Fifth Sunday of Easter- Week of May 2, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: O God, knowing you brings us everlasting life. Open our ears to hear and hearts to receive your Word in our lives. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s
practice on the
Way of Love is LEARN. Share about a time you learned
something new about Jesus. How does learning about Jesus change our lives?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Acts 8:26-40
Reflect: Churches really love families with small children. Children are signs of life, health, and growing churches, so churches try really hard to take care of these families. Sometimes this means churches can leave out other people like people whose children are grown up or people who are not parents. The very first churches were like this, too, and our reading from Acts tells the story of someone who found himself on the outside of a religion that focused a bit too much on families. This man is called a eunuch which means he could not have children. He works for the queen of Ethiopia and came all the way to Jerusalem worship.
Because of his differences, this person wasn’t allowed inside the temple. He decides to go back home, reading his Bible along the way.
An angel tells Philip to get in the chariot with this man. Philip runs after the chariot and hears the man reading from the prophet Isaiah about a man who is disliked by people but honored by God. He asks Philip if this means God could love and honor him, too. “Yes,” says Philip, “God can! God Will!” Philip baptizes him right then on the side of the road. No longer is the man forced to stay outside the temple, he is welcomed into the family of God’s people.
Respond: This story is good news for all of God’s people. This story is good news because it reminds us that all families are different. Some families have one parent, some have two, and some families have bonus parents. Some families have no children, and some have lots and lots of children. Some families are made up of one person and others include many generations of people living all together in the same house. All of these families look different but share one very important thing: they are all part of God’s family. God’s family is open to every single person. What does your family look like? Name this with your little.
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: Acts 8:26-40
Reflect: The Acts of the Apostles tells stories about the development of the Christian church after Jesus’ death and resurrection. From the beginning of this book, the author signals that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will guide the church and its mission. Consider how the tale of Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch begins: an angel speaks directly to Philip, guiding him where to travel. The Spirit then bids Philip to approach the eunuch’s chariot. Note what is happening here: the Spirit has guided Philip to a non-Jewish man from an African land far from Jerusalem. What does that tell us about God’s vision for the church? The eunuch asks questions about the Scriptures and, moved by the good news about Jesus, asks to be baptized. After they emerge from the water and the eunuch has become a Christian, the Spirit reappears and whisks Philip to a city more than 20 miles away. What questions do you have about Jesus? What do you need to fully commit your life to Christ? Where do you sense the Holy Spirit moving in your midst?
Respond: Lectio Divina, “divine reading,” is a prayer practice that can help you delve more deeply into a Scripture passage through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It has four steps: lectio (read), meditatio (meditate), oratio (pray) and contemplatio (contemplate). Find a quiet place to read God’s word together for 15-20 minutes. Choose a short passage for your prayer, such as a portion of today’s lesson or a favorite Bible verse. First, slowly read the passage aloud and notice words or phrases that stick out to you. Read the passage again, and pay attention to what you see and feel. Can you imagine yourself in this passage? Next, read the passage and enter a conversation with God. What message does God have for you in this passage today? Fourth, read the passage a final time. Rest in God’s loving presence with gratitude. When you are finished, talk about how this changes your experience with the Bible.
- Kelly Ryan
Adult and Youth
Read: Acts 8:26-40
Reflect: Our Way of Love practice this week is learn. When we learn, we reflect on Scripture, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings. This reading is perfect for this practice because learning takes place in the reading itself.
In this reading, the Ethiopian Eunuch states to Phillip that they cannot understand the Scripture unless someone guides them. This seems so relatable to me. It is important that we come to our own conclusions about what things mean to us. But also, it is important that we are able to get clarification if we do not understand or guidance if we are unsure. Nurturing our faith regularly helps us to grow in our faith. By asking questions, the Ethiopian eunuch heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and then was baptized! And, Phillip was able to share the Good News, it was a win-win.
Share about a time when you needed help with your faith but didn’t ask for help. Share about a time when you helped someone else to learn something about faith.
Respond: For some people, being baptized is the beginning of their faith journey. For others, they begin their faith journey, and then they chose to get baptized – like the Eunuch. Take some time to think about baptism. Get a bowl a fill it partially with water. Take a few moments in silence and scoop the water with your hand and let it slowly drip back into the bowl. As you feel the water with your fingers share a moment in your faith life that was a time of significant learning for you. Actively engage with the others in your family and ask questions about their stories.
- Nicole McCarthy
Adult and Adults
Read: Acts 8:26-40
Reflect: In her book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, Anne Lamott notes that joy and curiosity are the same thing. With that beautiful connection in mind, we see in Acts 8 a beautiful connection of learning with joyful surprise in the strange story of the apostle Philip and the Ethiopian official. Philip’s own openness and curiosity meets the careful study and learning of the Ethiopian official, and their conversation is so filled with the joyful presence of the Holy Spirit that a conversion follows! The two offer a glimpse into what joyful encounters with God are possible when we follow holy curiosity and learning. One shows us an honest and open curiosity about others. When the Holy Spirit prompts, Philip seeks to learn more, to meet and know and wonder with a stranger. The other shows us an honest and open curiosity in scholarship, in faithfully studying and asking questions to grow in knowledge. The Ethiopian official is a careful student of the story of God in human history. Both forms of curiosity are faithful steps along the way of love, carrying the two, and us, to new ways of meeting God.
Respond: This week, look for an opportunity to follow your holy curiosity through study or conversation. Prayerfully find a conversation partner, whether someone familiar or new to you, and ask them about their faith. This might be a new way of having conversation, but a simple conversation starter can open the way. Try out something like, “Do you have a religious community that’s important to you? Why?” Or “What’s your favorite song, hymn, or scripture?” See where a conversation of brave and joyful curiosity might lead!
- Claire Brown