Regarding the Old Testament reading, consider the following:
- Why is Samuel grieving?
- What task does God give to Samuel?
- At first, whom does Samuel think will be chosen as the next king of Israel? Why?
- What does verse 7 tell us about God's way of "seeing"?
- What method does Jesus use most often to teach?
- In your opinion, why does he choose this method?
- In light of the two parables, what is God's kingdom like?
- After reading this passage carefully, what questions come to mind?
Then Jesus said, "God's kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!
"How can we picture God's kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It's like a pine nut. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it."
With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.Once you have read through the above, choose a phrase or a sentence that really speaks to you. As an offering of prayer, sit down with a paper and pencils, markers, crayons, etc. What you are about to do is a spiritual exercise called "Illuminate the Text." Somewhere on the sheet of paper, write out the phrase or words you have chosen. Using borders, symbols, pictures, and even squiggly lines, illustrate the words.
In an example provided by Mary Mohlke in the Presbyterian resource, "Lord, Teach Us to Pray," the chosen words were "Behold, I create a new world..." and the drawing is of the earth. When I participated in this exercise today, from our reading I chose the phrase "Picture God's Kingdom" and I drew a person sleeping on her bed, plants growing while she slept and a wagon full to overflowing of the harvest.
Now it's your turn. Try the exercise and be sure to share your results with your pastor. She is eager to hear about your experience of illuminating the text!
As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.