Present Yourself to God

Not Ashamed

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

Let our prayers look inward and outward at the same time. We pray for our own growth, our own healing, our own transformation. At the same time, we pray for a hurting and hungry world and for the will to reach beyond our walls in service and love. Let our songs sing of the Christ of faith, who sustains us with a powerful presence but also of the Jesus who ate with sinners and healed the sick, the one who went out approved by God.


One of the reasons we affirm our faith together with creeds is because creeds help influence how we think about our faith. We can also encourage one another to behave in certain ways to influence our thoughts and beliefs. Today’s lesson includes this background notion that behavior can influence belief.

ICEBREAKER: 'The Trust Fall with a Twist'

Do we trust one another? Or can we behave as though we do? Over the years, many of us have seen the “trust fall” as an activity. We are going to invite one another to this activity, but with a twist.

On a piece of paper or, better yet, on newsprint or a whiteboard on the wall, show that a ninety-degree “angle” means a person is standing straight up. A forty-five-degree angle is at the halfway point between standing vertically and lying horizontally. Students will take turns putting on a blindfold and identifying somewhere between a ninety-degree angle and a forty-five-degree angle of how far they feel they want to trust someone to catch them – for example, eighty-five, sixty, or forty-five. Then, invite students to cross their arms over their chest and lean back until they are caught.

Discuss: “Did you trust your partner before you leaned back, or did you ‘take a leap,’ hoping that you would find out you could trust the partner after you made the decision to fall?”


We continue this week with Paul’s letter to his protégé, Timothy. In today’s passage, Paul is reminding Timothy of some of what he knows about the faith – knowledge that he learned from his mother and grandmother. Paul is encouraging Timothy to remind others of this and to do his best to live the faith as boldly and as fully as he can.

Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15.


What are some of the beliefs that Paul reminds Timothy of in this passage? Why do you think Paul spends time on these specific beliefs?

Paul gives Timothy, in verse 14, a strong word to warn others “not to engage in battles over words that aren’t helpful.” How do you think our church does in following verse 14? Do we battle over words or opinions that aren’t helpful? If so, what might those be? What about other churches?

What do you think the outcomes of ignoring or not hearing this warning might be?

Just as Paul encourages Timothy, other leaders encourage us. John Wesley is credited with the idea “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” We might rephrase this to say, “Come together around what is most important; allow one another the freedom to think differently when it isn’t important. And in all things, treat everyone with acceptance, grace, and love.” What do you think about this advice? Do you think Paul would agree with it? Why or why not?

Paul encourages Timothy to “make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly” (v. 15 CEB). This is not because we earn God’s love. Ephesians 2:8 and other Scriptures teach us that we are already loved. We are already deemed worthy by God. We are already accepted. What does it mean to you to “do your best to present yourself to God”?

How do Paul’s encouragements here connect to the encouragement last week not to be ashamed of our faith?


A central part of this week’s reading, verses 8 and 11-13, includes Paul reminding Timothy of what they both believe. As an activity, let’s draw what we believe. To help us do so, let’s follow the order of some of our creeds, such as The Apostle’s Creed and The Nicene Creed, which are organized around four sections:

  • God the Creator, what we believe about God (attributes characteristics, etc.)
  • Jesus the Christ (divinity, humanity, behavior, etc.)
  • The Holy Spirit (movement, power, mystery, how God speaks today, etc.)
  • The church (how the church should act or create impacts and makes a difference)

(As a point of interest, the United Methodist Church is NOT a “creedal” church, meaning that a person does not need to recite or agree to a creed to be a member. Both of the creeds noted above can be found in the current United Methodist Hymnal. Why? The United Methodist Church IS part of the long story of Christianity. Saying or sharing these creeds is one way of affirming our unity in Christ with all Christians.)

Invite your group to work together, or if your group is larger, have students work in groups around one of the four sections listed above. Have copies of the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed available to read or provide links for youth to look up on their electronic devices. Give students paper and materials to draw something in each category. Encourage students to do one drawing of one belief per page. On the back of the paper, have the student write the belief that is illustrated.

Ask students to explain why they chose the colors and images they did. Consider hanging the drawings in the room and revisit them next week. If time allows, organize the drawings and behaviors into an order that makes sense for your group.

Close in the manner typical for your group. Consider taking joys and concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.


  • Blindfold
  • Large paper or whiteboard (optional)
  • Bible(s)
  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils/markers/colored pencils
  • Copies of the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed

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

In This Series...

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes