Week 3: Out of the Whirlwind
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, have participants share a time when they were left with an overwhelming sense of awe.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Job 38:1-7, (34-41). (Read the entirety of chapter 38 or more, if time permits.)
Optional Opening Exercise:
Have participants draw or color an image that represents silence. An alternative exercise, especially for more tech-savvy participants, is to have them use a cell phone, tablet, or other device to find images that represent silence. Have participants share their images with the group. Another option is to have participants talk about times when they felt silence was the most appropriate response to an experience.
- How do you most often experience silence?
- Have you ever asked an ill-timed question or asked a foolish question that received a harsh reply? Share.
- Skimming through chapters 38-39, what do these questions from God suggest about God’s power? [God maintains control over the forces that humanity struggles to control – creation, nature]
- Why doesn’t God give a direct answer to Job’s questions? Do you think Job could grasp it if God did? How might this speech give a new vision of God and of relating to God, who loves us completely?
- (R) What do we learn about God from how God answers Job? Do you think God’s reply will help Job to trust God more? [God is beyond Job’s categories and framework of understanding; God is outside of Job’s control; God is perhaps more majestic than Job could have imagined previously.]
- (R) As a group, compile a list of questions participants have for which there are no answers or unsatisfying answers. For example, “Why do suffering and pain persist while God seems absent?” Resist the urge to give answers to the questions identified by the participants. (There will be other occasions for that.) Have a volunteer pray over the list of questions. A sample prayer:
“Almighty God, your ways are higher than our ways; your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Forgive us of our pride and times when we thought we knew better than you did. Give us humility that thinks not less of ourselves, but of ourselves less. Give us eyes to see how much we depend on your providence and grace. Renew our minds that by faith we would trust you ever more deeply today and each day following. Amen.”
Leave time for silent prayer.
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:
Almighty God, forgive us when we think we have you all figured out. May your Holy Spirit blow like a whirlwind through us as individuals and as a community of believers to glimpse the enormity of your love. And in the awe of your nature and character, empower us to reflect your love to those around us. Amen.