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February 2, 2014–Blessed to Bless

Contributed by David Delaney, Salem, VA


Warm-up Question

Has anyone in your group ever spent time in a very poor area, either as part ofshutterstock_109184036edit your own living experience, or on a mission or immersion trip to a developing country, or heard stories from those who have been to such places?

  • What are some of the words that come to mind when you imagine or recall the lives of those who live day-to-day, hand-to-mouth, or under threat of disease, war, or oppression?  “Miserable,” “unfortunate,” “desperate,” “bitter,” “victim,” and “hopeless” are all words that might come to the minds of many.  Some people might include words that reflect stereotypes of the poor as mostly responsible for their own condition or dismiss poverty with a resigned shrug – “that’s the way the world is.”
  • What would you do if you lost everything?  What would happen if your family disappeared, you had no income and no place to live, and you were left to blame for it all?  That might sound like an extreme scenario, but try to imagine it.  What words would you use to describe yourself then?

Whatever you might say, it is hard to imagine using the word “blessed” to describe someone else or yourself in a situation of poverty or any other kind of severe stress; that must be kept in mind as we reflect on Matthew 5.

Blessed to Bless

Many people use the term “blessed” to refer to some extra experience they have had for which they want to express some gratitude, even if they are not Christian or religious at all.  In mid-January, Sandra Bullock described herself as feeling “overwhelmingly blessed” after receiving an Oscar nomination for her movie Gravity.  Also in mid-January, the manager of the Liverpool soccer team praised one of his players, Daniel Sturridge, as being “genetically blessed” because of his remarkable ability to recover from injuries much faster than normal.

Discussion Questions

  • Are these  good uses of the word “blessed”?  When you read Matthew 5, does it sound like Jesus is describing exceptional situations for exceptional people or the ongoing lives of everyday people?
  • Are there ways for us to start seeing the constant experiences of our daily lives as blessings?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 2, 2014 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany)

 Micah 6:1-8

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 5:1-12

(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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


Gospel Reflection

The setting for the many things that Jesus taught throughout the gospels varies greatly, but the physical size of the land where he conducted his ministry was very small – less than the size of the state of Vermont.  Most places could be reached by walking in less than a day, and even a trip from Capernaum to Jerusalem could be done in a little more than three days of brisk walking.  Because there was a lot of travel done for business, government, and military purposes, people could easily see the great difference between the wealthier areas of the country and the poorer ones.  They were often very close together.  Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth was one of the poorest agricultural areas of the county, yet a brief walk to the top of the hill just south of his town would allow someone to see into the Jezreel Valley, one of the agriculturally richest areas of the country.

The traditional site of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), from which this passage comes, is less than a day’s walk from Nazareth and is once again a very rich area.  So when Jesus talks about being blessed, people from all different walks of life and economic circumstances might have been listening to him.  Regardless of all of those differences, we read these verses knowing that everything – even life itself – is a gift from God.  How do you hear that from the standpoint of your own particular setting in life?

Discussion Questions

  • In verse one, Jesus goes up on a mountain to teach and invite his followers to a new kind of “law” for life.   Who does this remind us of from the Old Testament (answer = Moses)?  Do you think Matthew wants us to think of Jesus as replacing Moses or building on what the Israelite law said?  (Look at Matthew chapters 22-23 to see examples of Jesus responding to questions about Israel’s law).
  • If you list all of the various situations listed by Jesus in this set of verses, which ones sound like they are the result of something that has happened to someone (answers: poor in spirit, mourning, meek, experiencing persecution, being lied about), and which sound like qualities that someone might want to adopt or nurture (answers: righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking)?  Do they all have something in common?  (Possibly, all are situations in which the presence of God is needed and one might not recognize the need for God’s presence without them, which is why they are a source of blessing).  What do we learn about following Jesus from this?  Is the blessed life an active and willful life, or passive and receptive, or both?
  • These verses in Matthew are traditionally referred to as the “Beatitudes” (pronounced be-AT-i-tudes), from the Latin word “beo” which means to bless or make happy.  There is a story about a child in Sunday School who had never seen or heard the word before and pronounced it “BEAT-i-tudes” and immediately added how much sense that made because these are RULES that BEAT you.  It is easy to see how these sentences that are intended to be comforting could be turned around to become a checklist of things you have to do in order to earn blessings.  How can we avoid thinking about them like that?
  • How do we imagine that these blessings become real in the lives of people who experience the hardships Jesus describes?  Is it simply a direct line from God to the individual?  Or does the community have a role?  Do we who have experienced these things before or who are already equipped with the good news of the gospel and the means to relieve suffering serve on God’s behalf in bringing blessing to others?

Activity Suggestion

  • On a sheet of paper that you will fold up and carry with you this week as a reminder, list the names of actual people you know to whom you can relate in a new way according to this list of promises from Jesus.   Is there someone in your life for whom you only have contempt or conflict?  How can you be “poor in spirit” in your conversations with them?  Do you know someone who is consumed by a lifestyle of destructive behavior or shallow thrill?  Can your “hunger and thirst for righteousness” provide a suggestion of another way to live?  Is there someone in your life who needs mercy and forgiveness from you or others?  Can you show mercy and forgiveness to that person, knowing that it may not be received or returned?   Are you afraid of the consequences of representing the love of God in Christ Jesus to others in word and/or deed?  Recall that the promise of verses 11 and 12 are not just that you have a heavenly consolation for your courage and trouble, but that there may be others nearby who have desperately needed to hear and see the witness of someone who believes that God’s grace can really make a difference.   Who in your life could benefit from that witness? Let this list of people be your personal prayer list for the week and also your reminder that God’s promises for following Christ as described here in Matthew 5 are true!

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus, giver of every blessing, we rejoice that the wisdom and promises you first shared with your disciples have come down to us and still remain true today.  Help us to come to you as your followers did in those days and to welcome your word with gladness, even as it calls us to repentance and service.   We lift before you for your blessings all those whose spirits call out for relief and righteousness, all who mourn the loss of loved ones, who feel disenfranchised and isolated, and whose fondest desire is that they could feel strong enough to show mercy and forgiveness in the face of persecution and hatred.  Give us along with all your people joy and gladness for the reward that is ours in your kingdom.

November 11, 2012–Reckless Generosity

Contributed by Paul Baglyos, St. Paul, MN

Warm-up Question

Generosity: Is it just a nice idea or is it a life commitment?

Reckless Generosity

Earlier this fall blogger David Briggs, writing for the Huffington Post, noted that recent research reveals that many churchgoing Americans misrepresent the amount of money they give in charitable contributions.  Whether intentionally or not, many people reply to questions about their giving by overstating the amount they actually give.  Briggs describes the research findings as indicating a “gap between perception and reality.”  Many people think that they give more than they really do, perhaps because they are unaware of their actual giving.  They may claim that they give more than they really do because they want to be regarded as more generous than they really are.  Apparently, many people are more committed to the idea of giving than to the actual practice of it. For Briggs’ full article on the research findings, go here.


Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think many people overstate the amount of money they actually give in charitable contributions?
  • Do you think it is difficult to be generous?  If so, why is it difficult?
  • Do you know any generous people?  Who are they?  In what ways are they generous?
  • Are you a generous person?  Do you find it difficult or easy to be generous?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 11, 2012 (Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost)

1 Kings 17:8-16

Hebrews 9:24-28

Mark 12:38-44

(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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


Gospel Reflection

By commending the example of the poor widow, Jesus makes it clear that true generosity cannot be measured in money but only in attitude.  The widow’s two small copper coins, worth only a penny, count for little in comparison to the much larger sums of money given by others.  The true value of her offering is that it represents everything she has to give.  In other words, the widow is more generous than all the others because she gives everything while they give only something.

Jesus emphasizes that the widow “put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  By any human calculation, the widow has done something reckless and foolish.  But her reckless folly mirrors the generosity of God.  Again and again in the teaching of Jesus, as in the entire Bible, God is seen to be reckless and foolish in God’s own abundant generosity.  Consider the stories that Jesus tells about the father and his two sons (Luke 15) or the laborers hired to work in the vineyard (Matthew 20).  Read what Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:25-33, and reflect upon the ways in which the poor widow has taken such teaching to heart.

By commending the generosity of the poor widow, Jesus points to the generosity of God.  The widow is a witness to the generosity of God, who gives everything and all.  Consider what Martin Luther teaches about God’s generosity in the Small Catechism, where Luther explains the Apostles’ Creed.  Scripture tells us that human beings are created in the image of God.  The poor widow shows us what it means to live as the image of the God who gives everything and all.

Discussion Questions

  • How do our practices of generosity witness to the generosity of God?  How does our giving represent what we believe about God?  What does our giving teach others about God?
  • What does it mean for us to be people created in the image of an abundantly generous God?  How does our generous God call us to live?

Activity Suggestions

  • Have a conversation at home with your family about financial giving.  Ask how much money the people in your family give in church offerings and other charitable contributions.  What are the beliefs and attitudes that guide the giving habits in your family?  Are the people in your family willing or reluctant to talk about their giving?  How does your family teach and practice generosity?
  • As a group, identify a project or a concern toward which you would like to make a collective contribution.  Make a plan about what you will do together, including the commitments that each person will make to help fulfill that plan.

Closing Prayer

Help us who have received so freely from you to give as freely in our turn, and so have the pleasure of giving as well as the happiness of receiving.*  Amen

 (*for this and other prayers)

October 7, 2012–Poor Children

Contributed by Erik  Ullestad, West Des Moines, IA


Warm-up Question

What’s your favorite memory of when you were a child?

Poor Children

The school bell rings at Sampson Middle School.  Within seconds the campus is flooded with pre-teens who are on their way home.  Their evenings are filled with homework, texting, TV, and web surfing.  Jessica is one of a growing number of children with a slightly different routine.  She walks to the local shopping mall to do her homework in the food court.  When she finishes, Jessica looks around for uneaten food that hadn’t yet made it to the garbage.  From there, she heads to the parking lot and enters a rusty old van where her younger brother and parents welcome her “home” for the night.  Most of her classmates don’t know it, but Jessica is homeless.

Nearly 1.6 million children are homeless in the United States; approximately 1 of every 45 people under the age of 18.  Schools, churches, and social service agencies have seen needs rise among children and families in recent years.  Youth homelessness has risen 28% since 2007, a trend that doesn’t look to taper off any time soon.  Over 25% of children are living in poverty in America.  As their parents bring home smaller paychecks it becomes more difficult to pay the rent or mortgage.

Jessica goes to school early to shower in the locker room and finish her homework.  She gets good grades but she’s worried about keeping up, now that some of her teachers are requiring assignments to be turned in online.  She doesn’t have regular access to a computer and is afraid of asking to borrow someone else’s.  It is likely that her schoolwork will suffer if she remains homeless.  Children in this demographic area are more likely than their peers to suffer from hunger, educational deficiencies, illness, and psychological disorders.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you know any students in your school who are homeless?
  • How would your activities change if you had no home?
  • What would you say to a friend if they told you they are homeless?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, October 7, 2012 (Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Genesis 2:18-24

Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

Mark 10:2-16

(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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


Gospel Reflection

Jesus had been doing a lot of teaching and healing in recent days.  He took the disciples and went back to the wilderness near Judah.  It didn’t take long, however, for the crowds to find him there.  As he was teaching, the religious leaders showed up and tried to trick him.  They asked for Jesus’ thoughts on the divorce laws, which was a tricky topic.  The Torah (given to Moses) stated that only a man could initiate a divorce (Deut. 24:1-3).  Roman law, which applied to the land of Judah, permitted a woman to initiate divorce as well.  Ultimately, they were looking for Jesus to make a political statement about his allegiance.  Choosing sides would have had big repercussions for Jesus.

Instead of taking the bait, Jesus brought everything back to Creation.  He isn’t interested in splitting hairs over what is lawful.  Jesus reminds the people that the purpose of marriage is to create partnerships.  Marriage is a blessing that is intended to be life giving for both people.  When the relationship fractures and disintegrates, it is because of sin.

Martin Luther reminds us that sin is a condition.  Not only does everyone sin, but everyone is a sinner.  All of us are in need of God’s grace to forgive and redeem us.  As fellow sinners, it’s unhelpful for us to make a list of people’s sins, or presume that some sins are worse than others.  The missteps of ourselves and others reveal communal need of a Savior.

Many interpret Jesus’ comments on divorce as seeking to protect innocent people in relationships.  Verses 11-12 can be condensed and nuanced to say, “Whoever divorces their spouse for the purpose of marrying another person commits adultery.”  The idea of trading a spouse for a “better” often left the divorced person without a home, food, or family to support her.  As he has done so many times before, Jesus uses this discussion to demonstrate care for those in need.

From there, Jesus continues his advocacy for the helpless in society by chastising the disciples for keeping children from getting near to Jesus.  After all, children in those days were considered slightly more important than stray animals.  Jesus elevates their status by telling the disciples to aspire to being like the children in their attitude toward the kingdom of heaven.  Time after time, it is the least, the last, and the lowly among us that Jesus shows partiality to – and he calls us to do the same.

Discussion Questions

  • How successful were the Pharisees in tricking Jesus?
  • What do you think of Jesus’ answer about divorce?
  • How can someone “receive the kingdom of heaven like a child”?

Activity Suggestions

  • Have each person make a family tree.  Include as many branches as they know of.  Use this as an opportunity to talk about the blessing of family, in all kinds of different configurations.  Affirm God’s presence in these relationships, even in the imperfect ones.
  • Shelters for women and children provide care and safety for vulnerable people in society.  As a class, learn about how you can assist these organizations in your community.  Consider creating care packages or creative artwork for the shelters.

Closing Prayer

God, thank you for the gift of marriage, families, and children.  Help us to see your face in the faces of the people we see every day.  Give us patience when we are frustrated, and hope when we become discouraged.  Amen.

February 5, 2012–Helping People in Need

Contributed by John Hougen, Melrose Park, PA

Warm-up Question

Do you believe political leaders can make a difference in the lives of people who are sick, hungry, homeless, and fearful?

Helping People in Need

As the Republican Party selects its nominee for President and President Obama makes his case for re-election, many campaign sound-bites are about “creating jobs.” We are hearing very different ideas about whether government or the private sector should take the lead. Voters must decide: who has the best ideas and experience that can be used to put people to work.

Candidates say or imply that creating jobs is the best way to help people in need. They want us to share their belief that if jobs are created people will earn salaries and have the means to feed and house their families, pay the doctors’ bills, send the kids to college, and take care of other problems.

While the debate about jobs goes on, the rising tide of human needs which will not be solved by job creation gets brief attention from the candidates, and is reported on the inside pages of newspapers, late in newscasts, and below the headlines on the internet. In the state and city where I live, the number of people relying on food banks is dramatically up and food stamp recipients have to meet new and stricter criteria to qualify. The number of people with disabilities who receive Medicaid has been cut, and the waiting list of persons with disabilities who want to be considered for Medicaid has increased by tens of thousands. Too many people are homeless or living in substandard housing. Too many people are trapped in their homes by fear of violence on the streets where they live.

We can hope and pray that new jobs will be created and contribute to helping people in need, but there are people in need who can’t wait until new jobs are created; and there are people whose needs cry out for other kinds of help: help that will not come with better employment statistics. People of faith are called to address such problems with thoughts, words, and deeds.

Discussion Questions

  • What kinds of human needs do you see in your community? To supplement what you know firsthand, search the internet for statistics to discover the scope of the problems you see. For hunger/food insecurity, you might start with, and then see what you can find out about hunger in your city, county, or state.
  • Share stories of how you or people you know respond to hunger, homelessness, and other human needs. From your examples, pick out two or three “best practices,” and talk about why these responses are effective.
  • Have you supplemented personal and congregational responses to human needs with “advocacy?” Within, search for “Advocacy.” You will be led to information that begins: “ADVOCACY is how the ELCA works to overcome the effects and root causes of hunger and poverty through administrative, legislative, and judicial actions in the public sphere, as well as through corporate actions in the private sphere.”  Discuss whether you think advocacy will contribute positively to meeting human needs.

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 5, 2012 (Fifth Sunday After Epiphany)

Isaiah 40:21-31

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39
(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

In the Gospel text assigned for last Sunday (January 29: Mark 1: 21 – 28), we heard Mark’s report of Jesus’ visit to the synagogue in Capernaum. There Jesus taught “with authority” and cast out “unclean spirits” (demons). Onlookers were amazed. Not only did Jesus come across as more authoritative than recognized authorities (the scribes), but an unclean spirit spoke through a man it possessed and said to Jesus, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” The onlookers believed the testimony of the spirit, for, in those days, people thought one supernatural being – such as an unclean spirit – could recognize another supernatural being – such as “the Holy One of God.” Last week’s Gospel text prepares us to see the significance of this week’s text, which immediately follows. Jesus is authoritative. Jesus is Holy and “of God.” We should pay attention.

What Jesus says and does in Mark 1: 29 – 39 provides a good model for helping people in need. He surrounds himself with trusted friends (verse 29 mentions the disciples Simon, Andrew, James, and John). Working with others is almost always more effective in meeting human needs than working alone. Next, Jesus responds to the need that is closest at hand. After Jesus enters Simon’s mother-in-law’s house, he cures her fever. We also should respond first to those in need who are close at hand. And, Mark’s narrative reveals the purpose of all healing and helping: “[Jesus] lifted her up, … and she began to serve them.” You and I and all people in need are (in God’s intentions) healed, forgiven, and helped so that we may serve others.

After Jesus heals his hostess, word spreads, and others who are sick or possessed are brought to Jesus for healing. Jesus doesn’t stop with one act of kindness; he expands his efforts to help others. However, he recognizes that he must have balance in his life, so after curing many, he suspends his helping and healing for a time. He sleeps; and “In the morning, … he went out to a deserted place and there he prayed.” He took care of himself, both physically and spiritually. Even though there were still more people to help in Capernaum, Jesus seems to be at peace with not helping everyone. Instead he moves on to other towns and synagogues beyond Capernaum, expanding his efforts to the region (both “proclaiming his message” and healing). We, too, should link proclamation and helping in our efforts. And, we could follow Jesus’ example and develop a regional (and even global) approach by cooperating with other houses of worship and participating in advocacy for more compassionate public policies.

To summarize: a good strategy for helping others is provided by Mark 1: 29 – 39:

  • Surround yourself with trusted friends.
  • Respond to needs that are close at hand.
  • Equip those you help so they may serve others.
  • Expand your efforts, helping people beyond those close at hand.
  • Practice self-care: enhancing your own physical and spiritual well-being.  
  • Be at peace with the fact that you cannot help everyone.
  • Help others both locally and regionally (even globally). 

Discussion Questions

  • Which steps in this model for helping are you confident you can do? Which steps seem most daunting?
  • The other texts assigned for Feb. 5, especially Isaiah 40: 21 – 31 and Psalm 147 praise God for acting creatively and compassionately in this world.  Do you think it is possible for people to become God’s allies in some of the divine actions mentioned in Isaiah 40 and Psalm 147? Which ones? If people are able to cooperate with God in doing praiseworthy actions, what do God and people need from each other to  make the cooperative effort successful?

Activity Suggestions

  • Create a scenario or two in which your group (trusted friends) follows the steps outlined above, selecting a specific need close at hand, figuring out how you would help meet it, and how you could move beyond it, practice self care, and so on.
  • Follow through with one of your scenarios, checking in with the group after each step to see whether you are following the strategy suggested by Mark 1: 29 – 39, or if you have wandered off the path pioneered by Jesus.

Closing Prayer

Open our eyes, Lord, so we may see human needs which are close by. Open our hearts, Lord, so we may be filled with your gift of holy compassion. Open our hands, Lord, so we may be generous, giving of ourselves as we help others. Fill our imaginations with wisdom, and energy, so we can be creative and effective allies for you. With you and others whom you inspire, enable us to serve people in need. Amen.

December 4, 2011–Why Aren’t We Gasping (or Laughing)?

Contributed by Paul Henrickson, Salem, VA

[Editor’s note:  This week’s Faith Lens is in a slightly different format than usual, but you will find the same opportunities for reflection and discussion]


Warm-up Question

What event has most impacted your life?

Why Aren’t We Gasping (or Laughing)?

I am writing this on November 22, 2011.  Like everyone over the age of 54, I remember exactly where I was at 1:30 pm 48 years ago.  The assassination of President Kennedy is etched in my memory.  When I watch this YouTube video, I still gasp at the harsh reality.

What makes you gasp today?  What event, idea, or proposal takes your breath away?  I am not a social-psychologist, but I have a hunch that, because we have instant access to so many events, there are fewer things that truly amaze us.  We may be entertained or even embarrassed, but are we left breathless with the surprise of real life?

Mark 1:1 is an incomplete sentence that simply blurts out a truth that is breathlessly remarkable: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…”  Listen!  Good News, Jesus, the Christ, Son of God; these words are like a prelude that we need a few moments to digest.

What might come next?  Are we prepared for an Old Testament reference, a “Wilderness Man” preaching a baptism of repentance, a promise of one even more powerful yet to come?  Compare this story with the accounts in Matthew and Luke and you will find that Mark gives the polite version of events.  In Mark there is no “brood of vipers,” no clearing of the threshing floor; no burning of chaff with unquenchable fire.  It is straight forward proclamation of the Good News.  Are you gasping yet?  Do we need disastrous consequences or is the simple declaration of Mark sufficient.

Below are 6 “P” words to help you work through this text.  Once you are finished, try telling the story to another person in your group with amazed excitement.

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, December 4, 2011 (Second Sunday of Advent)

Isaiah 40:1-11

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

(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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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


Gospel Reflection


The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

+ begin a conversation with these words of verse 1, what would you say next?


2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,

+ why is the voice crying in the wilderness?

+ what wilderness of the spirit do you know?

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

+ Again, Baptism takes place in the wilderness.  Why?


5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

+ Can you imagine “all” the people of a city showing up for baptism?

+ What people might show up today?


6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

+ John is truly a “Wilderness Man.”  Why is that important?


7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

+ How would you share with another person, the power of your baptism?

Activity Suggestions

Role Play the situation in the text.  Assign persons to be John, some hearers, persons who are offended by him–and a news crew covering the event.  Have the crew interview folks to get their reaction.  Pay special attention to what would be “newsworthy.”  What would excite people and get them talking?

Closing Prayer

God of Grace and Glory, forgive us when we are not amazed at the in-breaking of your kingdom; forgives us when we are complacent with the sacred presence of your Son.  Strengthen our faith so that we may receive Him with Joy and Thanksgiving.  Amen