This session we are looking at two more of the narratives and their associated key issues, namely:
Exodus, freedom and exile/return – justice.
In order to get the most out of this session, the group will need to do some background reading the week before:
Both stories are about deep sorrow and joy. Ask each member to think about a time of sorrow or pain and write on a sheet of A4 one word that summarises that. Do the same for joy or happiness.
Place all the sheets, folded, in the centre of the room. Then stand around the sheets of paper (holding hands, arms around each other, according to preference). The leader then picks up one sheet and asks whose story it represents, inviting that person to share the incident briefly. After a pause, another sheet is selected, then another until time runs out.
Meditate on who God is in the midst of circumstances both joyful and sorrowful. When ready, declare out your praise to God.
Split into two groups for about 25-30 minutes, one half looking at the freedom issues, the other looking at justice.
GROUP A – Exodus/Freedom
Spend 10 minutes building up your recollection of the Exodus story. It may help to answer the following:
- What was the problem?
- Who was involved in sorting it out?
- What happened?
- How was the problem resolved?
In what ways does the story of the exodus connect with the issues of freedom? What were the forces which restricted the Israelites’ freedom whilst they were slaves? In what ways are we restricted in our freedom through our society? How are we influenced by peer pressure, the media, advertising or fear? To what extent do our true values manipulate us?
Freedom always brings responsibility. For Israel it was to worship God and to enter and live in the promised land. Brainstorm some of the freedoms and responsibilities we have today as:
- Western Christians
- People in a democracy
- Healthy individuals
GROUP B – Exile/Return/Justice
Give out pieces of paper and pencils. Ask people to recall an experience of injustice that they have had to face and to relive how that made them feel. Next, encourage them to draw a symbol or simple picture to express their feelings at that time. Then allow people to explain the significance of their drawing, both the facts and the feelings.
Ask someone, who has prepared in advance, to retell the story of the Exile and Return (The Open Book Experience will be a useful starting place).
Encourage people to make connections between their personal experiences and Israel’s. What can be learnt and applied the next time a similar situation arises.
Take two minutes for people to share one insight they have gained. Then pray with one another that people might live out what they have learnt. (Hint: why not check this out next time you meet!?)
Plan some sort of social event for a few weeks time for friends to come along to and use this time to plan and pray more towards it.