Walking in the Light (John 3:16-17; Matthew 11: 28-30) // Sunday, October 29, 2023

Walking in the Light (John 3:16-17; Matthew 11: 28-30) // Sunday, October 29, 2023

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. 

God didn’t come to condemn us but to save us. God didn’t come to shame us into relationship. God didn’t send Jesus to condemn us and make us run and hide. No, Jesus came to free us from shame and fear and sin and darkness.

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 22nd Sunday After Pentecost

Opening Prayer

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

Scripture Focus

“My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.” —Job 17:7

Opening Discussion & Reflection

Read the following excerpt from chapter 5 of Soul Reset

“I thought maybe if I powered through and just kept working, I’d find a way to be okay. I thought being a good leader meant stuffing down my pain, stress, and heartbreak. I thought I needed to put on a mask and push through my feelings” (page 77). 

  1. Would you say that you tend to stuff down your feelings and power through? Has this worked for you?
  2. What harm does “powering through” cause to our spiritual, emotional, and physical health?

Soul Reset Video

  1. What are some of your thoughts or reflections from the video and chapter 5 of the Soul Reset book?
  2. Pastor Dotson writes about his “year of grief” in chapter 5 of Soul Reset and makes some parallels to the story of Job. What parallels do you see between the story of Job and Pastor Dotson’s year of grief? 
  3. Turn together to the book of Job. Look at the headings (for example: “Job’s Three Friends”) as you scan from the beginning to the end of this book of the Bible. What do these headings tell you about Job’s losses and his faith journey? 
  4. How do you handle it when unexpected storms come into your life? when you experience unbelievable loss? 
  5. Would you say that we do a good job of walking through grief individually and as a community? What would you say is the “right” way to walk through grief individually? in the community? 
  6. What do we do when the grief just keeps on coming? Where is God in suffering? How do we maintain faith in the face of the problems and contradictions that the world produces for our faith? 
  7. “To live an abundant life doesn’t mean we won’t face trouble or storms, or that everything will always be good times, safety, health, and wealth. It just means we have the capacity to deal with things as they come” (page 82). How can you live an abundant life even when you carry grief in your heart? 
  8. “Job’s response to his suffering was to worship. We go to church on Sundays and it’s a ritual: Let’s sing some songs and pray, hear the message, and then go home and eat the roast. That’s not what Job did. His was not an ignoring-my-reality worship. It was raw worship. It was a gut-wrenching laying yourself before God” (page 82). When have you felt led to worship during a season of suffering? Share about that experience. 
  9. Pastor Dotson says that community, authenticity, and being vulnerable with others are tools to fight for our faith when we face devastation. Why do you think community, authenticity, and vulnerability help us fight to keep our faith? 
  10. “Part of my healing process was learning to be authentic and being open with my story and learning to lead by example in the way of vulnerability,” Pastor Dotson writes (page 87). Would you say that you are open with your stories of trial, despair, or struggle? Why or why not? How does openness with our own struggles deepen the power of community? 

Group Spiritual Practice

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 lament. Lament is a form of prayer that gives space for our deepest groanings before God. As we lament, we name the hurt and the pain of what we experience; we don’t sugarcoat it or pretend like everything is okay. Sometimes we lament our individual circumstances. Sometimes we lament the troubles of the world. We can trust that God stands ready and waiting to hold us in God’s hands as we bring our honest, truest feelings to God. 

Right now, on a sheet of paper, write a prayer of lament—maybe over something going on in your life or something happening in the world today. Bring your truest, unfiltered, unedited feelings to God as you grieve and pray for healing.

Silent Prayer

Light a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ in your midst. 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.)

Closing Prayer

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 6 of Soul Reset to prepare for the next session.