READ: Once Jesus was invited to a dinner at the home of a religious leader on the Sabbath. There were many people there and many were trying to find the best seat for themselves, sitting close to the host at the table, which would be a place of honor for the dinner.
Jesus told those listening, “When someone invites you for dinner, don’t rush to take the best seats. Keep in mind there may be someone more special that the host might want to sit in those seats.” After all Jesus said, you’d feel better if the host came to you and asked you to move to a better seat, than if they told you that you were in the wrong place and asked you to give up your seat for someone else. Be yourself, no more, no less.
Then he told the host of the dinner, imagine if you didn’t invite your friends and family or even your rich neighbors to your next banquet. Instead, next time invite those who never get an invitation--the poor, those for whom life has been hard. If you do that, you’ll be blessed. And so will they, your guests who can’t return the favor of a fancy dinner. (Luke 14:1-14)
I wonder how Jesus felt when he saw people elbowing others to get to the best seat at the table?
I wonder how it feels to be invited to sit at a special place at a party?
I wonder how it feels to be asked to move to a different place?
I wonder if an invitation can change your life?
PRAY: Dear God, we thank you for the tables we have sat around, for meals with friends and family, for the stories told and the laughter shared. Help us to welcome others, to offer a place to those who are waiting for an invitation. Amen.
Hands that Heal
READ: Once when Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus saw a woman who was bent over, unable to stand up straight. She had lived with this condition for 18 years. When Jesus saw her, he wanted to help, and he asked her to come to him. He smiled at her and said, “Woman, you’re free!” Then placed his hands on her back gently and prayed for her. And with that she was able to stand up straight and tall, giving thanks to God for being made well.
Some folks there were upset with Jesus, thinking that he was breaking the rules for the Sabbath, the day of rest. Jesus stopped them, and told them, “You make exceptions to the rules when it benefits you. I’ve done the same for this woman, who has suffered long enough.” They didn’t have an answer to Jesus, so his critics kept their mouths shut. But the rest of the people who were gathered there to hear Jesus joined with the woman to give thanks to God.
WONDER: I wonder what it feels like to be bent over?
I wonder what you can see when you’re bent over?
I wonder what you miss seeing when you are bent over?
I wonder how it felt to have Jesus place his hands on your shoulder and pray for you?
I wonder what part of this story you like best?
I wonder if there is any part of the story we could leave out and still have all we need?
PRAY: Loving God, thank you for seeing us, when others may overlook us. Help us to be welcoming friends to others, just as Jesus is a friend to us. Amen.
Paying Attention in Troubled Times
READ: Sometimes Jesus said things are difficult to understand and make us ask questions. One time when he was teaching his disciples, he told them that people will hear what he says and they will disagree about what he means or how to respond. He said, “Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! From now on when you find five in a house, they will be divided.”
What’s important, Jesus went on to say, is how we respond to the times of dispute. He reminded his followers that they knew how to look at the clouds in the sky and tell if there was a storm coming. In the same way, they could look at what was happening in the world around them and see that God was bringing about changes. The divisions in the world that they could see were a sign for them to pay attention to what God was doing, and to do their best to follow Jesus’s teachings to love God and to love their neighbor. (Luke 12:49-56)
WONDER: I wonder how the disciples felt when they heard Jesus say that he came to disrupt and confront?
I wonder what kind of disruptions Jesus brings?
I wonder how you would have responded if you were one of Jesus’s followers?
I wonder if you’ve ever had a disagreement with someone close to you?
I wonder how Jesus felt when he saw divisions among his disciples?
PRAY: Dear God, thank you for the signs of you in our world: in the rainbow after the rain, our reflections in puddles, a kind word from a friend, a smile from a loved one, a helping hand in tough times. Help us to see each day that you are always near to us, in the world and in every living thing. And help us to respond in love--for others, for the world, and for ourselves. Amen.
Where Your Heart Is.
READ: Jesus told many stories encouraging his followers to consider what was most important in their lives. After he told the story of the rich man who tore down all of his barns, he went on to teach them more about what was most important in life. He reminded them that each one of them was loved completely by God, who cares for them as a loving shepherd cares for every one of their sheep and knows each sheep’s name. Every sheep, no matter how big or small, is loved totally by God, without exception. One time Jesus told his friends, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He explained, saying “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving.” Jesus knew that when we learn to trust in God’s love for us, what’s most important to us shifts, and we are free to be generous to others. “Where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and the place you end up being,” Jesus told them. (Luke 12:22-40)
I wonder how the sheep feel when the shepherd calls them by name?
I wonder what things are most important for the sheep?
I wonder what things they could do without?
I wonder if the sheep have things they could share?
I wonder what things you have that you think are really important?
I wonder what things you have you think are not necessary?
PRAY: Good Shepherd, thank you for knowing us by name and for your tender care for us. Help us to learn to share what we have with others who need our help. Amen.
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.