Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost: Week of November 8, 2020
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collects: Contemporary, Book of Common Prayer, p. 236)
Adult and Small Child
Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Reflect: It is hard for people we love to go away. When people we love die, we feel really sad, because we miss them. When our friends have loved ones die, we feel sad for them, too, and sometimes we are not sure what to say.
Jesus’ friends and family felt sad like this when he died too. They felt scared and lonely. But something amazing happened- Jesus came back to life after three days and never died again! After this happened, Jesus went to heaven to be with God.
Paul, who wrote the letter to the Thessalonians, said that death won’t be forever. One day, Jesus will make everyone alive again to be with Jesus and one another forever. Paul didn’t say this to make us feel scared or more sad, but so we can have something called hope. Hope means we have faith or trust in something, and in this case, we believe that we won’t be separated from the people we love forever.
Respond: Not all small children have experienced death, so they might not understand the concept well. If this is the case, you might tell stories about the life of someone you love who died, and what makes you excited to see them again one day. If a small child in your life has experienced death and has questions, some great books you might read aloud together are: “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” by Judith Viorst (the death of a pet), “Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs” by Tomie dePaola (death of a grandparent) and “The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst.
- Michelle Bullock
Adult and Elementary
Read: Psalm 78
Reflect: In biblical times, there weren’t Bibles like we think of them today. The stories of the Bible were written on clay tablets or the skins of animals or chiseled into stone. Very few people had access to these written stories so they relied on storytelling to share God’s Word. Parents and other adults would tell the stories over and over, maybe around a campfire or the dinner table, while they gardened or hunted or walked to river beds and wells to collect water. They told the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Jonah and the whale, and Moses and Jacob. These stories were so important that they told them again and again, so that the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren would know them and believe them.
Respond: Plan a family storytelling session. If it’s the right weather, gather around a campfire. If not, set aside time without any distractions. Tell some of the stories of your family and ancestors, ones that have shaped your lives and told you important lessons. Invite your children to think about and share some stories from their young lives that they want their family to remember. Then talk about the importance of telling the story of God. Invite each person gathered to share their favorite Bible story too.
- Richelle Thompson
Adult and Youth
Read: Matthew 25:1-13
Reflect: Today’s lesson comes from the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. This parable follows the story of 10 bridesmaids who went to meet the bridegroom. Five are described as wise and bring oil for their lamps and five are described as foolish and not prepared with oil in their lamps. When their oil runs out and the wedding banquet finally begins, the foolish bridesmaids are off buying more oil. The point of this parable is actually fairly simple. We do not know the day that Jesus will return, but will we be prepared? Five of the bridesmaids were not prepared for the long wait. They did not bring enough oil. Jesus tells us to be like the wise bridesmaids that were prepared. We must be ready to wait.
Respond: Do you know someone who is never prepared? Maybe they are always late or they never have their homework done. Their life always seems to be in crisis because they are never prepared. Right? How does being prepared make life easier? What has Jesus asked us to do? How should we be prepared? What steps should we be taking now to prepare? Make a list of the ways you can prepare for Jesus’ return.
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Read: Psalm 70
Reflect: We are shown many times in Scripture that we have a God who liberates us through bondage. But, yet, I find myself at times crying out today in this world: “You are my helper and my deliverer; O Lord, do not tarry.” as many (maybe even ourselves) sometimes find ourselves walking in times feeling hopeless, loss, or distant from our God. God’s hand reaching out to lift us from the darkness and to bring us to the light, can sometimes not look how we expected it to. Maybe it was a text from a friend when feeling discouraged, maybe it was prayer read aloud in worship, or even a song overheard from a stranger while walking down the sidewalk. It can be hard to remain faithful when feeling so poor in Spirit, or hungry for justice; especially when God doesn’t seem to be coming speedily. But, as our Biblical Ancestors have shown us, Hope does come in the morning, and sometimes it looks beyond how we would’ve ever it imagined it to appear.
Respond: What is the psalm that you are crying aloud today? The Psalms have been sung and prayed over the years, bringing alive the prayers that remain to be true to many of our hearts today. But these texts were also personal, and can be your words too. Whenever you find yourself needing time for prayer, reflection, or for God’s hand to reach down to you on this day, try writing a psalm of your own. It may be a psalm of thanksgiving, or psalm of lament. Your prayers too, can have such a poetic shout, and bring hope, and reveal Gods wondrous love dwelling in your midst!
- Christopher Decatur
Download a printable copy of this week's devotions HERE.