Month: September 2016

Lesson 5: October 2, 2016

The Real Jesus: Hebrews 1


Teaching Strategy: Ask each participant to make a list of persons he/she could trust as guides for living and the attributes that make the person(s) trustworthy. Give participants opportunity to share their responses. 

 

This week we heard the first presidential debate and a number of commentators have weighed in with post-debate analysis.  In making connections between Lesson 5 and today’s news, ask participants to consider what personal qualities voters might reasonably expect in a presidential candidate.  Without engaging in a debate over the strengths or shortcomings of any particular candidate, invite participants to make a list of attributes that instill their sense of trust in a political leader.  Repeat the exercise, but instead, make a list of attributes that inspire trust in a spiritual leader.  Compare and contrast the two lists.  Discuss why (or why not) we hold political and spiritual leaders to different standards.

Some links to fuel discussion:

 


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 5, Unifying Principle: People seek guidance for their lives but may question who is the appropriate person to give direction. Who should they trust to provide direction in their quest for guidance? Christ, the reflection of God’s glory, is the one who addresses life’s questions with a powerful and sustaining word.

 

Lesson 4: September 25, 2016

God’s Endless Covenant: Isaiah 61


Teaching Strategy:

In an age of broken promises, what meaning or relevance does God’s promise hold? 

 

In bringing the relevance of God’s promise to bear on our world today teachers can create a safe space for participants to discuss the inevitable injury that results anytime we break our promises.  This is true on a personal level, but also on a societal level.  As a country, what are some of the broken promises that move people to stand up and cry, “Black Lives Matter”?  How does faith in God’s everlasting covenant inform our response?

You can find a wide variety of perspectives on racial tensions in America through browsing the Internet, but here are a few sites that might further inform your reflection on what it means to say, “Black Lives Matter.”  (These articles are suggested solely for purposes of dialogue and are not intended to suggest the official view or particular theological stance of CUS or its constituents.)


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 4, Unifying Principle: People make agreements, which they desire to last, but are too often broken causing stress and dismay. Can anyone make an agreement that will not be broken? In Isaiah God promises an everlasting covenant, which can never be broken.

 

Lesson 3: September 18, 2016

Everything Begins With God: Isaiah 40


Teaching Strategy: List things that make you question God.

For example…

  • Relentless violence in Syria and the tragic plight of Syrian and Armenian Christians who are forced to live as refugees in other countries.
  • Fear instilled in the hearts of young protesters in Hong Kong by China’s threat of punishment.
  • Poverty and civil unrest in South Sudan.
  • Drought in Ethiopia.
  • Racial tensions that continue to escalate all over the United States during this election year.

How do we persist in our faith despite our questions?

The Psalms teach us to offer our praise to God even in the face of our complaints and distresses (see for example, Psalm 13, 22, 77). Many Christian hymns affirm Israel’s pattern for prayer, perhaps none more renowned than Horatio Spafford’s, “It is Well With My Soul.” God hears our prayers.


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 3, Unifying Principle: We often place loyalty in people or systems to sustain and guide our lives. Are these systems able to sustain us? Isaiah declares that God is the absolute power in whom we should depend.

Lesson 2: September 11, 2016

God’s Mountain: Isaiah 25


Teaching Strategy: 

Because this Sunday, September 11, commemorates a national day of remembrance, help children offer prayers for the safety of all people. Before composing your prayer. . .

You may find it helpful to visit websites that offer age-appropriate teaching tools for talking with children about the events of that day. For example, the 9/11 Memorial website offers many teaching resources that can be adapted for use in Christian education contexts. Another helpful article appears in the 2013 archives of Today Parents website.  While the article is not written from a religious perspective, it does offer insights that are useful for the teacher who wants to offer a prayer shaped by words that are understood by children of a particular age-level.

For youth and adults, teachers might read and discuss this week’s editorial from Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. . .

On September 11, Jim Winkler, will participate in a Unity Walk in Washington, DC. People of a variety of faiths will together visit several houses of worship. These churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques will host open houses, offer tours and traditional food, and provide introductions to their religions and practices.  Read more. . .

 


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 2, Unifying Principle: Oppressed people are always looking for relief from their injustices. Who will deliver them? Isaiah’s prophecy reveals that the sovereign God will give deliverance from oppression.

Lesson 1: September 4, 2016

God’s Peaceful Kingdom: Isaiah 11:1-9


Teaching Strategy: Identify current news stories of war, enmity, danger.
Rewrite them to fit into the Isaiah 11:6-9 vision. For example…

 

Sovereign God,

We pray Isaiah’s vision of God’s peaceful reign would take hold of people’s lives in our world today.

We pray the FARC rebels will keep the cease-fire agreement with the Columbian government;

We pray the newly constructed bridge across the Bosphorous Strait in Turkey could stand as a metaphor for bridges of peace and goodwill between the people of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Azerbaijan, and all the neighboring countries of that region;

We grieve for the loss of life and for the devastation that followed the tragic earthquake in Italy;

God of past, present, and future–

Give us eyes to see your hand at work and give us vision for peace here and now.

Give us a confidence in your promise for a world in which there are no distinctions between predator and prey.

Give us faith, hope, and love so that we become vessels of your divine purposes as you work it out in our own time.


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 1, Unifying Principle: We live in a world full of divisions, hatred, trouble, and chaos. Will we ever experience harmony? Isaiah’s prophecy reveals that the sovereign God will bring about a world of peace.