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: Jesus often told stories of lost things.
Once he told the story of a man and his two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me my inheritance now so that I may enjoy it.” So the father divided his property. The younger son gathered all he had and went to a distant country. Soon he had spent all his money and had nothing left. He was hungry and poor. So he got a job feeding a farmer’s pigs. He was so hungry he thought about eating the pigs’ food.
He thought about home and how everyone who worked for his family had plenty to eat. So he decided to go back to his father and ask for a job.
When he got close to home, his father saw him on the road. He ran to his son and wrapped his arms around him in a big hug.
Before the son could say he was sorry, his father called out for new clothes to be brought, with new shoes, and a ring. And then he told his servants to prepare a party with all the best food to celebrate his son’s return.
The elder brother had been hard at work in the fields. When he came home and found out what all the ruckus was about, he refused to go inside.
His father came out and begged him to come back in. But the older brother said, “I’ve always stayed with you, working hard. But you’ve never thrown a party like this for me!
The father held open his arms and said, “All that is mine is yours. Let us celebrate because your brother was lost and has been found.” (Luke 15:11-32)
WONDER: I wonder what Jesus’ followers felt when they heard this story?
I wonder what the father felt when he saw his younger son coming home?
I wonder how the younger son felt when his father hugged him?
I wonder who this story is about--the younger son? the older son? the father?
I wonder why Jesus told this story?
I wonder whether the older son comes inside?
SAY: In this story we see God always welcomes us with love and compassion.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for always welcoming us in with love, even when we’ve made bad choices or when we think we’ve let you down. Amen.
READ: Jesus was teaching about God’s ways of love all around Judea as he made his way to Jerusalem. News about Jesus traveled far, it even got to King Herod in his palace. Some friends of Jesus warned him to stay away from Jerusalem, because the king was there and wanted to kill Jesus.
Jesus listened to their warnings, and then told them, “Herod may be like a fox, sneaky and looking to cause trouble. But like God, I am like a mother hen who tries to gather up all her baby chicks and protect them under her wings. I’ll keep on loving people, whether they come to me seeking safety or if they run away. I’m going to Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:31-35)
WONDER: I wonder how a baby chick feels when it is under its mother’s wings?
I wonder why a chick might run away from its mother?
I wonder what it feels like to be close to God?
I wonder when you feel safe? I wonder if there is someone who makes you feel safe?
I wonder how Jesus’s friends felt when Jesus said he was still going to Jerusalem?
SAY: In this story Jesus assures his disciples that God’s love is always there for us, wherever we are.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for always caring for us just like a mother hen keeps her chicks safe. Help us feel your love, whether we are at home under your protective wing or if we’ve wandered off on our own. Amen.
READ: The first followers of Jesus remembered his sermons, retelling the stories and writing down his teachings. In his teachings Jesus spoke of what it was like to live as God intends us and how we were to treat one another. He reminded them that God loves us so much and shares that love with us. When we know that God loves us, we’ll be like a light shining brightly in the world.
Jesus also said there were to be no limits to our love, that we should love others--our families and friends. And we were to love everyone--including our enemies! Jesus told his followers to love their enemies and to pray for them. Everyone was amazed to hear Jesus extend love to everyone, not just to those who love us. This was such an important teaching that both Matthew and Luke remembered it and wrote it down for us in their gospels. (from Luke 6:17-26)
WONDER: I wonder what it would be like to hear Jesus teaching?
I wonder why people wrote down this teaching of Jesus?
I wonder what it looks like to love your enemy?
I wonder what a prayer for your enemy sounds like?
I wonder what part of this story you like the best?
SAY: In this story we learn more about Jesus’s teaching. Jesus asks us to expand our love for others, starting with those near to us and extending to others, even when that love is hard to give.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for those who remembered the teachings of Jesus and who wrote them down for us. Help us to share your love with other people. Amen.
Watch the film The Fox and The Hound (1981 - Disney). Discuss the friendship between Tod and Copper. What comes between their friendship? How does their relationship change?
Read God’s Dream (2010) by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Published by Candlewick Press. Here's a video of the book being read. Talk about what you think God dreams for our world.
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.