Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
- Deuteronomy 18:15-20
- 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
- Mark 1:21-28
“I … will put my words into his mouth.” (Deuteronomy 18:18b)
Discerning who speaks for God is an important task.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
1. Talk about Moses as a great leader who kept reminding people to trust God, love God, and not turn away to any other gods. God wanted them to love each other. Moses knew he would not live forever, so he promised the people that God would give them another leader to keep reminding them of these things. God always gives us good leaders to tell us what is right. Let the children name some good leaders they know from Bible stories. Then ask them who does this today. Make a list of their responses on the board. Get them to focus on people who tell them to do the right thing even when that is hard, and who talk about God’s love.
2. Direct a group art project. Moses is often pictured as coming down from a mountain bringing God’s laws about love to crowds of people. Cover one wall of the classroom with newsprint and let every child contribute to a mural by drawing mountains, crowds of children at the bottom, and various leaders coming down the mountain slopes with good words. The leaders they draw can be the people listed on the board.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
1. Talk about what a prophet is and tell the students that the Bible often describes God as “putting my words” into the mouth of someone who is chosen to speak for God. How can people know if the words they speak have been put into their
mouths by God? How can those who listen believe that they are hearing God’s words coming to them from a speaker?
2. Challenge the students to demonstrate what they have just discussed. Choose several people to plan to speak some challenging and encouraging words to the class. Tell them to prepare by spending some quiet time alone thinking and praying. Choose a day for their presentations. Their speeches don’t have to be long, but they should express something the speaker really feels strongly about. Afterward let everyone evaluate feelings and impressions. Did the listeners feel inspired, moved, challenged? Did God touch their hearts through the speakers? Did speakers feel called, moved, afraid? Did their ideas seem to come from God?
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
1. There are people in the world today who claim to speak for God, but false prophets have been around for thousands of years. Give examples, such as televangelists who preach that prosperity is a sign of God’s favor or terrorists who say that God wills the death of those who don’t believe as they do. Any kind of self-promotion, looking down on the poor, or telling people what they want to hear while claiming to speak for God is usually a sign of false prophecy. When discussing this with the students, elicit a list of characteristics they think a true prophet would have. The list should include qualities like humility, courage to say what might make people uncomfortable, ability to challenge and inspire, and great love for God.
2. Invite an inspirational leader in the community to speak to the class. Choose someone who speaks out in favor of the oppressed or who has succeeded in leading others to do good work. Ask this person to share thoughts on Moses and Jesus as prophets. How did they motivate people to turn to God? What challenges did they put out to people, and what risks did they take? What would Moses and Jesus say to young people today about values and choices?
Sr. Karen Berry is a Joliet Franciscan, a former teacher of high school religion and director of family programs of Religious Education, and currently a teacher of adult religion classes in several parishes in Tucson, Arizona.