Conversation Starters for elementary school children:
In Ferguson Missouri, some churches are staying open all night for people who are scared. I wonder how God can help us when we are scared. What do you do when you are scared? Who are the people you can turn to when you are scared?
A lot of people are sad because a young man died. They are sad because they say this shows that our communities aren’t acting fairly and equally to all people. Jesus talked about a different kind of community, shaped by love. I wonder what a community looks like where people are treated equally? I wonder what a community based on equality and full of Jesus’ love would look like? (Consider letting children draw a picture, build with blocks, create a drama/play, write a poem, or create a news story about a community that was operated out of love and equality).
We are starting a time of hope as we look toward Christmas. We all hope for Christmas presents, but what else do we hope for? A lot of people hope that one day people of every skin color will be treated with the same love. Do you hope for this? How can we pray for this? (You can invite the children to make cards and posters of love for those in the community of Ferguson, and send them to a local church so the messages get passed along.)
Conversation Starters for Youth:
1. Many of the leaders in Ferguson are young people. High School students have been standing out in the streets and going to trainings to learn how to keep their fellow protestors peaceful. How do you see youth leading in your community? How do youth keep important discussions alive and point a way forward?
2. The Presiding Bishop, in her message about Ferguson after the Grand Jury Decision, said, “the racism in this nation is part of our foundation.” How do you see racism present in your community? Do people treat one another as created in the image of God? What do you do to counter racism and other ways people are excluded?
3. “Stay awake.” The first Sunday of Advent centers on the message of being watchful. #StayWoke is currently trending on social media in response to Ferguson. Voices are calling us to #staywoke to the realities of racism, to the suffering in our communities. How could your church help your community to #staywoke? How do we avoid putting this important conversation to bed?
Conversation Starters for Adults:
1. Isaiah says “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down” in the first reading of Advent. How can we expect Christ to come in the midst of conflict? Where do you see signs that the Spirit is moving in the midst of what is happening in Ferguson?
2. We often use the word “sanctuary” to describe a place in a church building. Some churches in St. Louis are serving as literal sanctuaries, where all who need a break from the protests of the streets are given water, medical attention, and a place to rest. How does your church serve as a sanctuary? How do you give rest and protection to those who need it?
3. The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, has compared the young women and men protesting in the streets of Ferguson to John the Baptist. What is the prophetic possibility in the midst of this conflict? To what new vision of community are we being called?
questions taken from