- Bible Readings: Mark 6:1-29
- Free Resource: Blessing and Anointing (Cross+Gen Education)
- Unit Theme (January 26—February 23): The Power of the Kingdom
- The Point: We are to spread the good news of the kingdom.
One of the main tricks this week is to choose which story or stories to cover in the assigned Bible passage. Not only are there three distinct stories, but they go in three different directions.
- Jesus is rejected at Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6a)
- Jesus sends out the Twelve (Mark 6:6b-13)
- The murder of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29)
The first choice is whether to try to tackle all three or to focus on one of them. For our Living the Word (Narrative Lectionary) products aimed at a younger audience, we focused on the sending of the Twelve. This story continues the theme of the power of God’s kingdom that the last two readings taught as well as provides an example of a discipleship step we all can emulate. With a younger audience, it is helpful to have a singular focus point, rather than split the focus into three.
If you choose to focus on one story, the question is: which one? Here are my thoughts.
- Rejection at Nazareth: Relationship-oriented. When is familiarity not a good thing? How often do we maintain our own opinions on a person without paying attention to how they have matured and changed? We have previously seen the power of faith; what is the power of disbelief? Where is the good news here?
- Sending the Twelve: Mission-oriented. This would be a natural time to share about any missionaries or similar workers that your congregation supports. Also, how do Jesus, the church, and our personal community equip us to be sent out? Is everyone sent out to do the same thing as the Twelve were? How is our mission good news for us? For others?
- John’s Head: Adults-oriented. Of the three readings, this is the one that I assume will catch participants’ attention the most. It has your family drama, political intrigue, betrayal, sex, and murder (or execution, if you would prefer). This story has all the makings of a tabloid article or soap opera. It is harder to find the good news here or kingdom-actions to emulate. My cynical take-away is to never give anyone a blank check. For the reasons listed here, this is trickier to teach young children.
Choose All Three
An older audience can follow three stories and even reflect on why they are placed next to each other. One thought to consider the theme of authority. The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus’ authority, seen so clearly in Jesus’ ministry prior to this. Jesus gave authority to his twelve apostles to continue the work of the kingdom. And, finally, Herod proved irresponsible (and Herodias vindictive) with their political authority, the power they held over life and death.
Choose Faith Formation
No matter which story or stories you choose to cover, it is important to keep the focus on faith formation. Don’t forget that preaching, worship, fellowship, education, and many other ministries all fall within the category of faith formation, at least how I define it. With a focus on faith formation, I would recommend working with the following characteristics:
- Multi-sensory: How many senses can you engage in your experience (sermon, worship, class, etc.)? Challenge yourself to add one more sense than you would typically engage. Note: don’t count what people always see as “vision” nor what they always hear as “hearing.” Do something new and perhaps unexpected.
- Dramatic: How do you add drama to this experience, making it memorable? This does not mean that you need to put on a show. Quiet experiences can be just as memorable as noisy ones.
- Relational: How can you take this opportunity to encourage relationship-building among your participants? This can be a combination of direct conversation and cooperative participation. You can sometimes build relationships as well by working side-by-side as you can with a conversation.
- Contextual: It doesn’t really matter what other people have done at other churches. It’s great to get ideas (even faith formation products) from the outside, but it is important to respect and adapt everything to the specifics of your context.
Our free resource today is an activity called “Blessing and Anointing” from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education (Narrative Lectionary) product. It focuses on the story of Jesus sending the Twelve. It’s a quiet, but memorable experience involving movement, prayer, and anointing with oil. It is written for an intergenerational classroom or small group context, but it can be adapted easily to most other age groups and settings.
May you experience the power of God’s kingdom this week!
-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
If you would like to know more about our perspectives on faith formation and cross+gen ministry, you can check out the following links:
- Faith Formation: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Faith Formation? series.
- Cross+Gen Ministry: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Cross+Gen Ministry? series.
- Narrative Lectionary: Frequently Asked Questions
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our complete Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!