READ: As Jesus traveled around Galilee with his friends teaching about the kingdom of God, many people followed him. One day after spending the night on a mountain in prayer, he came back down the mountain and began to preach. He shared what many people say is the greatest sermon ever preached. Jesus began by telling them that God’s kingdom was going to be filled with all kinds of people blessed by God. He gave some examples of people blessed by God, and people were surprised. We tend to think of people being blessed when things are going well, when they have what they need, when they have plenty of good things. Jesus turned that idea upside down to show us a better way of living together.
We call this part of the sermon, the Beatitudes. Jesus said, "Blessed, or happy, are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the hungry, they will have what they need. Just like the birds of the air find the food they need. Happy are those who weep, for soon they will laugh with joy." (Luke 6:20-31)
WONDER: I wonder what it would be like to hear Jesus teaching?
I wonder what it’s like to be blessed by God?
I wonder what is the hardest part of following Jesus?
I wonder what is the best part of following Jesus?
I wonder what the most important part of this story is?
PRAY: Loving God, thank you for giving us Jesus, who shows us how to live with love and joy. Amen.
READ: Jesus told many stories which we call parables. One day Jesus told the story of a poor woman whose husband had died. The woman was badly treated by an unkind judge who would not listen to her and did not follow God’s ways. The woman wouldn’t quit! She kept coming back to the judge, day after day, pleading her cause. Because she would not give up, we call her persistent or even tenacious! Eventually the judge is so frustrated and bothered by the woman, he gives in and makes the right decision. He doesn’t change his mind because he has become kind or had a change of heart, but because the woman would not give up. (Luke 18:1-8)
After he told this story, Jesus said to his disciples, “If an uncaring judge can finally make the right decision for justice, rest assured that God who wants the best for you and for the world will hear the cries of those who are mistreated and long for justice. Don’t lose heart. Trust that our loving God will act with compassion.”
I wonder how the woman felt when the judge did not listen to her?
I wonder if the woman came alone to the judge?
I wonder how the woman felt when the judge changed his mind and helped her?
I wonder how the judge acted the next time someone came and asked for help?
I wonder how you feel when someone listens to you?
PRAY: Loving God, thank you for always listening to us. Help us to be kind and caring when others need our help. Amen.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote to people who had been forced to leave their homes and make a new life in a far-off land called Babylon. Jeremiah encouraged them to find goodness wherever they were and not to spend their lives wishing they were somewhere else. He wrote, “Build houses and make yourselves at home. Put in gardens and eat what grows where you live. Marry and have children. Raise your children and bless them as they create families of their own in this new country you live in. Make yourselves at home there. And make sure you do what you can to help that country thrive. And don’t forget to pray for Babylon, too. When things go well for that country and its people, good things will come to you, too.”
(Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7)
I wonder how it felt for the people to leave their homes behind?
I wonder if you’ve ever had to move from a place you called home?
I wonder how it feels to move to a strange place?
I wonder what makes a place feel like home?
Dear God, thank you for the place we call home. We pray for our neighbors, for those who help make our neighborhood safe, for those who care for us, and those who help make our neighborhood better. Help us be good neighbors, too. Amen.
One day the disciples came to Jesus. They were worried they might not have enough faith to follow him. They demanded, “Increase our faith.”
Jesus listened to them and told them that the amount of their faith wasn’t the problem. “If you had trust in God the size of a tiny mustard seed, that would be enough. It’s not how much trust you have, but how you live with that trust. Your faith will show through in how you live. (Luke 17:5-6)
I wonder why the disciples thought they didn’t have enough faith?
I wonder what it feels like to trust someone?
I wonder what it feels like to have trust in God?
I wonder how much faith is enough?
Dear God, help us to see you in our world. Give us hearts big enough to love the world. Give us words to share your love with the world. And help us trust that what we can do will change the world. Amen.
When our church comes together, we often sing songs in worship. The songs we sing can be upbeat and happy, or slow and thoughtful. From those very first friends of Jesus, people have been writing songs about Jesus. The songs may tell of their love for Jesus, or how they see Jesus in the world, or how they feel God’s love for them, or how they want to live their lives.
Our bible reading for today is from a letter written after Jesus had left the Holy Spirit with the church on Pentecost. It’s a hymn sung by followers of Jesus who had never known him when he was living on earth. Because they had learned the stories of Jesus’s life, they came to see that Jesus showed them God’s very heart--how much God loved them and what God wanted for them and for the whole world.
The writer of the letter quotes a song those followers of Jesus would recognize, a song they would have sung together: “We look at Jesus and in him we see God who cannot be seen with our eyes. We see Jesus and we see God’s love for the universe. We look at the world and see the love of Jesus everywhere, from the beginning of everything, to what we can touch and see around us. And wherever we see Jesus--we see God at work, fixing the broken places and bringing peace.” (Colossians 1:15-19)
I wonder where you see God’s love?
I wonder if you know anyone who shows God’s love for others?
I wonder if there’s a song we sing in church that you love?
I wonder how you feel when you sing a favorite song?
I wonder if you’ve ever written a song?
Dear God, thank you for music, for songs which help us express our feelings. Thank you for Jesus, who shows us how much you love us and the world. Help us to be like Jesus, showing your love for all people and all living things. Amen.
READ: The friends of Jesus told many stories about Jesus saying and doing amazing things. One story tells of a time when Jesus and some of his friends were in a boat heading across to the other side of a lake. Once they were sailing, Jesus lays down and falls asleep in the boat. Suddenly a big wind began to blow, and the waves grew large, and they were in the middle of a great storm. The waves were spilling over into their little boat.
His friends were frightened. But despite the storm, Jesus was still sound asleep. They woke him up, telling him about the storm and their fears. When he woke up, Jesus stood up, and told the winds and waves to stop. And just like that, there was calm on the waters, and the winds were still.
Then Jesus looked at his friends and asked, “Why didn’t you trust me?”
His friends didn’t know what to think, they were amazed and wondered among themselves, “Who is Jesus? Only God can command the winds and the water.”
Jesus’s friends told this story as a reminder that Jesus is always with them.
I wonder why the friends of Jesus were afraid when the storm began?
I wonder if you’ve ever felt afraid like Jesus’s friends?
I wonder how Jesus’s friends felt after Jesus calmed the storm?
I wonder which part of this story you like best?
I wonder what part of this story is most important?
PRAY: Dear God, thank you for being a safe place for us when we have difficult times. Help us to remember you are with us when we are afraid. Amen.
READ: The book of Psalms is a collection of very old songs and poems; some may have been written by King David himself. We can find all kinds of feelings expressed in the psalms--sadness, joy, fear, anger, happiness, peace, regret, hope, and more. Psalm 104 is a celebration of the world--of the beauty and wonder of Creation and a song of thanksgiving for God’s gift of Creation.
“What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. (Psalm 104:24-36)
WONDER: I wonder what feelings the writer had when they wrote this psalm?
I wonder how it feels to share your feelings with God?
I wonder what kinds of feelings you share with God?
I wonder what part of the world you find most amazing?
PRAY: Dear God, thank you for the wonders of the world--for creatures big and small, for oceans and seas, lakes and streams. Teach us to take care of your world. Amen.
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.
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.
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.
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.