11 I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29.11)
Some dear friends of mine and I planned and led worship for Synod School in Storm Lake, IA. It’s a Presbyterian Church (USA) denominational conference. It is a conference that is multi-generational – something for every age.
The theme of the conference came from Jeremiah 29.11, a Future with Hope. Throughout the week the theme was broken into a hope and a struggle.
Day one: LOVE into Hope . . . Exiled from COMMUNITY
Day two: LEAN into Hope . . . Exiled from SECURITY
Day three: LAUGH into Hope . . . Exiled from JOY
Day four: LEAD into Hope . . . Exiled from COURAGE
Day five: A Future with Hope
During each worship, we did a ritual that involved paper-making. This ritual can apply to different themes and scripture, but here is how we processed the theme.
LOVE into Hope . . . Exiled from COMMUNITY
Each participant was given a piece of colored paper and a pen. During worship, they were invited to reflect on their own sense of community and answer any of the questions – “How does God call you to be in community?” “Write a name(s) of someone who is community for you.” “What ingredients are essential for you in your own community?”
The colored paper was collected as their offering to the response of God’s word and message. Baptismal water was poured on the paper as a sign that we are all created as God’s children and united in baptism.
LEAN into Hope . . . Exiled from SECURITY
In preparation for this worship service, we made paper using the colored pieces of paper.
Each participant was invited to sprinkle seeds on the wet paper as an act of leaning into hope.
LAUGH into Hope . . . Exiled from JOY
Each participant was invited to playfully color the paper as a joyful act of hope. The paint is water and food coloring.
LEAD into Hope . . . Exiled from COURAGE
Each participant was invited to write a message of hope and courage as their act of leading into hope.
Then, their messages of hope were collected as their offering of response to God’s word and message.
A Future with Hope
Each participant was invited to choose a piece of seeded colored paper. They were instructed to take this message of hope written by someone else and plant it in their yard. As the seeds begin to grow into plants, let it be a reminder that as a community, God calls us to love, lean, laugh, and lead into hope.