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40 Days of Prayer – Day 26: Gathered in Community

Fellowship Group, Week 4

The Faith of the Community: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” (Luke 5:20)

Gathering

(5 minutes)

Begin this weekly session with a period of centering. Out of the silence, read today’s Gathering Passage from Luke 5:17-26.

Sharing Insights

(20 minutes)

This week’s daily devotionals continued the emphasis on being “Gathered in Community.” Review this past week’s readings and journal notes. What fresh insights have you gained from this week’s devotional readings? Which queries were the most meaningful to you? What action steps did you undertake this week? Invite group members to share insights.

Group Reflection

(25 minutes)

Invite a member to read the following group reflection:

I serve as an on-call chaplain at a hospital in my hometown. Sometimes I am called to respond to emergencies as they arrive at the hospital. The scene in the emergency room seems chaotic as medical professionals rush about tending to the critical needs of patients. As a chaplain, I am called to provide spiritual support and comfort for family members who seem powerless in the midst of such chaos. At times I am blessed to be with people who possess hope and faith on behalf of their loved ones.

While the scene of a modern emergency room is far removed from the context of our Gathering Passage, the compelling hope and faith of family and friends are the same. In this passage the friends of the paralytic man were determined to bring their friend before Jesus. When they couldn’t break through the crowd of people, they climbed on to the roof of the house, made an opening, and lowered their friend through the ceiling. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”

While the focus of this passage shifts to the controversy of Jesus’ words of healing, we can learn much about Christian fellowship from this little community of stretcher bearers. These stretcher bearers recognized the need of their friend; they sought to show their love in practical ways; they recognized they could not do this work on their own. I even imagine them enjoying each other’s company and having a few laughs as they attempted several ingenious ways of getting their friend to Jesus. I picture these guys measuring to see if their buddy would fit through the window or calculating the logistics of digging a tunnel under the foundations of the house. More importantly, this was a community who embodied faith for their friend. Jesus recognized the faith of this little community and healed the man.

As Christ’s gathered community, you are called to be stretcher bearers for each other—you may even be the one carried to Christ. Prayerfully consider this calling as it relates to your faith community. Allow time for reflection and conversation.

• In what ways might our Fellowship Group be stretcher bearers for others?
• What are the characteristics of good stretcher bearers?
• When have I been carried by others?

Going Forth

(10 minutes)

Share community concerns and praises. Close the meeting in mutual support and prayer for one another.

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