Take a walk as a household or with friends around your neighborhood or go on a hike to enjoy the changing leaves on the trees and the seasons. Ask each other how you have experienced God through changes in your life. When was a time that a change was hard? Needed? Helpful?
Read Matthew 21: 33-46 and Isaiah 5: 1-7. Both are about owners of vineyards and there are several connections between the two texts. The Matthew passage quickly moves from the focus of the tenants to the treatment of the landowner’s son. When we read Matthew and Isaiah together, we know that Jesus is pulling from the Jewish traditions (including quoting Psalm 118 in verse 42) to make his point about who he is and God’s work for reconciliation and justice in unexpected places and ways.
For children: When is a time that you saw something that was amazing or unexpected? Jesus came to tell the world that God loves them but not all the people thought that Jesus was God’s son and believed him. Why is it sometimes hard to believe good news?
For youth/adults: We often say that seeing is believing. The landowner sent his own son to the “wicked” tenants to show that he was patient and willing to work with them. Yet, the tenants wouldn’t even consider the goodwill gesture but instead just became greedier-wanting the son’s very inheritance! Why is it hard to believe when someone is acting benevolent or downright altruistic toward us? Do we always assume a hidden agenda? How can we open ourselves truly to the good news (the wonderful news!) of God’s love and merciful actions toward us through Jesus Christ? Jesus’ death “swallows up death forever” (Is. 25:7) and we will with “be glad and rejoice in his [God’s] salvation.” (Is. 25:9)
Offer prayers for all who are abused, threatened and hurt by anyone. Pray that all people may act toward one another how God acts toward us. May we be part of revealing God’s mercy in the world.
+ The God of mercy is with you today+
Learn about agencies and shelter for men and women who suffer from abuse of any kind. Find out how you can be an advocate, volunteer or donate needed items for people as they recreate their lives.
Ask each person in the household to share: “Where did you see God today? Where did you need God today?”
Read Matthew 18: 21-35
Forgiveness is the theme of this story from Matthew. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive and Jesus answers with a really big number 77 times. Too big a number to keep track of! Forgiveness is an important theme in our daily lives too. From sayings such as “forgive and forget” to “better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” it seems to be part of our language and lives together to think about forgiveness. But it’s not the “get out of jail free” card that we tend to think of forgiveness as in our relationships. It’s more than wiping the slate clean and moving on. In the story of the Unforgiving Servant, it’s not just that the king was merciful and removed a debt that the servant could not have possibly repaid that is important. If forgiveness was just about ourselves and feeling better, Jesus would have stopped the story there. But Jesus goes on to tell that the forgiven servant then turns around and does not share that mercy with another person who actually owed him very little in comparison to the amount that the king had removed from him. He has the other person thrown in jail. Jesus wants us to go beyond ourselves and to see everyone around us as God sees them-beloved, imperfect and in need of radical mercy and forgiveness, not just once but over and over. Forgiveness is not a one-time act or just an action at all; it’s a way of living together as the people of God. When we live with each other rooted in this forgiveness that God shares with us over and over, each and every day without end, we are revealing the love and mercy of God for the whole world.
Youth/adults: How is forgiveness a way of life for you? How do you share God’s forgiveness with words or your actions? When was a time that you received forgiveness? When was a time that you offered forgiveness? What can make saying “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” difficult?
Children: When did you have to tell someone that you were sorry? What did they say back to you? Have you told someone “I forgive you”? Is that easy or hard? Did you know that God loves you so much that God will ALWAYS tell you “I forgive you” no matter what you say or do? Yes! God wants to treat our friends and family the way that God loves us!
God of forgiveness, thank you for loving us so much that your words to us are always “I forgive you.” We are grateful that through your son Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we shown forgiveness and love beyond measure. May we live our daily lives rooted in that forgiveness and love. Amen.
+Live in God’s mercy+