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September 6 — With our whole hearts: 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: Psalm 119:33-40

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

Before reading the Scripture a second time, look up all the words your family may not understand and then read it aloud a second time and consider how your understanding of the text deepens.

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from “Evan Almighty.”

  • What did God want Evan to do?
  • Why was Evan skeptical?
  • What did Evan ultimately do and why?
  • Where did Evan turn to figure out how to be faithful?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Where do we turn to find what God wants us to do to be faithful?
  • What are some of God’s laws and commandments we are to observe or keep?
  • If you had to sum up all the laws into one or two big laws, how would you sum it up?
  • What is the psalmist asking God for in this passage?
  • Why do you think the psalmist asked for those things?
  • What do you think the psalmist meant in verse 34: “observe God’s laws with our whole heart”?
  • To whom do you turn for help in being faithful to God’s way?
  • In what ways are you faithful to God’s laws and ways?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Commandments, ordinances and statutes are often collectively referred to as “the Law” or “God’s Law.”
  • As Christians, we often reduce the commandments down to the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments.However, when our Jewish siblings – and Jesus himself – reference “the Law” they mean the whole of the commandments, ordinances and statutes lined out in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.
  • The commandments were given to help God’s people know how to live according to God’s ways rather than the world’s ways.
  • Deuteronomy, which is really a sermon about what was defined in the previous three books, sums up the entirety of law in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
  • Jesus responds similarly when asked which was the greatest commandment: Love God. And he adds a commandment from Leviticus: “Love your neighbor.”
  • Jesus also gives us a new commandment: “Love one another.”
  • For Christians, to follow God’s law and to be faithful to God’s way is to love God and love neighbor.
  • The psalmist asked God for assistance in being faithful. The psalmist didn’t do it alone.
  • Even in our efforts to be faithful, we have God’s help through the Holy Spirit.

Make a poster by drawing a line down the middle of the paper making two columns. In one column, write or draw all the ways you are faithful to the commandments to love God and love neighbor. In the second column write or draw ways you are want to be faithful to the commandment to love God and love neighbor with the Holy Spirit’s help. Hang your poster in a place where it can serve as a reminder to work on being as faithful as you can. Remember you are not doing this alone. God is with you every step of the way.

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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