Week 4

To Seek to Transform Unjust Structures of Society

Opening Prayer: from Thomas Merton’s A Book of Hours.

Almighty and Merciful God, Father of all, Creator and Ruler of the Universe, Lord of History, whose designs are inscrutable, whose glory is without blemish, whose compassion for the errors of men is inexhaustible, in your will is our peace. Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us. Resolve our inner contradictions, which now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment and a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience, we would not have to endure them. Grant us to seek peace where it is truly found! In your will, O God, is our peace! Amen.

Theme
Transforming communities by first being transformed yourself. How do we respond to ‘the other’, both inside the church and outside it?

Beginning with the text (20 minutes):

Mark 7:24-30 (Matt. 15:21-28)
Read through once. What is the text about in one or two word answers?
Read it a second time with a different translation.
What was going on in this story?
Who won and who lost in that exchange?
Is there anything about this story that makes you feel uneasy?
Anything you found comforting?
What does this story say about the woman’s faith?

Getting into the text (20 minutes):

Does this story have anything to do with power? With justice?
Does it have anything to do with structures in society that need to be changed?
What role does faith play in seeking to transform the unjust structures of society?
Does prayer play a role? Does humility play a role?
How does our perception of others influence the way we treat them? (i.e. the woman)
How much do you yourself have to change in order for you to change the world around you?

Moving to Action (10 minutes):

In this passage, unlike in other healing narratives, it doesn’t state that the woman becomes a follower of Jesus after her daughter is healed.
What should our expectations be in seeking the good in others?
Do we seek to transform the unjust structures of society in order to create converts, or do we do it in response to the inherent dignity of others?
How is Christ’s glory manifest when we do this?

How does Mark 7:24-30 speak to us?
Does it remind you of anything that is happening or has happened within your community?
In what way does it encourage what is already happening in our community?
In what way does it call to question what we are doing?
Are we being called to reach out to new people or reach out in new ways?
What ministries or communities are already doing this? How can we support them?

Takeaway Questions:
What is one thing we (as a church) or you can commit to engaging with in order to transform the unjust structures of society?
Where might we find allies (other churches in our neighborhood, other faith groups, community organizations, activist organizations to begin to advocate for change?

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