Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany 2019, Year C — Faith Formation

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See All The People: Discipleship Begins with Relationship 3-session video teaching series

Greater Gifts Worship Series, Week 4 - Love

February 3, 2019

ADULT RESOURCE  |  CHILDREN/FAMILY RESOURCE

For Adults

Week 4 — Love

I Corinthians 13:1-13

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

(*You will need a copy of the worksheet below for each participant.)

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes)

In pairs or groups of three, discuss: “When I think of love, I picture…”

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)

Opening: Have participants report on their practice of choice from last week.

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

  • As a group, come up with as many definitions of the word ‘love’ as you can in five minutes. Write them on a large Post-it note or find some other way to display the definitions for all participants to see.
  • When do we usually hear 1 Corinthians 13 recited? (Weddings). Is 1 Corinthians 13 fitting for weddings? (See note below on love.)
  • Compare and contrast love as often romanticized in movies and novels versus how love is displayed by God and written about in 1 Corinthians 13.
  • How has God demonstrated love? (Most specifically, tangibly and sacrificially giving of the Son for the benefit of others.)
  • What makes love a “better way” (12:31)? (Benefits others and is enduring.)
  • Complete the worksheet below for 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. Then discuss the following questions:
    • Which attribute of love comes most easy for you?
    • Which attribute of love is most difficult for you?
    • Are there any specific Scripture passages that come to mind where God has demonstrated these attributes?
  • (R) What might it look like for you “put an end to childish ways” (13:11)?
  • (R) How can this group help you to be more loving toward others?

Background Information

Biblical/Theological

Love

There are countless songs, movies, novels, and poems that exalt love’s virtue. Perhaps, biblically, none are as famous as 1 Corinthians 13. It is often referred to as the love chapter and is regularly read at weddings. It is this latter practice that can bring confusion, as Paul’s poem seemingly has little to do with romance or marriage nuptials. Paul inserts this poem in the middle of his argument over the confusion that some spiritual gifts are more important than others. For Paul, love is the solution to the infighting in the church about who was more religiously superior. Instead of looking to prop up one’s self over another, look to the benefits of other is Paul’s advice. Don’t be envious or arrogant. Rather, be patient and kind. Put away childish ways. Seek the more excellent way. John Wesley, commenting on this passage in his sermon “On Zeal,” wrote, “But of all holy tempers [dispositions], and above all others, see that you be most zealous for love . . . O let this be deep engraven upon you heart: ‘All is nothing without love!’ . . . be most zealous of all for love, the queen of all graces, the highest perfection in heaven or earth, the very image of the invisible God, as in men below, so in angels above” (Sermon 92 “On Zeal,” The Works of John Wesley. Baker Books, 2007 Reprint. pp. 66-67).

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

Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following together:

God of all Love and all Grace, you have embodied and displayed love. Beyond a fuzzy notion or a warm feeling, your love is sacrificial, tangible, compassionate, and committed to us. As your witnesses, help us to embody love through our words and actions to the seemingly great and to the seemingly weak. Amen.

 

Worksheet

 

Love is/is not

Love is…

Love is not/does not…

v. 4

 

v. 4

 

 

v. 4

 

v. 4

 

v. 4

 

v. 5

 

v. 5

 

v. 5

 

v. 5

 

v. 6

v. 6

 

v. 7

 

 


 

Additional Resources

Books:

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri Nouwen (Crossroad Publishing Company, NY 1997.) Quote from page 28.

www.umcdiscipleship.org

Liturgy Man Video on the use of tongues: https://blog.umcdiscipleship.org/liturgy-man-should-worship-leaders-speak-in-tongues-while-leading-worship/

For more information regarding United Methodist beliefs about baptism, see the free downloadable PDF resource for small-group study, The Meaning of Baptism, https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/the-meaning-of-baptism-in-the-united-methodist-church

For more information regarding infant baptism and preparing parents or guardians to bring the children for baptism, we recommend the affordable resource – Baptism: Understanding God’s Gift, https://www.amazon.com/Baptism-Understanding-Gods-Gift/dp/0881775991/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337284747&sr=8-1

Spiritual gifts online assessment from Path1: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/new-church-starts/spiritual-gifts

Spiritual gifts online assessment offered by UMCom: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/spiritual-gifts-online-assessment

Two additional resources regarding spiritual gifts are:

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts booklet (free pdf or order a hard copy): https://www.seeallthepeople.org/resources-downloads/

“DIY Tools for Spiritual Gifts Discernment and Ministry Deployment” (Article): https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/diy-tools-for-spiritual-gifts-discernment-and-ministry-deployment

 Resources for Family Devotions or Midweek Ministries

Week 4: Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 3, 2019: Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Our verse for today is from the first letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Let’s think about what this means.

  • It is easy to get distracted. But God tells us the top three things in life are faith, hope, and love.
  • Faith in God means we trust God as the Lord of our life. God is in charge of everything.
  • Faith means we believe that Jesus is our Savior. Jesus rescued us from punishment for our sin.
  • Jesus said that even if our faith is the size of a little mustard seed, God can do awesome things!
  • Hope is a gift that God puts in our hearts. We look forward to God’s faithfulness and help.
  • A small amount of hope, even a flicker in our heart, is powerful and propels us to go forward.
  • But as important as faith and hope are, love is absolutely essential.
  • God’s love for us and our love for God last forever!
  • The best way to show God’s love is to be kind.

Let’s pray:

Dear God, thank you for giving us deep faith and joyful hope. Most of all, thank you for loving us forever. We want to love you with our whole heart! Please help us to grow more like you and your Son Jesus, who always shows us how to speak and act with kindness to others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.