READ: Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia is an important one in the Bible. As he draws his letter to a close he writes words of encouragement to his friends. He reminds them of an old commandment which is in the Jewish scriptures in Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus had thought it such an important rule that when he was asked “Of all the commandments, of all the ten best ways to live, which is the most important?” Jesus responded, “Love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And then he added, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these. (Mark 12:28-34)
Paul agrees with Jesus. And he builds on that commandment to love others as we love ourselves by describing what living according to the ways of God’s Spirit looks like. He imagines that a life freely lived in God’s Spirit is one filled with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” He calls these “fruits of the Spirit,” outward expressions of how the Spirit leads us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
(Galatians 5:1, 13-25)
WONDER: I wonder how the people in the church of Galatia feel when they read Paul’s words to love their neighbors as themselves?
I wonder how it feels when people love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength?
I wonder if it’s hard to love some people?
I wonder what your favorite gift of the Spirit is: kindness? joy? love? patience?
I wonder how the Spirit helps us?
SAY: In this part of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, we see how the teachings of Jesus were passed on to others. Paul shares the most important commandment from God for us--loving our neighbors as ourselves.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for people who help us learn more about you and how you want us to live. Thank you for the Spirit who gives us the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Amen.
Paul Writes Letters to his Friends
READ: The Apostle Paul traveled to many different places as he shared the stories of Jesus and of God’s love for the whole world. He would spend time in a town, making friends and teaching about the kingdom of God. When he left a town, there would be a group of people who continued to meet together, worshiping and learning about Jesus. Traveling took time in Paul’s day. There were no airplanes to make travel fast, and no phones or email. To keep up with the friends he had made and the new churches who were meeting in each town, sometimes Paul would write a letter to them. He would answer questions they may have had, or try to help them with a problem, or share a concern with them. When a church received one of Paul’s letters, they would read the letter aloud in their worship, just like a sermon.
In our Bibles we have a letter written by Paul to a church he had started in a town called Galatia. After he left, they had questions. Some people were claiming that in order to be a part of the church there were many steps that a person had to follow, and those that didn’t do everything weren’t fully a part of the church. Paul explained that this was not what he had taught them. When a person was baptized, that meant they were now all part of the same family, God’s family, the church. It didn’t matter where they were from, what language they spoke, what job they may have had, whether they were female or male--they belonged to Christ now. And that was all that mattered. (Galatians 3:23-29)
WONDER: I wonder what it was like to receive a letter from Paul?
I wonder what it is like to be baptized in water?
I wonder how it felt to be told you weren’t fully part of God’s family, the church?
I wonder how Paul felt when he heard some people were being left out of the church in Galatia?
I wonder what it feels like to be a part of the family of families, God’s family?
SAY: Paul loved the church in Galatia, and he wanted them to be a place that welcomed everyone. His letter to the church is an important part of our Scripture and helps us know more about God’s love for all people.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Thank you, God, for giving us a church to belong to, with people who love and care for us. Help us to share your love with one another. Amen.
Jesus Says Goodbye to his Friends
READ: As Jesus was saying goodbye to his friends, he understood that there hadn’t been enough time to tell them everything he wanted them to know. And there were things that he had told them which they had a hard time understanding. The disciples were worried and fearful. Jesus reassured his friends by saying that after he went back to God he would send them a friend, God’s Holy Spirit. The Spirit would stay with them and teach them some of those many things they didn’t know. (John 16:12-15)
I wonder how the disciples felt when they heard Jesus would be leaving them?
I wonder what questions the disciples wanted to ask Jesus?
I wonder what it’s like to listen to the Holy Spirit?
I wonder how the Spirit teaches us today?
SAY: All of us have questions, things we don’t understand, mysteries which perplex us. In our story today we learn that Jesus’s closest friends had questions, too. Jesus reassured them that it was ok to have questions, and that God’s Spirit would be with them as they asked tough questions and learned more about how to follow in God’s ways of peace.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for all the questions we have, for the mysteries we don’t fully understand. And thank you for giving us your Spirit to help us with our questions. Help us to listen and to learn how to love others as Jesus loves us. Amen.
READ: We’ve come to Pentecost, the day we’ve been waiting for since Easter. Pentecost is a very special day with a great mystery in its story. On the first Pentecost all the followers of Jesus were together in one place in an upper room. Suddenly, there was a sound, like the rush of a mighty wind. It filled the room, and fire was within each one. It was as if each one of them had received a tongue of fire, a sign of God’s presence in the world. A gift from the very heart of God. That’s why the color of Pentecost is red. It was the Holy Spirit. Their fear left them and they were all filled with joy. They were so excited they left the upper room and went out into the streets. There in the city were many people who spoke many different languages. The followers of Jesus began talking to everyone. People could see that they had come close to God, and that God was also close to them in a new and amazing way.
This was when they started becoming leaders, for now they began to know the Creator within each of them. Once they were called disciples, now they were known as apostles. From this moment on they went out into the world to tell the stories of Jesus. Ever since this first Pentecost, Christians have celebrated this special day and told this story. (Acts 2:1-21)
WONDER: I wonder how they felt when the sound of the mighty wind filled the room?
I wonder what it felt like to be that close to God?
I wonder what they will do now that they have the gift of the Holy Spirit?
I wonder if there are any other signs from God, from God’s heart, that we may find in the world?
I wonder if you have ever felt like something new is being created within you?
I wonder if there is anything in our church sanctuary that reminds you of this story?
SAY: In the Pentecost story we hear of a sign of God’s presence in the world, a flame of hope, tongues of fire. All of the signs of God’s presence in the world come from the very heart of God.
PRAY: Today’s prayer is a breath prayer. It’s a simple prayer we can repeat over and over as we breathe in and breathe out. Say, “Dear God,” silently as you breathe in slowly. As you slowly let your breath out say to yourself, “be with me.”
Weekly Faith Conversations
Use these guides as conversation starters with your family. A short retelling of the scripture passage is offered, or you may want to look the story up in your own bible or in a children's bible. The wondering questions are written to open up faith exploration with children and adults.