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3rd Sunday after Epiphany — Family faith formation for January 23, 2022

Welcome

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.  

One: The season of Advent is past and the celebration of Christmas is given way to a New Year, but the story of God’s faithful love continues in…

All: Jesus the Christ

One: The Magi followed the star to discover the light that overcomes darkness

(Place a candle on a table but don’t light it yet.)

All: Jesus the Christ  

One: The light of the world is God’s own Son

(Light the candle)

All: Jesus the Christ

One: Baptized by water and the Spirit he was anointed by God as  

(Place the bowl of water on the table.)

All: Jesus the Christ

One: We give thanks and remember, we too are baptized and made siblings with

(Each person touches the water)

All: Jesus the Christ

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 Corinthians 12:4-11

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, read the same passage from Eugene Peterson’s The Message and consider how it deepens, changes or confuses your understanding of the text.

Connecting through story

Watch and listen to the children’s book Meet the Orchestra written by Ann Hayes and illustrated by Karmen Thompson:

  • What is the purpose of an orchestra?
  • What does it take to make up an orchestra?
  • Which instrument is most important in an orchestra?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • What gifts did you receive at Christmas or for your birthday?
  • If someone didn’t know what a gift was, how would you describe it?
  • Today’s passage talks about gifts — what kinds of gifts does Paul mention?
  • What is the difference between the gifts you receive for Christmas or birthday and the gifts listed in today’s verses?
  • Who gives these gifts?
  • What is the purpose of these spiritual gifts?
  • What other gifts should be on this list of “spiritual gifts?”
  • What should we do with these gifts we are given by the Holy Spirit?
  • Where have you seen these spiritual gifts at work in the Church and in the world?
  • Who do you know who has one of these gifts?
  • When has your faith been enriched by someone practicing one of these gifts?
  • What gifts do you think the Holy Spirit has given you for building up the body of Christ and showing the world the good news of Jesus’ love, grace and justice?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • In today’s 1 Corinthians passage (both the NRSV and CEB), Paul lists nine gifts given by the Holy Spirit — wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of Scripture lists these same gifts as wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues.
  • In Romans 12:3-8, Paul lists these as spiritual gifts: prophecy and faith, ministering, preaching (exhortation), teaching, generosity, leadership and compassion in cheerfulness.
  • In Ephesians 4, the Spirit’s gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
  • What all three passages have in common is these emphases:
    • These gifts are given by God, in the name of Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
    • They are given to build up the body of Christ and for the good of the Christian community.
    • One gift is not better or more important than another.
    • All are necessary to share the good news of love and grace that comes through Jesus and to show the continuing presence of God in the world until Christ returns.
  • The spiritual gifts specifically listed in the New Testament are not exhaustive but rather illustrative. They point to the characteristics, actions, aptitudes and contributions necessary for the community of faith to thrive.
  • These gifts are not given to or for any one individual. They are not given so that one person’s contribution is more significant than others. Rather they are given for and to the community. All are necessary and essential. We would not be whole without all of them.
  • Spiritual gifts are different from talents. It is easy to conflate the two. Both are gifts from God, and both grow into their fullest measure when they are cultivated, nurtured and practiced by us. However, a talent can be used for personal gain and enjoyment without it directly benefitting the community of faith. Someone who is good at soccer, finances or piano has a beautiful talent. They can acknowledge and give God credit. The question must be asked, is it given by the Holy Spirit to build up the body of Christ, spread the good news, does it glorify God communally and is it consistent with Scripture’s understanding and witness to the essence of a spiritual gift? As with every substantive and important matter in and for the Church, the discernment of spiritual gifts is best done in community – together with other disciples.
  • There are many resources and websites that offer assessments, surveys, and test for determining “your spiritual gifts.” I looked and read through many of them with the hope of giving you a link so you could easily explore this topic more. I did not find one quick fix. Many conveyed theology ideas that are inconsistent with the Reformed and Presbyterian faith tradition. So, I offer you this … if you have a gift, talent, ability, or aptitude that is used to put Jesus Christ first, strengthens the Church and its witness in the world, promotes love, justice and grace, and benefits other human beings as much or more than it personally benefits you, then it is likely a gift from the Holy Spirit and is meant to be used for God’s glory and purposes in the world.

Take a few minutes to take a walk outside, listen to some beautiful music, put yourself in a posture of meditation or prayer and open yourself to the leading and voice of the Holy Spirit and reflect of the gifts the Spirit has and/or is giving you. Once you’ve completed that part of this exercise, then come back together as a family and discuss what you think are your spiritual gifts, ask the discerning questions listed in the last Teaching Point and listen together for the leading on the Spirit. Then…well, then go practice and share those gifts with the Church in the world.

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

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