The Community Guide below is based on Sunday’s teaching from our Matthew series. As your whole Community gathers (online or socially distanced), use the Community Guide below to give shape to your night together.
Begin by Practicing the Lord’s Supper Together (5 minutes)
Begin your night by partaking of the bread and the cup together. Have each person bring their own Communion elements. To facilitate your time, you can either ask a member of your Community to come ready with a short prayer, liturgy, or scripture reading, or assign someone to read the scripture we’ve provided below and spend a moment in silence before continuing.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Emotional Health Check-in (20-30 Minutes)
We want to continue to create space for checking in on each other, but doing so in a shorter amount of time. Take a few minutes to do an emotional health check-in with your Community, creating space for each person to answer the question below:
- As we begin June, what is one thing you are excited about? What is something you find yourself dreading?
If the need arises, spend a few minutes praying for one another, asking God to meet needs and help each person carry what feels heavy right now.
Read this Overview (5 Mins)
The day Jesus was arrested, he went out to a park near Jerusalem, called the Garden of Gethsemane, with some of his friends to spend a few hours praying. He prayed knowing that his time to die was nearing. In agony and fear, he spent hours crying out to his Father and asking God to not let him have to suffer, pleading that the cup of suffering would pass from him. But he ended by saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father meant that even in the hardest times of his life, he would seek with everything in himself to trust and submit himself before the Father. Jesus held a fierce grip on reality and a fiercer grip on God.
Meanwhile, while Jesus was in one of the most agonizing moments in his life up until this point, he had asked his friends to pray as well. But each of the three times he came back to them, he found them sleeping. In this dark time of suffering, Jesus found himself to be alone. Whether or not you can relate to any of this at this point in your life, you likely can recall a moment where some of what Jesus was feeling — fear of suffering, let down by loved ones, and utterly alone. This week we want to spend some time practicing to pray the way Jesus in this park so long ago.
Debrief this Sunday’s Teaching (20 Minutes)
With that in mind, work through the following discussion questions as a Community:
- In the teaching, we talked about the difference between our strongest desires and our deepest desires. Considering the words of the Welcome Prayer, which tends to be your strongest desire: affection, security, or control?
- Why do you think it’s hard to give God your feelings or your desires?
- Hardest of all is to give God your trust. Why do you think that is? And what would happen in your life if you were able to do that?
Practice For The Week Ahead: Exercising Holy Imagination (5 minutes)
While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a type of prayer some call the Gethsemane Prayer. This prayer has three movements: to give God your feelings, to give God your desires, and to give God your trust. Spend some time this week — 30 seconds or 30 minutes — praying a Gethsemane Prayer:
First, find a quiet place and spend a moment breathing in deeply. Pay attention to your body and what you’re feeling. Invite the Holy Spirit and continue praying. Remember that before we can be honest with God about what we want, we need to be honest with ourselves. So take each step slowly to really allow yourself to sink into the truth of reality.
- Feelings: The first part of Jesus’ prayer is to give God your feelings — to be honest with God about your emotions and about what you feel about what is going on. Take a moment to assess what you are feeling and then to honestly share your feelings with God.
- Desires: The second part of Jesus’ prayer is to give God your desires — to be honest with God about what you want or don’t want to happen. Take a moment to ask yourself what you would prefer to see happen and then share that honestly with God.
- Trust: The third part of Jesus’ prayer is to give God your trust — to, at the end of it all, be able to ask that God’s will would be done. Of the three, this one can be the hardest. Remember that your deepest desires are not always your strongest desires. This prayer can be as simple as praying what Jesus did, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Prayer (20 Minutes)
Spend a few minutes praying for God’s grace over each other, that we would become a people who are honest with God about feelings and desires, and who can learn to be the kinds of people who trust God through it all.