Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Pester
Before starting, the meeting host should print out enough copies of this page (click on green printer icon above) for everyone in the group.
After general introductions, word of welcome and review of guidelines for small groups the meeting host will:
1. Invite someone to read the daily devotion printed below aloud.
2. Read the following introduction to the full text aloud:
In this devotion, Rev. Donna Schaper reflects on a passage about justice that brings up perseverance—or “pestering.” Some thoughts/questions to consider: When did perseverance pay off for you? When did it fail you? Do you think perseverance is a good investment of time or should you “let things go?” Do you think you would like the pestering widow if you met her? Why? Why not? What do you do with people who bother you? Do you think you would like the judge if you met him? Do you think he was just worshiping at the altar of personal convenience for himself or do you think he actually respected the widow?
3. Read the full text again (below): Luke 18:5 1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart: 2“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept appealing to him, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
4For a while he refused, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God or respect men, 5yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice. Then she will stop wearing me out with her perpetual requests.’”
6And the Lord said, “Listen to the words of the unjust judge. 7Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He continue to defer their help? 8I tell you, He will promptly carry out justice on their behalf. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
4. Take a minute or two for silent contemplation.
5. As a group, reflect on the following questions (remember to refrain from cross-talk):
What word, phrase or image jumps out at you from this reading? Everyone shares without commentary.
What’s God saying to you in this passage? (remember to refrain from cross talk)
What is the call to action for you and/or for our faith community? (feel free to engage in group conversation when discussing calls to action).
6. Close the meeting by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
“Yet…because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice.” – Luke 18:5 (The Berean Study Bible)
That pesky word pester is so interesting. It means to bother. To nag. To bug. Often when it comes to justice, we use less interesting verbs. We demand justice, as though those who withhold it are willing to hear our plea. We love justice, as though we were on a first date with it.
The widow had probably never been to a community organizing training. She probably didn’t love justice so much as really just (just?) want it for herself and her trial. She wouldn’t be the kind of person who would demand it, as that would take a sense of power and privilege. She doesn’t seem like the type who gets mad at Bloomingdale’s for a delay in her charge card arriving.
Instead, she bothered and pestered and nagged and bugged the judge. Something in her said her need was justified. Something in her said she was worthy enough to not lose heart. She kept on keeping on. She got up nine times after being knocked down eight.
For those of us weary with well-doing and who have signed too many petitions and worn out too many shoes marching, the word pester might be renewing. We might find a way to keep our keepings on and to tend them with tenderness.
Justice for all may not arrive tomorrow. But there was a day when our Sanctuary movement in New York City overwhelmed the phone system of ICE. A man was released from deportation as a result.
Pope Francis calls for a gaze of serene attentiveness. That’s the peaceful part of just pestering.
Help us to pay attention to those who pester for justice. Amen.