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October 18 — Imitate Christ: Family faith formation @ 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: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-7

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

As the Scripture is read a second time, picture in your mind Paul sitting down and actually writing this letter to the Thessalonians. Pay attention to the details you picture in your mind. Once the Scripture is read, share with one another what you saw.

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie “Amistad.”

  • How was Yamba able to tell the story of Jesus to Cinque even when he could not read the English text of the Bible?
  • Why do you think he found it so compelling?
  • How do we know who God is through Jesus?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think Paul was writing to the believers in Thessalonica?
  • In your own words, what was he saying to them?
  • In several of his letters, Paul urges believers to be “imitators” of Christ. Why do you think he gives that advice?
  • What happens when they begin to act in ways that reflect Jesus in their lives?
  • What difference does it make to those who see Christians living according to the ways of Jesus?
  • What does it look like to be an “imitator of Christ” today?
  • What would someone be doing if they were imitating Jesus now?
  • Who do you know who acts in such a way that you can see Jesus reflected in their lives?
  • How do you think they do it when many people all around don’t act in that way?
  • What difference does it make in you, in your life, that you know an “imitator” of Christ?
  • When have you imitated Christ or lived in such a way as to reflect Jesus?

 

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Thessalonians is one of the first, if not the first, letters Paul wrote and thus the earliest written sources in the New Testament.
  • Paul is being very pastoral and caring to these new believers as they face danger and uncertainty in life.
  • He is writing to give them hope and encourage them to stay strong in their faith.
  • He urges them to, more and more, take on the ways of Jesus.
  • Paul wants the followers of Jesus to act like Christ — to so closely reflect Christ in their lives that anyone watching would be able to see the Good News of God’s love and grace in their actions.
  • Paul wanted Christians to know that when they lived in the way that Christ lived, they were proclaiming the gospel and giving other people hope.
  • The Holy Spirit gives us the strength to become imitators of Christ and to live faithful lives.

Invite those gathered to think of a person they know who is an “imitator” or Christ. Take a few minutes to write that person a note, a letter, an email or a text to thank them for living the ways of Christ. Tell them what it means to you and your faith to know them and to see their faith modeled in such as meaningful 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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