Seventh Sunday of Easter
Begin your devotional time by praying this prayer: Almighty Creator, when we proclaim our gratitude for you, miraculous things are possible. Help us to remember all your wondrous works, that we may share the joy you put in our hearts and act as a reflection of your profound love in the lives of others. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is PRAY. We know that prayer is what we call having a conversation with God. Sometimes we don’t pray because we think it has to look a specific way. Do you think praying can just be you talking to God? Why or why not?
Adult and Small Child
Reflect: There are many things going on in this story of Paul and Silas that may not make a lot of sense to small children. The entire reading is a complicated grouping of several stories. For young children, it may be helpful to focus on what Paul and Silas do when they are in a situation that could make them feel sad or scared – they pray and sing hymns to God. These types of rituals can provide comfort for us.
Do you ever feel scared or sad? What are some things that you have learned to do when you feel sad or scared to help you feel better? Could you try praying to God? Praying is simply talking to God like we would talk to a parent or a friend. How about singing? Do you know any songs that help you feel closer to God?
Respond: There are many faith traditions that use beads to count or repeat prayers. It is a great tactile way to pray that will appeal to young children. This week, make your own prayer beads that you can use anytime you want to feel close to God! Use a cord or shoelace and tie a knot on one end. String beads (use large, chunky beads for smaller children) on the cord and tie a knot between each bead. As you touch each bead, you can pray for other people or name things that are on our hearts while we are talking to God. If you are ever feeling sad or scared like Paul and Silas were in today’s story, you can also use the beads to name your worries and to take deep breaths in between each bead to allow God to help calm your fears. There is a simple practice for using prayer beads described at this link.
- Katy Seitz Denning
Adult and Elementary
Reflect: I am able to maintain a good relationship with my friends and loved ones by talking to them and spending time with them. We can maintain a good relationship with God through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. We can talk to God about anything and everything. In our reading, Paul and Silas have a run-in with some folks that are not too happy with them. Paul and Silas stopped the owners of an enslaved girl from making money. Then the owners have them beaten and thrown in jail. Despite this bad situation, Paul and Silas continue in prayer. God intervenes in their situation in a dramatic way. Today's reading is quite encouraging to me. God may not always act in dramatic ways, but God always listens to our prayers.
Respond: Have a talk with a trusted adult about difficult situations that they've experienced. Ask them about coping skills. Was prayer one of their coping strategies? Make a note to yourself to pray about this situation. Remember this sentence, "Worry about nothing, pray about everything!"
- Imani Driskell
Adult and Youth
Reflect: In today’s lesson we find Paul on his journey of discipleship with his good friend Silas. In those days, not everyone agreed with what the disciples were doing, so Paul and Silas ended up in prison. However, even in the darkest dungeon, Paul and Silas sang praises to God. Their song of prayer and thanksgiving caused an earthquake that opened the doors of the prison. Paul and Silas didn’t run when the gates opened though, they stayed around so as not to get the jailer in trouble. The jailer was so grateful for their honesty and the power of their praise and the power of God that he then gave his life to Jesus.
Respond: Today is our final Sunday in Easter. For several weeks we have been talking about how God has made us new. While our story might be different from Paul and Silas’s, many of us live our lives in emotional and spiritual chains. This might include the chains of unforgiveness, the constant need for approval, or jealousy. Think this week about what are the chains that are holding you back? What are the doors that are closed to you? Now is the time to open these doors because Christ has broken the chains and set us free!
- Lauren Wainwright
Adult and Adults
Reflect: For all the years my son was a Cub and Boy Scout, I was involved as an adult leader and later as an adult leader instructor and Woodbadge trainer. One of my Woodbadge commitments was participating in the Leave No Trace program. In becoming an instructor in this program several of us spent a couple of days and nights on Georgia’s White Mountain learning and practicing the seven principles. One person in our cohort twisted her ankle and we took turns carrying her and her gear down the mountain. We didn’t lose her the way Paul and Barnabas’ jailer did, yet we felt we’d let her down. She was my buddy and her injury happened on my watch – I felt more responsible than the rest of our group. And I was more committed than the others to get her down safely and to medical care as soon as we could. She and I developed a friendship that lasted long after this incident.
So even though the jailer seems on the wrong side of this story of our apostles, he knew that the penalty for prisoners escaping was likely to mean his losing his life. Such was his relief when Paul revealed that he and Silas had not run off that the jailer fell down before them and eventually he and his family were baptized and he became a believer.
Respond: Consider how you might have offered good news to someone for whom hope seemed lost. Perhaps you helped find a lost pet or were able to reverse a termination of some service or established a financial lifeline when the recipient did not expect it. Reflect on how you felt and how you think the other person felt.
- Mallard Benton