Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany 2019, Year C — Faith Formation
See All The People Worship Series Week 2: THE EXPECTANT CROWD
February 17, 2019
Week 2 - The Expectant Crowd
Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering and Opening (10 minutes) – In pairs, discuss: “Describe an experience of being in a crowd expecting to meet or see a celebrity (sports, entertainment, politician).”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes)
Read: Luke 6:17-26.
- What part of the crowd do you most identify with?
- Eager to hear Jesus
- Hoping to be healed
- Desire to see a miracle
- How does Jesus characterize the “blessed” in this passage (vv. 20-23)? To whom does Jesus address “woe” (vv. 24-26)? How do you think that met and exceeded the expectation of the crowds’ understanding of who was “blessed” and who was addressed with a “woe”? Which of the four woes are most convicting to you?
- John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, wrote in his “Notes on the New Testament” about Luke 6:20 that prosperity is a “sweet poison.” He said, “It is sweet when shared and poison when hoarded” (Wesley Study Bible, p. 1249, reference notes for 6:17-26). Who qualifies as rich? As poor? Why is it tempting to define the rich or poor based on our own situation in life?
- (R) How can we offer words and actions to the community around the church that will help them experience a sense of being blessed by God?
See All the People - Discussion
Read the following passage from Engaging Your Community, and then discuss the follow up questions.
Heart of a Movement
This quote has been paraphrased over the years in several different ways. The one I like the most is this:
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
My grandmother described this yearning as having a burden for the people. She passionately believed in Jesus until her death at ninety-nine years of age. She served in many positions of leadership inside the church and never quit believing that the love of Christ could transform lives and communities. A school teacher in the Houston Independent School District, my grandmother served as my first superintendent of Vacation Bible School when I was a child. Every year she would fire the children up to share what we were learning with our friends. She taught us to pray always for those who “were yet to come.”
When we talk about engaging our communities, we must make sure that our people find and embrace a vision rooted in a deep love for all of God’s people—not unlike a love and yearning for a vast and endless sea. Such a love pulls us forward, giving us the courage and the willingness to go wherever God leads.
As John Wesley wrote in the 1743 tract, “The Character of a Methodist”:
And while he thus always exercises his love to God, by praying without ceasing, rejoicing evermore, and in everything giving thanks, this commandment is written in his heart, ‘That he who loveth God, love his brother also.’ And he accordingly loves his neighbor as himself; he loves every man in his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of ‘the Father of the spirits of all flesh.’ That man is not personally known to him, is no bar to his love; no, nor that he is known to be such as he approves not, that he repays hatred for his good-will. For he ‘loves his enemies’; yea, and the enemies of God, ‘the evil and the unthankful.’ And if it be not in his power to ‘do good to them that hate him,’ yet he ceases not to pray for them, though they continue to spurn his love, and still ‘despitefully use him and persecute him.’
(Engaging Your Community, 6-7).
What expectations does the community have of your church? How do we demonstrate kingdom values in our engagement with the community around the church?
Prayer (10 minutes) – Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes) – End by praying the following or similar prayer:
“Creator and Lover of us all, just by being made in your image, we are all people of worth and dignity. Forgive us when we have forgotten that, or worse have denied that by our actions or inactions. Help us to extend love to those near and far, those we love and those we are quick to label as unlovable. Help us to expect to see you in all our circumstances and situations. Amen.”
Week 2: Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany – February 17, 2019: The Expectant Crowd
“[Jesus] came down [from the hill] with [the apostles] and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
Our verse for today is from the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 6, verse 26: “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”
- Let’s think about what this means.
- Woe means “look out, uh-oh, or oh no!” Jesus is giving a serious warning.
- He wants us to watch out for how we behave.
- Are we trying to be popular in the way of the world?
- Do we want everyone to like us and think that we’re cool?
- If we do the right things, that is good. But if we go against what Jesus teaches, that’s bad.
- The false prophets were people who said everything was just fine, when it was really wrong.
- Jesus calls us to be wise and truthful. Genuine goodness makes us a good, loyal friend.
- In everything we say and do, the person we should be trying to please is God.
Dear God, you light the way of true life. We look up to Jesus for his courage and kindness. He shows us how to be brave and follow you. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to turn away from temptations and live as disciples who love and trust you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.