by Jen Robertson
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength. The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts. Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7(NIrV)
Grace Gatherings are designed to help create spaces where the Bible can be talked about in a natural way, as part of our normal lives – at home, at church, in the garden, at the park. Anywhere where a little time can be set aside to learn and grow closer to God together.
In the Bible we discover that all generations were often together at significant moments in the story of God’s people. When Moses could no longer be hidden at home, it was people of all ages that made sure he was safe (Exodus 2). When all the tribes gathered on the edge of the Jordan, people of all ages were there together (Joshua 3). All ages were represented as people gathered on a hillside to hear the words of the fascinating new Rabbi and gazed in wonder as everyone had enough food when He said the blessing (John 6).
We shouldn’t be surprised therefore to hear that intergenerational conversations are one of the key activities that help children and young people in Scotland engage with the Bible. In 2019 the Scottish Bible Society undertook a survey to listen to what young people (aged 8 to 14 years) had to say about the Bible. The results of this survey can be read here.
We especially wanted to hear what helped young people engage with the Bible and what made Bible engagement difficult for them. One of the key findings was that conversations with people of all ages helped them understand the Bible better and enabled them to relate it to their own lives.
However, this is not always an easy activity to create within our Church communities. We have been used to splitting people into different age groups and providing each with what we perceive as age-appropriate ways of engaging with the Bible. These peer-based groups are important and will continue to be so, but what they are often missing is the space where stories from different generations can be heard and shared. Stories that share the difficulties and joys that reading the Bible brings. Stories of times when God has spoken through the Bible. Stories of times of struggle but knowing God is with us.
Grace Gatherings have been designed to help different age groups gather around 9 stories from the book of Genesis. Each session starts with conversation ideas around normal everyday things and then is followed by a chance to listen to one of the stories from Genesis. There are then ideas and simple activities to create conversations around that story. These activities allow everyone to participate without having to necessarily share verbally. Each session ends with a time to reflect on the story and to consider how we can know God’s grace and presence.
When God instructed the Israelites to keep his commands in their hearts, he wanted them to make sure that happened in the normal and everyday moments of their lives…Grace Gatherings are a completely free resource to help us do this and can be downloaded here.