August 9: Faith is a verb — Family faith formation at home

Welcome 

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

 

Connecting with Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

Read the passage again for a second time, then ask each person to say the Jesus’ words in verse 31(“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”) with different emotions (angry, reassuring, sad, disappointed, comforting, etc.). Then, consider how the tone of Jesus’ voice might change how we hear and interpret the story.

 Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie“Contact.”

  • Why didn’t the people believe Ellie?
  • How did Ellie describe faith?
  • Why do you think faith was enough for Ellie to believe?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What do you think the disciples thought when they saw Jesus walking on water?
  • Why were they “terrified”?
  • What would you think or how would you feel if you saw someone walking on water?
  • What was Jesus’ reaction to their fear?
  • Why did Peter want to walk on water?
  • If you were there, would you be the disciples in the boat or Peter? Why?
  • Why did he begin to sink?
  • Jesus asked Peter why he doubted and didn’t have faith. Why do you think Peter doubted?
  • What was Jesus’ response to Peter’s lack of faith and call for help?
  • How would you define faith?
  • From where does faith come?
  • How does Jesus respond even when our faith waivers?

 

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Faith originates and come from God — it is a gift.
  • Faith is a verb. It not something we possess and keep hidden away — it is an action.
  • When we practice faith, we grow in our understanding and life of faith.
  • It is part of the human condition to doubt or to have faith waiver.
  • God does not punish us or get mad at us for being human. God does not turn away from us even when we doubt or have little faith.
  • God sent us Jesus so we could experience love, grace and faith. Jesus is God’s gift to us and through Christ we are given faith.

Music has the ability to inspire, move, strengthen and soothe us. It was used in the civil rights movement in the 1960s to combat fear in the face of violence. Each week music is a means through which we praise God. It reminds us who we are and to whom we belong. Take a few moments listen to this recording of “We’ve Come this Far by Faith.” Its origins are in an old spiritual whose author is unknown but the version we have now was arranged by Albert Goodson in the mid-20th century. As you listen, pay attention to the images or memories that come to mind and the way your heart and soul feel.


 

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

 

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.

 

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