“Making Connections”
Six-Week Meeting Guide for Beginning Small Church Communities
Synopsis and Sample Reflection Questions

All “Gathered In His Name” meeting guides involve six two-hour sessions for small church communities. The first 90 minutes would include welcome/gathering time, opening prayer, two commentaries with reflection questions, Gospel reading and discussion, ideas for "Connecting Faith and Life" that are related to the meeting’s topic, and a closing prayer.  The last thirty minutes would be reserved for socializing and simple treats.

Meeting Summaries for "Making Connections"

Meeting One: "Making Connections"
    A lot of time for introductions of each SCC participant; commentary on the many connections in our lives; commentary on what a small Christian community is all about. Preview of series, leading from a retreat master's comment: "Our job as Christians is simply this: to know ourselves, to know Jesus, and to become Jesus." Sample discussion question: "Which of your ancestors is someone with whom you feel connected? Why?"

Meeting Two: "Knowing Ourselves"
    Opening prayer: "A time to be born..." passage from Ecclesiastes. Commentaries and exercises on knowing ourselves, especially times in our lives when God was clearly active. Commentary on seeing God now, arising from the Thomas Merton quote, "The world is transparent, and God is shining through everywhere." Sample discussion question: "Share an event, place or person that almost always reminds you of the presence of God."

Meeting Three: "Knowing Jesus"
    Opening prayer: Mother Teresa's reflection, "This is Jesus to me...." Brief scriptural passages where Jesus says who he is; commentary on an Archbishop's constant references to "my friend Jesus." Sample discussion question: "List five words you would use to describe Jesus to someone who doesn't know him."

Meeting Four: "Becoming Jesus - Church"
    Opening prayer: Pope John XXIII's "Prayer for Vatican Council II." A quick overview of the Second Vatican Council as a way of seeing the mission of Jesus alive in our times, especially the vision of church. Sample reflection questions: "Who helps you to be holy? Whom do you help?" "What gives you hope in today's church? In our world?"

Meeting Five: "Becoming Jesus - Eucharist"
    Opening prayer: "He was old, tired and sweaty... I give you... Eucharist." Commentaries on the challenge of the Eucharist - to share it with others: to welcome, reconcile, tell our stories of faith, nurture, bless and serve one another. Quotation from Archbishop Oscar Romero's final words, a commentary on the meaning of Eucharist. (He was martyred in the middle of this homily.) Sample reflection question: "In what ways do you 'become what you see' and 'receive what you are' after experiencing the liturgy of the Eucharist?"

Meeting Six: "Becoming Jesus - Mission"
    Opening prayer: Thomas Merton's 'Prayer before a Mystery." Commentary on Luke 4:14-19 ("The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...") and on living out the mission of Jesus in our world today. Sample reflection question: "How were you 'God's love in action' (quote from Mother Teresa) this week? Who has been 'God's love in action' for you?"

The final meeting also sets aside time for the SCC to evaluate the series and to discuss their future plans. Meeting closes with the "Peace Prayer of St. Francis."