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.
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.
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.
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.
READ: Once someone asked Jesus to intervene in a family dispute over money and property. Jesus listened and then gently told them, “Friend, be careful. The desire for money and possessions is dangerous. You’ll never find what is most important in life if you’re consumed with acquiring things.”
And then Jesus went on to tell a parable about a rich man who owned much farmland. The land was good and produced many crops. The rich man was so impressed with his great harvest he decided to tear down all his old barns and to build newer and larger ones to hold all of his crops for himself. That very night the rich man went to sleep dreaming of his great bounty and all of his plans for keeping his crops for himself. He never built those barns, and he never enjoyed his crops, though. For the rich man died that night, and everything he had, he left behind. (Luke 12:13-21)
WONDER: I wonder why the person asked Jesus to step in and fix their family argument over money?
I wonder why Jesus told this parable?
I wonder what the rich man thought he would do with all of his crops?
I wonder how the rich man’s neighbors thought about his plans to tear down his barns and build new ones?
I wonder why Jesus warned about the desire for money and possessions?
SAY: When someone asked Jesus to help them gain possessions from a family dispute, Jesus tells a story about a man who has many things, but has no concern for others. Jesus points out for us that when we focus on gaining possessions without thinking about others and how what we have can help others, we are missing out on what is most important in our lives.
PRAY: Dear God, thank you for providing us with what we need in our lives. Help us to share what we have with others. Amen.
READ: Once when Jesus was traveling with his disciples they stayed in the home of Martha and Mary. As the two sisters welcomed Jesus and his friends in their home, Martha was busy making things ready for their guests. There was so much to do. Mary, on the other hand, sat down next to Jesus, listening to him teach. Martha was distracted by everything on her to-do list, and she came to Jesus and asked him, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.”
Jesus smiled at Martha and said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, when there is only one thing which matters. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)
WONDER: I wonder how Martha felt when she welcomed Jesus and all his disciples into their home?
I wonder how Mary felt as she sat with Jesus and listened to him teach?
I wonder why Martha was distracted?
Jesus told Martha that there was only one thing that really matters. I wonder what that one thing is?
I wonder which part of this story you like the best?
PRAY: Loving God, thank you for this story of Jesus. Help us make good choices, and to find what is most important in our lives. Amen.
READ: One day a person asked Jesus what the most important thing in life was. Jesus said, “You already know.” The person replied, “I do. It is to love God and to love people just like they are your neighbors.” Not finished, the person then asked Jesus, “But who is my neighbor?”
Jesus then told him this parable. There was once someone who went from Jerusalem down to Jericho. As he went on his way, he was attacked by robbers. They hurt him, took everything he had, and left him half dead along the side of the road.
There was also a priest of the temple in Jerusalem who was traveling the same road. He came upon the poor traveler lying hurt on the side of the road, with all his belongings taken from him, left half dead. When the priest saw him, he went to the other side of the road and went on his way. Another person who worked at the temple helping the priests who was called a Levite came upon the poor man, still left on the side of the road half dead, with everything taken from him. The Levite, too, crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way.
There was also another person on the road, who lived not in Jerusalem, but in a country called Samaria. The people of Samaria did not like the people of Jerusalem, and the people of Jerusalem did not like people from Samaria. When the stranger saw the traveler who had been hurt, lying on the side of the road with everything taken from him, the stranger went over to him. He treated the traveler’s wounds with medicine, gave him his own coat to wear, put him on his donkey, and took him to a place to spend the night. In the morning, the stranger gave the innkeeper enough money so that the traveler could stay there until he was healthy again.
After telling the story, Jesus asked the person, “I wonder who is the neighbor to the person who was hurt, had everything taken from him, and was left by the side of the road?
WONDER: I wonder who is the neighbor to the person who was hurt, with all his belongings taken away, left by the side of the road?
I wonder what would happen if the person finding the injured traveler were a child?
I wonder what it means to be a neighbor?
I wonder who is the neighbor to the priest? to the Levite? to the Samaritan?
I wonder if we can leave out any of the story and still have all the story we need?
PRAY: Loving God, thank you for the stories Jesus told, stories which make us think, stories which show us what it means to live out your love in our world. Amen.
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.
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.