Third Sunday of Easter- Week of April 18, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Holy God, your love for us is boundless. Grant us the courage to love others, just as you love us. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is BLESS. Name some of the ways you’ve experienced God’s love in the last week. How can you share this love to bless other people?
Adult and Small Child
Read: 1 John 3:1-7
Reflect: “We should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1, NRSV) I often wonder why adults are told to act more like children in the Bible. Jesus says it. Paul says it. And now we hear it in 1 John chapter 3. I think it’s important that we see all of humanity as a big family. We are all siblings who are created in the same image of God, our holy parent. Whenever we hear the phrase “children of God,” we are reminded of this connection.
Children are often in a hurry to grow up, and it’s only as we age that we can reflect on the true gifts of early childhood. I recently read Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman and in one chapter she reflects on the differences between children and grown-ups. Freeman points out that when we name a child as beautiful, brilliant, kind, or compassionate, they are quick to believe us. They follow schedules set out before them. And perhaps most remarkably, children have the ability to trust and question at the same time. I wonder what other differences you notice between children and grown-ups?
Respond: This week we focus on the spiritual practice ‘bless.’ Grown-ups, take time to name ways the children in your care bless you. This might be done in a journal or spoken aloud to the children who bless you. Together, wonder aloud what characteristics of children would benefit adults. Which of these characteristics would help us grow closer to Jesus?
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: 1 John 3:1-7
Reflect: What questions do you have when you read this passage? I have many! What does it mean that the world does not know Jesus? How can humans be as pure as Jesus? What is sin? What do sin and lawlessness have to do with each other? I love Jesus and I still sin; what does that mean? Why are we reading this passage now, during Eastertide? When you discover a passage that raises more questions than answers, write down everything you wonder about. Ponder the questions. Look up words you don’t know. Talk with people you love. Return to them later. Delving deeply into the mysteries of Scripture is part of our life with God.
For today, let’s focus on the word “sin.” What comes to mind when you hear this word? How does it feel to talk about sin? One definition for sin is to “miss the mark.” Think about an archery target. No matter how much we practice, it’s really hard to hit a bullseye. Likewise, we don’t always love Jesus, each other, and all of creation as Jesus commands. God gives love anyway, and in Jesus we can hope that one day we will be like him.
Respond: In the Baptismal Covenant, we promise that whenever we fall into sin we will repent and return to the Lord. We often think of sin in terms of our individual behavior, but it’s also about our collective behavior. Our communities are not as God intended – people are hungry, poor, sick, and oppressed. Where do you see places in need of God’s healing and love? Where can you pursue righteousness, which is another word for justice? How might you share what you have – your time, talent or treasure – to right that wrong in your community? For instance, you might help clean up a river near your home, serve meals at a homeless shelter or donate diapers to families with infants. Do some research and make a plan to offer your gifts and live like Jesus.
- Kelly Ryan
Adult and Youth
Read: 1 John 3:1-7
Reflect: “Children of God” is something that people are often referred to when they are young, but really, people of all ages of children of God. This reading lays out what it means to be a child of God. Does it feel freeing to you? Does it feel like a heavy weight to have to live up to? Maybe a combination of both feelings? Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about this reading with your family and find what you have in common and what differs – keeping in mind that all feelings are okay.
Respond: Our Way of Love practice this week is Bless. When we bless, we share faith and unselfishly give and serve. Share your faith, give, and serve by either creating your own or sending a note in an Easter card to a local nursing home or assisted living facility. Some of these children of God don’t receive a lot of communication from people outside of their facility. Spread the Easter joy by writing a nice note and dropping it off or mailing it. If you call the office, they will be able to tell you who you can address it to – or if you should just mail it to their office and they can pass your note/notes along. A little note can go a long way to spread some joy.
- Nicole McCarthy
Adult and Adults
Read: 1 John 3:1-7
Reflect: “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” (1 John 3:2, NRSV) The first letter of St. John reminds us of our identity as Easter people, people who have become part of God’s family and called to a beautiful and faithful life in Christ. The refrain of “beloved” is a blessing and a name, proclaiming how God feels about God’s people. In the tradition of the early church and the Gospel according to John, this apostle has been described as “the one whom Jesus loved.” John had a particularly deep sense of belovedness to Christ from their time together during Jesus’s ministry and life on earth, and he wanted to share the joy of this love with the people receiving this letter. This is a key part of the good news of Easter: in the resurrection, the teachings and call to the way of love are forever affirmed by the power of God. That blessing comes before instructions on how to live because it is the foundation of our being. When we accept God’s blessing and invitation to live in love, we are God’s beloved children. Beloved. Beloved. Beloved.
Respond: Can you hear and receive this blessing, that you are beloved to God? Find a piece of paper and tape, a sticky note, or a dry erase marker on a mirror, and write that blessing from 1 John: “Beloved, we are God’s children now.” Post it up in your home or a place where you will see it each day, and receive that joyful reminder and blessing again and again.
- Claire Brown