23 July 2023
Bible readings for today
Liturgical Colour: GREEN
God of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things,
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us all goodness,
and of your great mercy
keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
E te Atua o te kaha me te ngoi, nāu ngā mea papai katoa, whakatōngia ki roto i ō mātou ngākau te aroha mō tōu ingoa, whakatupua te pai ki roto i a mātou,
ā, tohungia mātou kia ū tonu ai mātou i roto i tōu aroha noa. Ko Īhu Karaiti tō mātou Ariki.
Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Parables of growth
Do you ever get confused as to which seed or planting parable Jesus is talking about? This parable, spoken to the disciples (rather than a wider crowd of listeners), comes in a chapter full of growth parables, and it can be helpful to locate where this story falls:
1-9 The Parable of the Sower
10-17 Jesus explains His use of parables
18-23 Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower
24-30 The Parable of the Weeds
31-32 The Parable of the Mustard Seed
33 The Parable of the Yeast
34-35 Matthew talks about Jesus' use of parables.
36-43 Jesus explains the Parable of the Weeds
Thanks to the Church of Scotland worship resources for helping anchor this story within the wider teaching of Jesus!
Worship and sermon ideas
The Church of Scotland have some great thoughts around this parable, and you find them here. They also archive all their worship material on this Sanctuary First website
This parable may need some sensitivity and thought in sharing with children. This talk from Sunday school network has a creative way of explaining what weeds symbolise, using green crepe paper strips to act out the story.
Even Jesus' disciples found his parables puzzling, so Matthew's parable of the wheat and the weeds provides a challenge to this week's conversationalists! Fortunately they are well up to it. We are delighted this week to welcome Ellen, from King's College London, Matt from the Arthur Rank Centre, and Grace from Garret Theological Seminary in Chicago. Together with Rev. Michael Godfrey from the Diocese of Dunedin, they give us a dynamic and thoughtful conversation from across three continents and three denominations!
A resource from Intergen Australia. They say: "This week were are almost at the conclusion of our journey through the Matthew 10-13 stories that invite us to Check Our Hearts. Following Jesus is a balancing act we do each and every day making micro adjustments to keep us on the path. Sometimes though we lose our way. This week our activities help us to think about different ways we can find our way back to the path when we get lost." Written and compiled by Rev Amanda Nicholas.
Some ideas from Sunday School works
Jacob's Dream (Genesis 28:10-19)
God's promise for Jacob
It's interesting to notice when Jacob had this dream, promising him of his descendants and his land. After his father, Isaac, had blessed Jacob, he left his home and set off walking to the family of his mother, in the hope that he would find a wife from the daughters of Laban. Jacob did yet not have a wife, a family, or security. This promise from God of a future came when Jacob has nothing, apart from his blessing from his father.
Seeking God everyday
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Exodus 28:17. Even Jacob, the patriarch of our faith, seems to miss seeing where God was at work. This verse is an encouragement to seek God each day, and join in with what he is already doing in our communities.
Bethel means "the house of God"
God knows everything about us, and He loves us
Fearfully and wonderfully made
We're not quite sure why the reading today would leave out some of the verses of Psalm 139, particularly verses 13 and 14, so you might like to include them in your activity.
"You are the one who put me together
inside my mother’s body,
and I praise you
because of the wonderful way
you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
Of this I have no doubt."
Give the children a small mirror and some coloured permanent markers, which you can often find at discount shops.
Get the children to decorate the mirror and write their favourite line from the psalm on it, or 'fearfully and wonderfully made'.
Encourage them to think about how much God loves them as they look at themselves in the mirror this week.
Hide and seek
Psalm 139 says that there is no where we can flee from God -- there is nowhere to far away from his love. If we climbed to the top of the highest mountain, he would find us. If we swum to the depths of the sea, we would find God there too.
Play a round of hide and seek, ensuring that everyone is found by the end of the game!
You could also play a round of blindman bluff, using blindfolds if you didn't have enough spaces for kids to hide.
There is a great snowflake activity at Flame Creative Blog, highlighting how we are all unique and different.