Cracked Cisterns

Prophet Margins

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

Part of what worship could offer this week are ways to practice the presence of God in the in-between times. What can we do throughout the week to be reminded that God is with us? How could we pray, what could we read, what might we do with and for one another to keep us on track and close to God? This is an opportunity for the spiritual disciplines.

Note to the Teacher

The key theme in this lesson is “Being on Our Own Side” The icebreaker begins by inviting the students to divide into groups based on sides. The discussion encourages students to think about how sometimes God may be on our side, but we aren’t. It looks at what it means to be on our own side with God, trusting God, and looking at the living water that God invites us to partake in. The activity allows for the students to create their own obstacle course and put their full trust in another person. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.

1. Icebreaker: This or That (10 minutes)

The icebreaker for today is a simple game of “This or That.” Below is a list of either/or categories. Have students go to the side of the room that they prefer. For example, point to the left and say, “Coke,” and point to the right and say, “Pepsi.” Have the students go to the side of the room they prefer. Mix it up by asking why!

List: dogs or cats; Netflix or Instagram; phone call or text; breakfast or dinner; weights or cardio; Facebook or Twitter; phone apps or video games; music or podcasts; Apple or Windows; Pop or Indie music; watching sports at home or watching sports in-person; new clothes or new phone; laundry or dishes; sneakers or sandals; hamburger or taco; blue or red; candy or popcorn; pancakes or waffles. Feel free to add to this list.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

We continue today in the book of Jeremiah. Remember, Jeremiah was written for the survivors of war and trauma in the middle of their suffering. These folks were exiles from their home too. Jeremiah shares messages of judgment, but also hope. Our passage today shares some of God’s words (through Jeremiah) to the people Judah and Israel.

Read Jeremiah 2:4-13.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • What does it mean for “God to be on our side”? Have you heard that phrase or something like it anywhere? How is that phrase different from “God is with us”? After all, God is everywhere.
  • In this passage, God shows the people how God was always “on their side,” but the people were not on their own side. They turned to other idols that were worthless. They stopped trusting God and turned to other things. God says that these other things are “broken wells that can’t hold water” (Jer. 2:13). In other words, they aren’t life-giving. They are not sustaining. What are the modern things that people tend to rely on rather than God in difficult times? Why do you think that is?
  • Jeremiah writes that God is the “spring of living water” (Jer. 2:13). Have you heard language like that in other places? Remember, this audience mainly lives in the desert, so water and life are linked as they hear this message. What is Jeremiah saying when he links God to the idea of living water?
  • What are the difficult things about relying on God as opposed to relying on other things that may give us comfort? How can we “be on our own side” and lean on things that are healthy and give us support in difficult times as opposed to things that may feel good, but aren’t actually life giving?

Read John 4:4-15.

  • What phrases from this passage sound similar to language from Jeremiah?
  • What do you think the living water that Jesus is offering is? Why do you think Jesus offers it to a relative stranger? Does that mean that Jesus offers us the same living water, whether we feel like we know Jesus or not?
  • We should keep drinking actual water. Hydration is important. Our spirits crave a different kind of hydration. What things are good for your soul? What spiritual practices do you know or take on that help your soul prosper?

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

  • Continue with the idea of having someone on their side by having students create an obstacle course in the room. You can use tape to outline a maze or path through the course. Then break the group into pairs. One person is to wear a blindfold and the other is to be the guide.
  • Have individuals, without touching their partner, guide the blindfolded person through the obstacle course. Feel free to swap so everyone can have a chance.
  • Afterward, ask your students what it was like to be completely reliant on another person. How did it go? What was it like to trust? To lead?
  • Ask your students how this activity might relate to our study today.
  • Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

Total time: 50 minutes


  • Tape
  • Blindfolds/bandanas
  • Items for the obstacle course

In This Series...

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes