Loosening the Chains of the Materially Poor

Loosening the Chains of the Materially Poor

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Warm up

Go around the group, introduce yourself if people don’t know you and share your answer to one of the nine prompting boxes below.  (Only choose one otherwise we will be here forever!)

Describe your favourite childhood memory.Your favourite Bible verseHow did you discover the reality of Jesus?
What is your favourite book?  Explain whyYour favourite
hymn /song
about Jesus
Share your best memory of church or Sunday School.
Who are the people who have most helped you in your Christian journey?What is your favourite song?  Explain whyOther than your wedding or the birth of your child/ren, what has been a really good day in your life?

Read Isaiah 58:6-7

Lent is traditionally a journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (giving to those in need).  This Lent as we prepare for Easter, we are being encouraged to focus on these spiritual practices of prayer, almsgiving and in the spirit of Isaiah 58, fasting that is about loosening the chains of injustice.  

Video: Bible Project on Justice

Watch the following video:

Quotes from the video:

  • “We are constantly redefining good and evil to our own advantage at the expense of others”
  • Abraham was to teach his family to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice
  • The difference between retributive justice and restorative justice:
    • Retributive justice is the consequence of doing something wrong
    • Restorative justice is seeking out vulnerable people who are being taken advantage of and helping them (charity) and taking steps to advocate for the vulnerable and changing social structures to prevent justice.
  • God’s response to humanity’s legacy of injustice is to give us a gift: the life of Jesus.  Jesus offers his righteous life to the guilty so they too can be declared righteous before God – not because of anything they have done but because of what Jesus did for them.
  • If God declares some as righteous when they did not deserve it, the only reasonable response is to go and seek righteousness and justice for others.  It is courageously making other people’s problems, my problems.

Reflecting Questions:

  1. What jumped out to you from watching the video?  Do you have any observations, reflections, or questions?
  2. Look up the Bible passages quoted in the video.  How do you understand these passages?  What do they say to you?  How do they challenge you?
  3. How do you respond to the gospel message being reframed in a justice perspective – that God’s response to humanity’s legacy of injustice is to give us the gift of Grace, that we are made righteous through no right of our own, and in response we are called to go and seek righteous ness and justice for others.  Is this a positive reframing?  Is it helpful?

Deep Dive into Scripture

1) Old Testament Protections for the Poor


Trevor in this video talked about an Old Testament economic system where God built in some protections for the poor.  Look up at the following passages and reflect on how they might be useful in stopping exploitation.

Read Leviticus 19:9-10 / Deuteronomy 15:1-5

         Deuteronomy 15:12-15 / Exodus 22:26-27

Reflecting Questions:

  • The Old Testament laid out protections for the poor. What protections for the poor do you know of in today’s world? How effective are they?
  • A central biblical idea is that ‘the earth is the Lord’s’ (Psalm 24), not ours to exploit as we wish. How is this different from the way our global economic system works today?
  • What is the difference between generosity and justice? Why isn’t generosity enough?

2) New Testament reflections on wealth

Spend some time reading and reflection on the following New Testament passages.  What jumps out to you from this passage?  What might be a considered Christian response to these passages?

Read Luke 12:13-21 / Matthew 6:19-21 / 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Reflecting Questions:

  • What jumps out to you from this passage?  What might be a considered Christian response to these passages?

Prayer:   Praying from a different place


Reflecting Questions:

  1. What do you usually think of when you pray the Lord’s Prayer?
  2. How does our place in the world affect the way we pray?  How do our worldview and our understanding of the Gospel affect the way we pray?
  3. While living in Afghanistan, Deborah Storie began to imagine the Lord’s Prayer as an invitation to dream of how God wants the world to be. What are some of the dreams of God you would like to see come true ‘on earth, as it is in heaven’?
  4. Deborah says we have a responsibility towards those who are hungry, in debt and suffering injustice. Do you agree? How can we live in a way that makes the Lord’s Prayer more of a reality — for everyone?

As a group, finish this time by saying the Lord’s Prayer together:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  Save us from trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours. Now and for ever. Amen.

What is our Response?

Phil made a comment in his sermon that when “we reach out to help those who are materially poor, we are actually serving Christ.  When we love in this way, not only does it enrich us, but we are part of Jesus’ mission to transform lives and communities.  As an Easter people, let us overcome indifference and recognise that we are God’s instruments to build a better world.”

  1. What are some practical things that we could do as a church community to practically reach out and help those who are materially poor? 

    Can you bring back 1 or 2 ideas to the larger group?