Session 7: My Church and My Life - The Lifeboat
By the end of this session participants should be able to . . .
1. identify the Church as the community where they can learn how to be truly themselves as God created them
2. discuss how the Church is the community where all people can learn to grow in wisdom, service, and love for God and each other
3. define our relationship with the Church as our relationship with God, Himself, and with all of God’s people, both alive and who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
4. list the following as part of the Church: the people in our parish, our diocese, our Church in North American, the Orthodox Churches throughout the world, all the saints, all of God’s people both living and deceased, and with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
St. John Chrysostom, “In the Church the joyful will preserve their joy; in the Church the heartbroken will find courage; in the Church the troubled will become happy; in the Church the spiritually weary will find rest; in the Church refreshment beckons to the heavy laden . . .”
“She (the Church) is your salvation; she is your refuge. She is more lofty than the heavens; she is more far-reaching than the earth. She never grows old; she always stays in bloom. And so scripture indicates her permanence and stability by calling her a virgin; her magnificence by calling her a queen; her closeness to God by calling her a daughter.”
Say, “We’ve talked about our relationships with God, ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbor, and our ‘love.’ We have one more relationship to talk about: our relationship with the Church.” Write the words “The Church” on a very large surface. Have a number of markers available. Tell participants to come up and write down words and phrases that relate to their relationship with the Church. They can write down more than one phrase. When everyone is done, have participants explain their comments, allowing for questions from others. Be prepared for negative comments based upon their feelings.
Split participiants into groups of 2 or 3. Write the “Useful Texts” above on poster boards so that everyone can see them. Based upon their comments and the “Useful Texts” have each group write two or three sentences that explain why God established the Church. Come back and share results.
Say, “The Church gives us the support and guidance we need to grow closer to Christ and each other; to be the person God created us to be and live a life were people see God working in us.”
Ask and discuss the following questions:
Who are some people in the Church who are there to help us in our journey? [Others in our parish, our diocese, the Church in America, the Orthodox Church all over the world, our guardian angel, our patron saint, and Jesus Christ Himself.]
How can our relationship with the Church help us in our lives? [Gives a sense of the meaning to our lives, preaches against doing things that are harmful for us, challenges us to be “all that we can be,” etc.]