Amazing Grace

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This gathering/confession activity works best if you have a group that knows each other reasonably well and feels confident being a little bit silly.

Explain that you’re going to test their musical knowledge by singing a line from a song to them and having them sing the next line back to you.

For example:

Leader: Whooah, we’re halfway there…

Congregation: Whooah, livin’ on a prayer

We used a few songs that we thought most people would know but feel free to swap some out for ones that you prefer:

I wanna hold your hand – The Beatles

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Carousel (The Musical)/Gerry and the Pacemakers (this one appeals to people who like classic musicals and Liverpool fans!)

We will rock you – Queen (for this we got the congregation clapping out the beat to the song.)

Finish with the following song lyrics:

Leader: Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

Congregation: I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

We used text similar to the following, please adapt it to suit your congregation:

What was that last song called? Amazing Grace. Anyone know who wrote it? John Newton. What did John Newton do for a living? Ran a slave trading ship.

Slave trader to hymn writer is an amazing transformation, no wonder Newton was so amazed by the grace that he had been shown. We’re going to concentrate on one little bit of that last song where Newton says that he was blind but now can see.

Can any of you who wear glasses remember what it felt like the first time you got a prescription that worked properly? Suddenly things that were blurry come into focus. Things that you’d never really noticed now seem obvious.

For John Newton meeting Jesus was that kind of an experience. Suddenly he had a clearer view of who God was, of what God was like. What would it be like for us to see God in a new way as we come to worship today?

Short prayer asking God to help us to see him clearly today.

One of the other things that can happen when you start to see more clearly is that you start to notice imperfections. Things that you thought were perfectly clean have marks that you couldn’t see before. I think that for John Newton this was significant. He actually wrote Amazing Grace before he stopped being a slave trader. It was being able to see more clearly that led him to stop trading in human lives and to become a prominent anti-slavery campaigner.

Today, as we come to worship, let’s take a moment to ask God to help us to see more clearly the things that we need to do differently.

Short prayer asking for God’s forgiveness for the times we have sinned.