Planning for a group worship time this summer? Try one of these practices, from Sandy Safford.
This activity focuses on the practice of forgiveness–on receiving a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning through the grace of God.
- Oriental rice paper (sold by the roll at stores that carry art supplies), cut into 3-4 inch squares
- Washable markers (brown & black are preferable)
- Large clear glass/plastic bowl, filled with water
- Reflective music
- Give participants a square of rice paper and a washable marker. Set the bowl of water in front of you or on a table in your room.
- Using Scripture, a devotional, or a story, invite your group to reflect on the meaning of forgiveness. Give them an opportunity to use the paper and markers to write or draw the sins for which they need forgiveness. As they work, begin playing the reflective background music.
- When they feel ready, invite them to come and place their paper in the bowl of water as they silently ask God to hear their prayer of forgiveness.
- Once all the papers are in the bowl, gently stir the water as you give all of the “sins” to God. Have the group notice what has happened: the papers are now white again; the writing has dirtied the water instead. Comment that when we ask God for forgiveness, our sins are washed away just like the water washed away the words.
- See and know that God forgives you no matter what!
Give It to God
This activity focuses on the practice of prayer–reminding us that God hears our prayers, accepts our burdens, forgives us, and makes everything new. Can be used in worship or to reinforce a lesson on “Letting Go and Letting God.”
- Blackboard spray paint (any craft or art store)
- Items to write on: possibilities include stones, broken terra cotta pottery (plant tray/saucer is easiest), wood scraps, etc.
- Ahead of time spray paint the items you are using with the blackboard paint, rotating so entire surface is covered
- Give each participant a painted object and a piece of chalk.
- Using Scripture, a story, or a devotional, invite the participants to think of burdens they sometimes hold onto instead of giving them up to God. Have them write or draw those things on their object.
- Comment that once we have given God our burdens, prayers, worries, and confessions, they belong to God; they are no longer ours to carry.
- Share a group or silent prayer, giving up and giving to God those things that we carry and need to let go of. Show the group how to use a wet cloth to wipe away the burdens from the surface as a reminder that they’re no longer ours! “Let Go and Let God!”
Sandy Safford has served as a Christian Educator for 25 years at a variety of churches in Utah and Colorado. She currently is a Commissioned Ruling Elder serving Byers Community Church as pastor in a rural Presbyterian Church (USA) in eastern Colorado. She also serves as a Partner and Consultant for FAITHSENSE Consultants for Educational Ministries, LLP.