Finding Refuge in God in the Midst of Isolation
Our twelve session Catalyst series for the 2020-21 year, entitled, "Forsaken: Finding Refuge in God in the Midst of Isolation" will begin on November 13, 2020, and end May 28, 2021.
The focus of this series is the lament prayers of Scripture. We know that the feelings of loneliness, despair, and loss of meaning are realities for many people. They were a reality before COVID (when our youth leadership team decided upon this topic), and even more since the pandemic has caused activities and events to be canceled and friends to remain physically distanced. These feelings of loss and loneliness can shake our confidence in God and leaves us questioning why suffering happens. Therefore, in this series, we will use the practice of crying out to God in lament to give language to lived-out experiences and consider how hope can be found in the midst of suffering.
Every third Friday night we will gather online together for worship, teaching, and discussion in-person. The teaching portion will also be linked below after each Catalyst. Youth are encouraged to join their small group (otherwise known as Tribe) discussions throughout the week using Flock (click here to join) and participate in the bi-weekly challenges. A page for parents to further engage in conversation with their teens regarding this topic at home is also linked below.
Title: I Cried Out to God for Help
Date: November 13, 2020
Summary: Laments, a crying out of the soul, are found throughout God’s word. The psalmist cries out to God (in fact, one third of all psalms are considered to be lament psalms), Lamentations contains the cries of Jeremiah, Job questions God as he loses everything he held dear, and even Jesus expresses deep sorrow and anguish. In this Catalyst, we will discuss where laments are found in the Bible and the form of these laments - noting how lament moves from plea to praise; drawing the reader into anticipation and creating a pathway between our current reality and the hope to come.
Passage(s): Overview of laments found in the Old and New Testaments (specifically Psalms, Lamentations, Job, and the Gospels).
Title: His Love Endures Forever
Date: November 27, 2020
Summary: To lament is to speak out the reality that we are experiencing, which is the general absence of God’s shalom. Scripture speaks of God’s hesed, commonly translated to “lovingkindness,” which appears over a hundred times within the psalms. To cry out in lament is to come before the Lord with expectation that His hesed will be made evident and He will fulfill His covenantal promises as we endure reality that goes against God’s character.
Passage(s): Psalm 86 and 136
Title: Hear My Voice
Date: December 11, 2020
Summary: A frequent theme in the Psalms is to seek the face of God. Yet, it is not so much about our seeing God, but our being seen by God. We bring our anger, fear, and grief before God, as a cry for relief from suffering with the desire to be seen and heard by God. In this Catalyst we will discuss what it mean to be seen and heard by God.
Passage(s): Psalms 143
Title: How Long?
Date: January 22, 2021
Summary: Lamentations begins with this profound word: ‘ekah’, the Hebrew word for ‘how.’ In fact, this word is the title for Lamenations within Hebrew Scriptures. As we learn to lament, we must begin the same way and express our ‘how’ questions to God.
Passage(s): Lamentations 1:1 and Psalm 13
Title: He Will Save
Date: February 12, 2021
Summary: God is bigger than anything we endure in this life. We belong to God and each day comes to us from the gracious hand of God. Yet, our world is full of suffering, corruption, brokenness, and even our own sinful nature. We want to acknowledge our own brokenness while we traverse a cross-shaped path in which Christ crucified is revealed. We turn to God knowing both His justice and His mercy and that the day will come when all tears will be wiped away.
Passage(s): Psalm 51
Date: March 5, 2021
Summary: Although we may not endure hardship ourselves, we know that countless others are suffering each and every day. We lament as an act of protest for the way things are alongside those who are hurting. We pray on behalf of friends or other groups of people, hearing the voices of others, and bearing their pain through prayer. In this Catalyst, we will write communal laments within our Tribes.
Passage(s): Psalms 79
Title: They Conspire
Date: April 16, 2021
Summary: While we, as Christians, are called to love our enemies, this is not the same as pretending that we have no enemies. We may be facing bullying, attacks, or people twisting our words. Sometimes we may even have vengeful words to say against our enemies due to the pain they have caused us. Yet, as the author of Psalm 56 writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in [the Lord].” Even our rawest emotions can be brought before God. Loving our enemies is a process through which we trust God as the Holy Spirit comes alongside us. In this Catalyst, we will write another lament prayer during this Catalyst.
Passage(s): Psalm 56 and 140
Title: Though They Forsake Me
Date: May 7, 2021
Summary: All of us have felt forsaken at one point or another. We can even feel abandoned by those who care about us – our family and our friends. The truth is, we are not alone. No matter what we face, hope exists. No matter how hard things get, God’s love reaches us and transforms us. In the midst of our darkest times, we can find the unexpected surprises, the glimpses of hope that make us smile even when we are sad.
Passage(s): Psalm 27
Date: May 28, 2021
Summary: Not all laments end in praise. Some are left with the psalmist still in darkness (see Psalm 88), yet these psalms still give us hope that God can handle even our hardest pleas and protests. Even the most despairing protests can be brought before God. But how do we continue to pray when we really don’t want to? When God feels silent or worse - absent. These are the most difficult times in our faith, but our hope is not found through striving to see the bright side or through absently praising God because we feel we ought to. Instead, the embodiment and answer to all of our prayers of lament can be found in Christ, for through his suffering, all things are made new. This is hope. This is why we lament.
Passage(s): Psalm 88