Scripture: Luke 19:1–9 (NIV)
Keep the decorations simple. Use Fall colored tablecloths, colored leaves, signs and artwork about being grateful.
Serve coffee, tea, warm cider, cookies or apple cider donuts.
Craft: Prayer Journals
Keeping a prayer journal helps us to focus on our prayers. The idea for this prayer journal is to cultivate a life of gratitude as we write down and pray for the people and things for which we are grateful. We can add people we have meaningful connections with, thanking God for them through focused prayer.
Items Needed: Small notebooks (one for each person), markers and/or colored pencils, stickers and other decorative items. Printed copy of the free printable pictures from https://brendid.com/start-each-day-with-a-grateful-heart/.
Give each participant a notebook. Ahead of time, have copies of the picture pre–printed and cut so that it fits the cover of the notebook. Have participants glue the picture on their notebooks and personalize their journals using the items provided. Once they have designed their notebooks, allow time for everyone to write something in their journals as a starting point. Guide them to include what makes them grateful. Ask what are they grateful for today in their own lives? What are they grateful for in their corps community? What are they grateful for in the community at large? Have handouts with several scripture verses that they can write on different pages. An example of some verses can be found at https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-community/.
How Connected are You?
True connections take time, commitment and courage. That means making relationships a priority. While social media can make it seem bonding with others is as easy as clicking a “like” button, we are called to go deeper with each other. There are downfalls that come with the easy connections made through social media. Have you ever read something that a friend posted and found yourself in disbelief at what your friend said? There is an issue with reading something that someone shares. We cannot read inflection. We can read it one way, but the writer may have meant something different all together.
Our seasons of life and circumstances will impact our capacity for connection, but we can all pause and ask, “What can I do to truly connect with the people around me?” Even a little bit of time or encouragement can make a big difference.
We live in a fallen world, and we are fallen people. That means that inevitably conflicts will come, personalities will clash and disappointments will happen. When they do, how do you handle it? Do you face it head on? Do you run away or ignore it? Do you complain about it to others? Being intertwined means choosing to stay even when it is hard.
Humans are social beings and we crave connection with others. Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves to the point that connections with others falter or disappear completely. When we turn to God for help, our hearts are changed and gratefully these connections can be restored. We stop focusing so much on ourselves and we can once again reach out to others. Having these connections, especially with other believers, helps us grow in our relationship with Christ.
Zacchaeus was seeking meaningful connections. Somehow he knew Jesus had the answer, so he overcame challenges (a short man in a crowd) to make eye contact with Jesus. Recognizing the desire of Zacchaeus’ heart, Jesus stopped, looked right at him and invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house for a meal. That encounter changed Zacchaeus’ heart forever. He not only connected with Jesus, but out of that new relationships changed his priorities in life from money to people, and he started making real connections with his community. Evidence of his transformed heart was his desire to begin building relationships with those in his community, amending the harm done to others.
Zacchaeus was thankful that Jesus did not look past him as others had done. His heart was grateful and that moved him into action. When our hearts become grateful, our entire world changes. Are you connecting with your community?
Prayer Chorus: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.
Challenge: Encourage each participant to reflect on how they can make better connections with others in the community and challenge them to do it.