In this program, the closing worship circle offers a time for the group to come back together to enrich each other's understanding of the story and of their own life experience. This is not a show-and-tell experience, but rather a participatory, co-created worship experience. You will need to do just enough planning to provide a container for participants to share with one another and grow in spirit. You cannot script a co-created worship service, but you can guide it so that all participants feel heard and valued, and all hear and value the voices and experiences of others, regardless of age or life stage. With practice, you and the participants will become adept at co-creating worship to end each workshop.
Here are suggested elements for the closing worship for Workshop 7, Isaiah — Exile and Hope. Add, subtract, and adapt to fit your situation:
Recording of "Bein' Green" by Joe Raposo, the Sesame Street Song writer. It was recorded by Kermit the Frog as well as many other musical artists.
Use chalice lighting words familiar to your congregation or use Reading 452 from Singing the Living Tradition.
Hymn 279, "By the Waters of Babylon," in Singing the Living Tradition. Invite song leaders to help you sing this piece as a round.
Making Sense of Suffering
Invite the discussion group to share some of their comments and insights about suffering, exile, and hope.
Reading the Prophet's Scrolls
Invite the group who created scrolls (Activity 7) to share their words and drawings about exile and hope.
Invite the group who did Alternate Activity 1 to share their musical reflections on exile and hope. If they retold the ugly duckling story as part of their activity, invite them to share that as well.
It Gets Better
Invite the group who created "It Gets Better" messages to share what they created.
Begin a meditation or prayer as you normally would in your congregation. Then say, "We heard stories today of people—and an ugly duckling—who were exiled, despised, bullied, and treated badly. We remember the times when we, too, have suffered, and we wonder why. We remember also the ways in which we have embraced hope and grown because of what happened to us—how we became the swan, or how we figured out how to go on despite something terrible or sad happening to us."
Then say, "Let us enter silence for a moment to remember, and then, if we are moved, speak aloud of what gives us hope. (Allow about 30 seconds of silence, and then speak your own words and invite others to do the same). May we seek help and comfort when bad things are too hard for us to bear, and may we always believe that we have the power to move beyond suffering and to grow from it—making it better—now and in the future."
End the meditation or prayer as you normally would in your congregation.
Hymn 209, "O Come, You Longing, Thirsty Souls." Point out that the words of the hymn are from the book of Isaiah.
Use words familiar to your congregation, or Reading 456 in Singing the Living Tradition.