Elida Quevedo of Venezuela has created a day’ retreat focused on stewardship and sharing that can be adapted to an evening program or a youth or intergenerational event. She invites creativity with music and with art.
Order for a Retreat on the Principles of Stewardship and Sharing
If possible arrange the chairs in a circle and in the center arrange an altar with a candle (any color or the liturgical season color), flowers and 2 small baskets with candies of all different sizes, shapes, flavors and colors. Another, larger basket that is empty should be placed prepared to receive offerings.
Further create the mood with pictures that allude to the theme (giving with joy and open hands) such as someone offering something, or an offertory in which are seen offerings set up for communion. These can be paintings or drawings, projected or placed in a strategic location to create the atmosphere you’re seeking for the gathering.
Welcome to the Community
As an act of welcome, hand out to everyone a candy from those that are in the baskets. Explain that this represents a present from God, who always has good things for those he loves. Ask the participants to keep the candy in their hands until the time comes in which to use them.
“Va Dios mismo en nuestro mismo caminar (God himself walks on our own path)” If you prefer, use a favorite hymn that is appropriate for the occasion.
Ask that everyone take in their hand the candy that they have received and that they tightly squeeze their hand closed around it. Each participant should try to pry open the hand of their neighbor, but, nobody should anyone get the candy out.
Several minutes pass with everyone still holding their candy in their hand.
Explain that now comes part two of the symbolic gesture. Now all must open their hands and hand to their neighbor, with no reservations whatsoever, the piece of candy they are holding. All together everyone gives and everyone receives a candy from another person. All end up with a piece of candy and may eat and enjoy it.
The third part of the symbolic gesture is to share impressions and testimonies of how they felt in each of the two dynamic moments of the activity. What emotions, ideas, feelings arose in people while sharing in this symbolic action? Allow them the opportunity to share their feelings.
Bible Reading 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Brief, emphasizing verses 8:2 and 12 – 14(Dios Habla Hoy version) How do we understand this Word in the light of the fact that people live affected by the realities of poverty and misery? How does this Word speak to our lives of deaconry today?
The one who gives for God will shine like the sun. Give and it will be given to you with joy, with joy that which is given for God, with joy that which is for God.
Use the empty basket. Ask that people place in it various offerings. They can be symbolic offerings representing a commitment to those who suffer. It can be something one could offer for the enlargement of the Kingdom of God and to reach economic equality in the world and in our own context. A couple of people can be allowed to express the meaning of their offering. If some only want to offer money, they should do it with the sense or symbolism that they are making a commitment to giving always with generosity and with open hands for the work of God in the world.
Once the type of offering has been explained sufficiently so it may be accomplished by all present, you can sing another brief song, preparatory to the offering. In the Union Evangélica Pentecostal Venezolana (UEPV) we have an offertory song:
Open the window of the heavens, Lord,
And send your blessing.
Bless my brother and my sister, Lord,
Send your blessing.
After the song, leave time for people to bring forward their offerings. If time and mood permit, sing the offertory again during the act of bringing forth the offerings.
At the completion of this act a minister elevates the basket with the offerings and offers them to God, blessing the hands that have been opened to give with generosity.
I propose this prayer:
Receive, Lord God, these offerings. They represent all that is in our hands to give. They are the fruit of our work, or our love for your reign and of our desire that nothing be lacking, above all in those places where scarcity and hopelessness abound. Bring from all corners of the world more and more open hands for giving, and bless these hands in your grace and loving kindness. Amen.
Departure with a hug of peace