Pentecost 15-September 5


Teaching the Teacher

An Intergenerational Service
for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 5, 2021

Lectionary Texts: Psalm 125; Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; James 2:1-17; Mark 7:24-37

This liturgy includes several strategies to engage the whole congregation in the experience of teaching and learning about economic justice together so that people of all ages can connect to these themes in the lectionary texts and feel empowered to teach and learn together. This theme recognizes and celebrates that early September marks the beginning of the Faith Formation programming year, as well as the beginning of the school year for the many teachers and students in our congregations. Other strategies may be found at the end of this service.

Justice for the vulnerable is a complex issue for our congregations. This week’s lectionary texts explore it from a variety of perspectives, attesting to the diversity within the Bible on this topic. Like many texts from both testaments, Proverbs 22, and James 2 encourage ancient and modern audiences alike to treat the poor with fairness and equity, decrying those who take advantage of the vulnerable. In light of this ongoing theme and our own understanding of a loving and accepting Christ, Mark’s Gospel’s description of Jesus’ rebuke of a woman with a suffering child can be disconcerting. The same Jesus who told the disciples to let the children come to him calls this woman and her child “dogs.” The difference, it seems, is that she and her child are foreigners. Surprisingly, Jesus reflects the prejudices of his own day in his speech to her. Yet perhaps even more surprisingly, Mark’s Jesus changes his mind in response to the woman’s argument. Jesus, whom we name so often as our teacher, learns from a foreign woman who speaks out in her vulnerability. Justice for the vulnerable is indeed a complex issue. The gift in such complexity, as this collection of texts reflects, is that it has a great leveling effect; all of us become both teachers and learners. If Jesus could both teach and learn about justice for the vulnerable among us, so can we all.

HYMN      O God, Who Teaches Us to Live      TNCH 359

To make this invocation more accessible to pre-literate or visually impaired congregants, introduce the congregational response before you begin, introducing a gesture you will make that will cue their response, “Following Christ’s example, we learn from one another!” If this practice is new to the congregation, practice this call and response a few times before beginning the invocation, encouraging them to speak their response with gusto!

Leader: Where are the teachers in our midst who will guide us as we learn?

Congregation: We follow Christ’s example, and learn from one another!

Leader: Where are Jesus’ disciples, who thirst to know God’s ways?

Congregation: We follow Christ’s example, and learn from one another!

Leader: Our church school is this sacred space and our classroom is the world.

Congregation: We follow Christ’s example, and learn from one another!

Leader: Thanks be to God for new beginnings,
for new opportunities to learn together!

Congregation: We follow Christ’s example, and learn from one another!


Leader: Rabbi, Teacher Jesus,
You who taught thousands
And yet were willing to learn from the least of these,
We confess that we pretend to know
When in truth we still wonder.

Congregation: Forgive our pretense,
That we may open ourselves to unexpected teachers,
To fresh ideas,
To one another,
To you.

Vulnerable Christ,
You who lived in generous love,
We confess that we have closed ourselves off,
That we have seen so much suffering
That we stop looking
Rather than see and respond to those in need.

Forgive our neglect
That we may care for one another
And follow in the example you set for us.
In your name we pray. Amen


Leader: Disciples, followers, students of the living Christ,
know that you are forgiven always
and freed to begin anew
through God’s everlasting mercy and love.

HYMN      There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy      TNCH 23

MULTIGENERATIONAL SERMON ACTIVITY: Learning about economic justice together
A Multigenerational Sermon Activity is an interactive activity that can introduce, conclude, or be integrated in a sermon so as to encourage a more embodied experience for people of all ages. It may also be used as a children’s sermon, but is most effective when broad participation is encouraged.

Title: The Feast of Fairness
For this activity, you will need several snack foods to be distributed among the congregation. Be sure to select foods with an awareness of allergies to nuts, gluten, etc. The distribution should not be equitable, but, rather, reflect the worldwide distribution of wealth: 10% receive an excessive snack, 20% receive more than enough, 50% just enough, and 20% very little. You can divide the congregation by putting numbers on the backs of the worship bulletins and having each group gather around their allotted snack. Give the congregation a few minutes to experience the inequity. Ask them for reflections on the experience become asking them what they think would be the best course of action to take, and then solicit reactions again after this action has been taken.

HYMN      I Am the Light of the World            TNCH 584

Leader: “Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.”
Let us celebrate our blessings with generosity
as we collect the offering
for the work and worship of this congregation.


Generous God, you have made rich and poor,
powerful and vulnerable alike in your image.
Bless the gifts we have gathered today
that we may use them to protect the afflicted
and bring greater justice to your world. Amen.

HYMN     Praise the Source of Faith and Learning         TNCH 411

Disciples of our Christian faith,
go now in great expectancy,
knowing that teachers can be found
in every corner of creation.

Teaching the Teacher: An Intergenerational Liturgy focusing on Faith Formation, Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost year B, was written by the Rev. Dr. Laurel Koepf Taylor, Eden Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri.

Copyright 2021, Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.

Pentecost 15–September 5

5 Ways to Welcome Children in Worship*

The Rev. Dr. Laurel W. Koepf Taylor

Engage the Senses
Your worship service already engages multiple senses in more ways than you realize! Emphasize this and come up with more ways of creating active, multisensory worship that will be authentic to your congregation’s worship style. Doing this will welcome children as well as a wider range of adults!

Provide Sabbath Toys
When we think of Sabbath Toys, we usually think of our Puritan roots, when children were only allowed to play with Noah’s Ark on Sundays. Revive this old tradition with a twist! Provide soft toys that follow the liturgical seasons or the theme of the day’s worship so that children’s play will be a part of the community’s worship, not a distraction from it! Biblical felt pieces or a pictorial worship bulletin are simple ways to get started.

Go Beyond Children’s Sermons
We communicate our welcome of children in worship most clearly in the liturgical actions we value most in our tradition. Invite children to take lay leadership roles in worship and make sermons accessible through conversational style, team preaching, sermon activities, and preaching illustrations that appeal to a variety of life stages.

Encourage Church Family
Extended families rarely live close to one another anymore but people still need intergenerational relationships and support. Church is a great place to provide this! Members of the extended church family who wish to experience spiritual renewal by worshipping with a child can volunteer to give tired parents a break on Sunday morning. Be sure to oversee this practice in a way that complies with ‘safe church’ policies.

Include Children in the Full Life of the Church!
Adults and children will be more tolerant and loving of one another if they know each other as people. Encourage children’s participation in church life and create opportunities for friendships to grow across generations.

*Prepared for the Your Church, Better workshops at General Synod, 2011, Tampa, Florida