Faith + Open: Gather the household where all can be comfortable. Light a candle and have someone pray either with their own words or this prayer: Loving God, we are so thankful that you include everyone into your community of grace and mercy. We pray that we live lives that proclaim the transformation of our hearts from the love of you and that we offer this love to everyone we meet. Amen.
Faith + Share: Read Mark 9: 38-50 aloud. If you have younger children in the household most of this passage can be found on page 326 of the Spark Story Bible.
For children: Have you ever talked with a friend who does not go to your church about God? If your friend knew about God then they probably learned about God from someone you do not know. Does it matter where someone hears about God? Jesus says no! All that matters is that we believe in God and that we help others to believe in God too, even if they hear about God from people we do not know! How can you tell someone about Jesus today? What story about Jesus would you tell a friend? Just talking about Jesus is important!
For youth/adults: Jesus uses some fairly strong language here about being separated from God. Jesus does not want anyone to stop anyone from being close to God. We have some images that pop into our heads when we think about the place of hell but Jesus wants to drive home the point to the disciples and to us, that hell is not a place but a condition. Anytime we are separated from God we are technically in hell. Believing in Jesus is how we can have a close relationship with God in our lives. Someone can put up a barrier to our relationship with Jesus but often we create our own separation-our own hell-from God. What are some ways that we might separate ourselves from God either intentionally or not? How do we keep others from knowing about the love of God from Jesus Christ? What are some ways to remove barriers that separate us from God? What faith practices help you to feel close to God? Do you share those practices with other people?
Faith + Serve: One faith practice that nurtures our relationship with God is serving God’s children. We also proclaim the love of God to our communities through our actions in serving as well. With school beginning this month, consider volunteering either in your child’s or if you do not have children in the home, the neighborhood school. If this is not available to you, think about how you could be involved with the children and youth in your congregation or neighborhood. Can you offer to lead one activity or bible study? Be a mentor for confirmation youth? Offer to write the prayers for Sunday worship with a youth and pray them together in worship? Be creative!
Faith + Blessing: At the end of the day (maybe at dinner or night time devotions) offer to each other how you recognized your relationship with God that day or maybe helped someone else recognize their own relationship with God. Give a short prayer of thanks for God in our lives and end with “Let us be at peace.”
Faith + Close: Close your time together with a prayer. Offer prayers to all in the world who cannot openly share their faith because of fear of harm or persecution. Give thanks that we are able to talk about Jesus and pray that we do to all that we meet!