Wrestling with Our Hunger

The Path of the Disciple: Searching for the Face of God

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Worship this week can be a reminder that we are seeking the face of God when we gather but also when we scatter. Our hunger for God is not only met when we gather for worship but also when we are at work, when we are in fellowship, when we engage in conversations and build relationships, when we serve and love as we are sent to do.

Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, ask participants, “What food sustains you?” (The participants could also mention spiritual food or meditative practices as part of their definition of what nourishes them). For example, talk about your favorite food or soul food for your body, prayer, meditation, and singing (spiritual food for your soul).

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Genesis 32:22-31 and Matthew 14:13-21.

  • Planning Worship invites us to seek the face of God “when we gather for worship at work and in other opportune spaces.” Where did the people meet Jesus in the Matthean passage? What does it mean to meet God in places besides the worship setting? [Deserted place – the implication for meeting and finding God in various places acknowledges that God’s grace permeates all aspects of life. We can find and we are found by God in all of our joys and difficulties in/out of the church.]
  • The Preaching Notes highlight the uniqueness of the Matthean version of “The Feeding of the Five Thousand” for including women and children (verse 21). Such intentional inclusion wrestles with the “hunger” or the need to address social justice issues as disciples of Christ. What social justice issues do you “hunger” for? What keeps you up at night?
  • One of the difficulties with addressing social justice issues is the cost. The disciples’ concern about the cost of feeding thousands of people is logical and realistic (verse 17). How do we, as modern disciples of Christ, reconcile the need to respond versus the cost of responding?
  • Although Jesus’ command did not make sense at first, the disciples followed Jesus by bringing five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish to him. It seems that the Matthew passage is arguing that discipleship requires such a leap of faith to trust in Jesus’ ways. Do you agree with this kind of discipleship?
  • Being a disciple of Christ is not just being one of the twelve apostles but also recognizing that we are also part of the hungry crowd. Disciples of Christ should wrestle with our own hunger and recognize that we also need Christ. We are not the Messiah or the bread and fish. Rather, we are channels and co-recipients of God’s grace and mercy. Please share your thoughts on how we can keep ourselves grounded and humble as we become disciples of Christ. How do we find dignity in being a channel of God’s grace and give God glory for how God uses us?

Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.

Sending Forth (2 minutes). End with the following prayer, a similar prayer, or the Lord’s Prayer:

Faithful God, we thank you for providing us with our daily bread whenever we are hungry. You have sustained us in every possible way, more than we could ever ask. We are blessed. We are fed. We are filled with your grace and love. With our nourished selves, we pray that we will be able to partake in the goodness of your gospel. We pray that you will guide us in sharing your blessings, especially to those who are marginalized. In the name of the one who broke the bread for us, Amen.

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Does your church have an international discipleship path?

We at Discipleship Ministries invite each congregation and worshiping community to develop an intentional discipleship plan in their local context. There are resources and mentors that you can access on our website to help you develop and implement your plan. Please call upon us to help you if you have not already begun such a journey (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/discipleship-system-example).

Rev. Dr. Dong Hyeon Jeong is the Assistant Professor of New Testament Interpretation and the director of the Center for Asian/ Asian American Ministry at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL). He is an ordained elder/pastor of The United Methodist Church (Philippines Conference). His research highlights the importance of reading/interpreting the New Testament from a social justice perspective.

In This Series...

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes