Second Sunday of Easter- Week of April 11, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Holy God, we encounter you in many different ways. Open our eyes to see you and our hearts to receive your love during this season. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s
practice on the
Way of Love is TURN. Jesus is revealed to us in unexpected
ways; we just need to pay attention. Where do you see Jesus in the unexpected
this week? How might you need to turn your life in order to see him?
Adult and Small Child
Read: John 20:19-31
Reflect: After Jesus dies, his friends are so scared that they hide in a house and lock all the doors so no one can find them. Except someone does find them! Jesus suddenly appears inside the house and shows them the wounds he got while hanging on the cross. Only one disciple was not there: Thomas. Today people call Thomas by a not-so-nice nickname. Because he wasn’t in the room when Jesus showed his wounds, Thomas doubted that Jesus actually came to visit. So, people often call him Doubting Thomas.
We know that name-calling is wrong, and I think calling him Doubting Thomas is wrong. When all the other disciples were scared and hiding in that locked house, we are told Thomas goes out into the city. Thomas’ absence tells us that was braver than his friends. When he gets back to the house, he just wants to see Jesus for himself like everyone else. Jesus knows what Thomas wants and gives it to him. Jesus isn’t angry at Thomas for not believing his friends. Jesus instead comes to the house a second time so Thomas can see the wounds for himself.
Respond: Sometimes we get angry that we can’t see people we love during the pandemic. Sometimes we feel left out or forgotten. Who do you wish you could see today? This feels like the right day to set up a video chat play date to share a story, a snack, or an activity like blowing bubbles. This passage reminds us that even though we aren’t in the same room at the same time, we are not forgotten.
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: John 20:19-31
Reflect: There is a phrase that news reporters learn early in their careers: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” In other words, be open to the possibility that what you hear might be true, but don’t believe it until you investigate. Thomas approaches the world like that, doesn’t he? He wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus appeared, bringing words of peace and breathing the Holy Spirit. In Thomas’ imagination, Jesus’ resurrection was impossible. In order to believe, he wasn’t going to be satisfied with the disciples’ stories. He wanted to explore Jesus’ wounds himself. After what must have been a hard week of waiting, Thomas finally sees Jesus. Knowing humans so well, Jesus anticipates that Thomas wants proof. Without question, Jesus offers his body to Thomas and says, “Do not doubt but believe.” (John 20: 27, NRSV) A bit later, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29, NRSV) What tone do you think Jesus used when he said those words? Do you hear anger, impatience, compassion, kindness, or something else? Doubt is a part of faith. Jesus knows this! What doubts do you have? What can Thomas teach us about having doubt and belief at the same time?
Respond: Following Jesus is a choice that takes practice. Some Christians develop what is called a “rule of life” to help them remain committed to the steps they must take to be close to Jesus and live according to his teachings. It can be very simple, even just one small thing you will try to do regularly with God’s help, so your relationship with Jesus shapes who you are and what you do. For example, you might pray when you wake up, read the Bible each day, write or draw in a prayer journal, spend time in nature or make a gratitude list before bed. What other ideas do you have? Write down your rule of life and try to follow it for the next week. What did you learn? What would you like to keep up, and what would you like to change?
- Kelly Ryan
Adult and Youth
Read: John 20:10-31
Reflect: A lot happens in just a few Bible verses here. Jesus appears twice, shares peace, lays out some pretty important instructions, and also calls Thomas out for not believing it was him before he showed Thomas his hands and side.
If you have been to a Christian worship service, you have likely encountered the “sharing of peace” portion of the service. In many instances, this is a time of greeting one another. The history of this is rooted in being reconciled to your siblings in Christ; essentially a time to make peace with those you may have disagreements with. Not only did Jesus greet the disciples with peace and send them into the world as God had sent Jesus, he breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and instructed them to forgive, not hold onto sins of anyone. Can you imagine if that’s how the sharing of the peace went every week?
We end with Jesus saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29, NRSV) Our Way of Love practice this week is Turn. When we turn, we pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus. We have not seen, yet we have come to believe – what does this mean to you?
Respond: Change your location so that you are either outside, or can see outside. Take a few moments to breathe calmly and think about the following things. Listen for what God may be telling you. Some questions to respond to are:
- Is there someone in my life that I should truly make peace with? (As long as it is safe to do so.)
- If Jesus appeared to me as He did to the disciples, how would I react?
- What other kinds of things do I believe, even though I have not seen them?
- What might Jesus be sending me into the world to do?
- Nicole McCarthy
Adult and Adults
Read: John 20:19-31
Reflect: On Easter evening, when Jesus comes to the disciples, we see the beautiful embodiment of the resurrection through the lens of the disciples. First, they see his hands and side, then Jesus breathes on his friends, an intimate and unquestionable sign of life. Then, a week later, we see Thomas and his deep faith and longing for Jesus, wanting to touch and know in his own body that Jesus was really alive. While the Christian tradition has often been unkind to Thomas, seeing his attitude as a sign of doubt, Thomas actually shows us the depth and meaning of what it is to meet the risen Christ and be transformed in every way. His faith is not only an intellectual assent or an emotion. Thomas has walked and eaten with Jesus and wants to know the resurrection in his body, too. He wants to know the resurrection with his entire being. The traditions of the early Christian church teach that Thomas became a missionary to south Asia, dedicating his life to sharing the good news of resurrection. He encountered Jesus with his entire being, and that experience of faith in mind, heart, and body, transformed his entire life.
Respond: Journal your answers to the following questions: What does it mean for you to encounter Jesus’ resurrection with your whole self: mind, heart, and body? When have you physically encountered reminders of God’s presence and the powerful strength of God’s love and life?
- Claire Brown