Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
Readings for March 19, 2017, Third Sunday of Lent:
- Exodus 17:3-7
- Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
- John 4:5-42
“Is the Lord in our midst or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
Hardship might tempt us to question God’s presence.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
- Use a children’s Bible to read the story of Moses and the Exodus, including the people’s hardships in the desert after their escape from Egypt.
- Talk about the difficult time the people of Israel had in the desert and their concerns about food, water, and safety.
- Sometimes, when things are hard, people wonder if God is still with them.
- Can the children think of difficult times in their lives when they wondered and hoped God was with them? Invite them to share their stories and feelings. Plan a short prayer that includes a statement of belief in God’s presence in both good times and bad.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
- Read the first reading and discuss the difficult time the Israelites had in the desert after escaping from Egypt.
- Why did they question whether God was still with them or not?
- Do people today get into difficult situations where they might wonder if God cares about them or will help them?
- List examples on the board. Draw from stories the students may have heard in local and world news.
- Invite a guest speaker who can share stories of people in seemingly hopeless situations (for example, a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan, an immigrant or refugee living in the parish, a volunteer who has traveled to an area of poverty to give assistance, and so on).
- Prepare for the speaker by making a list of questions about the faith of the people in need, their hope or hopelessness, how they were coping, and the signs of God’s presence that they counted on.
- Follow up on the speaker’s sharing by praying together for those who are suffering in their daily lives.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
- Bring together a panel to address your class about their experiences of seeing people in desperate, hopeless situations. See the examples above in the Intermediate lesson and try to get a variety: soldier, immigrant, volunteer, missionary. Ask each panel member to speak for 10 minutes about how people were coping, what faith they expressed, where they found God in their daily struggles, and so on.
- Prepare the class for hearing this panel by using the first reading and discussing the Israelites’ difficulties in the desert after leaving Egypt.
- After the panel’s presentation, encourage students to ask questions of the group.
- Follow up later with an opportunity for students to turn inward and ask themselves how strong their faith would be if daily life became unbearable.
- Have them reflect on difficult times they went through in the last few years. Did they believe God was with them?