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Kingdom of God — Family faith formation @ home: June 13

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: Mark 4:26-32

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

For the second reading of the text, invite those gathered to close their eyes and imagine they are sitting in a crowd by the sea listening to Jesus. Listen to the text again as if they were there with Jesus as he tells this parable.

Connecting through story

Watch and listen as the story of “The Marvelous Mustard Seed” is read.

  • What did you most notice about this story?
  • What questions does it raise?
  • What do you think it is trying to tell us?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Throughout the Gospels, Jesus teaches using parables. What is a parable?
  • Why do you think Jesus uses parables to teach?
  • What do you think this parable is trying to teach us?
  • What potential, or promise, does the mustard seed have?
  • Jesus talks about the, “kingdom of God” in this parable. What do you think he means by the “kingdom of God”?
  • Jesus describes the kingdom of God as like a mustard seed. How would you describe the kingdom of God?
  • What are the characteristics of the kingdom of God?”
  • Some people use the word, kin-dom of God rather than kingdom of God. What is the difference? What does each one say, or teach us, about God and God’s realm? Why do you think so many people connect with kin-dom and see it as a better descriptor of God’s realm?
  • Where do you see evidence of the kingdom (or kin-dom) of God in the world today?
  • How is it like a mustard seed?
  • In what ways are the opening sentence and the closing sentences of this book similar?
  • What do you think the phrase “already but not yet” means?
  • In what ways is God’s kingdom/kin-dom already a reality here and now?
  • In what ways is there even more potential for God’s kingdom/kin-dom to become even more?
  • How do you think God’s kingdom/kin-dom can reach its fullest promise?
  • How can you help further the kingdom/kin-dom of God?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • One of Jesus’ favorite teaching methods was to use parables.
  • A parable is a simple story that helps us understand a deeper meaning.
  • The fourth chapter of Mark’s Gospel is a series of parables that begins with Parable of the Sower who scatters seeds on various types of grounds (paths, rocks, thorns and good soil) and ends with the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
  • Mark’s Jesus is one who is intent on announcing and teaching the kingdom/kin-dom of God. Each parable provides insight into the realm of God that is beyond human capacity to physically see but, for people of faith, is still an authentic reality.
  • This parable brings to the front the theological notion of “already but not yet.” The kingdom, or realm of God, was physically brought into the world with the advent of Jesus the Christ. However, it is not yet fully realized. In Christ we are a new creation, and yet, we still live within the human reality of brokenness until he comes again. This notion is affirmed each time we pray the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving during the Lord’s Supper and proclaim the great mystery of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
  • In Christ’s death and resurrection, sin and death no longer have the last word. God has defeated death and banished our sins — and yet, our world is still at war and we still sin and die. God’s victory is already a reality, but the totality of its existence is not yet realized. It is like the mustard seed who looks small, and yet, when it reaches its fullest potential is far beyond what we can imagine just looking at that tiny beginning.

 

Watch this time lapse video of growing mustard seeds.

Note that this is what happens in only 5 days. What could happen with even more cultivation and care? How can we help cultivate and care for the kingdom/kin-dom of God so that it may grow to its greatest potential and fullness?

 

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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