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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

As we conclude this series that interweaves the doctrine of God with the Psalms, I cannot help but reflect on belief and knowledge as partners in the Christian life.

Note to the Teacher

Set the scene by talking about the concept of “ordinary days.” For students whose summer break from school has recently begun, it might be a conversation of contrasts. What does an ordinary day look like during the school year in comparison with an ordinary day of summer vacation? How can we set aside time to encounter God when our days, lives, meals, and activities are less structured?

1. Name that Tone/Name that Tune (10 minutes)

The color green is defined as a group of colors that lie between yellow and cyan on the visible spectrum, often found in nature and symbolizing new beginnings, renewal, and growth.

Option 1: Low-Tech

Provide a box of 96 or 120 crayons, or a wide range of green-shaded markers. Give each student a sheet of paper, green or white, and a crayon or marker. Ask them to sign each other’s pages with their names and a specific shade of green. Invite them to create a green rainbow on a sheet of newsprint, determining together the order of green shades from lightest to darkest.

Option 2: High-Tech

Play a few notes from song that includes “green” in the lyrics and invite the youth to identify. Examples: “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (The Muppets), “Green-Eyed Lady” (Sugarloaf), “Greensleeves” (tune for “What Child is This?”), “Evergreen” (Barbra Streisand), “Green Tambourine” (Lemon Pipers), “Green, Green Grass of Home (“Tom Jones), “Green Onions” (Booker T and the MGs), “Where the Green Grass Grows” (Tim McGraw), or even language-safe songs from Green Day.

Option 3: Green Behaviors

Have your group talk about “green” behaviors that they do at home or school to make positive differences in their environment; for example, how they “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” Or invite a church member or trustee who helps the church building be green by being energy efficient. Have them share briefly about the energy-saving and Earth-friendly choices that the church makes. Perhaps invite youth to share suggestions on changes or improvements the church could make to be more “green.”

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

The nine verses in today’s short psalm can be confusing. Who is talking here, and who is the intended audience? Whatever the answer, the message seems important. Between verses 3 and 4 in the CEB is the word selah. It’s used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible for emphasis, telling us to “stop and listen.”

Read Psalm 20 CEB.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

Psalm 20 talks about the God who has guided everyday life for centuries – Jacob’s God, who’s also often called the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac in the Old Testament. Isn’t it amazing that Jacob’s God, present long before Christ was born, can be our God today, in the twenty-first century?

  • Do you feel like the Lord answers you when you’re in trouble?
  • Does reaching out to God feel more natural when you’re feeling thankful or when you face a desperate need? Why?
  • What does the word “sanctuary” mean to you? Where do you find sanctuary (refuge, protection)?
  • Why do you think the psalmist mentions “the anointed one,” which generally means Messiah, long before Jesus was born?
  • Have you heard the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? It stems from early Latin or Greek proverbs and became popular in the early 1900s. Do you feel you’re living a “grass is greener” life, or do you sometimes feel jealous of someone else’s circumstances (reference the phrase, “green with envy”)?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

As weather permits, take a walk in an open space, to a nearby park, or around an adjacent neighborhood. Instruct participants to look for examples of green and share them with the group – trees and other green plants; signs of growth, renewal, and or/new beginnings; instances where the grass (real or perceived conditions) might look greener “on the other side of the fence.” Where is God in your journey?

End your time together with joys and concerns (or roses and thorns, if you’re out in nature) in the outdoor setting if possible. Ask a volunteer to close in prayer.

Total time: 50 minutes


  • Computer with speakers or a smartphone to play song clips for the icebreaker
  • Access to outdoors if possible, or broader indoor setting, for the closing activity and discussion.

Verses marked CEB are from the Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible.

In This Series...

Trinity Sunday, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes