Small Church October 1, 2023

Conversation Guide for October 1, 2023

If this is your first time gathering as a group, or the first time in several months, feel free to spend a good part of your time getting to know one another. 

This might also be a good Sunday to share with one another your response to the question: what does “good” look like for us as a small church this year? (Invite folks to share personal examples of previous “good” small church (or small group) experiences.

Becoming Present to God

While lighting a candle to remind you of God’s Presence, have someone read the candle prayer:


Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You have called us out of darkness into light.
Open our eyes to your presence,
Open our ears to your call,
Open our hearts to your love.


Becoming Present to One Another

Share a consolation (what you are most grateful for) and desolation (what you are least grateful for) from the past week.

In Conversation with the Word

Watch the video:

Read Scriptures

Exodus 1:8-14, 3:1-15

Read the selection below taken from the book “Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization”, Steve Heinrichs, ed.


Years back, when the Queen in England was called Victoria Saxe-Coburg Gotha, a Cree couple gave birth to a son. He was a fine child, a delight to both of them.

His mother kept him hidden, fearing that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would come to take him away to the residential school on the far side of the lake. One day, the RCMP came within sight of their home. In fear of losing him, she strapped the child in her papoose and made for the lake. There, she wrapped him in a blanket and hid him among the wild rice, nestled in an old flour sack. She left his sister to watch over him until the RCMP left.

Meanwhile, the local minister’s daughter was passing in a canoe paddled by two of her father’s house servants, Cree converts. She had her gun ready, on the lookout for waterfowl. She saw the sack hooked on a half-submerged beech tree and heard the baby crying.

She sent one of her bearers to bring it into the canoe and felt sorry when she saw the child. “This is one of the Indian babies,” she said, wanting to keep him.
His sister called from the shore, and the bearer translated her question: “Shall I go and get one of the natives to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go!” she answered.
So the girl got the baby’s mother, and she became his nurse for the years of his infancy. When he was a little older, the minister’s daughter came to fetch him to live with her family, and he was baptized Saxon, for as she said, ‘I found him in
a sack–he is the sack’s son.”

He lived with them in the manse attached to the residential school, which the minister ran with an iron fist. One day, after Saxon had grown older, he went out to the residential school’s farm, where he witnessed a teacher savagely beat a young girl for speaking to her sister in Cree. He looked around and waited until the teacher was alone, then killed him with a rock. He dragged the body into the bush and hid it there.

The next day, he went out and witnessed two boys his own age fighting over a hunk of bread. He asked the one grasping it, “Why are you beating another

The boy replied, “Who do you think you are, a white man? Are you going to kill me too?” Then Saxon became afraid, because he realized people knew what he had done.

When the minister learned of the missing teacher and heard the rumours that Saxon had been making trouble, he immediately sent for him. Saxon knew that more than one child had died as a result of this man’s ministrations, so he fled the manse. He escaped to an old campsite by Lake Midian. He heard shouting and crept into the bush to witness a team of loggers bullying a group of sisters who had been collecting firewood for their father, a medicine-man they called Jethro.

Saxon watched them harassing the women, and then burst out of his hiding place and attacked them until they fled. Jethro invited Saxon to live with him and work on his trapline. Before long, he was married to one of the old man’s daughters, and they had a son together.

In the years that followed, at the residential school where Saxon had grown up, the old minister became obsessed with breaking the children, making them forget the families they had been stolen from. He became meaner than ever, and the children wept bitterly each night as he grew crueller, restricting rations and ordering beatings. They stifled their tears for fear of punishment, but Creator heard their silent sorrow and longing for a comforting mother.

Around this time, Saxon was out on the trapline, far from the campsite of his
father-in-law Jethro. He smelt smoke and went to investigate. He saw a bush fire and turned to flee, but became lost and trapped. He was surrounded by the smoke and flames, but the place where he stood did not catch fire.

Surrounded by the fire, he heard a voice: “Saxon, remove your moccasins, for your Creator stands beside you!” The voice continued,
“I am the one who has watched you since birth, who cared for your mother,
and all her mothers before her. I know your father-in-law, I know this place, and I know you–what you have done, and what you will do.”

Saxon hid his face, afraid that he would be punished for the murder he had com-mitted. But the voice persisted, “I’ve heard the cries of your sisters and brothers, stolen and starved, forced to learn a strange language, taught to farm instead of fish, to fight instead of hunt, and repressed with cruelty and a wicked desire to make them into something that I did not create them to be. So here I am-to bring them out of that place and take them to a rich hunting ground, the place you were taken from, a place where many nations can cohabit. So, go now! I’m sending you to the residential school to bring my people out!”

But Saxon shook his head.
“Who do you think I am? A white man? To go and close the school, and bring all
those children out? Where would I take them? What would I feed them? This trapline can’t support more than my little family.”

“I’ll be with you,” said Creator. “And you don’t need to worry about those things. This land is a rich place. You’ve been taught to fear it, but my friend Jethro has been showing you the good things all around. You are surrounded by life that will sustain you on your journey. You’re not a white man, and neither am I. You were raised to follow their ways, to live in their society—but only as an inferior, a servant, a child. They would never have accepted you. So you lashed out the only way you knew, responding with the same fear and violence you had seen all your life. But now, I have found you. I will teach you a new way, and I will go with you.”

by Peter Haresnape

Conversation Starters (Pick a few)

  • What was it like to hear these two readings together?
  • What was revealed or highlighted in hearing the stories alongside each other?
  • What was confusing or troubling?
  • What was it like to have more in common with the oppressors as portrayed in the second story than with the oppressed?
  • How is God portrayed in each story?
Prayer and Blessing

If there is time and inclination, pray for one another, or ask one person to pray for the group.

Close with someone reading the blessing over you all as the candle is blown out.

May the Father of many resting places grant you rest;
May the Christ who stilled the storm grant you calm;
May the Spirit who fills all things grant you peace.
God’s light be your light,
God’s love be your love,
God’s way be your way.



If there are children in your Small Church, we have resources to lead them through a story, conversation and activity.

CapKids are working through a series called “Stories Jesus Told” this fall. This week, the focus is on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure.

Click HERE to access the guide.