Fourth Sunday of Easter: Week of May 8, 2022
Begin your devotion time by praying this: Loving God, sometimes life challenges us in ways that are unexpected. May each hardship become an invitation into a deeper relationship with you and renew our faith in the magnificent power of your love for us. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is REST. Today’s Psalm reminds us that we don’t have to be in control, because God is. Sometimes our only responsibility is to rest and allow God to handle things. What are some things you do to help you relax when things are hard? How can we release what we think is best and surrender to what God knows is best?
Adult and Small Child
Reflect: God takes care of us. That is the main message from Psalm 23 for this young age group. God will provide us with what we need and God will help us to rest in cozy and comfortable places so that we can feel refreshed. Sometimes when we have big emotions and big feelings (like anger, fear, frustration or worry), it can be helpful to find a safe, cozy space to take deep breaths and to take some time to feel calmer and more peaceful. God is the one who helps to bring peace and calm to our hearts when we are having big feelings. All we have to do is remember God’s love and remember that God is there to help us feel safe.
Respond: For children: Build yourself a “cozy corner.” Do you have a space in your house or in your bedroom where you can put your favorite things? Line your cozy corner with some soft blankets and some pillows. Maybe you have some favorite stuffed animal friends that you can add to this space? Or a small toy, figurine or “fidget” that you like to hold. You can also put a small cross in the space or another object that reminds you of God. You can sit or lay in your restful, cozy corner and remember that God loves you and will always care for you.
For grown-ups: you can add a lavender-scented spray or find some peaceful music to help enhance your child’s cozy corner and you can invite them to sit or lay in the space while you read them the words of Psalm 23.
- Katy Seitz Denning
Adult and Elementary
Reflect: Do you remember nap time in preschool and kindergarten? I certainly do. I remember thinking that nap time was the biggest nuisance. Nap time got in the way of play time and that was just unacceptable! I have since learned the error of my ways. It turns out that rest is very important. Taking time to rest helps the immune system and helps our memory, allowing us to learn better. Resting gives us strength and stamina so that we can play harder in the future. Let's thank God for rest!
Respond: Try this breathing exercise in the evening before you go to sleep. Take a deep breath and hold it while you do a count of 5 then let it go. Repeat 5 times and then say, "Thank you, God!" Have a peaceful night's sleep.
- Imani Driskell
Adult and Youth
Reflect: Today’s psalm is one of the most recognizable passages from the Bible, written by David, one of the greatest kings in Israel. But before David was a mighty king, he was just a shepherd boy, and his job was to protect his sheep and make sure they didn’t wander off. Just like other references to sheep and shepherds from the Bible, David realized that the care he gave as a shepherd to his sheep reminded him of how God cared for him, and not only for him, but for all of God’s creatures.
Respond: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.” Today’s psalm reminds us that we all have dark days. But what we must remember is that God is with us and will comfort us as we walk through these tough times. Grab some paper and pens or markers. Write a word or draw a picture that shows something good you hope for in your life. Maybe it’s graduating from college, getting a special job, or traveling the world. Just know that as your journey through life's peaks and valleys, you can rest assured that God is there with you. Look upon this drawing or writing when you need a little moment to remember what you are hopeful for in your life.
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Reflect: Growing up, our family meals began with grace and then each of the five of us, my sisters, parents and I, had to say a verse from the Bible. As I grew older I moved from “Jesus wept” (or swept when I was really young) to depending on various parts of Psalm 23, which I heard often and knew by heart. Restful images flow lovingly through this psalm from beginning to the end. I find that among the words and phrases-- rest in the Lord, lying down, still waters, right paths, fear no evil, a table, goodness, mercy, dwell, and whole life -- are restful comforts that somehow help to bring me closer to the Lord. As I’ve gotten older this restful psalm also serves to broaden my view of the world as a place that can comforted by the rest that God provides. Without using the direct action of some other psalms, Psalm 23 reaches into us by describing several of the rest stops God provides us. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me” the psalmist assures us.
Respond: What are your earliest memories of Psalm 23? How did you come to know it? When did you realize that you knew it by heart? Spend some time with this psalm and with other biblical favorites; meditate or journal your thoughts about what you’re reading, what it means to you and how you might use it in your daily walk. Rest with this psalm and find ways to practice resting with what you read – you might find more than a little comfort in taking your time to meditate in the Lord’s word.
- Mallard Benton