1. Text blessings
Normally we tell people (particularly young people) to turn off their mobile phones during services, but for this activity you can tell people to turn them on instead!
You will need: some people with mobile phones who are willing to give out their numbers; pieces of scrap paper; pencils.
Invite people to get into groups of two or three, each group having one person with a phone. That person should write their phone number on a small corner of the scrap paper, tear it off and give it to someone else in a different part of the room – or you could put them all into a hat/bowl and people draw out a piece of paper.
When this has been done, have a short period of silence and listening to God, when people can pray that God will inspire them with particularly apt prayers. Then use the pieces of paper to compose a prayer of encouragement or blessing. Remember that you only have 160 characters to play with, so the prayer has to be short. If you wish, discuss it with the other members of the your group. When you have finished composing your prayer of encouragement, get one member of the group to text it to the number you have. Soon you will hear ringtones all over the church as people receive their prayers of encouragement and blessing.
For more excellent resources like this see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Worship, Scripture Union, 2009.
2. Receiving and giving blessings
Blessings are a wonderful way of invoking and imparting divine protection and encouragement. This activity is made of two parts.
Firstly, the leader gathers the group into a circle facing inwards and holding hands – this symbolically demonstrates the unity of the group in receiving from God. The leader then uses an appropriate blessing for the group, or something similar to this:
Leader:May you go from this place knowing that you are deeply loved, chosen and valued by God. May you be enfolded in the all encompassing embrace of God, knowing that nothing will ever separate you from his love. Amen.
Leader:The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine on you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face to you
And give you peace. Amen.
Then the whole group turns to face outwards to bless the world – symbolically declaring their oneness to share the love of God with a hurting but beautiful world. Something similar to the blessing below may be helpful, but do remember to create a blessing that will speak into your own situation.
All: May we go from this place,
refreshed and sustained by God’s living water.
Send us out in the power of the Spirit
To love and serve all people
In the name of Christ, Amen.
3. Edible blessings
You will need: a packet of rice paper (multi-coloured rice paper is ideal – you can get it from good sweet shops); non-toxic felt tip pens (t is very important that you use pens which have ink that is safe to eat – to be on the safe side, you could use thin brushes or unused fountain pens and food colouring).
It may be a good idea to ask those who are going to take part to wash their hands (if necessary, at the beginning of your time together).
Explain that you are going to write blessings for each other, ones that you can actually eat after you have received them. If you think people will need help or inspiration, give some example blessings for everyone to copy or use as a basis for their own. Hand out the rice paper and the pens, and invite everyone to write a blessing on a piece of rice paper. After everyone who wished to take part has written a blessing, swap the papers and read each other’s blessings. At the end of the meeting, invite everyone to eat their blessings.
Some biblical blessings
‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace’ (Numbers 6.24-26).
‘Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ (2 Peter 1.2).
‘May the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will’ (Hebrews 13.20-21).
‘The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you’ (2 Timothy 4.22).
For more ideas like this, see Sue Wallace, Multi-Sensory Church, Scripture Union, 2002, p27.