What is happening? It wasn’t supposed to be like this! It is impossible to deny that the church—like many other Western institutions—is going through enormous change. Some suggest we are in the midst of epochal transformation from Christendom to Post-Christendom. These large societal forces are noticeable in changing attendance patterns and diminishing societal influence. “Where are you, God, and why is this happening?” we cry. Haggai was a prophet who also found his people feeling despondent about the future as they recalled the good old glory days. His messages were written in 520 BCE. The people once had a splendid, vibrant temple, but now their building and future seemed challenging. God’s message to the people was: “take courage…for I am with you…be not afraid…I am going to do something even more splendid.” Can you hear that message today?
Beginning of the meeting Read the reflection above and then reflect on the two questions below.
Discussion Questions Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence, then turn to another person and discuss.
- When you think about the future of your church, what worries you the most?
- What can you celebrate about the church today? What is good about your church now?
After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to talk about their insights and reflections in the larger group.
Before reading the scripture passage from Haggai, have everyone try saying the tongue-twister names found in the reading.
(For a bit of fun, have a little prize for the one who can say all the names the quickest, correctly.)
Quiet yourself. Become more aware of God’s presence.
Haggai 1:15b-2:9 Listen for God speaking through the text to you.
15 On the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month. 2 In the second year of King Darius, 1 in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? 4 Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; 7 and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.
Discussion questions continued.
Reflect on this question for a few moments in silence, then turn to another person and discuss.
3. What do you hear God saying to you and your church today? What is the Good News from this passage?
After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to share their messages of Good News with the larger group.
For the church universal, of which our buildings are a visible symbol, We thank you, Lord.
For your presence whenever two or three have gathered in your name, We thank you, Lord
For places where we may be still and know that you are God, We thank you, Lord
For the fulfilling of our desires and petitions as you see best for us, We thank you, Lord
For our past and a vision of the future that lies ahead, We thank you, Lord
For the gift of the Holy Spirit that renews, strengthens and nudges us forward, We thank you, Lord
O God, from living and chosen stones you prepare an everlasting dwelling place for your majesty. Grant that in the power of the Holy Spirit those who serve you may always be kept within your presence. This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Word has been known in your time together.