Faith -at- Home / Easter 7
In her song Native Tongue, songwriter Sara Groves writes “Something really happened it was wild and true/We talked about it for a hundred years/Looking for the Spirit but the Spirit moves/I believe he’s moving here” Have you ever experienced the wild and true movement of the Holy Spirit? If so, when? What are your sense memories of that experience?
Adult to Small Child
Read: Acts 19:11-12.
Reflect: I love these verses. What a wonderful time it must have been to see such miracles spread through the early church. Even objects that touched Paul’s skin were used to heal people. Did that really happen or was that just the perception of the people? Who are we to say? Many times folks in my congregation will say, “Why doesn’t God perform real miracles like that anymore?” I always respond by saying I think God does perform real miracles; we simply explain them in different ways.
Respond: Find a special blanket or handkerchief that you bring out during times of prayer or illness. Thank God that they are special and hold them as you pray. For babies and very young children, find a blanket that is only taken out during times of prayer or illness. There’s no need to tell children that the blanket has healing properties, but over time the object will have sacred meaning in your home.
Adult to Elementary Child
Read: Acts 19:1-7.
Reflect: Paul asks some disciples he meets whether they received the Holy Spirit in baptism, and they haven’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. They, like Jesus, had been baptized with water by John, but we are baptized with water and the Holy Spirit. This is how we begin our Christian life, and it is the Holy Spirit working in us that gives us the power to do God’s work in the world. When John baptizes Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes down like a dove. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit stirs up the disciples like a rushing wind, like flames dancing on top of their heads.
Respond: We don’t see the Holy Spirit as much as we feel it moving. Blow up a balloon and let it go as it zooms around the room, or go outside and blow bubbles, or fly a kite. Don’t have a kite? Here is one you can make:
Adult to Youth or Young Adult
Read: Acts 17:22-27.
Reflect: In Acts 17:22-27, Paul helps the Athenians to see something that was there all along! While they did not previously know the God of the Israelites, they did have an altar in their city to an “unknown god.” Paul gave them a name for the unknown, connecting it to the God of the Israelites, and even more importantly, the God of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it seems like God shows up out of nowhere--in experiences, in places, in interactions with people--but the truth is that God has been there all along.
Respond: Find an object or a place in your home that you see often but usually overlook. What’s something that you see each day but might not pay any additional attention to? Together, find a God-lens with which to see it this week. Then keep your eyes open to all the ways God might be showing up in other unexpected places throughout your week. Let that new God-place in your home be a spot where you return each day to share where else you have seen God show up in your daily life.
Adult to Adult
Read: Acts 17:22-26.
Reflect: I used to get caught up in producing as much work as possible. If I could produce more than anyone I knew, I thought I could mark my level of success. I justified this lie by thinking I was producing for God. I attended all the Bible studies, I showed up to every worship service, I volunteered at the women’s retreat, and so much more. God was only an idea to me and I was investing in everything around God instead of investing my time directly into the Most High. I was serving “God’s needs,” not realizing that the Almighty has no needs. Acts 17:22-26 records Paul’s message to Athens that their extreme religious displays did not equal true faith. He reminded them that God doesn’t live in man-made temples and human hands can’t serve God’s needs--for God has no needs.
Respond: What idea are you serving that takes you away from serving God and instead places you in a position of serving “God’s needs”? Write about a time when you believed what you were doing for God was for the Most High but instead it took an emotional toll on you. When you are finished, write a letter to God. Refrain from writing about what you will do for God and instead write about who God is to you. Share your work with a friend or family member if you are comfortable.
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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