Monthly Archives: September 2012

growing in grace


Over the weekend, 21 of our middle school youth got together for fun and fellowship. They made homemade pizza, played team building games, learned about each other, and thought about what it means to be community.

One of the games we played really makes you think. In the first, all but a few of the youth join hands in a circle. Those outside are told to find a way to join the circle. That’s all the instructions that are given.

Almost immediately, the circle tightens, clumps together, and starts trying to keep the “outsiders” out. The “outsiders” then look for ways to force themselves into the circle.

Interestingly, of course, never was there an instruction given to keep anyone out–only for those on the outside to find a way to join. That those in the circle must keep the others out was an assumption made by everyone in the circle, and all but one of the youth outside the circle too.

Why is this our immediate assumption? What does it say about our understanding of community if our first reaction is to keep “them” out? How can we think about ways to widen the circle of grace, to grow in our understanding of God’s grace, to bring the outsiders in rather than looking for ways to keep them out?

In youth group, we used this game as a way to start talking about who we are and how we treat people, how we are a community, and what it means to welcome–who do we welcome, and how, and why?

So…what do you think? Who are we closing the circle against, and why, and how? What would it look like for us to let go of the assumption that there’s an us-and-them, and to let people in? What would that mean for our community going forward?


Prayers of the people: 9/16


Loving God,

we come this day with gratitude for the gift of life,

for the beauty of your world and your people around us.

We also come this day with hurt, with grief, with confusion—

and we lift up to you those who are in pain,

those who suffer, those who live with illness.

We ask for your comfort to surround your people who sorrow,

your peace to surround your people who live with violence,

your hope to surround your people in despair.

There are many things we do not understand,

and so we pray for your wisdom.

Even as we watch news

of riots and typhoons and shooting in our streets,

we call out for your kingdom of justice and peace and love.

And yet we do not always act as if your kingdom is at hand.

Remind us, Lord, to keep our attention on you.

Set our minds on divine things, that we may be agents of your healing.

Focus our eyes on you, that we may not be seduced by other gods.

When our hearts turn to other ways, call us back to your way.

Help us, O God, to follow you, to live like you, to seek your will,

that the world may know your grace.

Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

You have called us to let go of our own vision to follow yours,

and have promised to be with us on the way.

Walk with us and help us to be faithful.

We pray these, and all things, in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus,

who taught us to pray together…