Fifth Sunday of Easter: Week of May 15, 2022
Begin your devotional time by praying this: Beloved Creator, you promise us a blissful world full of love, justice and peace. Open our hearts and allow us to embrace your truth, so that we can contribute to making the world a better place through our thoughts, words and actions towards one another. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is BLESS. In this story, God promises us a new earth where there is no more crying, pain or suffering. Has there ever been a time where you were sad or hurt and someone did something small to make you feel better? What are some small ways that you can act as a blessing in someone’s life? Every action, no matter how small it may seem, helps create the world God has promised us.
Adult and Small Child
Reflect: Have you ever had a time when you had to do something new? Go to a new school? Visit a new place? Try a new food? Or learn something new? In this reading from Revelation, the author is celebrating God’s bringing about a new creation. It is meant to be a hopeful way for the followers of Jesus to know that God, in the rising of Jesus from the dead, is sharing God’s dream of what the world could be. Sometimes new things (like new schools or new places or new foods) can make us worried or unsure. But in this story, we realize that God blesses us with the understanding that new things can also be beautiful and wonderful. God’s “new thing” is God’s dream that all people will know and feel God’s love with them always. God’s dream is that there won’t be any more sadness, or sickness, or pain. God’s dream is that everyone will have a home and there will be no more hungry people. The beautiful children’s book God’s Dream written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by LeUyen Pham is a beautiful reflection on the blessing of this vision of a new creation.
Respond: One of the best pieces of advice from a pediatrician when my own children were little is that there’s no reason to be stingy with either hugs or Band-Aids. Most young children have a fascination with Band-Aids – even when there is little evidence of a “boo boo” – and a simple Band-Aid can be a blessing that reminds little ones of the love and are that grownups and God have for them! Why not take a box of Band-Aids and decorate them with drawings and words describing God’s dream? You can use markers to draw pictures of the beautiful vision described in the book of Revelation. Note: Permanent markers work best for this but you’ll want to have some adult supervision with the little ones. Grownups can help write words such as “no more sadness” or “God wipes away your tears.” You can draw pictures of happy people or smiling faces and of hearts and crosses to remind you of how much God loves you. Then, put them back in the box and when you need a Band-Aid, you have not only something that will help with an outside hurt, but something that helps with inside hurts, too!
- Katy Seitz Denning
Adult and Elementary
Reflect: Over the years, I have found this passage of scripture difficult to understand. Is the author saying that everything will be alright in the end? I'm not entirely sure. Some uncertainty is okay. Please re-read the part where God makes all things new. What do you suppose that means? I am comforted by verse 3 where it reads that God will dwell with mortals. God will make a home with us! Isn't that fascinating? Even in uncertainty, God is present with us. Amen.
Respond: Ask a trusted adult for help. Find a Bible and look for the name, "Emmanuel." Here's a hint, look in the Old Testament for the book, Isaiah. What is the meaning of the name, "Emmanuel?" Is it similar to the thoughts shared in today's reflection?
- Imani Driskell
Adult and Youth
Reflect: What do you think heaven will be like? The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about heaven, but we get some wonderful insights into what it will be like from today’s lesson from Revelations. It tells us that it will be beautiful and new and that we will be with God. God will make all things new. God is fixing what’s broken and making it better. God is not replacing, but restoring. God is getting rid of the imperfections and making things even better. This is a comforting thought. As followers of Jesus, we can look ahead to heaven with hope and anticipation, not fear or dread.
Respond: Answer these questions in your journal this week. What do you think it will be like to experience a place where “mourning and crying and pain will be no more?” How have you seen God do new things in your life? How have you experienced God’s hope in your life? What is one area of your life where you especially want and need God’s help in changing and becoming a new person?
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Reflect: “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” Rev. 21:6. I used to work very long days and would find that I periodically needed water to replenish me from the last hour and to prep me for the next one. On those days not spent in my office but moving around clinics and labs, I got parched more often, and along with the water, I’d also reward myself with a quiet sit down. Revelation 21:1-6 is all about renewal and that renewal is described through the uniquely precious gift of water. There are so many occasions in life, like my time at work or after a run, or during a project in the yard, when that drink is what provides a timely renewal for our bodies and spirits. And deeper spiritual renewal might be revealed in the gift of friends, our parish family, an unexpected card, email or text, a bird’s chirp, a favorite hymn, or a flower’s bloom. In several ways these moments would bless me. I’ve found myself surprised at how meaningful interactions like these can be at quenching my thirst.
Respond: I don’t think there’s much argument that many of us take water for granted. A new practice you might try is to set your sights on seeing water as a gift and respecting the water you use as coming from the “spring of the water of life.” There are many home water conservation ideas available on the internet and posters (reminders can be seen in some restaurants, workplaces, and schools). Home remodeling offers opportunities with water-efficient products. How might a new appreciation of water as a gift look for you? How might this new appreciation bless you?
- Mallard Benton