Faith -at- Home / Easter 6
This week's readings remind me of Hebrews 13:1-2: Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. I think of this every time I have an odd encounter with a traveling soul, a church visitor, a homeless neighbor, I cannot help but wonder… Have you ever encountered someone whom you thought might be an angel unaware? How did it change you?
Adult to Small Child
Read: Acts 15:3.
Reflect: As we’ve followed the book of Acts, we’ve seen the apostles travel through many different cities and towns. Each city brings new joys and challenges and lessons. Everywhere they go, they bring the good news of Christ. On their travel, people open their homes and offer hospitality. Lydia is one example. After her conversion in chapter 16, she invites Paul into her home.
Respond: Who do you know that is traveling through? Perhaps your family knows mission workers or others who have made a career of sharing the gospel with others in far away countries. Consider opening your home to someone like this during the week. If it’s not possible to host someone, perhaps hospitality can be symbolized by a card, letter, or care package sent to their home.
Adult to Elementary Child
Read: Acts 16:1-15.
Reflect: Acts is full of notable women, and chapter 16 introduces us to Lydia, a successful business owner who deals in purple cloth—a very expensive item, as the dye used to make it was costly and difficult to get—it took huge numbers of a very small sea snail. Even though her story isn’t long, it’s important. She was a Gentile who was led to become a follower of Jesus by Paul and the women she prayed with at the river. She was baptized, along with everyone in her household, and she invited—“persuaded,” says Luke, the disciples to stay with her, starting the first church on the continent of Europe in her own home. The other place Luke uses this same word is when the travelers on the road to Emmaus persuade Jesus (before they recognize him) to stay with them. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think Luke wants us to remember that Jesus is right there with us when we gather together in his name, wherever that might be. My family began at a dinner church called St. Lydia’s—it’s where I met my husband, and it doesn’t look like a church at all. We cook and share a meal together there, we break bread and bless the cup and hear and respond to sacred stories, but it looks more like someone’s kitchen or a small, warm café.
Respond: If you were going to start a church that didn’t look anything like the church you go to, what would it need? Where would it be? Who might feel welcome there? If you have Lego’s or building blocks, consider working together to build an example of your “church.”
Adult to Youth or Young Adult
Reflect: In Acts 13:13-43, Paul shares an exhortation with the Jewish people in Antioch. Paul recounts many familiar stories of Jewish history to them, from the great Exodus to the tales of Samuel and David and finally to Jesus’ story, one some of them may not have yet heard! Even though they had heard many of those stories hundreds of times, they listened and, as a result, many of them heard the story of Jesus for the first time and believed. Is there a story you’ve heard over and over throughout your life? What story are you tired of hearing your parents tell? What story do you find yourself telling over and over? Tell each other one of those stories and listen closely to see if there is anything new you hear or experience when you hear it.
Respond: Some of us have heard Bible stories over and over throughout our lives, and as a result we may not pay much attention to them anymore. Choose a Bible story you feel like you know well. Keep your Bible open to it, or print it out, or screenshot it on our phone, and keep it in view this week. Read that story each day, and see if you notice anything new, or if something about the story might be newly relevant to your life this week.
Adult to Adult
Read: Acts 14:22.
Reflect: Paul and Barnabas were no strangers to hardship when it came to preaching the good news of Christ. Even after Paul was stoned and left for dead, he got up and pressed on. We often grow weary of fighting the good fight. We become burdened with the effort of doing the right thing. Things may not seem to go our way for a time, but God’s work is good. The good news is still good. When social media or family members take your feelings by storm, remember that not every argument requires your response. Although Paul and Barnabas were sometimes met with rejection, they never went into a city or addressed a group of people without encouraging them and refreshing them. Does what you say carry encouragement and does it bring life where seeds of doubt seem to be planted? The Victorian writer Mary Ann Pietzker, through her poetry, taught that we should ask ourselves these three questions before we speak:
- Is it true?
- Is is necessary?
- Is it kind?
We may not always be vigilant about applying that filter, but knowing the good news and believing in it changes our reactions. Hardships will always be upon us like they were for Paul and Barnabas, but we can choose to speak the good news anyway.
Respond: What steps can you take this week to be an encourager? Where do you need to practice the three filters addressed above?
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About our Contributors
Traci Smith is pastor of Northwood Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, TX, and the author of Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home. She is mama to four littles and lives with them and her husband, Elias Cabarcas, in their bilingual/bicultural home in San Antonio, TX. You can connect with her at www.traci-smith.com.
Carolina Hinojosa-Cisneros is a Tejana poet, freelance writer, and speaker. Her work focuses on faith and Latinidad and has appeared in On Being, SheLoves Magazine, Rock & Sling, and more. She has forthcoming work in Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity, Christianity Today, and more. She keeps a blog at cisneroscafe.org.
Rev. Melissa Cooper is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church. She is an Associate with Vibrant Faith, providing ministry coaching services in the area of intergenerational ministry, cross-generational communication, and camp and retreat ministry. Melissa also writes curriculum for children and youth. Melissa lives in central Florida with her husband, Will, and they are the parents to the cutest poodle you’ll ever meet. You can find her online at www.revmelissacooper.com.
Wendy Claire Barrie is a Christian educator who has served seven Episcopal parishes on both coasts since 1989. She is the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents (Church Publishing 2016). She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, Phil Fox Rose, and her son, Peter, and works and worships at Trinity Church Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.
Faith-at-Home Project Developer, Author, Formation Evangelist, Resource Curator
Jerusalem lives with family in rural Arkansas. She a minister, speaker, and formation consultant. She is also the author of At Home in this Life and A Homemade Year. Learn more about her at jerusalemgreer.com