Formation groups through Easter Season, starting today, have a historically different role than either during Lent or Holy Week. Lent was about establishing holy habits. Holy Week was about abiding with Christ and one another to face his death and all that it means for us, for the earth, and for the universe. Easter Season is about “mystagogy” or “learning the mysteries.” This learning comes in two forms: doctrinal formation (what are theological and doctrinal grounds of ministry, Eucharist, and baptism) and ministry formation (claiming our ministry and beginning to practice it in ways that enable us to be one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world).
Each week’s group meetings during Easter Season point forward to the coming Sunday. For this week, your groups will explore together the meaning of the baptism they have received or come to reaffirm.
Here is a suggested agenda for this week’s first Easter Season Formation Group meeting.
- Brief, informal time of gathering — (10 minutes or so) — with snacks to share.
- Formal gathering — seated in a circle in chairs or around a table — with requests for prayer for the coming week (10 minutes)-- and prayer led by the group leader or unison in the group. If the latter, one practice I’ve found useful in leading such groups is immediately after a person shares, the whole group pauses, then says in unison, “Into your hands, O God, we commend our sister/brother/sibling(s) Name(s).” Proceed to the next person and repeat until all who wish to offer requests for prayer have had the opportunity to do so.
- Teaching and Conversation — (45 minutes) — For this week, we also have two choices for your session time. Give each participant a copy (or a link) to our new resource, The Meaning of Baptism in The United Methodist Church by Dr. Mark Stamm. You may then either discuss the main points of this new resource, or view the webinar “Baptism and the Bible in The United Methodist Church.” If you do the latter, give each participant a copy of the Participant Handout to make notes of key ideas or questions they wish to raise. This webinar is 36 minutes long. This will give you time for about 10 minutes of conversation at the conclusion of the webinar or interspersed throughout it. If you find you have questions you can’t answer, contact me, Taylor W. Burton-Edwards, and I’ll be glad to respond ([email protected] or via the UMC Worship Facebook group).
- Gather in a circle or huddle, lay hands on one another, one by one, and pray in unison, “X, may you continue to grow in Christ in the days ahead.”
- Thank all for coming, and send the group out to keep learning and living the baptism they have received.