Mystery Worship Series, week 1 — DISORIENTED
October 7, 2018
Small Groups: From Worship To Discipleship
This resource is meant to be used in connection with the worship resources for the Season after Pentecost: Mystery. The subtitle, “From Worship to Discipleship,” is intentional. By deliberately connecting the themes and Scripture from corporate worship to the small-group experience, participants will be more fully formed into disciples of Jesus Christ.
The role of the group leader is not to be the “answer” person or the person with the most biblical knowledge. Often, a good facilitator helps the groups ask the right questions instead of getting to an exact answer. Facilitators should familiarize themselves with the format, questions, possible answers, and background information ahead of time.
Groups should consist of six to eight people. If there are more participants than eight, consider adding more time for the group to meet and/or more groups. Each person that is added to the group will create more relationship dynamics to be managed and might not give each person enough time to share. It is also highly advisable to use a group covenant that will give guidance to expectations of the participants’ roles and manner of speech. Specific items to include should be confidentiality and speaking only for oneself. Each person should be willing to risk sharing his or her perspective, no matter how popular or unpopular.
Another group dynamic to consider is space. If your group meets in a church building, be sure the chairs are soft and the group is set up in a circle. Designate one table for food. If meeting in a home, make sure there are plenty of seating areas; and be sure to limit distractions, such as pets. If your group is meeting in a coffee shop or restaurant, be sure the space will be comfortable, but quiet enough for conversation.
Introduction to the Format
There is a pattern for each week (though notice a slight modification to week 5). The times are suggestions and are loosely based on an hour timeframe. The times should be modified as needed. Each session will consist of the following elements:
Fellowship (Snacks or a Meal; 10 minutes with snacks; longer obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes) — Each session will begin with an opening exercise to foster dialogue and help the participants settle in to the theme for the week.
Optional Opening Exercise —Due to the nature of this season’s theme, an optional opening exercise has been added. The point of this activity is to help participants engage their imaginations and connect with the week’s theme in a more experiential way. Whichever format you use, be sure it fits the participants. Though the activity might seem unusual or even silly for some, and some might give an initial hesitation, a few words of encouragement go a long way. Sometimes, saying “Let’s try it once” will give adults enough motivation to experiment. When using the optional opening exercise, you might replace the gathering time question (with the exception of the first week) or the opening question.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes) —This guide does not include a multitude of questions. The intent is for greater time to be spent on certain questions. During the dialogue sections, you will see guidance and possible answers to the given questions with brackets [ ]. These are only possible answers and are not meant to be exhaustive of other answers. Questions that begin with (R) are meant to be more reflective. This means more time should be spent on these questions relative to others and will often result in participants needing more time to process. It is a helpful practice to allow participants plenty of time to internally process these questions. Don’t be afraid of silence.
Prayer (10 minutes)—Allow each participant who would like to do so to lift up a person or situation he or she would like the group to be in prayer over. Following each request, the leader will pray, “Lord, in your mercy…”; and the participants will respond, “Hear our prayers.” If the situation is warranted and the participant is willing, surround the participant as a group to lay hands on him/her and allow those who are willing to pray for this person and/or situation.
Sending Forth (1 minute)—Ask for a volunteer to send the group out with the printed blessing or read the prayer in unison.
Week 1 — Disoriented
Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Fellowship—Snacks or a Meal. (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes) — In pairs, discuss: “What are you hoping to gain by being part of this group?”
Optional Opening Exercise — Have participants draw or color an image that represents being disoriented. An alternative exercise, especially for more tech-savvy participants, is to have them use cell phones, tablets, or other devices to find images that represent disorientation. Have participants share their images with the group. Another option is to have participants talk about times when they felt disoriented.
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening question: What is your vision of the “good life”? How was Job living the “good life”?
Read: Job 1:1, 2:1-10 (Feel free to read all of chapter one, if time permits)
- How would you have reacted to Job’s trials?
Become an atheist
Pray without ceasing
Rejoice in all circumstances
Curse God and ask for death
- What does this story suggest about God’s power that “the satan” can act only on the permission of God (1:12, 2:6)? [God has control over even the most evil powers.]
- (R) What is at stake for God in his challenge with the Satan? (see note below on Satan) [That God’s followers are obedient only because they receive blessings.]
- (R) Which question do you relate with the most and why?
- If God is all-powerful, why do people suffer?
- If God is all loving, why do evil, tragedy, and suffering exist?
- Why does God seem so absent and quiet in the face of so much pain?
- Why do the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer?
- Where do you turn when you are disoriented?
Job is unique as a book within the Bible. Job gives us no time stamp when the events happened. Unlike many Old Testament books that begin by announcing who is king in Judah or Israel, Job begins, “There once was a man in the land of Uz…” (Job 1:1). Job’s location is not even in Israel. Literarily, Job contains prose and poetry, as well as irony and lamentation.
Although the book is unique, the questions raised in the Book of Job are enduring. Why does suffering come to the righteous? If God is all-powerful, why can’t God keep the righteous from suffering? If God is all loving, why do evil, pain, and suffering exist? Instead of providing neat and tidy answers, the Book of Job invites us to struggle and question along with Job and his friends. Along with Job, we can wonder if having hard luck or difficult circumstances are the result of God’s anger.
Proverbs, one of the other biblical books labeled as a Wisdom book, declares that the righteous will endure and be rewarded, while the foolish will suffer consequences. Job, however, seems to question whether this “wisdom” is accurate. While Job leaves us with more questions than answers, perhaps —even in the age of Google—it will be in the seeking that we find God’s presence.
Closer readers will notice footnotes in the Bible denoting the Hebrew word translated “Satan” is not a proper name. Rather, the Hebrew word is a descriptor of the character’s function — he is the one who examines, the questioner of motivation, accuser of the pious.
Mystery can have a wide range of meanings. There is mystery in the sense of trying to solve a puzzle. “We must solve the mystery before the time is up!” Mystery can also be due to a lack of information. “It’s a mystery why this happened.” Perhaps my favorite understanding of mystery is when there is more information than we can wrap our minds around. Job seems to draw on many of these understandings. The character of Job is left in the dark, unlike the perspective of the reader who reads of the scheming of the divine counsel. Much like Job receives God’s answer from a whirlwind and responds by clasping his hand over his mouth in an act of humiliation and ignorance (40:4), the readers of Job are also left wondering at the majesty and glory of the God who addresses Job. God cannot be contained by our mental categories. This God is free. God will not be manipulated or controlled. Even still, Job, in his disorientation and feelings of being deserted, did encounter God. Perhaps Job’s silence is in response to the God who defied his mental categories, and the only proper response is “awe.”
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (1 minute). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group or read the following prayer in unison:
Almighty God, who always moves with clarity of will and singleness of purpose, help me to live and work with certainty in an uncertain world. Light a lamp before me so that my feet do not stumble. Make my path clear so that I may never wander from your chosen way. I pray in the name of Jesus who comes to make your way clear before our eyes. Amen.
From Rueben P. Job, Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People (Upper Room Books, 1990) 253
1:1 “There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil…. 2:1 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ 3 The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’ 4 Then Satan answered the LORD, ‘Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. 5 But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ 6 The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.’ 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ 10 But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Introduction to the Book of Job
Today we’re starting a series about a faithful man named Job. He loved God and worshiped him. Job obeyed God and did not do wrong things. God blessed Job with a large family and made him rich. But then Job went through very sad times. His children died. His animals were stolen, so he lost his business. Painful sores covered his skin. Even Job’s wife became angry and blamed him for what had happened to their family.
Our verse for today is Job chapter 2, verse 10: “But [Job] said to [his wife]… ‘Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’”
Let’s think about what this means.
God is the Lord, the one who gives us life and provides blessings to us.
Our health, our family, a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear are all gifts from God.
We are happy and thankful to receive the good things that God gives us.
In sad times, God still loves us and helps us. It’s OK to share your concerns and troubles with God.
Can you think of some ways that this message could help you when you lose something?
(Affirm the responses. Add other suggestions as you feel led.)
Dear God, thank you for all the blessings you give us every day, even if we don’t notice them. In our tough times, please help us to keep loving you and trusting you. When we are sad, thank you for staying close to us by your Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.