God’s Renewed Creation - Session Four, Leader’s Guide


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God’s Renewed Creation - Session Four, Leader’s Guide

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God’s Renewed Creation - Session Four, Leader’s Guide

  1. 1. Session Four: Leader’s GuidePreparation names of the organizations in the appropriate circle of the newsprint diagram. Ask who from the congregation is • Collect the following materials: newsprint diagram involved with any of the organizations listed. Place a starfrom previous sessions, markers, copies of “Session Four: next to those.Participant Material,” Bibles, United Methodist Hymnals, Consider asking those named to write an article forworship center from previous sessions. the church newsletter, create a bulletin board, speak to a • Check out the web site www.hopeandaction.org for church gathering, or develop some other way to informadditional stories and information that you may want to the congregation about the work of the organization.incorporate into the session.1. Introduce the Theme 3. Reflect on the Pledges Ask participants to read “Pledges” in the participant Review the steps you developed in the previous material. Ask them to recall their earliest memory ofsession to reduce the congregational carbon footprint. being in conversation with someone whose life experienceReport any progress that has been made, and continue was dramatically different from their own. Encouragewith any planning that needs to occur. participants to tell these memories, reflecting on the Light the candle as you recall the symbolism of the following questions:Bible, the globe, and the candle on the worship center: to • What did I learn from the experience?orient our lives toward God’s holy vision, to practice • In what ways was my life enriched?social and environmental holiness, and to live and act • Were there any long-term results ofin hope. the conversation? Divide into three groups and assign each group one Then ask them to recall their most recent memory ofof the three interrelated threats. Ask participants to focus being in conversation with someone whose life experienceon the assigned threat as they listen to Matthew 19:23-26. was dramatically different. Encourage participants to tell Then break into groups of three, so that each group their stories, reflecting on the previous questions.has one person who was focusing on each threat. Ask Brainstorm a list of opportunities for participantsthem to discuss the following questions: to engage in dialogue with people who have different • How do you think this scripture relates to the threat life experience. These could be as simple as visiting a you focused on? restaurant frequented by immigrants and engaging in • What word of hope do you find in the scripture? conversation with the workers, to more formal things Encourage participants to record their words of hope such as enrolling in an interfaith dialogue experience.in the appropriate circles on the newsprint diagram. Encourage each person to select one thing that they will Then sing together the first four stanzas of “We Utter do in the next week.Our Cry,” page 439 in The United Methodist Hymnal.2. Read Segments of the Documents 4. Pray Together Pray together the lament, “We Mourn a World of Distribute copies of “Session Four: Participant Inequality and Injustice,” printed in the participantMaterial” and ask the group to silently read the sections material followed by a time of silent prayer. Close bytitled “From the Letter.” and “From the Foundation singing again the first four stanzas of “We Utter Our Cry”Document.” and praying this prayer: Use the following questions as a springboard for fur- May God’s grace purify our reason, strengthen our will,ther discussion: and guide our action. May the love of God, the peace of Christ, • Where do these segments of the Letter and and the power of the Holy Spirit be among you, everywhere and Foundation Document intersect with your passions? always, so that you may be a blessing to all creation and to all • What do you want to learn more about? the children of God, making peace, nurturing and practicing Dividing back into the three previous groups, ask hope, choosing life, and coming to life eternal. Amen.each to identify existing organizations (local, national, Encourage the group to explore the items in “Goingworld) that are working to develop solutions to the Further” during the next week.assigned threat. As each group reports back, write theGod’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action Session Four: Leader
  2. 2. Session Four: Participant MaterialFrom the Pastoral Letter prayer vigils that include people from ten different countries. God is already visibly at work in people and groups We feel the energy in thousands of ministries everyaround the world. We rededicate ourselves to join these day in our United Methodist connection. We are strength-movements, the movements of the Spirit. Young people ened and inspired by the Toberman Neighborhood Houseare passionately raising funds to provide mosquito nets in San Pedro, California, which provides services for gangfor their “siblings” thousands of miles away. prevention and gang intervention, family counseling andDockworkers are refusing to off-load small weapons mental health, child care, and community organizing. Thebeing smuggled to armed combatants in civil wars in Toberman House is one of 100 national mission institu-their continent. People of faith are demanding land tions, founded by the women of the Methodist traditionreform on behalf of landless farm workers. Children and in 1903 and still supported by UMW Mission Giving.young people have formed church-wide “green teams” to Today, we are increasingly aware of the powerful roletransform our buildings and ministries into testimonies of that young adults are playing to transform our societiesstewardship and sustainability. Ecumenical and interreli- and to challenge our church to live out its commitmentsgious partners persist in demanding the major nuclear to social justice, creation care, and peace. For example,powers to reduce their arsenals, step by verifiable step, every year, young adult interns with the Micah Corps inmaking a way to a more secure world totally disarmed of the Nebraska Annual Conference immerse themselves innuclear weapons. God is already doing a new thing. With social justice education, training, and advocacy on behalfthis Letter and the accompanying Foundation Document, of the poor and marginalized in their state.we rededicate ourselves to participate in God’s work, and During the many listening and learning events thatwe urge you all to rededicate yourselves as well. informed the Pastoral Letter and Foundation Document, participants did much more than articulate their concernFrom the Foundation Document about poverty and disease, environmental degradation,Call to Hope and Action and weapons and violence. From ages ten to one hun- John Wesley insisted, “The gospel of Christ knows of dred, they expressed their deep desire to do somethingno religion, but social. No holiness but social holiness. about these problems and their great hope that change isFaith working by love is the length and breadth and possible. These conversations raised awareness aboutdepth and height of Christian perfection.” (Preface to several things:Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739, ¶ 5) Ours is not solely a 1. We must study, observe, learn from, and listen to oneprivate faith, but one that also orients us toward God and another, especially to victims of these threats. Some ofthe needs of our neighbor and world. At a time when us are indeed aware of these problems, but less awarepeople are cynical about religion, United Methodists must of the interconnections, and even less aware of ourcontinue our rich heritage of “faith working by love” as personal connections and complicity or the dramatican example of the church’s ability to make a positive urgency in what is already happening in our communi-difference in the world. ties. We must listen with particular care to our young The leaders and members of our denomination have people, whose knowledge, consciousness, and impa-a long tradition of speaking truth to power, naming tience for action can be energizing and inspiring forinjustice and advocating for right relationships and equi- us all.table sharing among all God’s peoples. Today, UnitedMethodists protest racism and abuse directed toward 2. We can be re-energized and spiritually renewed byillegal immigrants and challenge local and federal author- the examples from our own Wesleyan and Unitedities to maintain a democracy open to all people. In Methodist heritage and experience. We belong to anArizona, Bishop Minerva Carcaño joins thousands in amazing denomination with transforming potentialprotest, and in Texas, United Methodist Women and the already active and agile in thousands of ministryBoard of Church and Society organize interreligious settings including legislatures, parliaments, and congresses. Copyright © 2010 by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Reproduced by permission.God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action Session Four: Participant
  3. 3. 3. We need an ongoing word of hope as we follow Wesley We Mourn a World of Inequality and Injustice out into the streets and communities to face uncomfort- We see a world where some live opulently while able and difficult things and connect with others work- others barely survive; a world where the innocent suffer ing for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. and the corrupt profit; a world where too many still find4. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). We their opportunities and freedom limited by skin color, have immense hope, and it will grow as we study, act, gender, or birthplace. We know the boy who is caught in and connect. the snare of drugs and violence and the girl who is raped or forced into prostitution.Pledges 3. We pledge to practice dialogue with those whose life expe -rience differs dramatically from our own, and we pledge to prac -tice prayerful self-examination. For example, in the Council Going Furtherof Bishops, the fifty active bishops in the United States are • The Web site www.hopeandaction.org hascommitted to listening and learning with the nineteen other articles and stories that relate to theactive bishops in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pastoral Letter.Philippines. And the bishops representing the conferences • Read more about the Tobermanin the United States will prayerfully examine the fact that Neighborhood Center at www.toberman.orgtheir nation consumes more than its fair share of the • Read about the experiences of the Micahworld’s resources, generates the most waste, and pro- Corps at http://micah-corps.blogspot.comduces the most weapons. • Read John Wesley’s sermon, “The Character 4. We pledge ourselves to make common cause with reli - of a Methodist.” It can be found atgious leaders and people of goodwill worldwide who share these http://new.gbgmumc. org/umhistory/wesleyconcerns. We will connect and collaborate with ecumenicaland interreligious partners and with community andfaith organizations so that we may strengthen ourcommon efforts. Copyright © 2010 by the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Reproduced by permission.God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action Session Four: Participant