Faith -at- Home / Easter 5
What does the phrase “priesthood of the believer” mean to you? How do you feel about the idea that we are all ministers, called to share the love of Christ?
Adult to Small Child
Read: Acts 13:1-3.
Reflect: This brief story of the commissioning of Barnabas and Saul is a reminder that some people are given a special calling for a particular ministry. Here we read that the Holy Spirit sets the two of them apart for a special work. The community supports them by laying hands on them and sending them out.
Respond: Who in your community has been set apart for ministry? Perhaps it is a Sunday school teacher or pastor. This week take time to lay hands on these leaders, whether literally or figuratively by offering a card or note of appreciation. For small babies, give the gift of a handprint or footprint on a card for nursery teachers and helpers.
Adult to Elementary Child
Read: Acts 11:19-30
Reflect: In chapter 11, it’s clear that from the very beginning of the church, there were arguments about who was “in” and who was “out.” Peter comes to understand that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, and it’s not up to us to decide who belongs. “Who am I to stand in God’s way?” Peter asks. God is doing new things in this chapter, and God is still doing new things, “changing hearts and lives.” As followers of Jesus, our job is to include, not to exclude, to draw a wider circle, to make the kingdom grow. As humans, though, we sometimes have trouble doing just that.
Respond: Tell about a time when you were left out, and what that felt like. Has there been a time when you were able to bring someone in? Read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, a picture book with a powerful lesson about inclusion, and how our actions ripple out into the world.
Adult to Youth or Young Adult
Read: Acts 10:44-48.
Reflect: In Acts 10:44-48, Peter recounts his witness of Gentiles experiencing the Holy Spirit. The other circumcised believers were “astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.” Even on the Gentiles. In the early church, there was disagreement about who could be included among Jesus’ followers. Some early Christians, who were Jewish, believed that in order to be a Christian, you must be circumcised, as Old Testament Law required for God’s people. But this story is a major turning point, as God shows these followers that there are no prerequisites for the Holy Spirit’s presence in a person’s life. Unfortunately, sometimes churches think a lot like those early circumcised believers and create lists of requirements for people to qualify to be a part of Christ’s church. Luckily, Christ does not.
Respond: Are there people you know who have been hurt by the church? Are there people you know who have been rejected by a church? Write their name on a piece of paper and keep it in your pocket or wallet. The truth of Easter is that God is alive, everywhere! Pray for God’s Spirit to show up in their lives. Think of ways in addition to praying that you can show them Christ’s love, even if they feel unwelcome at a church.
Adult to Adult
Read: Acts 12:1-9.
Reflect: In Acts 12:1-19, we read that Peter was busted out of prison by the Lord’s angel. At first, he thought he was dreaming but only later realized what had happened, that the chains had in fact fallen off, and he had escaped! Sometimes we only see God’s provision in the rear view mirror, sometimes parts of our story only make sense in hindsight. And yet, God is always with us, the Spirit always moving within our lives.
Respond: Begin this time by reflecting on a time when you were unable to see God’s presence in the moment, but recognized it later. Next, ask yourself “Are you ignoring a call from God because it feels too risky in the present?” If so, list three disadvantages to taking that risk. Then, list three advantages to taking the same risk. Imagine yourself on the other side of this risk - where might you see God? Sit in prayer about how best to proceed.
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