Small Church February 26, 2023

Conversation Guide for February 26, 2023

You will hear two epiphanies today—one read aloud from Scripture, and one from someone in your group OR the one you can read aloud from Krystyna Sanderson, supplied below. In your discussions, make sure you leave enough time to hear and respond to both stories.

*Also, for those of you who may have missed it, Kim distributed yellow sticker dots last Sunday and asked folks to put one or two in places they regularly look—phone, computer screen, steering wheel—and every time they see the sticker, to respond with a slow, prayerful breath, and a brief prayer to God—“you are here”. And perhaps to follow up with a second, slow breath prayer inviting ourselves to be in this present moment—reminding ourselves “you are here”. This was the first of a few practices we are inviting you to try during Lent this year, inspired by Cap’s core values.

Opener (Pick One)

Lenten Practice Check-In:  Where did you put your yellow dot and what has it been like to practice presence this week? 

Share a consolation and desolation from the past week.

A story from the life of Jacob

Background Info: Twenty years earlier, Jacob left home, afraid his brother Esau would kill him after Jacob stole the blessing/birthright intended for Esau. Now, with his wives, children and possessions, Jacob is returning home. This particular encounter with his brother is one of several epiphanies Jacob has in his life.

Read aloud several times Genesis 32:3-8, 33:1-11


Discussion Questions (Pick a few)
  • What stands out to you from this story?
  • What troubles you?
  • Does Genesis 33:3-4 remind you of another familial reunion—this one in the New Testament?
  • How would you summarize Jacob’s ‘epiphany’? Does he have a revelation about God? About his brother?
Discussion Questions (Pick a few)
  • What resonates with you from this story?
  • Do you think seeing the face of God/image of God in every person you encountered would change the day you interacted with them?
  • What connections do you make between the two stories you heard today?


 “A Reflection of God’s Beauty”

Krystyna Sanderson was born in Poland and raised as a Roman Catholic. She attended church regularly and looked forward to her first communion, hoping that something marvelous would happen. She thought that God would come to her and that finally she would be happy, that all her problems would go away. She had a beautiful white dress and great expectations. But then the big day arrived, and nothing changed. Krystyna was devastated. She told herself, “Forget it. I’ll just go my own way because God doesn’t care. He didn’t do what I wanted him to do.”

Years later, Krystyna moved to Texas where she studied painting and photography. She had always been fascinated by human faces and even more by photographs of human faces.

She didn’t know who was really behind a face or who was behind each human being. All she knew was that she was drawn to the beauty and mystery of the people she photographed. She started to work on a photographic series, “Masks.” She saw the face as a mask that concealed rather than revealed the inner person. People could be smiling and looking happy yet be extremely sad inside. That was Krystyna’s own situation. She was profoundly unhappy. “There was something in me that was aching,” she recalls. “I couldn’t even find the words for it. The series ‘Masks’ was a visual manifestation that I was in great unrest, searching.”

She photographed all kinds of people–African Americans, Native Americans, and Caucasians, old and young. Her work was eventually published in a photographic album called Masks.

Later she moved to New York. She says, “I make fun of myself now, but at the time I came to New York to become rich and famous.” But being in New York didn’t help; she continued to feel lost and unhappy. Then Krystyna met a woman, a Jewish believer, who talked to her about Jesus Christ. For the first time in her life, Krystyna began to see that her emotional recovery and spiritual recovery might go hand in hand.

              Krystyna’s new Christian friend quoted the verse, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Krystyna says, “I’ll never forget that. I felt like Christ said these words directly to me-like he was standing there. It was so profound. I had never read the Bible in my life. I felt trapped in my emotions and by the way I was living. And then this voice reached out to me saying, I can give you whatever you need to heal your soul and your heart and your life. I have the power and authority to do it.’

              “I was given an explanation for why my life didn’t work, because I was not supposed to live on my own. Everything became totally crystal clear. I had a tremendous sense of peace when I realized that I was God’s creature.”

              Looking back, Krystyna realizes that God did come to her even if it didn’t happen in Lodz, on the Sunday that she took her first communion. She says, “I understand now that God doesn’t come to us on demand, but he does come if we invite him and want him in our life.”

              Reflecting on her photographic series “Masks,” she says, “I believe now that I was drawn to those faces because they revealed something about the image of God, in which we are all made. There was beauty and mystery in each face I photographed. Those faces were speaking to me, because behind each face hid the Creator. I see my art as a dim reflection of God’s goodness and beauty, and I see God as the ultimate Artist.

as told by Krystyna Sanderson to Sharon Gallagher in ”Finding Faith: Life-changing Encounters with Christ”