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September 20 — It’s not fair: Family faith formation at home


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 20:1-16

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

Before you read the Scripture a second time, assign each person a character:

  • Narrator
  • Landowner
  • Manager
  • Early morning workers
  • 9:00 a.m. workers
  • Noon workers
  • 5:00 p.m. workers

Have each person read (and act if you want) their part in the story. The narrator begins and ends. Afterwards, discuss what you were thinking and feeling as you went through the story.

Connecting through story

Listen to and watch a reading of the book “It’s Not Fair.”

  • What does “fair” mean?
  • Why do we often feel like things are not fair?
  • How do you respond when something seems unfair?
  • Who decides what is fair and what is not?


Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What do you think the morning and noon workers thought and felt when they realized the evening workers received as much money as the early morning workers?
  • Why do you think they thought or felt that way?
  • Who was in control of how the landowner spent his money?
  • Why do you think the landowner paid them all the same amount?
  • Of all the stories that Jesus told during his ministry, why do you think the author of Matthew decided to include it in the Gospel?
  • Who do you think represents God in this story?
  • What do you think Matthew is trying to teach us about God?
  • What do you think it means that the last will be first and the first will be last?
  • Why is that such a difficult lesson for us to learn?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • The context for this story is set in Matthew 19 with three challenges to Jesus.
    • The Pharisees want to know if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause.
    • The disciples try to keep children away from Jesus.
    • A young man and the disciples want to know how they will be rewarded for their good works.
  • In each of these stories Jesus is concerned with the powerless: an unmarried woman, a child and people with the least. None are expendable in God’s eyes. Jesus will allow no one to be cast aside.
  • Jesus uses a parable to bring home the point: God is sovereign and God provides.
  • God provides according to what is needed, not what is earned or deserved.
  • This is antithetical to the way our world works and thus is seems very “unfair.”
  • God’s welcome, devotion, faithfulness, love and grace is available in abundance for everyone – and given freely – no matter what a person has done or not done. That’s what makes it grace (unmerited and underserved) and it is God’s grace to give as God sees fit.
  • This is good news for all of us.
  • We are freed from the burden of trying to “beat the other person” to get an extra portion of grace or from trying to earn God’s love.
  • We can then spend our life saying “thank you” for this incredible gift by living in ways that please God and emulate Christ.

Invite each person take a note card or piece of paper. Write down a situation where something might not seem fair but where grace can emerge. Then shuffle the cards, put them in a bowl and let each person draw a scenario and have an open discussion about how it should be handled and why.


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.