Week 1: Baptism of the Lord – January 13, 2019: You Are Beloved
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
“As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire . . .’
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 3, verse 22: “and the Holy Spirit descended upon [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”
Let’s think about what this means.
- When Jesus was an adult, he was baptized with many people by John in the Jordan River.
- When a baby is baptized, the parents tell God and the church, “Our child belongs to the Lord.”
- When an adult is baptized, he or she tells God, “I belong to you. I trust you with my whole life.”
- Jesus showed by being baptized that he was dedicating his whole life to follow God’s will.
- As Jesus prayed, he talked to God in his heart. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus prayed then.
- God answered Jesus in wonderful ways that the crowd could see and hear.
- God sent from heaven the Holy Spirit, who in that moment looked like a dove landing on Jesus.
- God’s voice said aloud that Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Jesus is God’s well-loved Child.
- It pleases God that Jesus trusts and obeys God. That makes God glad.
- God loves each one of us and welcomes us into God’s family through baptism.
- We trust God to be with us our whole life, even if we don’t see the Holy Spirit like a dove.
- Let’s remember in our hearts that God also calls us beloved.
- Let’s say to ourselves “I am God’s well-loved child!”
- Let’s tell our family and friends, “God loves you, too!”
Dear God, thank you for your great love. Jesus shows us how to follow you in faith. We are so glad that you welcome us into your family through baptism. Help us to live each day as your well-loved child and share your love with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 2: Second Sunday After the Epiphany – January 20, 2019: Gifted for Others
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
Our verse for today is from the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 11: “All these [spiritual gifts] are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- God gives each person in the church a spiritual gift.
- A spiritual gift is a special ability from the Holy Spirit, who is in our hearts.
- This gift may be strong faith, or a message full of wisdom, or understanding other people.
- Other gifts are healing, speaking God’s message, miracles, or explaining what is said in worship.
- The purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up and add life to the church.
- You may wonder what your spiritual gift is. Listen for it. God will help you discover it.
- You may already know what your spiritual gift is. That’s good; keep sharing it!
- All of us should “be on the lookout” to help one another recognize their spiritual gifts.
- In this way, God encourages us to contribute to our community of faith in Jesus Christ.
Would you like to talk more about your spiritual gifts? Talk to your parents, Sunday school teacher, or the pastor or leaders of the church. They would be happy to talk about them with you.
Dear God, thank you for giving each person in the church a spiritual gift. Open our eyes and ears by your Holy Spirit, so that we will notice the spiritual gifts that you give to us and others. Help us to be generous and share these gifts to build up your church. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 3: Third Sunday After the Epiphany – January 27, 2019: Being Needy
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But strive for the greater gifts.”
Our verse for today is from the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 18: “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as God chose.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- God is working in each person’s life.
- God has called each of us to be part of this congregation.
- People who are young, and old, and all the ages in between are included here.
- Every person is an important part of the church. We need one another.
- God wants us to share our faith, hope, and love of Jesus together.
- We are all called to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
Dear God, thank you for drawing us closer to you through the worship and fellowship of this church. We are so glad that each person is precious to you. Send your Holy Spirit to help us grow stronger in faith and share your kindness with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Week 4: Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 3, 2019: Love
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Our verse for today is from the first letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s think about what this means.
- It is easy to get distracted. But God tells us the top three things in life are faith, hope, and love.
- Faith in God means we trust God as the Lord of our life. God is in charge of everything.
- Faith means we believe that Jesus is our Savior. Jesus rescued us from punishment for our sin.
- Jesus said that even if our faith is the size of a little mustard seed, God can do awesome things!
- Hope is a gift that God puts in our hearts. We look forward to God’s faithfulness and help.
- A small amount of hope, even a flicker in our heart, is powerful and propels us to go forward.
- But as important as faith and hope are, love is absolutely essential.
- God’s love for us and our love for God last forever!
- The best way to show God’s love is to be kind.
Dear God, thank you for giving us deep faith and joyful hope. Most of all, thank you for loving us forever. We want to love you with our whole heart! Please help us to grow more like you and your Son Jesus, who always shows us how to speak and act with kindness to others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.