. Softness and safety surround us, almost enfold and cradle us. It is good to be in this place where our minds can be still, our breathing can slow, our spirits can be soothed. We need these moments. Within them we can open our deep places, our soul places, to you. And it is in you that we find the possibility of peace awakening and igniting our dreams once more. We become weary, God. Weary of believing in the healing of all nations, weary of hoping for the reign of your compassionate justice in all lands. We become afraid of the violence and toxic hatreds that engulf the human family. We weep for the children, for the mothers and fathers of the children. We hope we will not have to hear another story of human life beautiful, miraculous life wasted frivolously as though it were of no value. But the world outside these walls is a sea of such stories. And at times we feel we will drown in the tears of Earth s peoples, your people, God. Creator, we come with dissonance in our beings: a longing for the holy peace that would name all persons sacred and in which none would hurt or destroy in your holy mountain forevermore. And coexisting with this longing, a knowledge of brutality and suffering of such magnitude we cannot bear to understand the depth of its reality. Meet us now, God, in this aching, yearning, empty space and break our hearts wide open. Connect us with both the suffering and the sacredness. For if you are the strand of grace between these realities, we shall be able to bear the anguish of the not yet as we live into the healed, holy creation of the yet to be. Breathe your enlivening Spirit upon our weary frames. Wipe the tears from our eyes, lift the dark curtain from our minds, enflame our cold hearts with the bright joy of your love. Speak peace, your peace into the silence of this moment, Creator. And we shall believe it in this moment and work for it in all the moments to come. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen. Carolyn Brock

6 Spiritual Practice Dwelling in the Word I will read a scripture aloud. As you hear the scripture, allow words, images, or phrases to come to mind. Try not to focus on them. Let them rest with you. After a brief moment of silence I will read the scripture a second time. As you hear the scripture again, listen for how God s Spirit is nudging you or catching your attention. Read the scripture: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:26 29 NRSV Pause, and then read the scripture a second time: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:26 29 NRSV Questions 1. As you listened to this scripture what words, phrases, or images came to mind? 2. How have you experienced God s steadfast love?

7 Sharing Around the Table When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, Why are you doing this? just say this, The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately. They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, What are you doing, untying the colt? They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1 11 NRSV Today s passage is Mark s account of Jesus arrival and entry into Jerusalem. The people had varying expectations of the Messiah, and all were a threat to power. If the Messiah came as a warrior king, like David, it was a threat to the Roman authorities. If the Messiah were an ancient prophet, like Elijah, it threatened the power of the temple authorities to speak for God. If the Messiah were a great priest who would cleanse the religion and set new standards of righteousness, it threatened the temple authorities and Pharisees. But Jesus rode the colt into Jerusalem to send a message of humility and peace. He did not ride a horse, symbol of war, privilege, and power. He gave the Romans no excuse to arrest him. He was displaying a peaceable kingdom, in solidarity with the weak and oppressed. The disciples finally understood that Jesus was the Messiah, but things looked so different from their expectations. They put cloaks and fresh branches on the road, a custom reserved for royalty (2 Kings 9:13). They shouted, Hosanna! which meant O save! and was used to express hope for deliverance in battle. The people sought war, not peace judgment, not grace. They announced the coming of the reign of David, not God. Jesus presented the people with a choice. Would they support an alternate peaceable kingdom of God? Or would they reject his message of peace and transformation? Questions 1. When have your expectations of Jesus Christ been misplaced or unfulfilled? 2. How can people today mirror the humility and peace Jesus intended for his entry into Jerusalem? 3. Where do you see God working to bring about the kingdom? 4. Where do you see God in the world working to bring about the kingdom?

8 Generosity Statement Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 165:2f). We receive God s grace and generosity. The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response. This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple s Generous Response: God of rejoicing, We share our gifts joyfully and with thanksgiving in response to the generous gifts you have given us. May the offerings we share bring joy, hope, love, and peace into the lives of others that they might experience your mercy and grace. Amen.

9 Communion Statement We come together to share in the Lord s Supper as a visible witness of loving Christian fellowship and shared remembrance of Jesus Christ s death and resurrection (Doctrine and Covenants 164:4a). All committed followers of Christ are invited to partake, but no one should feel pressured to receive the emblems. During this Lenten season let us share in Communion as an expression of blessing, healing, peace, and community. In preparation let s sing Community of Christ Sings 527, Bread of the World.

10 Thoughts for Children Materials: ribbons inches long (enough for everyone to have at least one) Today is Palm Sunday. It is called Palm Sunday because waving palm leaves in the time of Jesus was a way to show excitement and to honor someone. What are some ways we honor someone? Encourage responses and give examples: Take a picture of them, clap when we see them, shout excitedly or sing, like at a birthday party. Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem. He sent his disciples to bring a donkey so he could ride it into the city. Many people were excited to see him. They waved palms and laid their coats in front of him as a sign of honor. They shouted Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! We can wave our ribbons like the people waved palm branches (hand out ribbons). Let s all shout Hosanna! three times and wave our ribbons: Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! Invite the children to keep their ribbon to remember that we honor Jesus and are excited to have him in our lives.

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