2. Crumbling Walls

Crumbling Walls

Part 2 of the Spotlight series "Membership is Passing" 
Have you ever experienced the feeling of being “guilty by association”? If so, when?

Once you've broken the ice, get into the idea of this Spotlight with the another question, this one about feeling left out. Use the clip below for this.
(And welcome, by the way! It's great that you're here!)
Hopefully that makes enough sense to get you started.

Pray this prayer to get into it:
A sinful world is full of disappointing realities,
unfulfilled promises, and lackluster results.
Fill us with hope even as we navigate
the frustrations we experience as we strive
toward your ideals, and thank you for the hope
that your kingdom is coming.

Welcome Perspective: Even the best of our earthly institutions is bound to fall short.
It doesn't take long to find the flaws in a human institution - all you have to do is look, and - if human beings are involved - sin, selfishness, bad decisions, exclusivity, unkindness, and the like will be there.

If God is really perfect, and if God is truly faithful and unchanging, then God is remarkably different from humankind in this regard. In the Bible's book of songs (the Psalms), King David (whose own reign was as marred by coup attempts, assassinations, and political upheaval as it was glorious in victories and wealth) reflects on this kind of a God. Read his words aloud:

Psalm 8
1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants 

you have established a stronghold against your enemies, 
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, 

human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels 

and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; 

you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, 

all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Unfortunately, faith in a God whom we can only see indirectly is much more difficult than putting faith in the noisy, constant powers that exist on earth. 
Read these words from Revelation 21 together. They were written by the Apostle John as he saw a vision of his own of the kingdom God was bringing:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and there was no longer any sea.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

Respond to this by listening to and reading along with the poem "Mending Walls" by Robert Frost.

Press play on the video below. You can read along with the story in the video itself or by using the text beneath the clip.
Mending Walls by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Worship Perspective: It is for the best that the things we try to build will all fall apart.
Learn Perspective: We can't avoid fences, so we shall try to use them well when possible.
Get serious about your Gather event. 
As a group, you should...
  • Select the nationality you'll focus on in your event. 
  • Select a date, time, and location for the event. 
  • Begin to divide up the responsibilities for group members to make the event a success. 
Serve Perspective: Creating belonging includes stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Prayer Activity
  • If you'd like to open a note on your phone or jot notes on paper, you are welcome to do so.
  • Have a volunteer begin by praying for open hearts and a spirit of empathy in your group as you listen to the prayer requests that are shared in a few moments. 
  • Go around the circle, allowing each person a moment to share two prayer requests:
    • one for someone they care about
    • and one for themselves.
  • Once everyone has shared, pray silently about each request, following these steps: 
    • Reflect on Each Request: Spend a moment thinking about each request shared, trying to feel empathy and understanding for each situation.
    • Pray Silently: Begin to pray silently for each request in turn. If it helps, participants can use their notes to remember each request.
    • Pray for Words and Wisdom: Ask God to provide comfort, solutions, and wisdom to each person and situation mentioned.
    • Pray for Peace and Healing: Seek God’s peace and healing over each need, trusting in his power to work in every circumstance.

You can use the instrumental song below to govern the length of your silent prayer time.

Prayer Requests

Close your time together by singing along with the song Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. 
Farewell Perspective: Institutions may crumble, but God is building something much better.

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