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This resource is on the theme of blessing. The following visual aids are used:
- Paddling pool of water
- A pile of stones
- Chalk pastels
There are a variety of resources here, they are prepared to be used in order but please feel free to pick whatever is appropriate for your context.
HEALTH AND SAFETY NOTE: please don’t try this before checking the voltage of the power connected to the fence!
Have you ever touched an electric fence? If you hold hands in a line and the first person touches the fence you can see the effect of the electricity moving down the line of people. It is like a ripple…
The Ripple Effect is based on the understanding that we are all connected. Thoughts and actions are like stones dropped in a pond, drop a stone in the paddling pool of water, they create ripples that travel outward.
Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far-reaching consequences. Each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world through small decisions.
The bible calls this process ‘blessing’.
We can see an example in Gen 22 when Abraham has followed God’s call and taken his son Isaac up the mountain as a sacrifice…
Reading – Genesis 22
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
Blessing isn’t about naming and claiming things we believe we deserve, it’s about living a Godly life and being drawn further into God’s kingdom. When this happens, drop a stone in the paddling pool of water, the ripple effect is that others too are drawn towards the kingdom.
There’s a dark side to this subject though, a flip side to the coin which is beautifully illustrated in Dominic Holland’s book ‘The ripple effect’ which explores what happens when a jam-less jam doughnut sets off a ripple of anger… One seemingly innocuous event leading to another of increasing consequences, eventually consuming Parliament and the whole country – before returning full circle to impact on the bakery employee who was having a hard day and didn’t put the jam in the doughnut in the first place. We’re not going to focus on the dark side but it’s worth being aware that if we’re not choosing to bless then it’s likely we’re causing ripples of negativity to those around us.
As we begin to reflect on our decisions, for better or worse we’re going to do a confessional activity.
If you would like to join in then we’re going to take a stone and write something you need to confess on your stone (using the chalk pastels), clean it off in the pool of water then write a way you’ve been blessed and we’re going to build a cairn, a pile of stones as a landmark of God’s continued blessing on our lives…
The Eternal Goodness’ by John Greenleaf Whittier
O Friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.
Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord’s beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.
I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.
I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.
Pay it Forward
What are some practical ways that the ripple effect can be seen or used or engaged with in a positive way in our culture? In the west, society is suspicious of people doing nice things – they think we want to sell them something. But there are some brilliant examples of blessing people, what’s become known as ‘random acts of kindness’.
It might be as simple as a bunch of flowers, buying a coffee or the classic helping someone across the road but you will make that person’s day and the happier someone is the more likely they are to pass that blessing on or as one film puts it – pay it forward.
When 12-year-old Trevor played by Haley Joel Osment begins 7th Grade, his social studies teacher Eugene played by Kevin Spacey gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan, ‘play it forward’, which means the recipient of a favour does a favour for three others rather than paying the favour back. However, it needs to be a major favour that the recipient cannot complete themselves.
Here’s a short video about how this concept of paying it forward relates to our call to change the world, to encourage people closer to the kingdom of God.
The idea of paying it forward has become a worldwide phenomenon with Pay It Forwards Day celebrated in over 80 countries.
John 2 :1-11
Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come. 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Jesus didn’t have to do anything. In fact it sounds as if he would rather not have. But he does, he chooses to bless the family of this newly married couple and turns gallons of water into the best wine any of them had ever tasted. We are blessed to bless others to pay it forward. God blesses us not because we’ve asked for something or because we deserve it but because blessing draws us into the kingdom. And we need to pay that blessing forward so that others are drawn into the kingdom too.
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 spell out some of the situations when God blesses us and so perhaps we bless others… We’re not going to go through them all now but one of the prayer stations is based on them and I did want to mention the 9 beats collective who have been working with word smiths and musicians from around the world to create poetry and music on the themes of the Beatitudes. I’m going to use these tracks as our background music while we explore the prayer stations but before that we’re going to sing again.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing