Live as God’s people — Family faith formation: Aug. 29, 2021


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: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

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

For the second reading of today’s text, go outside and have the person who is reading this passage stand on a step stool, a rock or something that elevates the reader. Invite the listeners to gather around on the ground, blanket, rocks or stools as the people might have gathered around Moses to listen to his speech captured in today’s text.

Connecting through story

Watch this overview of Deuteronomy from the Bible Project. (Note: Their pronouns for God are exclusively, but not excessively, male. It is important to remember the essence of who God is transcends the limited construct of human language and may not be reduced to equate with human maleness or femaleness.)

  • What story is Deuteronomy telling?
  • In what ways is this your story, too?


Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What was God going to do for God’s people?
  • What did God expect from God’s people?
  • Thinking about the stories we’ve looked at this summer in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Joshua, what did the ancient Israelites know about “how to live”?
  • How did God want them to live?
  • What did their trip through the wilderness teach them?
  • How were God’s expectations of God’s people different from those around them?
  • How did the ancient Israelites know how to live as God wanted them to live?
  • What were some of the teachings or laws by which God wanted them to live?
  • Who are God’s people today?
  • How does God want us to live?
  • How do we know how God wants us to live?
  • What do you think are some of the teachings by which God wants us to live as God’s people?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Dean McBride, Old Testament scholar and professor emeritus at Union Presbyterian Seminary and one of the translators of Deuteronomy in the NRSV, considered the book of Deuteronomy as a sort of constitution for how God’s people were to live in the Promised Land.
  • The ancient Israelites spent 400 years enslaved by the Egyptians. All they knew when they crossed through the Red Sea was how to live as people who were oppressed. God wanted them to live as freed and thankful people in the Promised Land God was giving them.
  • The trip through the wilderness gave them the opportunity to learn how to live according to God’s ways.
  • The laws and commandments (all of them, not just the big 10) were given to God’s people in the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures) were given to them to teach them how to live. The word Torah in Hebrew means “teachings.”
  • Genesis tells the story of God’s covenant with Abraham — an unconditional covenant where God promises Abraham land of his own and many descendants who will become a great nation. Exodus through Deuteronomy is about God’s conditional covenant through Moses with the people. God will deliver them to the Promised Land and will be their God, In turn, they will be God’s people and, in order for that relationship to remain healthy and strong – and for the people to remain in the Promised Land – they must keep all the commandments, laws, ordinances and statutes given in Exodus through Deuteronomy.
  • Sometimes God’s people did a good job following the laws and sometimes they were rebellious and unfaithful.
  • Even when the people were unfaithful, God remained faithful. Just like today, even when we are unfaithful, God is always faithful.
  • In the Christian faith, and in our own Reformed and Presbyterian heritage, we believe the Old Testament is as important as and guides us just as much as the New Testament.
  • When we view the Old Testament through Christian lenses, we also believe that God realized the people could not manage to be faithful and keep the covenant on their own and would, left to their/our own devices, continue to rebel and break the relationship with God.
  • While this is not what the ancient Israelites and the Jewish faith believe about these texts, in the Christian tradition, we believe Jesus was sent to fulfill the law on our behalf and to teach us how to live.

Grab a piece of paper (if you have a larger piece of paper like easel or art paper consider using that) and some markers and write a list of teachings about how God wants you to live as God’s freed people in the world today.


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.