Enter the Gates

Our Hymn of Grateful Praise

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Three weeks before the end of the liturgical year, and we turn to gratitude as the guiding theme for worship. What does a life of gratitude look like? Or perhaps more importantly, what does it feel like?

Week 2: Enter into the Joy

Matthew 25:14-30

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, discuss the following, “What is bringing you joy during this season?”

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read Matthew 25:14-30

  • Does the master in this parable seem fair? Or does he seem harsh? Why is that the case?
  • Since wealth was not easily obtained in those days, people who did have wealth had an easier time making a profit. It would have been fairly easy to turn a profit even with small amounts of resources.[1] Why do you think the last person portrays the master the way he does? [Notice the master is fairly generous by entrusting the slaves with lots of resources, and he invites them to enter his joy. The last slave is the only one who portrays the master as harsh.] Does this change your assumption about the fairness of the master in the parable? Why or why not?
  • What might it mean to “enter into the joy of the master” in verses 21 and 23?
  • How does this passage connect to last week’s passage? [Both are about acting wisely. Last week’s passage was about acting wisely with our time. This passage is about acting wisely with our stewardship.]
  • It is an oversimplification to equate talents and money in this parable. Certainly, Jesus is not equating the amount of wealth one has or doesn’t have with being blessed. Why do you think we often connect those? [It is easy to focus on material objects.] What do you think truly being blessed looks like? [Being blessed concerns relationships and fruit of the spirit.]
  • How does the world define joy? [Accumulating things; financial success] How would you define joy?
  • Work as a group to list as many activities that bring joy as you can in five minutes (For example, going for a hike, calling a friend, reading Scripture, meditating, and so on.) Have each participant choose one new activity for the week to help bring joy.
  • How might you be intentional in looking for joy this week? How can the group help?

Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately. Before moving to a time of prayer, reread the list of activities that bring joy. Incorporate those into the prayer time.

Sending Forth (2 minutes). Ask for a volunteer to lead the group in prayer or read the following prayer in unison:

God of joy, we confess the temptation to look first at what we are lacking instead of seeing your abundance. Help us to be more aware of how you have provided for us that we might experience joy in unexpected places. Guide our thoughts that we might focus on your grace, your beauty, and your mercy. Amen.

[1] See The IVP Bible Background Commentary. New Testament, Second Edition by Craig Keener, pp. 111-112.

In This Series...

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Reign of Christ/Thanksgiving Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes