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By: Sue Oleson
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
Thoughts: The Beatitudes? Oh sure, I remember those. Had to memorize ‘em once. One of ‘em was about the meek, and one was about the pure in heart, and one – wait, I know this – peacemakers, that’s it! Peacemakers were good, weren’t they? And somebody got the kingdom of heaven, I remember that. Old Miss Vereen made us kids memorize a lot of stuff.
Perhaps in his synagogue school, Jesus also had to memorize scripture. When he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” he must have remembered Psalm 37:11.
“… the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
An abundance of peace. Now that’s worth remembering.
Discussion: Why did Jesus choose to begin his Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes?
Activity: Memorize your favorite Beatitude.
By: Sue Oleson
Scripture: Matthew 22:34-46
Thoughts: “God’s in His heaven.
All’s right with the world.”
Familiar, right? You know these lines by heart. Robert Browning wrote them when he was 29.
When Browning was 43, he wrote some less familiar lines. Less familiar, but powerful lines, directly inspired by Matthew 22:42, when Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?”
“What think ye of Christ, friend?
When all’s done and said,
Like you this Christianity or not?
It may be false, but will you wish it true?
Has it your vote to be so if it can?”
Discussion: What think ye of Christ, friend?
Activity: Cast one vote this week for Christianity.
By: Sue Oleson
Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22
Thoughts: When our children were little, they delighted in asking me questions I couldn’t answer. One school morning we were scrambling around, finding the lost mitten, smoothing the crumpled homework – you know the drill.
When we opened the back door, we could barely see the garage through the heavy fog.
“Mama, what is fog?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted, “but we’ll look it up in the encyclopedia* after school.”
And we did. “Fog is a cloud come close to earth.” Short. Easily understood. Beautiful.
One of Jesus’ uncountable gifts was his ability to answer questions so perfectly that his questioners were silenced.
Discussion: Which was most important in Jesus’ earthly ministry?
(a) his teaching (b) his answers to his enemies (c) his miracles
Activity: Learn one useful and/or interesting fact.
*Encyclopedia – a comprehensive reference book, still invaluable.
By: Sue Oleson
Scripture: Matthew 22:1-14
Thoughts: A king arranged a marriage for his son. To celebrate, a wedding feast was planned and invitations were sent. But no one came.
Why didn’t the wedding guests come? Had they been guests at the king’s dinners before?
“My dear, you could have covered your meat serving with a thimble!” “The potatoes were still raw!” “And the lettuce was limp –“ “Positively brown around the edges!” “And the queen barely spoke to us.” “Well, I can remember when she was Dorcas, the shepherd’s daughter.”
We do wonder why the king needed to send his army to round up any guests they could find along the roadside. But he did, and the army did, and the guests straggled in.
Was it reasonable for the king to expect these poor and possibly homeless people to have appropriate wedding attire?
Discussion: How do we act when we are completely unprepared?
Activity: Remember that you always have smiles and kind words with you.
Scripture: Matthew 21:33-46
Thoughts: The vineyard owner planned his new vineyard carefully.
First, he supervised the planting of the grape vines.
Second, he ordered thick, thorny hedges to be planted around the vineyard.
Third, he installed a winepress.
Fourth, he ordered the construction of a tower, where a watchman could see thieves or wild animals.
The fifth step was questionable. He hired men to tend and supervise his vineyard.
The sixth step was unwise. He moved far away. At harvest time, he sent servants to collect the grapes and wine. Was he shocked to learn that his servants had been abused and killed?
Was he naïve to believe the hired men would receive his son with respect?
Is God naïve to believe we will accept his Son?
Discussion: How are we tending to God’s vineyard? Activity: Try to keep from exclaiming, “Oh, Lord!” or “Oh, my God!”
Scripture: Matthew 21:23-32
Thoughts: Minerva never said no to any request. She was always cheerful – unfailingly kind – completely willing.
Of course, I’ll bake 8 dozen cupcakes for coffee hour! I have this great recipe for carrot cake!”
But there were no cupcakes. “My oven wouldn’t light.”
“I’d love to work at the rummage sale! I’ll come every day!”
But Minerva never came. “I found out I’m allergic to used clothes.”
“Of course, we’ll greet on Sunday morning! I just love to meet new people.
But Minerva and her family were not at church on Sunday morning. “the road between our house and the church was closed for repairs.”
“I’d love to be secretary for the administrative board! I can use shorthand I learned in high school!”
But Minerva never came to the meetings. “Oh, I can’t go anywhere on Tuesday nights. Abner bowls, and sometimes Abner, Jr. has a history test on Wednesday.”
Discussion: Would it be better for Minerva simply to say no? Why or why not?
Activity: Write the thank-you note to Uncle Zebulon for your April birthday present.
Scripture: Matthew 20:1-16
Micah: When did you start working here in the vineyard?
Haggai: Oh, about an hour ago.
Zephaniah: I’ve been working here since noon.
Habakkuk: You’ve been here since noon, but how many grapes have you picked?
Hosea: The owner should pay us according to how many bags we fill.
Obadiah: Oh, good idea! Maybe he’ll hire you to manage his vineyard.
Malachi: Here come the owner and his steward now.
Zechariah: Quitting time, guys.
(The laborers are paid.)
Amos: I got $10.
Nahum: You didn’t start working until three o’clock this afternoon!
Micah: I started at nine this morning, and I just got $10.
Jonah: Catch me working for that joker again!
Discussion: What do you think of the vineyard owner’s pay scale?
Activity: Think about the owner’s statement: “Is your eye evil, because I am good?”
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35
Thoughts: My high school English teacher had a simple plan for filling class time. Each week he required the 30+ members of each class to memorize a lengthy poem. Each student recited this poem in class. One week done – another long poem assigned for next week. (Not that anyone cares, but I can still recite many lines of “the Deacon’s One-Hoss Shay.”)
What does nearly everyone know by heart? The pledge to our flag, the lyrics of a few songs popular in our youth, and the Lord’s Prayer. How many times have we mindlessly murmured, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”?
Discussion: How do we understand the connection betwwen our forgiving ond our being forgiven?
Activity: Forgive a small slight.
Scripture: Psalm 149
Thoughts: Mrs. Ceola Hawkins was an elderly widow who lived alone in a small cottage. Money was scarce, but visitors were frequent. Mrs. Ceola poured steaming tea from her prized Wedgewood teapot and served homemade sweet rolls, fragrant with cinnamon. But even better than the refreshments was the hostess’ delight in her company. Everyone who visited Mrs. Ceola felt better and happier.
Psalm 149 tells us “the Lord takes pleasure in his people.” We are blessed.
Discussion: What causes you to take pleasure in people?
Activity: Take care to see that our families know we take pleasure in them.