Sixth Sunday of Easter- Week of May 9, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Holy God, your love and goodness changes us and draws us closer to you. Give us the courage to make your love and goodness known in the world. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s
practice on the
Way of Love is BLESS. We can be a blessing to others by
showing love, even when it’s difficult. Talk about a time when you found it
hard to love another person. What happened? How does the blessing of God’s love
better help us love other people?
Adult and Small Child
Read: John 15:9-17
Reflect: In this passage, Jesus says that we are no longer his servants, but his friends. This really surprised the disciples because they treated Jesus like he was their parent. They asked him a lot of questions, they sought his approval, and they always wanted him to care for them. When Jesus calls the disciples his friends, he tells them that he’s their equal and not their parent.
Friendship during Jesus’ time was a big deal; it was a position of honor. Friends looked out for each other’s well-being, they put the other’s needs on equal footing with their own. Friendship meant you could trust that person to love and care for you, too. When Jesus calls the disciples "friends" he is trusting them with this concern. He shares with them what the God the Father revealed to him, and he gives them the task of going out and sharing this good news with the world.
Respond: I love watching small children explore peer relationships because anyone is capable of being a friend. Whoever is nearby can be a friend. Whoever is crying can be a friend. Even when a child is treated unkindly by another child, they will often continue being a friend. It’s not about what the child will receive from the friendship or weighing what costs might be associated with it. I think these young relationships align more closely with what Jesus preaches today than many of our adult friendships.
- How might you be more childlike and Christlike in your friendships?
- How might you nurture friendships during the pandemic?
- How have you been blessed by friendships?
Explore these questions with small children and help them articulate the blessings received and shared with friends.
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: John 15:9-17
Reflect: What do you think of first when you hear the word “love?” Maybe hearts, Valentine’s Day, your parent or trusted adult, your dog, or your favorite food. In “Love is the Way,” Bishop Michael Curry points out that in English, we only have one word for love. But love is so much more than one thing! The love we usually talk about is romantic love (eros) or brotherly love (philia). The love in today’s Gospel passage is something else entirely. The Gospel writer is using the Greek word agape, which Bishop Curry defines as sacrificial love that seeks the good and well-being of others, of society, of the world. This kind of love is not primarily about feelings, though it includes affection. It is about action. Read the Scripture passage with this in mind. Jesus is commanding us to love one another, with the love that flowed from God to Jesus and from Jesus to all of us. How does the passage change when you think of love as action and not as feelings? When it’s about other people and not you? Look line by line at the passage. What does Jesus tell us this love looks like in practice?
Respond: One way we can practice love and compassion for others is to pray that their needs will be met. This type of prayer is called intercessory prayer. If you aren’t sure how to put your prayer into words, you may want to try “praying in color.” In this method, start by writing a word you use for God in the center of your paper. Then doodle around that word as you pray for God’s presence. Then you add, one by one, the names of people you are praying for. Connect their names to God. While you continue to doodle, silently share with God your desires for that person’s well-being. You may have something specific you want to say, or you may simply pray they have everything they need. You may continue adding names until you feel finished. Conclude with gratitude for God’s presence and “Amen.”
- Kelly Ryan
Adult and Youth
Read: John 15:9-17
Reflect: Nine times, that’s how many times Jesus said love or loved. Love is important. Love is powerful. The love that Jesus is talking about is from God. Jesus actually commands us to love in this reading. Maybe Jesus commands it because loving others can be very hard to do sometimes. The political landscape right now can make it hard to love one another. Peoples’ prejudices can make it hard to love one another. Social media can make it hard to love one another. Jesus knows this – think about the people he was up against in his life. Love was probably hard for Jesus too (fully divine, but also fully human.)Not only is love important for others, but it’s important for us as well. Think about how you felt the last time you showed or told someone that you love them, or how you felt the last time someone showed you love or told you they love you. Love can be simple. Love can be difficult. But either way, love comes from God.
Our Way of Love practice this week is bless. When we bless, we share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
Respond: I want you to think about two different people – people that you know, and can actually connect with. The first person is someone who is very easy for you to love. The second is someone who is more difficult for you to love. On either a piece of paper or on your phone, write out a note to both people, telling or showing them that you love them and care about them and that God loves them too. It can be as long or as short as you wish to make it. When you are done, you can share with your family about the person you chose to write to – you don’t have to read the letters, but you can if you wish. If you feel comfortable send the letters/texts/emails to the people after you are done. If you are not comfortable sending them, take some time to process that, either with your family or by yourself.
- Nicole McCarthy
Adult and Adults
Read: John 15:9-17
Reflect: The teachings of Jesus always point to a way of love that will be a joyful blessing. But beyond the simplicity of the command to love, this call is very demanding! God asks us to abide, to live in love with every part of our lives and beings, and that can take a lot of discipline, attention, prayer, care, and accountability. But when we dedicate ourselves to living in love, we find blessing in unexpected places, joy that is more than we could imagine. When we love those who are difficult to love, we find new depths of relationships with others and growth within ourselves. When we allow love to lead us toward giving generously, we find joy in simplicity and surrender of control. When we bring love as the foundation of our life decisions, our political commitments, and our deepest values, we find the blessing of a life aligned with the teachings of Jesus. These things might not always bring immediate happiness, but rather lead us closer to God’s heart and to our own wholeness and healing, making us more like Christ and making our joy complete.
Respond: Take some time to journal and reflect about a time when you chose the way of love, even when, or especially when, love was the more difficult choice. What happened? How did you know what to do, which way would be true to love? What emotions or changes happened with this experience? How did choosing the way of love feel in your mind and body? What joys or blessings have you found in following the demanding call to love?
- Claire Brown