A soul reset is an invitation to slow down—to take stock of what you have given your heart to, of how hard you are working, and whether or not you are working hard at the right things. This new series will serve as an opportunity invitation for our congregation to lay down our collective burdens and fall into the grace of God, learning together to follow Jesus’ unforced rhythms of grace day by day. My prayer is that we, will grow deeper in God’s love and deeper as community as we reset and recalibrate, so we can get back to the most important things, such as time with God and being in relationship with each other.
Guest Preacher: Reverend Christy Ann Clark
Rev. Christy Ann Clark is a Commission Deacon of the United Methodist Church (UMC) , Executive Director and pioneer of Strengthening the Black Village (SBV), mother to a 16 year old son and wife to Marlon. Through facilitating, Effective Black Parenting courses, leading parent support groups, and training, individuals, congregations and communities to conduct parenting courses, Christy and SBV stand in the gap for families impacted by involvement with child welfare systems, and help others firm up strong foundations of family and community connections. SBV was born out of her vision to unite faith, government and community leaders in a shared mission of “weaving together villages of care for the nourishment of the souls, bodies and minds of our children.”
Christy earned a Master’s of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working toward earning her Doctor in Ministry from Fuller. In addition, she earned double B.A. Degrees from California State University, Monterey Bay. Her undergraduate degrees are in Human Communications, and Collaborative Health, Human Services and Public Policy.
Raised in a combination of foster homes, group homes and kinship care settings, God helped Christy overcome traumatic beginnings, and called her to support, inspire and guide others who might otherwise not see hope and joy in their futures. Christy, a beloved, faithful, young Black woman with a visual impairment and a rough beginning, stands as a testament to God ‘s grace, love and power.
Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak into your life! Expect great things!
Preparation for the Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
Gracious and loving God, you are a God of new beginnings. You created us to be whole, unique, abundant-life-living children. Though we get too busy and disconnected before we even realize it, you are full of grace to offer a reset. You bring us back, refresh our spirits, and make us whole again. As we walk this journey to wholeness, prepare our hearts to let go of what is holding us back. Teach us again what it means to live lightly and freely, walking with you each and every day. Come and be present in our conversation and fellowship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So, he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. —1 Kings 19:5-9 23
Opening Reflection & Questions
Read the following excerpt from chapter 4 of Soul Reset:
“What are you doing here? Have you ever asked yourself this question? If there was ever a time for us seriously to consider what it means to experience genuine and authentic renewal in our lives, then it is such a time as this” (page 65).
- Reflect and Discuss: What do you think Pastor Dotson meant by this statement?
- Does that sentiment resonate with you? Why or why not?
Soul Reset & Video
Watch the Soul Reset video for Session 4: Take Care of Yourself.
Choose several of the following questions for your discussion time. (It is not necessary to answer them all; more important is that you give yourself time for a good, thoughtful discussion of the questions you choose. Be sure to leave enough time for the Group Spiritual Practice.)
- What are some of your thoughts or reflections from the video and chapter 4 of the Soul Reset book?
- Take turns reading 1 Kings 19:1-10. What is happening to Elijah in this passage? What happened right before these verses? What happens right after?
- Discuss the parable of the retired greyhound dog and the rabbit. What about this story resonates with you? What do you think is the moral of the parable?
- “Success is an illusion if it is not defined by the values of our faith. Success will make you feel overly responsible if it is not grounded in your faith” (page 67). Do you agree with those statements? Why or why not? Have you ever felt “overly responsible” for a success? Tell about that time.
- Pastor Dotson writes, “Exhaustion and burnout are rampant in church today. Church leaders and pastors are burning out at alarming rates. People are quitting ministries and pulpits because they are exhausted and have lost passion for their work. The truth is that life wears down even the best of us” (page 68). What does it feel like to be exhausted or burned out? How have you seen exhaustion and burnout in your church? at home?
- Pastor Dotson says that often we reach exhaustion and burnout not because we’ve failed, but because we didn’t manage success well. Do you. agree? Why or why not? What are some examples in our world of people who failed because they didn’t manage their success well?
- Elijah was never out of the care of the almighty God, whether he was winning, running, or hiding. What does it mean to you that you are never out of God’s care—even when you are running on empty?
- “Trouble is a platform for the display of God’s almighty grace and power in our lives” (page 68). What do you think this means? When have you seen a display of God’s grace and power in a troubled time?
- Pastor Dotson writes, “We sometimes get so caught up in trying to change the world—transforming the world, a worthy mission—that we keep going and going and going. Pretty soon we are no longer operating under the power of God, and we begin to try to operate out of our own strength” (page 69). What is the difference between operating out of our own strength and operating under the power of God? Have you ever known this to be true in your own life?
- “If we allow our jobs and activities to work us into an early grave, then they will. God knew about the need to rest” (page 69). What is your understanding of sabbath? Why do you think God created the sabbath?
- “God’s salvation is for our whole selves: God cares about our bodies, our minds, and our souls. Sabbath rest is a must for a soul reset. It is an essential ingredient for spiritual, emotional, and physical renewal” (page 70). Have you ever considered that God cares about your spiritual, emotional, and physical health? How do you take care of your whole self—what are some of your rituals and routines for healthfulness?
- Have you experienced a time of feeling completely defeated and depleted, and then, after a good night of rest, gained some perspective and new strength? Tell about that time.
- Elijah won a battle, then fled for his life, then encountered God’s care, then hid in a cave, waiting for a sign from God. His ups and downs were extreme. God asked Elijah what he was doing there in that cave. What metaphorical caves have you hidden in? Have you ever felt God ask you, “What are you doing here?” What was that conversation with God like?
- What is the “on-the-balcony” exercise that Pastor Dotson describes at the end of chapter 4? Do you have a similar practice? How does taking a “30,000-foot view” of your life help you avoid the traps of burnout and exhaustion?
Read aloud: Each week of our soul reset experience; we will learn about a spiritual practice that will help us to seek wholeness. This week, we look at the spiritual practice of sabbath. Sabbath is a gift from God—a gift that gives us permission to rest, to stop, to be restored. It’s not only a gift, but also one of the Ten Commandments. Talk about how you can add a sabbath to your week. Invite volunteers to share how they are practicing sabbath. Ask: How will you set the time apart? What will you do? What will you stop doing? How can you create a culture where sabbath rest is welcomed and encouraged at your church, so that exhaustion and burnout are things of the past?
Read aloud: In the silence, assess the state of your soul before God. What is bringing you joy in these days? (Pause one minute.) What is bringing you a sense of burden in these days? (Pause one minute.) What is God saying to you about making a soul reset? (Pause one minute.)
God, thank you for the invitation to really live. Free us from the ways we have made a burden out of your abundant life. Help us reset, lay down our burdens, and step into your freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
ጼ Encourage group members to read chapter 5 of Soul Reset to prepare for the next session.