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June 16, 2024–What Is It Like?

Warm-up Questions

  • What superhero are you most like and why?

Something Like a Simile

The sports fans among us know that, right now in North America, two championship tournaments are in their last round. Both the National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup Finals and the National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship Finals are occurring. These competitions feature some of this season’s best teams and players.

For instance, this article compares Connor McDavid, a current player with the Edmonton Oilers, with another hockey player that many consider the best to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky. Other writers compare one team to another, one playoff run to another, one season to another. The question of how they are alike and how they differ drives sports media personalities, and therefore, revenue.

And it doesn’t stop there. We don’t just compare things of the same kind–players, teams, seasons, and so forth. We often use powerful comparisons to point out something unique. That player is fast like a cheetah. This team’s defense swarmed like bees. That dunk shook the arena like an earthquake.

At play here is a simple part of speech, the simile. When you say one thing is like another thing, especially a very different kind of thing, you’re saying they are similar. They share some kind of quality, experience, or value. That doesn’t mean they’re exactly the same. Instead, that you can understand something new by noticing how it is similar to something with which you are familiar.

Discussion Questions

  • In what other areas do you notice we use similes in our culture? This could be in school, in church, in advertising, and more.
  • Is comparing things to one another this way always helpful? Why or why not?

Third Sunday After Pentecost

Ezekiel 17:22-24

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

2 Corinthians 5:6-17

Mark 4:26-34

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

What It’s Like Is Not What It Is

In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the reign of God with similes. God’s reign is like a mustard seed, growing from small seed that needs the protection of the soil to large plant that provides protection to other creatures. God’s reign is like the growing process itself, something we witness and ultimately benefits us through food and yet something we do not fully comprehend nor control. Whatever God’s reign is like, apparently it is about growth, about protection, about abundance.

Yet, in parables, Jesus only ever tells us what God’s reign is like. In other words, through these teachings, we only get a glimpse of the fullness of God’s reign. The use of these similes helps us understand something foreign–heaven–through earthly images. We can’t fully comprehend the processes of heaven, nor can we control it. Yet, we can know that God’s realm is about growing to share with others. We can know that God’s realm is about multiplying blessing in order to feed others.

This use of simile doesn’t mean that God’s reign is actually found in a seed, or only available to agricultural communities. In other places, Jesus uses economic imagery, family imagery, and more to communicate what God’s reign is like. To use the language of worship, in Jesus’ teachings we get “a foretaste of the feast to come.” To use scriptural language, we only now “see in a mirror dimly,” but eventually we will see “face to face.”

So if you don’t fully comprehend what God’s reign is like yet, that’s ok. If you aren’t sure what to expect from heaven. That’s alright. As long as we learn at the feet of Jesus, we’ll learn more and more what the reign of God is like. In turn, as we learn, we’ll be able to recognize that reign when we see it face to face.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think heaven (or the reign of God) is like? 
  2. What questions do you have about heaven (or the reign of God)?

 Activity Suggestions

  1. Take time to share in a group or write in a journal new similes about the reign of God. Then, share them with your pastors, deacons, and mentors. Describe the connections you notice between something in your world and the reign of God.
  2. Take time to grow a seed inside–all you’ll need is a small container, some soil, and the seed. Plant the seed and place the container near a window, watering regularly. Use a seed for plants like sprouts or radishes, which germinate and mature relatively quickly. Each day, as you notice its growth, ask yourself, “What does this tell me about God’s reign?” Share your thoughts with a friend or family member.

Closing prayer:  

God of Wisdom, thank you for teaching us in ways that we can comprehend. Help us to grow in understanding your reign and what it means for our lives. Inspire us to see your reign not only in a place far off, but growing like a seed in our world today. Amen.

June 9, 2024–Chosen Family

Warm-up Questions

  • What does “family” mean to you?
  • When you think of your family, who immediately comes to mind? 
    • Are all of these people a genetic or legal relative?
    • What makes them your family?

Family (Really) Matters

Family is a common experience for many and a common theme in media. Some people have biological families, others adoptive families, still others chosen families, and yet, all are family. Sports teams talk about one another as families, especially in times of trial. TV shows often focus on the antics of characters navigating the different personalities that other family members’ bring.

This emphasis on family, however, shouldn’t make us think everyone else has a family just like ours. Just because our family relationships are normal to us doesn’t mean that they’re normal for everyone. Family is unique in its expression, and research shows, in its value during trying times. Not all family trees are defined by the same biological, legal, or emotional connections. Yet, they’re all families.

After the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives, Emory University began to research how that crisis impacted people’s interactions with family members. The results show us something very interesting. When facing difficult situations, people are more likely to reach beyond their resident families–the people with whom they live–and to seek connection with a more extended familial network. In other words, in troubling times, people often look beyond their immediate family for support. You can read more about this study here.

When we think about family, and the importance they play in our lives, this research suggests we shouldn’t just think about the people with whom we live. They’re vitally important. Yet, no matter how you define family, there are others within our family networks that play pivotal roles and share valuable wisdom as we weather the storms of our lives.

Discussion Questions

  • During the pandemic lockdowns, who did you reach out to most often for support?
    • Do you think of these people as family? Why or why not?

Third Sunday After Pentecost

Genesis 3:8-15

Psalm 130

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Mark 3:20-35

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Family, Faith, and Function

There is a lot happening in this week’s Gospel. While many readers and preachers may focus on the idea of “unforgivable sin” or imagine what it means to “grieve the Holy Spirit,” its just as striking for some to see Jesus challenge the notion of family. After all, his mother and brothers probably overheard him pose this question as they stood outside! That must have made for an awkward meal at the next holiday.

What Jesus does, though, doesn’t deny that his biological mother and brothers are a part of his family. Instead, he redefines the notion of family away from biology and toward two interrelated things: faith and function. When the people who gather to hear his teaching name the importance of family, Jesus agrees. Yet, he agrees by telling all those gathered in the circle with him that, despite their lack of shared biological parents, those gathered together were his family. Why? Because they gathered around faith in God and they gathered to do God’s work. According to Jesus, “whoever does God’s will” is one of his family members. His biological family was a part of that, but they weren’t the only family, because Jesus was surrounding by a growing movement of people committed to knowing (faith) and doing (function) God’s will.

Across the country this summer, campers from very different backgrounds will come together at Lutheran Outdoor Ministry sites. For some, their ancestors will have attended the same camp. For others, it will be their first time. Some will groups of similarly aged children, while others will be intergenerational camps with youth and adults alike. At camp, you’ll often find people sitting in a circle with fellow campers, just like Jesus was doing in Mark 3, though they’re often around a campfire or singing tree. There they are at Cross Roads in New Jersey, people gathered together in the faith of Jesus. There they are at Living Water Ministries in Michigan, learning about God’s will. There they are El Camino Pines in California, acting out God’s purpose. At these camps, and all of the LOM camps across the country, there’s faith and there’s function. And if we believe Jesus, then there’s family too.

Of course, this happens at other places beyond camp. In this summer season, camp simply shows what’s possible when God’s people gather in faith around shared activity. Through that holy work, God’s family grows. So who are your mother and brothers? Who is your family? Ultimately, our families are the ones God calls together in faith for sharing works of love in this world.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the difference between having faith and acting it out?
  2. Are you comfortable defining family by faith and function? Why or why not?
  3. Where do you go, away from home, and feel most connected to people? Why do you think you feel that way?

 Activity Suggestions

  1. Write a note–this could be on paper, via text or email, even on social media DMs–to someone who you consider family. Let them know how much they mean to you. Don’t forget to tell them why they mean so much!
  2. Challenge yourself to act out God’s love for someone every day this week in a new way. At the end of each day, reflect on whether that changed your connection with the person.

Closing prayer:  

God, you are both parent and sibling, and in you we find our family growing ever wider. Help us to appreciate the biological, legal, emotional, social, and spiritual ways we are connected with others. In your love, show us how to love others as the human family and faith family that you have given to each of us. We pray this in your name, Jesus: Amen.

June 2, 2024–The Summer Set

Warm-up Question

  1. What are your favorite summer traditions? 
  2. Summer is a time of changing rituals. What kinds of emotions does this change bring to you?

A New Season

People think of the start of summer in different ways. Some look to the Summer Solstice–June 20th in the Northern Hemisphere this year–as the official launch of summer. Others consider the last day of school as the first day of summer. For some of us, it’s the start of summer camp. All across the country, many camp counselors are learning skills, designing curricula, and preparing spaces for youth and families alike to engage their faith in the midst of creation and community.

It may not be obvious to you, but the impact of summer camp lasts far beyond a fun week with silly songs, scriptural skits, and faithful friendships. Two different sets of research show that attendance at summer camp correlates with a long-lasting faith. People who attend church camps are much more likely to have a faith that lasts into the future. People who attend church camps are also more likely to stay connected to local congregations and regularly utilize personal spiritual practices.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean camp should replace Sunday worship services, nor does it mean that camps are better than local congregations. Instead, it suggests that camps and congregations are excellent partners in increasing the impact of faith in the lives of people right now in ways that extend the impact of faith into the future of people’s lives.

To be clear, this research doesn’t suggest that attending camp is a guarantee of faith. It isn’t. Instead, camp is scaffolding, a stabilizing force that supports a continued faith journey for people of all ages. This happens through relationships with counselors and peers, along with putting faith learned in congregations into practice in other contexts. Camp is a laboratory that helps us live the teachings of Jesus in the midst of the world.

You can read summaries of the research here, as well as find links to the larger research projects themselves.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been to a summer camp? This could be a church camp, scouts, YMCA, 4H, sports, and others. If so, what did you like about it. If not, why haven’t you gone before?
  2. How do you practice your faith outside of church on Sunday mornings?

Second Sunday After Pentecost

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Psalm 81

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

Mark 2:23-3:6

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Active Rest

Each of our readings this morning speaks, in one way or another, to the freedom we gave thanks to the work of God. Deuteronomy reminds us that we find rest on the Sabbath because God frees us from oppression. 2nd Corinthians reminds us that, by joining Jesus in death and resurrection, we find freedom from persecution, despair, even destruction. In Mark we witness Jesus challenging our notions of propriety by offering freedom from hunger and hurt even on the Sabbath. 

As I reflected on these readings appointed for this Sunday, one verse in particular struck me. It comes from Psalm 81, “I hear a voice I had not known,” and that’s the voice that leads to liberation. Unfortunately, the voices that we do not aren’t often so helpful. 

The voices of advertisers speak to us time and again—on our televisions, on social media, through text messages, in paper and digital mail. They speak constantly, incessantly. I’d be willing to bet most Americans have memorized more advertising jingles than they have scriptures or prayers. The same goes for Tik Tok trends, movie quotes, song lyrics, and more. That’s not necessarily because people like those voices more, or value them more—instead, it’s because the world’s cacophony does all it can to drown out the voice of God in our lives. To be honest with you, I’m almost certain I could quote you more commercial advertisements than scriptural advisements.

One of the ways we can get away from those voices and listen once again to God’s voice is by getting outside and away from the distractions. Every summer–and throughout the year–church camps provide this opportunity. Of course, there are other places like state and national parks where we can get away from the world’s cacophony. Yet, church camps provide us with the unique opportunity to listen to God through creation, community, and Christian teaching.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the voices that get most of your attention? They could come from people you know or from places like entertainment, advertisers, and the like. 
  2. How do you distinguish those voices from God’s voice? If you have any practices that help or wisdom to share with your peers, please do!
    1. If you’re reflecting on your own, consider using social media as a way to share this wisdom, which can offer a way for God’s voice to break in amidst other voices.
  3. How does God speak to you differently outside of church, especially in places like the woods, the beach, the mountains, the desert, and other natural areas?

 Activity Suggestions

  1. Go outside. It doesn’t have to be at a camp. It could be on your church property, at a local park, or just the yard outside your door. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and listen for God’s voice in the world around you. Consider the breeze in the trees, the buzz of bugs, even the pattering of the rain. Take some time to rest from other distractions and hear God’s voice in nature. Write down what you feel and hear so you can remember it next time you’re needing to hear God’s voice.
  2. Plan a trip away with friends of faith. This could be church camp, a mission trip, or a youth gathering. It could also be a bike ride after school or brunch on the weekend. While away together, intentionally ask one another where you see God active outside the walls of the church.

Closing prayer:  

Word of God, speak to us. Carry through the noise of the world around us. Help us to recognize your voice, to heed your wisdom, and to embrace your ways of rest. When we’re distracted, help us find the places where your words are clear and your voice rings through. Wherever we go this summer, and whatever we do, speak to us in ways that free us for the abundant life that you promise to your people. Amen. 

May 26, 2024–The Holy Trinity

Dave Delaney, Roanoke, VA

Warm-up Question

  1. What are the most important qualities you look for in your friends? Sharing common interests or values? Sticking by you no matter what? Agreeing with almost everything you say? Keeping you honest by telling you when you’re being annoying or about to do something dumb? 
  1. A simple choice question with no right or wrong answer: Would you rather have just a few very close friends or a lot of casual friends?
  1. 3. Since the pandemic lockdown, some young people report that it has been more difficult to build good and reliable relationships that it was before. Is that true for you or not so much? 

Social (Dis)Connection

Social researchers of adolescents have been measuring the amount of time teens spend with each other in person and noticed a significant drop between 2010 and the present. Although some attribute this to the pandemic lockdown, the trend was already starting before 2020 and has not rebounded since public gatherings once again became the norm. There is a great deal of speculation about what is behind this, and it includes many social theorists who assign a fair amount of blame to the prevalence of social media and electronic communication. Others disagree, pointing instead to societal tensions and increased anxiety among the adults who are supposed to be providing guidance for growing young people. Either way, most researchers are concluding that there is a connection between this lack of personal relationships (or the substitution of screen relationships) and the dramatic rise in teen depression and identity crises. Furthermore, it is well-known (and easily confirmed by even casual conversations with teens) that the Zoom gathering platform is no substitute for being together, to the point where students will beg for in-person experiences over an online option, even if it is more time-consuming and inconvenient.  

https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/4037619-teens-are-spending-less-time-than-ever-with-friends/ 

Discussion Questions

  1. Not every single American teenager is experiencing either a personal crisis of identity and meaning or starvation of relationships. What is your experience? 
  1. Do you ever think about your church family as a place where stable and nurturing relationships can happen, even with those outside of your age group? What would it take for your church community to provide such an environment?
  1. As sophisticated as our FaceTime and other apps are, do you find that they are effective ways of staying in touch with your friends and building relationships? Why or why not?

The Holy Trinity

Isaiah 6:1-8  

Psalm 29  

Romans 8:12-17  

John 3:1-17 

Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

The Holy Trinity

The Festival of the Holy Trinity is famous for being the only Sunday in the church year that is based on a theological doctrine rather than on an event in the life of Jesus or one of the saints or apostles. And many Christians get hung up on the seeming contradiction implied by the “3-in-1, 1-in-3.” In the end, however, the story of the Trinity is the story of God’s own self and relationships. It is more story than doctrine: we believe that from all eternity, the Father and the Son have been locked together in a relationship of creative love through the sharing of their mutual Spirit. The absolute closeness between them is what makes them “one God” and even defines what it means to be God. We might even say that God *is* relationship! And this mutual love between them is so powerful that it flows over into creating all things in the universe, including us! 

Since we are made in the image of God, we too are made for the experience of relationship, first within ourselves, and then – creatively and lovingly – with others!  

With this ongoing crisis of teens’ internal struggles and drop-off of peer interactions, there is almost no time in history when we have more needed a God who embodies unity of self and love for others. Everything that God is and does points us to putting together and repairing things that are broken, uniting people that are at odds with themselves and others. The Spirit of the one God is God’s gift to us to powerfully bring this about, and since God is one and we are one with God, we can bring God’s gift of healing to the world – the small world around us, and the big world that seems so often to be in so much conflict.  

Discussion Questions

  1. Go through the gospel passage and note all the words or phrases that are related to relationships: “being born,” “loved” etc. What does this tell us about the nature and the will of God? Is the word “believe” (esp. vss. 11-16) more about acknowledging facts or about entering into a relationship? 
  1. Christians have argued for centuries over the meaning of John 3:16-17, the meaning of the word “saved,” and what mechanism is required for salvation to happen. Is it possible that (rather than referring so much to life after death) salvation means experiencing the repairing and restoring love of God in the here and now and sharing God’s life and love with others?
  1. When Nicodemus asks his implied question about whether Jesus is for real or not, Jesus says “You must be born *anew*.” In that word, Nicodemus hears “born *again*” as in a repeat of physical human birth, when what Jesus meant was “born *from above*” or “born in a different way.” How does knowing and following Jesus bring you new life each day?

Bonus question: What about Jesus’ life and work and nature do you find confusing? What question would you most like to ask Jesus? 

 Activity Suggestions

  1. As Lutherans our whole pattern of daily faith is based on believing that being “born anew” happens every day, not just once. Find a copy of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and look at the section on Baptism, where Luther asks and answers the question “What does baptism with water signify?” by encouraging a daily dying and rising by remembrance of baptism. Also, look at Luther’s morning prayer, which begins with making of the sign of the cross in baptismal remembrance, doing so with the invocation of the Holy Trinity. Can your group commit to undertaking this practice together for each day of this coming week? 
  1. God’s great love spills over to us not just for our own sakes, but the for the sake of everyone around us who needs a loving relationship. Give each member of your group a card on which to list people they know who are in need of the kind of love that only God and God’s people can give. Pledge to carry this card around all week, as a reminder that we are bearers of God’s love.
  1. Listening for the Holy Spirit to share the love of the Trinity in the midst of so many other voices in our world can be extremely hard! Get a volunteer to be blindfolded in the middle of your group and have one person read from John 3 while all others just talk constantly and try to throw the blindfolded person off. Can the blindfolded person pick out the words of John 3? How do you make that distinction in daily life?

(If the group is ambitious, look at the other lessons for the day that have historically been read by Christians to understand God’s trinitarian life – Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17) 

Closing prayer:  

God, we ask you to bring to us the powerful and healing unity that you have within yourself. Allow us to be part of your purpose to bring restoration and reconciliation to the whole world every day and let others see the peace you have given us within ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

May 19, 2024–Everyone Has a Place

Josh Kestner, Clemson, SC

Warm Up Questions

  1. How often do you interact with someone who is different from you? For example, how often do you interact with someone from a different neighborhood? Someone from a different school? Someone with a different racial identity or whose primary language is one other than English?
  2. Have you ever entered into a new community? Maybe you moved to a new town or started going to a new school or joined a new sports team. How did you feel? What kinds of things made you feel comfortable and welcome? What kinds of things made you feel uneasy and disoriented?

Borders and Walls

Ask anyone what they think about the US-Mexico border and odds are they’ll have an opinion to share. The border is a hot topic and it’s difficult to ignore the conversations that politicians, family members, and strangers are having about it.

There are countless beliefs about what should and should not be legal regarding immigration. And there are differing viewpoints about how to handle the crowds of people who want to become citizens – what the process should be, what to do with them while they wait, how to handle families that are split, etc.

There are no easy answers when it comes to immigration and border policies. The U.S. cannot effectively or sustainably let everyone in, but they also cannot in good faith keep everyone out. The problem with social issues like this one is that humanity often gets lost in the midst of the numbers and logistics.

Our ministry took a recent trip to the border and spent time with a local organization that facilitates programs to support the people who live there. We met folks who call the border towns home and others who are just passing through, hoping to transition from one home to another. The key was that we met actual human beings who are living with the real consequences of current immigration practices and policies.

We were blessed to walk with these strangers who graciously welcomed us into their lives. And for a few days we listened to stories. These were stories not about what should or should not happen, but instead about what is happening in their lives. These stories also included hopes of how the world should respond to properly care for the people who are caught up in the realities of immigration.

Conversations like this usually spiral into hypothetical guesses as to who or what Jesus might have voted for. A more faithful response, though, could be to open ourselves up to curiosity and care. We are called to listen deeply to the stories of the people around us and to build meaningful relationships. Then, we might finally be able to develop policies for things like immigration that are less harmful and more life-giving to the community as a whole.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the general purpose of building a wall (e.g. a wall in the middle of a home)? When are walls useful? When might they have a negative effect? What are the effects that a wall might have at the US-Mexico border?
  2. Have you ever met someone from a different country? How did you interact with each other? How did you communicate? What did you do to try to get to know them?
  3. Have you ever been to a foreign country? How did you feel when you were there? Did you have to speak a different language? Did you try any new foods? Did you get lost?

Festival of Pentecost

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Acts 2:1-21

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The gospel passage for this week is about the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Jesus’ friends and followers. After Jesus rose from the dead and spent some time with his people in person, he left to be with God. While he was no longer going to be in their midst, he promised that the Spirit would come to provide the same kind of comfort, love, and guidance in their lives that he had given them for so long.

One of the other stories we read this week is from the book of Acts. It is a portrayal of the Holy Spirit showing up in the community on Pentecost. On that day, the Spirit rushed into the room like a mighty wind and appeared like a flame on the heads of the people who were there. Next, they all started to speak. Even though they were speaking different languages, each of them could understand the other.

There are so many things that we could take from the passages this week. One of the things that sticks out is how indiscriminate the Holy Spirit is. The Spirit did not only come to a few of the people in the crowd, but it came to all of them. It didn’t matter whether or not the people were from one region or another. It didn’t matter what language they spoke. It didn’t matter how they dressed or how intelligent they were. It didn’t matter what they looked like. The Holy Spirit showed up and put on a show for them.

This is a message that we can take with us. The very first thing that the Holy Spirit did in the community was tie them together. It did not separate them into groups of bad and good, then better and best. It pulled them together into a group of equals. Everyone had a role. Everyone had a purpose. Everyone had a place.

How empowering is that? Can we let ourselves believe that we, too, have the same kind of role, purpose, and place in the world? Can we feel the different ways that the Spirit is pulling us together instead of tearing us apart?

On this Pentecost, I hope that we can all take a deep breath and allow the Spirit of God to be a part of our lives. Perhaps it’s not as dramatic and spectacular as that day when tongues of fire appeared on the heads of the believers. But we, too, can find ways that the Spirit moves in our lives and guides us to do big things in the world around us.

Discussion Questions

  1. The Holy Spirit is often portrayed as a gust of wind or a breath of air. What does that feel like to you? How does that image help you to understand the Spirit’s presence in your life?
  2. Who are the people in your life that you trust the most? What makes you comfortable with them? What are the ways that you like others to show you love? How do you show love to others?
  3. Are there times in your life that you have found it difficult to know what you should be doing? Are there times when you’ve had a hard time knowing what was right and wrong? How do you make decisions? Do you ever pray or try to notice how the Holy Spirit is moving in your life?

Activity Suggestion

  • Do you know any other languages? Look up how to say, “You are loved,” in different languages. Write them on note cards or sticky notes or something portable to the best of your ability (especially if the alphabet is not something that you’re familiar with). Carry these with you and spread them around your church building or outside in the nearby neighborhood. Perhaps someone will come across these words and be curious enough to look up what they say.
    • The point of the story today is that God’s people are not uniform. We come from different backgrounds, we subscribe to different cultures, and we speak different languages. This activity can be a good reminder to us that children of God are beautiful and diverse. It can also be a simple way to stretch outside of our familiar lives and routines and take a step towards our neighbors in a meaningful way.

Closing Prayer

God, surround us with your love and fill us with the courage and confidence to share that love with one another. Open our hands and our hearts to truly attend to the needs of our neighbors. And empower us by your Spirit to broaden the boundaries of our communities to include all of your children. Amen.