FORSAKEN:

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 14, 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 other Friday night we will gather 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. 

MOVEMENT I 
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).

MOVEMENT II
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

MOVEMENT III
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

MOVEMENT IV
Title: How Long? 

Date: January 15, 2020 

Summary: Jeremiah begins Lamentations 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 

MOVEMENT V
Title: Have Mercy 

Date: January 29, 2020 

Summary: We have no firm answer to the question of why we suffer. While some suffering may result from the world’s brokenness, corruption, or our own sinful nature, other suffering is not the clear result of something. We never want to minimize the atrocities of others; however, we know that no one can claim to be completely free from sin and there are a few cases where the psalmist cries out in repentance asking God for forgiveness. In this Catalyst, we want to acknowledge our own brokenness in the form of a prayer.

Passage(s): Psalm 51 

MOVEMENT VI 
Title: My Soul is Downcast 

Date: February 12, 2020 

Summary: Lament allows us to express our deepest sorrow to God, but also ends in praise of Him. It is bewildering to consider how such polar opposite feelings can coexist within one writing, yet, these feelings can exist simultaneously. There may be times when we can’t seem to move past our sorrow, but other times when all we feel is praise. In this Catalyst, we will practice writing our own prayers of lament. Youth can choose to write a prayer on behalf of another or may choose to finish the praise section at a later date, that is alright. The reality is, we simply do not know how long it took the biblical writers to craft their laments. It is not a process to rush.

Passage(s): Psalm 42

MOVEMENT VII
Title: He Will Save 

Date: February 26, 2020 

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. It is precisely out of our trust in God’s sovereignty that we bring our laments and petitions to the Lord. Our petitions are not denied because of lack of faith, instead, we traverse a cross-shaped path in which Christ crucified is revealed even through suffering. Thus, we turn to God knowing that the day will come when all tears will be wiped away.  

Passage(s): Psalm 40 and/or 91

MOVEMENT VIII
Title: Justice 

Date: March 12, 2020 

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 44, 79, 90, and/or Lamentations 4

MOVEMENT IX 
Title: They Conspire 

Date: March 26, 2020 

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. Yet, as the author of Psalm 56 writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in [the Lord].” Loving our enemies is a process through which we trust God as the Holy Spirit comes alongside us. We will write another lament prayer during this Catalyst.

Passage(s): Psalm 56

MOVEMENT X
Title: Curse 

Date: April 16, 2020 

Summary: We may try to love our enemies, but sometimes all we want to do is curse them. These vengeful words are known as imprecatory laments. The word, imprecatory, can be translated as “a calling down of evil.” It is a cry for others to experience the same pain that they have caused us. Even our rawest emotions can be brought before God as we evaluate our feelings towards our enemies.

Passage(s): Psalm 109 and/or 140

MOVEMENT XI 
Title: Though They Forsake Me 

Date: April 30, 2020 

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

MOVEMENT XII
Title: Silence 

Date: May 14, 2020 

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

CONTACT US 

Bethel Community Church 

14204 25 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T5Y 1G5
780-476-3762 

Bethel Youth 

Melanie Wright 

Director of Youth Ministries

melanie@discoverbethel.com 

Cell #: 780-660-9621  

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