Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Faith Formation
GIVE THANKS ...In Love Worship Series, week 3
August 19, 2018
From Worship To Discipleship
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: “What are you most thankful for today?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Opening Question: What image or images come to mind when you envision the Holy Spirit?
Read: Ephesians 5:15-30
- Paul advises us to be “filled with the [Holy] Spirit” in verse 18. How does being filled with the Holy Spirit relate to Paul’s other instructions to “be careful how we live” (v. 15) and “giving thanks to God the Father at all times...”? (see “Biblical Background” for help. Some answers could include that the Holy Spirit brings greater awareness of where we are falling short and empowers us to love God and neighbor. The Holy Spirit might also reveal to us more ways in which God is at work in our lives and in our world, which will result in a more thankful attitude.)
- What, then, might it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? (See “Biblical Background” for help.)
- How does being filled with the Holy Spirit relate to Paul’s earlier command to be “imitators of God” (5:1)?
- (R) What might it look like for you to grow in sanctifying grace?
- Optional question if time permits: How does Ephesians 5:1-21 inform how we read the “household code” Paul includes in Ephesians 5:22-6:9?
A translation of verse 15 could read something like this, “Therefore, see how carefully you walk, not as unwise but as wise people.” While many translations (NIV, NRSV, and others) use the word “live” (in place of “walk”), the idea expressed here is about how we are walking, or journeying along, or even maturing as Christians growing in wisdom. Living a life of thankfulness is more than just the action of speaking words of thankfulness; it includes how we live in response to God’s grace.
Being filled with the Spirit can have a connotation of exuberance or religious excess for some people. However, since the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Triune God, and God’s nature is love, the fruit of being filled with the Spirit must ultimately result in love for God and neighbor. We also get a clearer picture of this in Paul’s other letter, Galatians, when he describes the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Another name for the Lord’s Supper or Communion is the Eucharist. The name comes from a Greek word meaning “give thanks.” A large section of The United Methodist Hymnal’s Communion liturgy is reserved for the Great Thanksgiving. The Great Thanksgiving section of the Communion liturgy reminds us of the mighty works God has done on our behalf. The next time you are able to take Communion, be sure to give thanks for what God has done!
Sanctification/Character of a Methodist — The word “sanctification” can be an intimidating word. It is, however, an important concept for Christians in general and Methodists in particular. From God in Leviticus calling the people of Israel to be “holy as I am holy” or Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew inviting the new community to be “perfect as your heavenly father is perfect,” sanctification is a consistent theme and calling for the people of God. Sanctify comes from the word “to make holy” or “be separated.” Our separation is not meant to convey the sense of being withdrawn as much as it is a calling of uniqueness. We are called to be the unique people of God. The Israelites were called to reflect the holy character of God, which would result in unique laws (like resting on the Sabbath) and even unique diet (not eating pork). The new community of Jesus’ disciples are similarly called to embody the unique way of Jesus (forgiveness, radical compassion, and selfless love). When John Wesley taught on sanctification, he was affirming God’s continual work of the Holy Spirit within us, confirming or shaping us into the image of Christ — the ultimate example of love.
Sending Forth (2 minutes)—As a maturing disciple of Jesus Christ, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in love and be thankful always.
Ephesians 5:15-20, NRSV:
5 “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Introduce Paul and Ephesians
The apostle Paul was a teacher and pastor in the time after Jesus returned to heaven. Paul went to different cities and told people that Jesus is the Messiah whom God raised from the dead! Paul started many churches. Church leaders wrote him letters, asking questions about what they should do. Paul prayed and listened closely to what God told him. He wrote letters to guide the church as a community of faith in Jesus. Paul’s letters on how to live as a Christian became part of the Bible in the New Testament. These letters help us to grow as disciples today. Ephesians is a letter to the church in Ephesus, a big port city in Turkey where many people worshiped other gods.
Our verse for today is Ephesians 5, verse 19: “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s think about what this means:
Sing among yourselves means to sing together with your family, friends, and the church.
To sing and make melody in your heart means to hum or sing when you are alone with God.
At any time or place, God is glad to hear our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Giving thanks to God at all times means to look for the good when we face a challenge.
We give thanks to God in the name of Jesus, because he has power to bring good even out of a bad situation.
Can you think of some ways that this verse could help a family to wisely spend the time while they wait in a line that is moving slowly?
What kinds of things could a child say or do to sing, make melody, or give thanks?
What kinds of things could a parent say or do to sing, make melody, or give thanks?
(Suggestions may include singing, humming, or talking about being thankful when the line moves forward. Affirm the responses. Add other suggestions as you feel led.)
These would be good ways to spend the time in line.
Dear God, thank you for your gifts of music and songs we can sing by ourselves and with others. Please help us to seek your will at all times. Thank you for filling us with your Holy Spirit who inspires us to sing to you quietly or together. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.