Graff-Colors-layers_LRAfter a hiatus of a few years, I’m finally getting around to finishing my small group ministry project. With this entry I’ve finally completed the set of small group ministry session plans based on resources from spiritualityandpractice.com. And it’s only fitting that this last session includes a bit of a celebration. So, rather than having group members wait until after the excerpt for the topic is read to hear the question for the day, members should be asked ahead of time “to come prepared to talk about a vivid experience of being fully aroused by life.” They should “also…bring a special goblet, glass, or mug to the gathering.” Why? You’ll have to read the session to find out. I should add that this will be my final entry for Phil’s Little Blog on the Prairie. It’s been a great a fantastic seven years or so at this URL and probably another three years at the previous one (which is no longer accessible…probably some of my best stuff was there, eh?). At any rate, I plan on showing up elsewhere in the interdependent web, and I’m make sure to post an update of where that is when I get there. In the meantime, let’s raise a virtual glass “to life!”

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

— Howard Thurman

Check-in/Sharing

Topic:

An Excerpt from To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking by Harold Kushner

In this primer, Harold Kushner explores Jewish traditions and practices. A key one is to be live life to its fullest, which we call the spiritual practice of zeal.

To life — these two words represent so much of what Judaism is about. They suggest first that Judaism is about how to live, not just what to believe. They convey an optimistic attitude toward life, investing our energy in living rather than in worrying about dying, asking us to enjoy the pleasures of this life rather than noticing all the things that are wrong with it, emphasizing life in this world rather than pinning our hopes on finding satisfaction in some world to come. As the traditional Jewish toast over a glass of wine, To Life conveys a sense of exuberance, a readiness to enjoy the pleasures of this world. It removes from wine, and from other pleasures, that taint of sin and self-indulgence, and invites us to look at all that God has created and find it good. The sages teach us that ‘in time to come, everyone will have to account for all the good things God created which he refused to enjoy.’

Does any other people celebrate the special moments of life, the births and birthdays and weddings, with as much food, as much laughter and as many tears as Jews do?”

Activity: Plan a “Toast to Life” celebration for your group. Have each person come prepared to talk about a vivid experience of being fully aroused by life. Also have each person bring a special goblet, glass, or mug to the gathering. Gather in a circle, bless your goblets, and fill them with celebratory liquids. After each person shares his or her story, all raise your glasses and toast “to Life!”

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

You feel your own life — your heart, your mind, your body, your sexuality, the people and things you are connected to — and you spontaneously fill with the exclamation: “God, it feels great to be alive!” That’s delight.

— Ronald Rolheiser in The Holy Longing

To Practice This Thought: Start your day with the affirmation ‘I am vibrantly alive!’ Say it enough times so that it sinks into your consciousness and seeps into your body. Whenever your energy feels depleted during the day, repeat the affirmation. In the last hours of the evening, let your ‘I am vibrantly alive’ extend outward to support others through your prayers.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Zeal from www.spiritualityandpractice.com.

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Zeal. For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.

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