Lesson Plans That Work: Proper 21
Sunday, September 28 is Proper 21, Year A. Lesson Plans are included for both the Gospel and Old Testament. You may also be interested in downloading our St. Francis Day resources, which include a Blessing of the Animals and a Eucharistic service.
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.
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.
About Lesson Plans that Work
Each week, you will find lesson plans for young children (non-readers), older children (grade school age children), and adults. Inter-generational lesson plans are available at the beginning of each season and for many major feast days throughout the liturgical year. In addition to these weekly lesson plans, you can find special lesson plans that celebrate saints, events, or commemorations throughout the year.
These lesson plans can be used as written, or they are easy to adapt to reflect the context of your congregation’s children’s program.
To help you use Lesson Plans that work, we have set up various calendars within each season. The Liturgical Calendar shows the current year and the lessons that fall on each Sunday. The Comprehensive Index provides a chart of each Sunday in each liturgical year. Use the “Search this Website” on the top right of the page to search for keywords, seasons, and more.
To find out more and to explore Lesson Plans that Work, visit this site: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lessons/.