Season of Sundays: March 19, 2017, Third Sunday of Lent

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?