Camp 2019

Seasons

Camp Koinonia 2019

Though the seasons change, your love remains.
United Pursuit, Seasons Change

The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversations in any way.
Brother Lawrence

The season change and you change. But the Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep as broad, and as full as ever.
Charles Spurgeon

God wants you to know that in every season of your life, He is still God. In seasons of lack or plenty. In seasons of increase or stagnation. Be encouraged. He is still on the throne and with God nothing is impossible.
Fayon Witche

I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.
Steve Southerland

All of my life
in every season
you are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Hillsong United, Desert Song

There is no time in life when God does not invite us to Himself.
John Calvin

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Psalm 31:15

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

As long as the earth endures,seedtime and harvest,cold and heat,summer and winter,day and nightwill never cease.
Genesis 8:22

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
Daniel 2:21

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
Acts 17:26

I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.
Ezekiel 17:24

All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
Isaiah 40:6-8


23.5º

“While Earth is moving around the Sun, it is spinning on a tilt. That’s why we have SEASONS. There are four seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter. Because of the Earth’s tilt, the top half and the bottom half of the world experience the seasons at different times”

This is a quote found in my 4-year-old astronomer’s book The Sun Is A Big Deal. After I read this to him, I am not as much struck by how great the sun is, but how awesome God is. God’s infinite creativity caused him to set the earth into orbit around the sun at a slight angle, 23.5º to be exact! When the northern hemisphere tilts toward the sun, we enjoy the warmth and bloom of spring and summer. When the northern hemisphere tilts away from the earth, we see the leaves and snow produced in the chill of fall and winter.

Genesis 1:14 says,

Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.

God’s gentle nudge of this big blue marble produced all the glory and change of the seasons. In light of God’s tremendous creative ability, why does he choose to make changing seasons?

I think about it like this:

If you want to write a successful pop song (or country, rock, worship, and more) it would be wise to stick to this formula:

Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus-Chorus

Almost every song you hear on the radio uses this pattern. If you combine this with a common beat, similar chord progressions, and wrap it up in about 2.5 minutes, you may have a Grammy on your hands!

Why? These regular patterns and cues gently remind the listener of all the other songs that have been enjoyed in the past. Once the familiarity is recognized, the listener can begin to notice the slight variations and distinct characteristics of each song.

Simply put, in music you want to be different, but not too much.

People seem to have been hardwired to enjoy constancy, yet also crave change, both variety and permanence. This delicate balance is seen in music, art, movies, and even in our planet’s seasons.

God has set the world into its own rhythm. Like a song, His changing seasons are filled with both variety and permanence. He reaches the human inclination of both variety and stability with his grand design of summer, fall, winter, and spring.

As I write this, spring is slowly changing to summer. Yesterday, it was hotter than it has been in all year. Yet today, the rain has brought cooler temperatures as it feeds the earth.

As I type, I am struck by my own inclination for both variety and permanence. I like my music to be familiar, yet different. I am glad it is spring, but I am also glad it is not always spring.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S Lewis creates a dialogue between Screwtape, a demonic tempter, and his apprentice. In this book, Screwtape has this to say about the human heart:

The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy [Screwtape’s name for God] . . . has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. As a result, He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.

The beauty and distinctiveness of each season should point to the beauty of the One who created all seasons. The change from summer to fall, from fall to winter, from winter to spring, and from spring to summer should each be a cause for wonder, but at the same time should challenge us to seek and cling to the Unchanging God who set it all in motion.


WHY IS SEASONS OUR CAMP THEME?

Through every changing season, we want each staff member, counselor and camper to feel, find, and know the Unchanging I AM. We believe that God reveals a characteristic about himself in every season that helps us endure, enjoy, and ultimately grow in Him. We want this week to draw us to the God who is over all, in all, and works through all. We want HHYG to crave and to notice the unchangeable God in the midst of the changing, because we trust that He is producing something beautiful in each season, though often we fail to see it.

I have had many conversations with our students that have used phrases and questions like this:

“Why am I not feeling it?”
“Why aren’t things working out the way I had hoped?”
“Why haven’t I had an experience with God like that person?”
“I have never had a mountaintop experience.”

We come to places like Camp Koinonia and we are reminded that our students are on many different kinds of spiritual journeys. Some are experiencing the Lord’s goodness and joy like they never have before, and others, in light of their current circumstances, are struggling to see him. This distance between both of these experiences can produce spiritual pride in one person and spiritual envy in another. As Mark Buchanan says in his book, A Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of your Soul, we want our students to,

steward the season we find ourselves in. Just as farmers plow in one season, plant in another, irrigate in another, harvest in another, and let the fields lie fallow in yet another, so there are activities and inactivities that fit our hearts’ seasons.

It is interesting that the students who are asking these questions and making these statements are not who you might expect. They are the ones who always show up. They serve. They are practicing the spiritual disciplines. They are faithful to the Lord. In every way, they are positioning themselves to have a “mountaintop experience”.

Could it be that we have misidentified what it means to be live faithfully with Jesus? Could it be that the result of the service, the spiritual disciplines, and faithfulness to God isn’t always a “mountain top experience?”

Let’s take a look at this Psalm.

PSALM 1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wickedor stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in seasonand whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

It is easy to read this passage and desire the prosperity promised to the one whose delight is in God’s law. But we fail to see when the prosperity comes: in season.

We want our whole lives to be mountaintop experiences, but we were made for more than the mountain. God has big dreams for us, and sometimes that involves journeying into the valley.

The good news is that God gives us seasons in order for us to ultimately grow. The question shifts from “why are there seasons?” to “where are you planted?”


OVERVIEW

This week we will be using the 4 seasons we experience on earth as a metaphor for the stages in our spiritual journey. Below is the structure of the week:

SUMMER: This is a time of enjoyment, excitement, and rest in the Lord. When we are in summer, we get a taste what heaven is going to be like. In this season, we recognize a God who is generous and kind to us.

FALL/AUTUMN: This season is characterized by change. Moving out of a season of enjoyment and rest in the Lord can be a rude awakening. Just like trees let go of their leaves, God asks us to let go of what we are holding on to in order to prune and shape us in order that we align our lives more closely with his will.

WINTER: Through grief, loss, circumstances, and choices, our spiritual journey can lead us through darkness, distance. In nature, winter has a way of revealing what is there and what must remain. It eliminates all that is excessive and strengthens all that will last. Winter is a time in our lives when we learn what we truly believe by relying on the Lord and his promises through difficult times.

SPRING: When a tree produces its first bloom after a cold and dreary winter, it reminds us that there is hope and life bursting out of death and destruction. It points us to God’s ultimate plan to bring new life to humanity and all of creation.

Moments and seasons come and they go because God designed it that way. Let us not idolize any season, comparing all other times to it and wishing it would last forever. Enjoy (or sometimes endure) the season you are in and prepare for the next season, for it will surely come.
Alan Wright


A NOTE ABOUT MANNA CLASS

The heart of our week together will be the time shared with students during Manna Class. In this time, your group will share experiences, vulnerability, authentic relationship, and transparent conversation. Because of this, my intention in writing stories, illustrations, and discussion questions isn’t to write a prescriptive check list of things to accomplish in your time together, but a description of how your conversation may go with your students. In preparation for each day, find the places where the topic personally grabs your attention or challenges your assumptions, these heart level experiences are what lead to deep discussions in your group. Also, be open to the things that are laid on the hearts of other leaders and students. I encourage you to slow down and explore those things together.
In our Manna time, we are focusing on the “Man for All Seasons”, Jesus Christ.

Here is the man for all seasons: overflowing with joy, intimate with sorrow, hospitable to sinners, nemesis of evil, tempted in all ways, innocent of all wrongdoing, at home in lonely places, the life of the party, one who turns water into wine, just because he can, who multiplies loaves and fishes, just because he cares, but who denies help to his cousin John as he languishes in prison, who, indeed, refuses to help himself when he staggers in a desert or groans from a cross. He goes up on mountains and down in valleys. He preaches to thousands but takes time for any lone beggar, weeping whore, groveling invalid, writhing demoniac, pleading father. He leaves banquets to visit the sick ward. He is silent when talking would help his cause, and talkative when silence seems most prudent. He is rude with bullies and phonies and prigs and, at the same time, tender with losers and seekers and penitents. He’s with us when we soar on wings as eagles, and probably even when we wingsuit jump, and with us, too, when we can’t walk for fainting. And everywhere in between.
Mark Buchanan

Jesus can truly sympathize with us in constant change in our lives. We will be diving into a few key moments in the life of Jesus, specifically found in the passion week, in which Jesus experiences spiritual summer, fall, winter, and spring.


CHALLENGE: WRITE YOUR SEASONS TESTIMONY

What excites me about this material is that each of you are coauthors of the curriculum. These ideas, scriptures, and quotes are being laid before you because your personal history and experience with Jesus will paint a clearer portrait of who God is and how to relate to him in every season.

As you prepare to lead a manna class during camp, take some time to answer the questions below:

  1. BASED ON THE DESCRIPTIONS OF THE SPIRITUAL SEASONS, WHICH HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED IN YOUR LIFE? HOW HAS GOD USED THOSE TIMES TO PRODUCE GROWTH IN YOU?
  2. WHAT SEASON DO YOU FIND YOURSELF IN RIGHT NOW? WHAT DO YOU THINK GOD IS UP TO IN YOUR LIFE?
  3. WHAT PART OF MANNA TEACHING ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT? WHAT ARE YOU APPREHENSIVE ABOUT?
  4. WHICH SEASON ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT? SUMMER

What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Westminster Shorter Catechism

Lord, let us see the light that is beyond the light.
John Piper

Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
Isaiah 55:6

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
Psalm 32:11


SUMMER

As I write this, our students are finishing up another year of school. In the hallways, trash cans are filling up with notebooks and graded papers. Students are high fiving one another. Teachers are too! Everyone is excited about the two and a half months of rest, vacations, and freedom.

So far this May, it has been pretty mild, spring has lingered longer than expected. Soon, the temperature will rise, signaling the beginning of sunscreen, pools, and popsicles.

While we may be enjoying a break, the world around us is buzzing with activity. Fruit is being harvested. Cicadas are chirping wildly. At night, there is a flickering glow of fireflies (lightnin’ bugs). The world is showcasing God’s creativity and his abundance.

In this season, the slowing down of our schedules may allow us to notice and enjoy this creation in a unique way. Many of us will travel to the coast and watch the ocean roll in and out in rhythm while we lay in the sun.

Psalm 66 says ,

All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.

We seem to hear this more clearly in the summer.

There are also times in our lives when we see and hear the Lord more clearly, and the fruit given by the spirit is ripening in our lives. These times are sweet and should be cherished and received with gratitude. They also turn our attention forward to what God has in store for us.


SCRIPTURE

Before we jump into Jesus’ (The Man for All Seasons) triumphal entry into Jerusalem, thumb through the few chapters before this passage to catch a glimpse of the stories that surround it. Jesus and his followers have been marching around the Sea of Galilee healing the deaf, the mute, the blind, and the lame. This produces a large populist movement of people who believe him to be Israel’s savior, their Messiah who will come and reclaim Jerusalem and the rest of Canaan from Roman occupation. All of this culminates in Mark 8 when 4,000 people gather together for Jesus to lead them. Jesus performs a miracle by feeding all of them with a few loaves and fish. His disciples were even able to collect seven baskets of leftovers!

Following this, he hikes with three of his disciples up a mountain. Once there, Jesus pulls back his humanity to reveal his divinity with two special guests, Elijah and Moses.

After this, Jesus continues his ministry of teaching and healing. His miracles and instruction lead the people to expect Jesus to be crowned Israel’s king.

And then, this happens:

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Mark 11:1-11

To give some context for what is happening in this scene, take a look at N.T. Wright’s background info in the New Testament for Everyone on Mark 11:

If you’ve ever been to the Holy Land, you will know that to go from Jericho to Jerusalem involves a long, hard climb. Jericho is the lowest city on earth, over 800 feet below sea level. Jerusalem, which is only a dozen or so miles away, is nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. The road goes through hot, dry desert all the way to the top of the Mount of Olives, at which point, quite suddenly, you have at the same time the first real vegetation and the first, glorious sight of Jerusalem itself. Even if you were climbing that road every week on business, there would still be a sense of exhilaration, of delight and relief, when you got to the top.
Now add to that sense of excitement the feeling that Jewish pilgrims, coming south from Galilee, would have every time they went up to Jerusalem for a festival (as they did several times a year). They were coming to the place where the living God had chosen to place his name and his presence; the place where, through the regular daily sacrifices, he assured Israel of forgiveness, of fellowship with himself, of hope for their future. They were coming there to celebrate the great Jewish stories of the past, which were mostly stories of freedom and hope. They would meet with relatives and old friends. There would be singing, prayer, dancing, feasting. All that was implied by a pilgrim convoy coming up the hill from Jericho to Jerusalem.
Now add to that anticipation and gladness the mood of Jesus’ followers as they came up the hill. It was Passover time – freedom time! But it was also, as far as they were concerned, kingdom time: the time when Passover dreams, the great hope of freedom, of God’s sovereign and saving presence being revealed in a quite new way, would at last come true. The long climb up through the Judaean wilderness was the climb to the kingdom.
Everything Mark tells us in this brief account of how they arrived at Jerusalem is designed to emphasize this, with the focus on Jesus himself as the King. He decides to ride into the city, and commandeers a colt for the purpose.

Celebration. Joy. Anticipation. Hope. These are all words that define this scene. I know that the people were experiencing these things. I am curious how Jesus felt in this moment. He had certainly been taught his whole life about the Messiah, he would have been familiar with the symbolism of laying down coats and palm branches that mirror the beginning of the Maccabean dynasty (here is a link if you want to dig into why the people used palm branches: https://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2015/03/29/day-40-what-does-your-palm-branch-mean/).

We know that Jesus would redefine what it means to be the Messiah and King of Israel. But I can’t help seeing Jesus with a smile on his face in this moment watching the people submit to the will of the kingdom of God.

If there were a “summer” moment in Jesus’ ministry, this would be it.

Many of our students are at camp with the same kind of celebration, joy, anticipation, and hope. You have probably heard many students, counselors, and staff say, “Camp is my favorite week of the year!” I believe this is said so often because camp isn’t just a week of having fun and being with friends, but it is a week of seeing and honoring Jesus as King. Every year, through worship, devotion and community, this week gives us a sample of what we will experience fully one day.

John Piper has this to say about the season of summer,

God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come.

Jesus’ experience with this climactic moment was a taste for him of the reception that he gets in Revelation 5. There, angels, elders, people, and creatures are saying (in vs. 13):

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
 be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!

In Mark 11, the scene ends rather oddly. After Jesus’ grand entry, he walks into the temple, looks around, and goes and stays the night at Bethany. Jesus leaves the people in suspense of what will happen next.

From here, Jesus’ life takes a drastic turn. His summer season ends and he steps into another season that leads him to fully display what it truly means to be the Messiah.

Today, we are filled with gratitude that our Messiah Jesus left this moment of summer in order for us to experience our own summers. Our summers, like his own on the road into Jerusalem, give us a taste of what is to come.


DISCUSSION

Pray The first few moments of your time together are very important. They have the power to set the tone of the group for the rest of the week. One way to start is by opening up your time together by speaking with God together by hearing and lifting up each other’s prayer requests to the Father. They will have already had a general introduction to the theme of the week on Sunday evening, so they may already begin to give language to the season that they are going through at this moment. They can share what they are grateful for, their concerns, what is going on at home, or even what they are expecting/anticipating this week. I would encourage you to write those prayers down in order to refer to them the rest of the week.

Share This time is also about being able to openly share together. These group times are intended to be a safe place to process what each student is hearing. Call all of your group to a higher standard of confidentiality.

Search We wish that each of our students would walk away from the study of God’s word with new insights and fresh understanding of God’s revealed character. Take some time to state that purpose with your group.

What do you think this week is about? Where do you think “Seasons” is headed?

Different seasons represent change? Do you like change? Why or why not? Is change good or bad?

What did you hear last night during worship/teaching/the experience? What are you chewing on? What is your understanding of each season? Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring?

Which “season” do you think teenagers experience the most?

Today we are talking about the season of summer. Other than being out of school, what do you like about the season of summer? What do you not enjoy?

Spiritually, what does summer mean to you? Summer is a time of enjoyment, excitement, and rest in the Lord. When we are in summer, we get a taste what heaven is going to be like. In this season, we recognize a God who is generous and kind to us.’

Camp Koinonia has been a time in 1000s of teenager’s lives that can be defined as a “summer” experience. What makes church camp work like this? What makes Camp Koinonia different than our normal lives?

In the 1600s the Church of England would ask this question to the congregation: “What is the chief end of man?” The congregation would respond: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
What does it mean to enjoy God? Have you had a time in your life when you have enjoyed God?

Read Mark 11:1-11 together. What parts of this story are familiar to you? What parts seem odd to you? What stands out to you in this story?

What do you think the crowd was thinking as Jesus was riding into Jerusalem?

What was Jesus thinking as he rode into Jerusalem? Was he excited, happy, or worried? What would you have been thinking?

PRAYER


FALL/AUTUMN

Winter snow may silhouette the trees in the morning light soon, and the change is to be expected. Yet autumn tends to catch me a bit off guard. There is a hint of sadness in the slowing down, in the diminishing daylight, and in the surrendering of the newness. Grief accompanies the rhythms of branches going bare. I hear a still, small voice whispering “goodbye” as I let go.
T.H. Meyer

I do not need safety as much as I need You.You’re dangerous, but Lord, You’re beautiful.
Rend Collective, The Cost

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 5:6

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.
Joel 2:23


GLORY IN SURRENDER

Autumn is my favorite season. In mid-October, Tennessee’s oaks, maples, and dogwoods suddenly transition from deep greens to vivid reds, oranges, and yellows. In my fall commute down McCrory Ln, Hwy 100, and Old Hickory, I am tunneled through a canopy of color that always takes me by surprise after a long, hot summer. I am reminded once again of the artistry of God to design the forests to display his infinite creativity. N.D Wilson says,

In autumn, the creativity of God hollers. Look at these things! These paper-thin solar cells that convert sunlight into acorns! They’re everywhere, and they’re made by a God who, doesn’t know how to stop creating. Autumn reminds us that there’s a world of wonder.

While autumn refreshes us with scenery changes and cooler weather, all of this comes at a great price.

Scientifically, Autumn’s transition out vivid green is produced by death. In order to save energy during the colder, darker months, trees begin breaking down chlorophyll (green), revealing the pigments that are present below the surface (red, orange, yellow). This deconstruction causes leaves to be unable to perform their function (absorbing light) and each one falls to the ground in death. When you see leaves swept up by gust of wind and scattered on the ground, those glorious scenes only happened because of autumn’s grand surrender.

It is interesting to consider that God could have caused the leaves to turn from green to brown, from life to death, yet he shows the glory found within the transformation. He grabs our attention and displays his goodness, even through tragedy.

As we consider how the physical seasons of our world relate to our spiritual seasons, it would be easy for us to idealize one particular season, summer. This season of growth, abundance, blessing, rest and more seems like something we want to remain in forever. Yet, seasons change. Change occurs in our lives. We are asked to let go of our leaves.

Being in ministry, I have spoken with many students at significant crossroads. Some have to do with natural transitions like moving from Middle School to High School and figuring out what is next after graduation. In these decisions, there is a temptation to elevate experience in our past and fail to see what God may be leading us toward. John C. Maxwell says,

growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work.

So often, I value security over surrender.

An example of this transition is what happens with many of our students after camp each year (it just so happens to correspond with Summer and Fall). We close our Thursday Night worship, say our goodbyes on Friday, and leave full of God’s truth, worship, and sweet memories. But seasons change. As we leave camp each year, God asks us to enter a new season with him. Our fresh experience with him at church camp lead us to a new place with him, one that demands surrender. If comfort was God’s ultimate plan for us, we would remain at camp until he returned. His ultimate plan for us to be transformed.

Letting go of our “leaves” is scary. Surrender doesn’t come as naturally as it does for the trees. Through this, I am reminded that God, through his son Jesus, the Man for All Seasons mad his home among us and is able to sympathize with us in every way.

Today we will be taking a closer look at one of Jesus most powerful moments of surrender: His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.


SCRIPTURE

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[f] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Mark 14:32-42


DISCUSSION

After getting some sleep last night, and spending a little time praying and processing yesterday, your students may have new truths, questions, and discoveries to share. Take some time to help them unpack yesterday by listening and responding to the truths of God that each of the students shares. You may even be surprised to learn something about Him yourself! Ask them:

What do you remember being the most impactful part of yesterday?

What did you hear from God?

What is your understanding of the season of “summer”?

What questions do you still have about yesterday’s topic or our theme in general?

Do you like change? Does it scare you? Why or why not?

What changes have happened in your life? What made these changes challenging? Was this change negative, positive, or are you still unsure?

What change is coming up for you that you are unsure about (school year, starting high school, graduating, etc.) Are you ready for that change? Why or why not?

Do you think God asks us to change? If he does, how does he do that? How have you personally been led toward change? What in our lives is supposed to change and what is supposed to stay the same?

We generally understand that God wants us make changes to our lives when we sin, but have you ever considered that God may ask us to make a change with what makes us comfortable?

Read this quote together:

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work.
John C. Maxwell

What do you find interesting about this quote? We usually consider security a great thing! Is it ever a negative? Explain.

Read Matthew 6:10 Together. This is from the Lord’s prayer, which is a prayer that Jesus taught to his first followers when they asked him, “Lord, how should we pray?”

Read Mark 14:32-42 – The Garden of Gethsemane. Here is one of the darkest scenes in the ministry of Jesus. From the perspective of the disciples, this must have been a frightening scene. The one who was always teaching, always had a word, always was in charge of the moment had suddenly been overwhelmed by horror. He quotes Psalm 42, when he says to his disciples, “My soul is disturbed within me.” After this, he repeatedly prays a prayer of rescue, and he receives the answer, “no.”

Yet, at the close of this story, Jesus says, “Arise, let’s go!” These adamant words seem like a contradiction to the fear and pain displayed in Christ’s earlier prayer.

What changed?

Continuing the metaphor, this is the moment that our Lord let go of his leaves. All of a sudden, Jesus, the Man of All Seasons, accepts his role of sacrifice by saying, “Not my will, but yours be done” echoing his earlier prayer. Through Jesus’ release of his comfort and security, he brought ultimate beauty and glory.

Closing questions:

Name something you’ve tried to hold onto but needed to release.

What are you holding on to right now?

How might you give control over to God?

PRAYER


WINTER

The deep truth is that our human suffering need not be an obstacle to the joy and peace we so desire, but can become, instead, the means to it. The great secret of the spiritual life, the life of the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, is that everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity.
Henri Nouwen

The jagged edges of our humanity are where God grabs hold of us.
Nadia Bolz-Weber

Do not forget in the night what God has shown you in the day.
Mark Buchanan

Just as athletes who experience great pain as they run the race can, at the same time, taste the joy of knowing that they are coming closer to their goal, so also can the Beloved experience suffering as a way to the deeper communion for which they yearn. Here joy and sorrow are no longer opposites, but have become the two sides of the same desire to grow to the fullness of the Beloved.
Henri Nouwen

Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.
Charles Spurgeon

If we were to see performed upon this stage, in a single moment, the turning of one grain of wheat into a full-grown ear, we should exclaim, “wonderful!” and regard it as a miracle! But if God is pleased to take some few months in performing the same operation, is it not the less wonderful?
If you want Christ, He has wanted you long ago and has already come to you. “Ah,” you say, “but I feel so dull. I cannot pray as I used to do. I do not feel my sins as I ought. In fact, I feel nothing at all as I ought to feel it.” It is winter time with you, dear Friend, may that winter do you good. “It is very painful,” you say, “and very dangerous.” Yes, and God means to make you see what a poor thing you are and to make you know what a wretched sinner you are, and how lost you are! Do you not know that He will strip you before He will clothe you? He will not begin filming over proud flesh—He will take the knife and cut it out—and with many a cruel gash, too, as it may seem, for He means to effect a lasting cure. Therefore, you must pass through these winters.

Charles Spurgeon

In the winter of the heart we experience a wide gap between what we know of God and what we taste and see of God. Our theology says one thing—God is loving, faithful, righteous, bestowing wonders. But our experience says another—that he’s aloof, angry, capricious, dealing bruises. And we feel deeply alone; even when we’re with others, we’re estranged from them. Sadness is a room we can’t find the door out of. And, worst of all, we feel the encroachment of death. Everything looks dead. We feel dead. Sometimes we wish we were dead. But Christ, the Man for All Seasons, meets us even here, in the depth of our wintertime. He waits with us. He prunes us. He breaks our self-dependency and deepens our God-dependency.
Mark Buchanan

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
John 16:20-21

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:10-12

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Peter 5:6

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9


2 WINTERS / 2 MOTHERS

One of my spiritual “autumns and winters” came only a few weeks apart from one another. I had spent 3 months after my freshman year of college in a career crisis. As I prayed to God about my future (really for the first time) I began to let go of my plans and accept where God was calling me, ministry. I headed back to Lipscomb as a sophomore prepared to encounter the joy that my surrender would bring.

The first week back I received a call from my Dad about my mom that brought my life to a halt. Cancer is the only word I remember before the questions started swirling in my head: How could this happen? Why her?

To that point, my life had been fairly easy. I watched and prayed for other families dealing with health issues, but now it was personal. I watched my mother pray, trust, and fight. Through the process, I witnessed her being transformed and refined by fire (1 Peter 1:7) that proved that her faith was “of greater worth than gold.” My mom was delivered in this life and we look back on that time as a family and remember the many ways our God faithfully walked each of us through it.

8 years later, I received another call, this time from Miriam about her mom. Again, cancer was the only word I remember, and the same questions flooded my mind. How? Why?

Again, I witnessed a woman who prayed, trusted, and fought. Again, through the fire, her faith was proven to be worth more than gold. Cathy, my mother in law, wasn’t delivered in this life, and yet we still look back and see this season as a time where God walked patiently with us. Holding us in our grief. Leading us into deeper fellowship with Him. Causing us to trust in a future that we can’t see or understand.

While my personal winters deal with sickness, this season takes many forms in the hearts of the students we are serving this week. Many will come to a day like this and say something like: “Can’t we just skip winter altogether?” Unfortunately, no. The fallen state of humanity and creation itself is subject to darkness and the consequences of sin. There is a line in Hillsong’s Seasons, that gets to the heart of the matter: Winter comes for us all. The presence of sin in our world and the corruption that it has caused since the garden has made winter’s chill touch each of us. Many common “winters” in our students include:

Depression
Anxiety
Apathy
Divorce
Loneliness
Complacency
Addiction
Grief

Today may be spent unpacking these ideas in Manna Class. You may find that students are asking some of the same questions I have had in my personal winters. How could this happen to me? Why isn’t my life going the way I saw it going? Why doesn’t my faith look like that person’s faith? Why would God allow this to happen?

Here is the answer that my Mother-in-Law gave in a letter she sent to some of her closest friends:

Why did God lead the Israelites to be trapped between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army? For His Glory

Why was the man born blind in John 9:2? “so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Why did Jesus wait to go to Bethany until Lazarus had died? “it happened for the Glory of God”…

Everything that happens in our lives is, and should be, for His Glory.

Philippians 1 says that the fruit of our salvation in Jesus Christ is righteous character so that God will be praised and glorified!! When others see us go through trials with righteous character, undoubting belief in God’s goodness, joy in spite of grief – God is glorified!!!

-Cathy

These words are an echo of the Apostle Peter who tells us that the result of our struggle, our refining moments, is “ “praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

In 2 Corinthians 4:17, Paul says, “for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. This is the glory that is brought by winter.

There is darkness, death, sadness, and gloom in winter, but there is also glory. Beauty can be found in the physical season of winter as trees are laid bare of their leaves and the snow powders the ground.

Isaiah 55:10 says that the snow “comes down form the heavens and stays on the ground to water the earth. It causes the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.”

There is purpose to be found in our winters. In order to prove this, we have to look no further than Jesus, The Man of All Seasons, himself. In the story we are about to read, we witness Jesus who suffers with us, who steps into our poverty, who shares our pain, who feels our rejection, and takes on our sorrow. This was done for the greater purpose of removing our condemnation that was produced by our wrongs.

Isaiah writes: “By his wounds we are healed.”


DISCUSSION

Make sure to make space in your discussion for students to process what they have witnessed so far during Seasons. This may be some truth that they are excited about out, or something that they are struggling with. Use those opportunities to lift your group up in prayer. Personally, what have you experienced so far?

You may have some ongoing prayers that you have been praying throughout the week. Check in on those unique situations, and turn whatever new discoveries or insights into more prayer.

What is your favorite thing about the season of winter? What is your least favorite thing?

How can our faith be like winter? Has there ever been a time in your life that you have personally been in winter spiritually? You may want to take some time on this question. This would be a great time to share part of your own story.


SCRIPTURE

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read:
the king of the jews.
27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome.41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Mark 15:22-41

What does this scripture have to do with winter? What does his suffering have to do with our own suffering?

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:18

One of the best songs that captures the idea our suffering Messiah is Hillsong’s Seasons. It is readily available on streaming services or YouTube and I encourage you to listen to the songs before camp (At Camp, the students will be asked to read over these lyrics). Here are the lyrics:

Like the frost on a rose 
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I've been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
(CHORUS)
I know
Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
And as I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness
And like a fire to the snow
I'm renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

I can see the promise
I can see the future
You're the God of seasons
And I'm just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it's worth my patience
Then if You're not done working
God I'm not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You're the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child

And when I finally see my tree
Still I believe there's a season to come
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem's soil
Grew Calvary's sequoia

Which part of this song stands out to you? Which part needs clarification?

PRAY


SPRING

We bloomed in spring. Our bodies are the leaves of God. The apparent season of life and death our eyes can suffer; but our souls, dear, I will just say this forthright: They are God himself, we will never perish until he does.
Teresa of Avila

The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
Thomas Fuller

If Spring came but once in a century, what wonder it would excite in all hearts! If it had never happened but once, it would be considered to be the crown of miracles and skeptics would ridicule those who believed in its possibility! Yet God creates our harvests as surely as if there never had been a harvest before and He forms our ripe fields by His Omnipotence as truly even as He fashioned man in the garden of Eden, perfect at once! God is alive and God is at work—He has not betaken Himself into His secret chambers and shut the door behind Him and left us orphans in the world—and the earth without a Ruler and without a Friend!
Charles Spurgeon

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24


ON THE MOVE

In his famous children’s book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis follows the Pevensie children as they discover and explore the land of Narnia. They quickly learn that Narnia has received a curse from the White Witch that causes every inch of the kingdom to be under the oppressive chill of winter. In their adventures, they find hope in hearing the “golden prophecy” that describes what will happen in the future:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

On one level, Lewis tells an incredible story that has been enjoyed by millions of readers. Yet, Lewis invites us deeper—to take a longer look at his imagined world of Narnia so that we begin to identify the winter of our own world, and where our hope truly comes from.

Today, our camp is talking about the hope that emerges out of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We proclaim as Christians that life, joy, and hope walked out of a dark and rocky tomb.

I don’t think it is a mistake that the Easter story happens during the spring time. Every March and April, as our world begins to wake up from the sleep of winter, Christians worldwide celebrate the waking of our faith and the new life that has been breathed into us.

But we know that Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just for his sake, but for us as well. His waking points to a day we will not feel the “sting of death” and we will be given life, just as he has been given. That is something to be excited about! And yet, we aren’t the only ones waiting in anticipation.

Isaiah 35 says:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
 the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus (similar to an iris), 2 it will burst into bloom;
 it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
 the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
 the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
 steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
 “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
 he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
 he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
 and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
 and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
 and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
 the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
 grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
 it will be called the Way of Holiness;
 it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
 wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
 nor any ravenous beast;
 they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
 everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
 and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This prophetic picture describes creation as blossoming, bursting, bubbling, and celebrating in the reality that “the redeemed” will be given everlasting joy. This “springtime” is a season that signals to us that the harsh winter is over and that the glories of summer are coming.

Paul adopts some of this language in Romans 8:22-23:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

At the conclusion of chapter 7 of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver gathers the Pevensie children close and in a hushed voice says, “Aslan is on the move.” If you are familiar with this book, you might feel the excitement and hope found within those words, but if you haven’t, here is the next paragraph in the story:

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

This is what hope does inside of us. It changes us. It awakens the wonder deep within. We are built to crave redemption and anticipate something new.

In John 20, we get a glimpse of the John and Peter sprinting to a tomb to answer the question, “Is Jesus really alive?” When they arrive, they enter the tomb and crouch down to get a closer look. They notice Jesus’ linen wrappings and the clothes, each one carefully folded and put in its proper place. Their darkest moment was closely followed by dawn. This story invites the reader to step into the tomb, the place symbolizing death, and leave with hope saying something like: “Surely, this King is on the move.”


SCRIPTURE

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Mark 16:1-7
Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
2 Corinthians 4:14

BIG IDEA

When a tree produces its first bloom after a cold and dreary winter, it reminds us that there is hope and life bursting out of death and destruction. It points us to God’s ultimate plan to bring new life to humanity and all of creation.


DISCUSSION

Today is the final full day of camp, what has impacted you so far? What questions are still left unanswered?

What hopes do you have for today? What fears do you have?

What do you believe that God has spoken to you at this point?

What was your impression of our discussion and experience with the season of Winter? What are you still processing?

What are your initial thoughts about Spring? Where do you think we are headed? If the concept of spring could be described in one word, it would be hope.

Read Isaiah 35 together. What jumps out at you about this prophecy? Do you think what he is describing has already happened or is he sharing something that will happen? (It’s ok to get competing answers here)

Read Romans 8:22-23. How does this passage relate to Isaiah 35? Why would creation be “groaning”? What is it hoping for? What are we hoping for?

Read the Resurrection story found in Mark 16:1-7. What sticks out to you? What did you hear for the first time? What does this event mean for us? (hint: 2 Corinthians 4:14)

PRAYER


KAIROS

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 1:3

God made sun and moon to distinguish the seasons, and day and night; and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decrees to distinguish the seasons of His mercies. In Paradise the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is always autumn. His mercies are ever in their maturity.
John Donne

‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Mark 1:15


TIME

Take a look at these four riddles:

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

What is harmless, but can kill you?

Until I am measured, I am not known, yet how you miss me when I have flown.

I am free yet priceless, you can’t own me but you can use me, you can’t keep me but you can spend me. Once you lost me you can never have me back. What am I?

All 4 of these riddles have the exact same answer, TIME. You can probably do a quick google search to find hundreds more just like just like them, in fact there is even category of riddles called “time riddles.”

I think this fascination with time is found in the mystery of how we experience it. Many of your students may be reflecting on how quick the week has flown by, yet at the same moment saying something like, “But Sunday felt like so long ago!”

In Greek, the language of the New Testament, there are two different words to capture this mystery of time: chronos and kairos. We are much more familiar with the first one.

Chronos has to do with quantity. It can be measured. It can be broken down into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. In Greek mythology, there is a god named chronos who has hair on the front of his head and is bald in the back, which signifies our inability to perceive the passage of time until it is behind us.

The next word, kairos, doesn’t have anything to do with quantity, but quality. Kairos can mean opportunity, moment, fitting time, or season.

The first words uttered in Jesus ministry has this word built in:

‘The kairos has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Mark 1:15

Often when we think of the gospel, or good news, we think of the way in which Jesus saves us through his death on the cross. While that is true, this wasn’t the way that the crowds in Capernaum first heard these words from Jesus in Mark 1. When they heard “the time has come” they were anticipating the moment that God was about to take his seat on the throne and things that were wrong would be made right again, and that earth would look more like heaven. This message brought followers like Peter, Andrew, James, and John along for the journey. The first declaration of what the gospel is: Jesus has started a new season. This is exciting stuff!

Following the story from Mark 1, the next thing Jesus does is teach “as one having authority” in a synagogue. He doesn’t just teach well, but he illustrates his claim that God’s new season has started by cleansing a demon possessed man.

Jesus spends his whole ministry instructing and demonstrating the nearness of the kingdom of God.

You may ask yourself the question, “If Jesus started a new and different season, then why do I experience my spiritual seasons (summer, fall, winter, spring)?

You and I live in the tension of the “already” and the “not yet”. We already have seen the way life is meant to be lived and the way our world is meant to operate through the life and ministry of Jesus. We already have the Holy Spirit as our guarantee, our comfort, and our counselor. We also experience the “not yet” when we see pain, sorrow, struggle, and death. Jesus’ declaration of a new season points us to our ultimate future as the people of God where wrong will be made right, where there will be no more crying or morning or pain.

In the Eastern Orthodox church, before their worship starts, the Deacon says to the priest, “Kairos tou poiēsai tō Kyriō” “It is time [kairos] for the Lord to act”. This indicates that the worship service is intersecting with Eternity. Something is happening where God’s space (kingdom) is colliding with our space (earth). To them, worship is a time to remind ourselves of God’s grand mission (gospel) to put the world back in order.

In small ways and big ways, God’s kingdom is meshing more and more with our lives. Yet, we will go through seasons (summer, fall, winter, spring) in our time before he returns. While we wait for that day, we are invited to join our Lord Jesus in pointing to the new season that started in Capernaum and will continue forever. The question is: Will you join him?


WHERE HAVE WE BEEN?

Ask your students to give a brief description of each of the days so far. What are their impressions of these spiritual seasons? Because each season is different, they each require a different kind of obedience. How do you faithfully live in each one?

SUMMER: This is a time of enjoyment, excitement, and rest in the Lord. When we are in summer, we get a taste what heaven is going to be like. In this season, we recognize a God who is generous and kind to us.

FALL/AUTUMN: This season is characterized by change. Moving out of a season of enjoyment and rest in the Lord can be a rude awakening. Just like trees let go of their leaves, God asks us to let go of what we are holding on to in order to prune and shape us so that we are aligned more closely to His will.

WINTER: Through grief, loss, circumstances, and choices, our spiritual journeys can lead us through feelings of darkness and distance. In nature, winter has a way of revealing what is there and what must remain. It eliminates all excess and strengthens all that will last. Winter is a time in our lives when we learn what we truly believe by relying on the Lord and his promises through difficult times.

SPRING: When a tree produces its first bloom after a cold and dreary winter, it reminds us that there is hope and life bursting out of death and destruction. It points us to God’s ultimate plan to bring new life to humanity and all of creation.

READ

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15


DISCUSSION

PRAY

Ask the students about the prayers your group has prayed this week.

Has God answered their requests?
What things are you still conversing with the Lord about?

What new prayers can the group pray for you?

READ AND REFLECT

What insight have you gained from this week?

What truth has resonated with you during this time?

Explain to the students the two different ideas of “time” (chronos and kairos).

Read Mark 1:15. How does this scripture change your understanding of what the gospel, the “good news” is? What is the new season that Jesus is bringing?

IMAGINE AND ANTICIPATE

What do you want life to look like when you return home?

What challenges do you expect over the next few days, weeks, or months?

COMMIT

What is something that you want to be different when you get back?

PRAY


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