Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost- Week of September 19, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Holy God, through your Son, Jesus, we learn how to love you and love other people. Open our ears to hear the message of love, and open our hearts to share it with others. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is LEARN. In this passage from Mark, the disciples learn an important lesson about loving and serving others. Who has taught you how to serve other people? What have you learned from them?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Mark 9:30-37
Reflect: It’s fun to be good at something. It’s really fun to be the best at something. We enjoy the feeling of knowing that we’re in first place. Jesus’s friends felt that way too. They got into an argument about which one of them was the best disciple. But Jesus warned them that the way to be the best is by helping other people. That’s difficult sometimes, because the best helper doesn’t always get a round of applause or a lot of people thanking them. Sometimes it means talking to unpopular people, or talking about things that are sad. But it’s important to do, because when we help other people, we’re not just helping them; we’re also helping God, who is especially close to people who need help.
Respond: People become famous for lots of different reasons – for being great athletes, performers, or leaders – but most of the time they don’t become famous for being great servants. Yet there are millions of people in the world becoming greater and greater every day by serving others. This week, spend some time looking for people who serve. You can see them in real life as first responders, educators, or volunteers. You might also notice them in shows or books. Take time to point out how they are serving, whom they are serving, and how what they are doing is serving God. You might also look for examples of people arguing about being the greatest instead of serving. What could they be doing differently to become truly great by serving others?
- Drew Bunting
Adult and Elementary
Read: Mark 9:30-37
Reflect: Most of the time, adults have more power than kids, and that can feel frustrating! Jesus describes a world to his disciples where the least powerful people, including children, are the most important. What makes you feel important and loved?
Respond: Take time to read a few stories about Jesus’ ministry in a Bible (or story Bible.) How does Jesus make seemingly unimportant people a priority in those stories? Can you name a way that Jesus makes another person feel loved?
- Lindsay Gottwald
Adult and Youth
Read: Mark 9:30-37
Reflect: In this lesson, we find the disciples arguing over who was the greatest. Jesus steps in and responds by saying that those who are last on earth, will be first in heaven, and those who are first here, will be last. Now, this can be a little confusing.
Just recently you may have watched the Olympics. Those who finished first received gold medals, right? If you win the state football championship, you might get a ring. However, even though all of this is true, what Jesus is telling us is that you have already received your award by believing in him. Because no matter how many gold medals you have on earth, none will matter in heaven. Which is sad, but true. True success means serving others and helping those in need. You may not receive a gold medal or trophy for your work, but your reward will come later and that might be better than anything you can receive on earth.
Respond: Every week, I have to help my mom with random tasks such as
taking out the trash or helping her clean up the kitchen. It’s not my favorite
activity. I do it because I know my mother needs the help. I choose to help
others, not in hopes of receiving a thank you or medal, but because it’s the
right thing to do. When do you do jobs that no one else wants to do, when do
you encourage others and make them feel special? Jesus wants you to be the best
at serving. Do a tangible act of service this week. This may include taking out
the trash without ever being asked to, or signing up to volunteer somewhere no
matter how many community service hours you receive for it. Although you may
not have someone cheering you on as you do it, you choose to do it anyway and
that is what this week is all about.
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Read: Mark 9:30-37
Reflect: From our zoomed out lens of time, it might seem a bit ridiculous that the disciples are arguing about who was the greatest among them, considering Jesus has so recently told them he is going to die. One can almost imagine the scene - perhaps Jesus walking a few steps ahead, lost in his own thoughts about his coming death, and the disciples in a pack behind, determined to stake their place in the pecking order. Perhaps Jesus hears them bickering, and rolls his eyes.
It’s like the disciples are understanding that following Jesus will mean a change in their world is going to happen, but they don’t understand just how drastic it will be. They seem to believe that Jesus will assume some sort of power, and in due time, they will serve him in powerful positions, according to their value to Jesus… which is exactly how politics works. It’s not particularly unreasonable for them to assume this given what they know about the world. Jesus doesn’t give up on them, even though they are very obtuse. He takes the opportunity to teach them, again, and prepare them for what the Kingdom of God will look like: topsy-turvy, and nothing like the kingdoms and empires they’re used to.
Respond: Being a follower of Jesus can sometimes feel a bit confusing. Is there a question about a teaching of Jesus that you’ve been wanting to ask but are concerned seems ridiculous? This week, share that question with a trusted friend, and see if you can explore it together to begin finding an answer.
- Regina Heater