To Be Brave and Thankful

Proper 21, Year B, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture:Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22

This reading is set during the Persian Empire (539-333 BCE). Queen Esther stands up for her people to King Ahasuerus at Mordecai’s urging. She stands up for her Jewish faith and the result is an edict that allows Jews to assemble and defend themselves. This leads to a great celebration that the Jews observe through Purim. Purim celebrates the liberation of the oppressed and this festival meal forbids mourning during its remembrance.

The Book of Esther is popular with members of the Jewish faith because it gives a historical account of their plight during the Persian Empire. Queen Esther, a Jew, chose to speak up for her people after her father urged her to. The daughter of Mordecai, Esther, is the former Queen’s replacement, chosen through a contest. Esther refuses to bow to the second in command, Haman. Haman wants King Ahasuerus to kill all Jews. Mordecai encourages Queen Esther to stand up for her people. King Ahasuerus favors Queen Esther and he honors her plea for her life and that of the Jewish people. Haman is hung where he had hoped Mordecai would be hung. A new edict is signed by King Ahasuerus that allowed the Jewish people to assemble and defend themselves. This led to the creation of the Jewish Holy Day, the festival of Purim. This festival is still celebrated in the present day. This Holy Day for the Jewish community is one of celebration and allows for fun filled days and noise making. In observance of Purim, the Book of Esther is read at the synagogue and noise is made every time Haman’s name is mentioned. This is believed to help eradicate his name. Purim helps Jews celebrate their unity as a people. This Holy Day also includes the care of those less fortunate. Jews are asked to give money or food to needy people. In addition, Jews send food as gifts to their friends. Lastly, Purim is celebrated among family and a large feast is included.

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LPTW Proper 21, Year B, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 21, Year B, Older Children, Old Testament

Saltiness

Season after Pentecost, Ordinary Time, Proper 21, Year B
Scripture: Mark 9:38-50

Jesus continues to teach, while gently holding a small child on his lap. “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Then, do what you have to do to make sure you place no stumbling block before one of these little ones. If your foot causes you to stumble – cut it off! Hyperbole, perhaps, but the point is clear: pay attention. We are called to be salty people and at peace with one another.

Download the lesson plans for Proper 21

LPTW Proper 21, Year B, Younger Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year B, Older Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year B, Adults
LPTW Proper 21, Year B, All

Water

Proper 21, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7

In the previous chapter the Israelites faced the hardship of not having enough food and God provided for them.  Now they are thirsty and don’t know where they will get their water for themselves and their livestock.  They once again complain to Moses.  It would be easy for us to see them as a whiney bunch of people who did not have faith.  But let us remember that these are people who have just been freed from slavery, and they are wondering what this journey is all about.  They are thirsty, and if you have ever been REALLY thirsty or if you have been dehydrated, you know that it is not something that you can just “power through.”  This is a life and death situation not only for the people, but also for their livestock and their well-being.

They complain against Moses, wondering again what his plan is or if he brought them out here to die.  Moses appeals to the Lord realizing what a tense situation they are in and God, once again provides for them.

This is one of the many times in Exodus where it is brought to light that the Israelites have trouble trusting in Moses and God.  Through God’s acts of bringing them water and food and water (again), trust is being built.  Remember, these are freed slaves.  Why would they trust in their leaders when their previous leaders and rulers has been cruel to them and made them work in horrid conditions.   Through Moses and through God’s actions, they can see that God can be trusted even in the most dire circumstances.

This also teaches us, the people of God past, present and future, that God is faithful, we can trust God, and we as people of God (like Moses) can make a difference in other people’s lives if we act on what God has called us to do. If nothing else, we see God meeting the people where they are (again) and providing for their journey.  O come, o come Emmanuel.

Download the Old Testament Lesson Plan for Proper 21

LPTW Proper 21, Year A, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 21, Year A, Older Children, Old Testament

What God has Given Us To Do

Proper 21, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-32

Jesus’ journey takes him to the temple for the last time and stays there.  During these next three chapters we see Jesus teaching on a variety of topics, not because he set out to do so, but because the high priests, elders and Pharisees are trying to trap him by asking tricky questions and backing him into a corner.  As we read these stories, we know that Jesus was not going to play that game.

Jesus is seen by others as having the authority to heal and teach, but in today’s lesson the chief priests and elders question this authority.  By answering their question with a question about John the Baptist, Jesus is not stalling them, but rather evoking the prophets that have come before him and identifying himself and John the Baptist with the prophets of the past.  When the chief priests and elders respond, they respond not from what they know to be true, but rather from a place of political maneuvering.  To save themselves, they say they do not know.

So Jesus presents them with a parable, a story that teaches us about a truth.  This is a parable about doing the work God has given us to do, not just saying we are going to do it, but going and doing the work, no matter where we are on our own journey or about what we may or may not have done in the past.  God wants us out in the world, doing what we are called to do.  As people of God we are to witness, to name our beliefs and be a worker in the field.

Download the Lesson Plans for Proper 21

LPTW Proper 21, Year A, Younger Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year A, Older Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year A, Adult
LPTW Proper 21, Year A, All

 

Noticing Who We See

Ordinary Time, Proper 21, Year C
Scripture: Luke 16:19-31

What do we choose to notice as we race through our daily tasks? Who are the invisible ones in our midst? Who is holding out a hand to us?

Download the Lesson Plans for Proper 21

LPTW Proper 21, Year C, Younger Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year C, Older Children
LPTW Proper 21, Year C, Adults
LPTW Proper 21, Year C, All