Seventh Sunday after Epiphany: Week of February 20, 2022
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Loving God, you call us to turn, repent, and embrace forgiveness. Grant us the wisdom to turn our lives toward you, the courage to admit our shortcomings, and the grace to love and share your forgiveness with others. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is TURN. In this week’s reading, Jesus calls us to turn toward right relationship with one another. Where in your life might you need to repent and turn toward God? And, where might you need to show forgiveness and love toward other people?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Luke 6:27-38
Reflect: In this story, Jesus tells us to love our enemies. I wonder: is it easy or hard to love people with whom we don’t agree, or people who are mean to us? Sometimes I think it is very hard to do that. Sometimes I only want to love people who are nice to me. It’s hard to offer love and forgiveness, especially when we are sad, angry, or hurt. But, as followers of Jesus, we are called to share God’s love with all people, even when it’s hard. We do this because God first loves and forgives us. Jesus shows us this is possible through the example of his life. Even when people were upset with him and what he taught, Jesus still used his words and actions to show them God’s love. We follow Jesus’ example by turning toward people and loving them, too.
Respond: Although young children may not fully understand the definition of the word “empathy,” practicing it at a young age helps kids learn to love all their neighbors. Making a kindness jar, taking care of a pet, or practicing listening skills while other people are sharing their stories are examples of activities that build empathy in young children. Pick and complete an activity together that builds empathy. This article gives 19 ideas of activities you can do together.
- Victoria Hoppes
Adult and Elementary
Read: Luke 6:27-38
Reflect: I enjoy watching cooking shows. It is fascinating that you can begin with flour, sugar, butter, and baking soda and end up with a cake! When baking, you have to follow the recipe step-by-step. The instructions that Jesus is giving in this passage of scripture are like a recipe for living.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who abuse us. This is a hard recipe to follow! If you're anything like me, you might say, "no thanks, Jesus, this is too difficult!" Before we're tempted to say no to Jesus, let's remember our Way of Love practice: turn. We can turn from the tendency to be mean to others when they treat us badly. We can turn towards God and behave in a better way.
Respond: Think of your classmates. Write down the names of four or five classmates. Pray for each one of these classmates every day this week.
- Imani Driskell
Adult and Youth
Read: Luke 6:27-38
Reflect: Once again, Jesus turns our thinking upside down by telling us to love our enemies. What kind of love is Jesus talking about? In English, there is no specific word that we would use to describe this. However, in Greek, the word used for this type of love is agape. What kind of love are we talking about here? Unconditional love. It is the kind of love that God has for us. Here, Jesus is not only asking us to give unconditional love to our enemies, but also do good to them, bless them, and even pray for them.
Respond: Now, I know it is easy to love those who show love to us. Even though you have made mistakes before, your family still loves you and Jesus still loves you. So, when others make a mistake, we should still love them. How can you show love to those who are mean to you? Spend time this week getting to know someone you may not like. The more understanding we have of each other, the more likely we are to realize that we are all God’s creatures and we may not be that different. Also, be kind this week. You never know what others are going through. Something as simple as a compliment could go a long way.
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Read: Luke 6:27-38
Reflect: While I love this passage, I always bristle a
bit when I see that it’s coming up in the lectionary. When it’s preached
outside of its original context, it easily becomes a lecture to convince people
who are abused that they should roll over and accept it. But that is not what’s
going on here at all. Judaism teaches that if people cause harm, they
are required to seek forgiveness, which can only be accepted from the victim,
who decides when and if to offer it on the basis of changed behavior.
Respond: So often, conversations around forgiveness focus on what the party doing the harm wants and needs. You don’t have to walk very far down the self-help shelves in any library to find an ample supply of books asking “What do you need to be forgiven for?” and advising people to go and make big dramatic apologies, rather than focusing on changing their harmful behavior. Particularly for Christians, it can be easy to conflate the astonishing promise of God’s universal forgiveness with human forgiveness, which is about disrupting harmful patterns and healing the wounds that behavior caused. If the harmful behavior has not ceased, the wounds will never close. Today, make a covenant with God and yourself to stop doing something that is causing harm. Once you have established that people can readily depend on you to behave in this new way, then you can ask for forgiveness, remembering that part of the ask is finding out what the harmed party needs in order for forgiveness to be freely given. This way of being in relationship is not easy, but it is honest. It gives us an opportunity to tell the truth about who we are and what we do, then to turn around and move towards the creation of a better truth.
- Jessica Davis