Month: October 2016

Lesson 9: October 30, 2016

Be Like Jesus: Hebrews 12:1-13

Teaching Strategy: In advance, enlist someone from your congregation who competes or participates in an athletic event to talk to your group about the preparation and training he or she must make for the event.  If possible, the guest should provide several artifacts related to a recent event (marathon, triathalon, soccer championship, swim meet, etc). “Artifacts” might include: branded T-shirts, specialty shoes, race bibs, bike, ball, weights, phone apps, training calendar, etc. What obstacles or challenges did he or she face during the preparation stage? During the event itself? What other people were important in the training process and in seeing the event through to completion? (e.g. coaches, teammates, family)

After hearing the presentation of your invited guest, lead a discussion about faith. In the spirit of Hebrews 12, work as a group to list some of the ways that preparing for and competing in an athletic event is like growing in faith.  a) Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, b) looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, c) who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, d) disregarding its shame, e) and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Here are some links to sites that may be useful if you are not able to recruit someone to speak to your group:


Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 9, Unifying Principle: People are looking for someone to help them endure life’s trials and temptations. Is there anyone who can show them how to endure? Because Jesus endured suffering and death, he is the model for disciples who choose to follow him faithfully.


Lesson 8: October 23, 2016

The High Priest Forever: Hebrews 7:1-3; 19b-28

Teaching Strategy: Discuss how rapid changes affect our lives today. Share ideas for how a community of faith might help to provide continuity for those whose lives are troubled in the midst of change. Or, to put it another way, how do Christians embody Christ’s priestly role in turbulent times? For example. . .

  • Earthquake relief in parts of the US, Latin America, the Caribbean, and especially in Haiti.
  • The most contentious presidential election in recent history.
  • Civil war in Syria.
  • Countries all over the world in which children are deprived of food, safety, and medicine.
  • Overwhelming threats related to technology: trolling, hacking, harassment, cyber-terrorism.
  • The plight of millions of refugees throughout the world.

Pray for the needs of the world, and in so doing, become more infused with the nature and spirit of Christ, our eternal high priest. . . “a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself” (Heb. 7:26). Take on the attributes of Christ’s priestly role, extending God’s presence to those around you, becoming one with Christ beyond the earthly limits of time and space.

Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 8, Unifying Principle: Practices, traditions, and institutions begun in the past are expected to continue. Who will sustain them? Jesus was named to give the practices, traditions, and institutions their ultimate meaning and role for the people for all generation.


Lesson 7: October 16, 2016

The Great High Priest: Hebrews 4:145:10

Teaching Strategy:  Because Christ is our high priest, we are bold in our intercessions on behalf of others. In Jesus’ name, we bring our own needs, as well as the sorrows of the world to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find God’s help in time of need. Ask participants to write down the names of people for whom they want to pray. Then offer prayers of intercession. For example,

God of grace and mercy,

We boldly approach your throne, for you have shown your live in giving Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world. We know you show compassion on all those who are in need, and by our prayers for others we, too, know your love and goodness. Especially we pray for: (pause after each intercession and invite participants to say aloud the names of people for whom they are praying)

  • those who are suffering in the wake of hurricane Matthew;
  • those who are in the hospital or at home recovering from sickness or injury;
  • those who live in war zones and cannot find safety;
  • those in the United States who are weighing a decision over who will lead our government for the next four years;
  • those who need comfort or renewed hope;
  • those who work for racial harmony and justice;
  • those who serve in the military;
  • the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in our churches;

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Note to teachers: In Lesson 5 the Unifying Principle focussed attention on Christ as “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (Hebrews 1: 3).  Lesson 5 directed discussion toward attributes of Christian leadership based on Christ’s teaching and pattern of life.  In Lesson 7 we study Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and again look to Christ as a model for Christian leadership. In Lesson 7 the emphasis is on Christ’s as one who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (4:15). The Unifying Principle for Lesson 7 emphasizes the qualities that inspire a godly person to serve in the best interests of the community, rather than serve his or her own best interests. In the same way that a Jewish High Priest intercedes to God on behalf of the people, Christ now intercedes to God on our behalf — this is why we are taught to pray “in Jesus’ name.”

Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 7, Unifying Principle: Gifted leaders carry out specific responsibilities on behalf of the communities they serve. How are such leaders chosen? Jesus was appointed by God to serve as a high priest for the people.


Lesson 6: October 9, 2016

Builder of the House: Hebrews 3:1-6; Matthew 7:19-29

Teaching Strategy: The letter to the Hebrews highlights God as “the builder of all things” (Heb. 3:4), and compares the servant qualities of Moses and Jesus as contributors to the building of God’s house. We, too, are joined in God’s building project when we focus our joy and trust in the Lord.

Create an acrostic using “G-O-D-S-H-O-U-S-E.” Identify individuals or communities who contribute to God’s on-going work in the world today.

For example. . .


G – Gardens. Community gardens in Pittsburgh, PA help bring healthy food to the urban poor and gives neighbors an opportunity to learn and work together.

O – Oliphant.  Ten-year-old Zianna Oliphant stood up to Charlotte City Council following police shootings in Charlotte, NC.

D – Disaster relief. Many denominations support disaster relief teams who respond to crises nationally and internationally. Do some internet research to find out how your local congregation might support your denomination’s larger efforts in places such as: Livingston Parish, Louisiana;  Burundi, Africa; and Kumamoto, Japan.

S – Syrian Smuggler. Rami Adham, a father of six, is known as the “toy smuggler of Syria,” because of his efforts to bring toys, medicine, and food to children in Syrian war zones.

H – Hair stylist.  Josh Coombes is a hair stylist who offers free hair services to the homeless on the streets of London, England. 

O – Ordinary people, like YOU! Hebrews 3:6 says, “we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.” Share ideas with one another about ways that we, as ordinary Christians, can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others through our participation in God’s plan.

U – Usury protection. Rev. Shannon Webster and others are reaching out to assist people trapped in debt they cannot escape.

SSouth Sudan, Food Security. Over 2.8 million people are in urgent need of food assistance in South Sudan. The World Food Program works with churches and other human relief agencies to deliver food. Priority is given to people affected by conflict, malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

E – Enough to Eat in Ethiopia. As families in Ethiopia face chronic hunger and the immediate effects of drought, the Mennonite Central Committee is working at long-term solutions and helping to meet urgent needs.

Fall 2016 Theme: The Sovereignty of God

Lesson 6, Unifying Principle: People often give credit for accomplishments to those who carry out the work rather than to the one who created the plan. Who is really responsible? The Scripture affirms that Jesus is the one who was faithful while accomplishing God’s plan.