Devotion & Formation for May 2

It is the fifth Sunday in Easter.  The liturgical color is white for the joy and importance of this season.  This Season lasts until Pentecost, May 23.  We have three more weeks to say, “Alleluia, alleluia” at the dismissals and their responses.

Instead of the Old Testament, we read The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (known as Acts).  The Acts is a historical book about the early Christian Church and follows the Gospels in the New Testament.  This Sunday, our reading from Acts focuses on Phillip baptizing and teaching about Jesus.  We hear how the early Christian Church spread throughout the world.

Our other readings are from 1 John 4, where we hear about God being love and how we are to respond to that and in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, we hear the Parable of the Vine.  In the Parable of the Vine, we hear about the vine bearing good fruit.  We are going to focus on the Epistle of John.

Bible Story: 1 John 4:7-21

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

To Love, to Be Loved

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

Meditation:

Our Gospel lesson (the Parable of the Vine) and our Epistle lesson are very similar.  In order to be a part of the true vine and bear good fruit, we must love.  Love is an act.  It is through this love, that we care for each other. 

Love is a feeling, but love as the verb means that we consciously choose to treat someone with kindness, generosity, care, empathy, and goodness, whether we believe them worthy of it or not.  We treat every person as if God lives inside them and so whatever we do or say to them, we are saying to God.  This includes realizing that God lives in each of us too, so we treat our complete selves (mind, body, and soul) as if we are taking care of God. 

This may be a hard concept for children, as it is for many adults.  It changes the way we interact with others and the way we look at ourselves.  Make a list of how you should treat someone knowing that God is in them (so how you think to treat Jesus) and then how to look at yourself. Would you add anything to the list if you are to treat them with love? Use this as your checklist when you become irritated, impatient or frustrated with someone.

Prayer:  Almighty God, thank you for loving each of us!  Help us to know you, to treat others with love and act with love in this world so others will know you through us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week.  For links, copy and paste):

  1. Discussion questions- When do you have trouble acting with love?  Is there a person or an action another does that you find difficult to remain being kind in response to?  How do you show love?  How do you like others to show you love?  How do you feel when others are kind to you?  What is one thing you can do for each person to see God in them and love them?
  1. Musical response- God is Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVGWxkj-rmA
  1. Craft response: Color and cut out https://www.sundayschoolkids.com/activities-love/god-is-love-heart2011-instru.htm  or using felt, cut out three hearts.  Using permanent markers or fabric paint, write on one: “God”, on second write: “is”, and on third write: “Love”.  Use a length of ribbon and glue hearts in order.  When dry, hang in your room.
  1. Outreach/community service response: Caring for others is a way to show love.  With the pandemic, there is very little we can do in-person, but call the local Ronald McDonald House (for sick children and their families getting treatment) and see how you can help them or raise funds for St. Judes’ Hospital (free medical care for children with cancer). Or give to the 1000 Days of Love from ERD to help children in their first 1000 days of life.   If you are raising funds, every amount matters and no number is too small or too big! Is there an elderly person living near you who you can walk their dog or plant a flower for them?
  1.  Activity response: Make a meal with everyone’s favorite foods.  For one night, do not worry about being healthy, just enjoy the fun of making it, being together and watching everyone relish their favorite food.  How does someone making your favorite make you feel?  How does it feel to watch others enjoying their favorite?
  1.  In-reach response: Cut out two hearts for each person in your family.  Each person writes two things that they would like others in their family to do that would show them love.  Share what each person has written and find ways during the week to do what they wrote on their heart.  When a heart is done, share how it feels to have someone do it for you and share how it felt to do it.
  1.  Game response:  In the Parable of the Vine, the good fruit is grapes.  Get a bunch of grapes and try tossing them in the air and catching them with your mouth.  See who can catch the most.  Or try tossing the grapes in a cup.  You get to eat the ones that land in the cup.
  1. Watching the story: Watch the Parable of the Vine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btojLhvXzUc for older children, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDlS4otedvY for younger children

Following Devotion & Formation on the Good Shepherd.