Introduction to Signs of Life:

Signs of Life takes up the central symbols of Christian worship, explores the layers of meaning they carry, and helps us enter more fully into their truth. The rich signs and symbols of Christianity carry deep meaning for all of us and speak to us day by day. We learn to live what we pray, and to pray what we live

Learning Goals:

Signs of Life: Why Church Matters is an opportunity for participants to engage with elemental aspects of liturgy and scripture — light, water, food, shelter, community. Each session will help participants connect the Sign of Life to their own spirituality, the Episcopal liturgy, and a spiritual practice. 

Session Agenda:

Opening Prayer (2)

  • Gather in prayer with Signs of Life collect

Video (15)

  • Introduce the Sign of Life video
  • Watch the video

Question for Reflection (5)

  • Participants are invited to reflect on how a Sign of Life connects to their lives

Discussion Groups (15)

  • Participants break into smaller discussion groups to discuss three key questions

Gathering Conversation (10)

  • Forum Facilitator gathers and reflects on responses

Closing (3)

  • Go over weekly Sign of Life practice
  • Pray Sign of Life collect

Set up:

The Signs of Life videos are an integral part of this forum curriculum. Therefore, it is very important that all participants be able to see and hear the videos. Please ensure that the technology is ready to go before the session begins. If there is not adequate or consistent wi-fi at the church, the facilitator may need to download the video before the session. 

It may be convenient for participants to be seated at tables. However, as long as participants are able to engage in discussion with groups of four or five, any arrangement of chairs that allow the screen to be seen is sufficient.


Signs of Life: Sample Session

Set up:

Chairs should be arranged where each participant can hear and see the video as well as the facilitator. Because there will be discussion groups, facilitators may choose to use tables, but tables are not necessary. Participants should be able to move their seats around so that they may speak with one another. 

Questions for group discussion should be posted somewhere easily seen by all of the groups. There should be newsprint or a whiteboard for the facilitator to write on. 

Needed Materials:

  • A way for the facilitator to keep time (a smartphone timer would work nicely)
  • Newsprint or a whiteboard and markers 
  • Audio-visual capabilities 
  • One copy of Signs of Life Practice Sheet per participant

Learning Goals:

The learning goals for this particular Sign of Life are:

  • Connecting Sign of Life to personal spirituality or experience
  • An understanding of how the Sign of Life plays a role in Episcopal liturgy
  • Learning a new contemplative practice that can help participants connect more deeply to this Sign of Life

Opening Prayer (2 minutes):

Gather the groups attention, and open with this collect:

Insert Signs of Life Collect

Watch the Video (15 minutes):

Read the following prompt:

Here is the Script reminding participants to pay particular attention to that particular sign of life, and this will change depending on the Sign of Life.

Press play and watch the video through to the end. 

Reflection Question (5 minutes):

After the video is over, read the following script:

“Take one minute to think about the answer to this question, ‘Insert questions specifically relating Sign of LIfe to personal spiritual experience here.’ At the end of one minute, I’ll invite you to turn to a neighbor. Each of you will have two minutes to share about this Sign of Life. When you are talking with one another, no interrupting. Just listen.”

Use a timer to give the group one minute to think about the question. At the end of one minute, invite them to share with their neighbor. After two minutes of sharing, invite the other participant to share. At the end of two minutes, call the group back to attention. 

Discussion Groups (15 minutes):

Read the following script:

“Please gather into groups of four or five. You will take the next 15 minutes to discuss the following three questions:

  • Question about liturgical context
  • Question about shadow side as highlighted in video
  • Question about social justice in community context

You will be able to reference the questions here [gesture to where you’ve posted the questions.] or on your handout. I’ll remind you when you are halfway through your time.”

Use a timer to remind participants when seven minutes have passed. When there are two minutes remaining, give participants a two minute warning. 

Gathering Conversation (10 minutes):

Invite participants to share highlights of each question, marking down the answers on a whiteboard or newsprint. 

Closing:

Hand out Signs of Life Practice Sheet. Read this script:

“Here is a reminder of the daily practice for this Sign of Life. This week, you are invited to… (explain the practice one more time verbally.)”

Pray the Signs of Life collect:

Insert collect here. 

Thank participants for participating. The session is over. 

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