Wilderness and Community

Opening prayer –

Begin by praying this prayer.

God, our refuge and strength, you have bound us together in a common life. In all our conflicts, help us to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, to listen for your voice amid competing claims, and to work together with mutual respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Part 2: . Wandering In the Wilderness

The Israelites are out of Egypt, but what should have been a relatively short journey to the promised land is taking a little longer than expected.  As the people of God wander through the wilderness (both literally and figuratively) they face times of doubt, moments of conflict and experience God’s presence powerfully.  Here are two examples of what happens to the people in the wilderness.

Times of Doubt – A Golden Calf

Moments of Conflict and Times of Presence

The Wandering in the Wilderness lasted a long, long time.  Take a look at this timeline to get a fuller picture of the Israelites’ time in the wilderness and to find references for where you can look in the Bible to learn more about this journey.

Exodus/Wilderness Timeline

 

Part 3:  Living in Community

Becoming a community isn’t always easy.  The Israelites get out of slavery, but now they have to figure out how to live together and to faithfully as God’s people in the world.  Thankfully the Israelites don’t have to figure it out alone.  God is there to help.

Discovering Identity

The Gift of the Law

One of the ways that God helped the people live in community was through the gift of the law that helped organize the people and give structure to their relationships with one another.  Take a look at this list of the 613 laws.  To get a sense of the types of practices covered, scroll down until you find the laws related to idolatry, idolaters and idolatrous practices (numbers 312-357) and comment below with the law you find the most surprising.

Part 4: So What Does this Mean?

The story of the forty year journey in the wilderness is told in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  As they people of God finally get close to reaching the end of their journey in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tries to help prepare them prepare for the future.  Here’s a quick summary of the trip that gives some perspective to the experience.

Comment below on what you think we can learn from the journey through the wilderness?

Part 5:  Closing Prayer

Closing Prayer – Pray the follow prayer at the close of the session.

Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Bless our land with honesty in the workplace, truth in education, and honor in daily life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance; and from every evil course of action. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Opening and Closing Prayers from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2014 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.